We’re now concluding our in-depth series of Wheel of LifeTM blogs with our last and seventh piece on the mindfulness category.
Meditation and mindfulness are not new practices. Some archaeologists date meditation back to as early as 5,000 BCE. However, in recent decades, these Eastern-born practices have gained tremendous popularity worldwide and have become mainstream.
To clarify these concepts, meditation can be defined as a set of techniques that are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. It’s worth noting that while there are many different types of meditation, mindfulness techniques encourage a state of awareness about the present moment, with the aim of experiencing it without changing or judging it.
You can do most things mindfully.
Mindfulness, as a broader term, also encompasses other aspects of everyday life, so a person can be mindfully carrying out daily routine tasks such as eating, driving or even doing laundry. Being in a mindful state means one’s full attention is dedicated to the present moment, what one can hear, smell, touch, see…, without judging what’s happening, without getting distracted and without forcefully trying to change it.
The Benefits Of Meditation And Mindfulness
It wasn’t until the 1960s that meditation began to be seriously studied for its medical benefits. It was when a researcher in India found that those in deep meditative states were in such profound trances that they didn’t react to physical pain, when induced.
Yet, it still was frowned upon by the scientific community until a Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Herbert Benson carried out a study on meditation in 1967. His results demonstrated that people meditating used 17% less oxygen, had lowered heart rates and produced increased brain waves that could help with sleep. Benson went on to publish The Relaxation Response and founded the Mind/Body Medical Institute, continuing to pioneer for meditation’s benefits on biology.
Many other scientific studies have been undertaken on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness ever since.
For instance, a recent report published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows how mindfulness is effective at reducing physical pain.
It also demonstrates that mindfulness states can already have a positive effect on our brains just after four days of continuous practice.
In regards to people living with chronic illnesses, mindfulness has been proven effective at reducing morbidity, as it provides patients with additional methods to better manage their conditions.
Mindfulness is also being introduced as an add-on to cognitive therapy, as certain reports show that mindfulness-based therapy can prevent and reduce the relapse of certain mental health disorders, such as depression. In addition to preventing further depressive episodes, those patients treated with mindfulness-based therapies showed better mood states and improved quality of life.
Mindfulness has been proven to help those suffering from epilepsy, mood and anxiety disorders, autoimmune illnesses, and chronic illnesses, among others.
Stress, which is a frequent occurrence nowadays and is being attributed mostly to financial issues, can be a serious precursor for many illnesses. For instance, a recent report concluded that those suffering from psychological stress had an increased risk of contracting acute infectious respiratory illnesses. Fortunately, mindfulness has been proven to help people suffering from stress, with studies showing a strong decrease in physical anxiety and stress symptoms after practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques.
Certain other studies report how mindfulness and meditation techniques can help those suffering from other generic health conditions. Benefits were demonstrated for those affected by epilepsy, symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome, menopausal symptoms, mood and anxiety disorders, autoimmune illness, and emotional disturbance in neoplastic disease.
Other Mindfulness Activities
In addition to traditional mindfulness practices, incorporating yoga or breathing exercises regularly has tremendous health benefits too.
Practicing yoga, which does include mindfulness techniques, has been scientifically proven to enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall wellbeing and quality of life.
Likewise, seen as yoga incorporates focused breathing exercises, these have been also found beneficial on their own. Physiological evidence has indicated that even a single breathing practice significantly reduces blood pressure, increases heart rate variability and oxygenation, enhances pulmonary function, and improves cardiorespiratory fitness and respiratory muscle strength.
An Inward Journey
As we, at dacadoo, focus on holistic health, it is of paramount importance to address the Mindfulness Score of a platform user. Seeing that mindfulness brings so many health benefits to those who practice it, we have dedicated goals to help users get started on their journey. Whether it’s yoga, short meditations or relaxation music, users have a range of goals to choose from in order to start incorporating a little mindfulness into their everyday life. Of course, our smart digital coach will help users stay on track with their journey every step of the way.
Additionally, during onboarding, the users will be asked a range of expert curated questions that will determine their first Mindfulness Score. The answers will reveal how much stress they are under, whether they feel positive about their lives and their future, and their energy levels.
When implementing Wheel of LifeTM for your employees, as part of a corporate wellbeing program, your employees will be encouraged to improve their mindfulness. A scientific study has shown that employees who practice mindfulness demonstrate enhanced performance, significant reductions in stress and burnout, better team collaboration and improved overall wellbeing.
And of course, there are numerous benefits for Life and Health insurers too. As previously stated, mindfulness helps those suffering from a range of physical and mental health conditions manage their everyday better. In return, it could be stated that medical costs would be reduced, as your insured members become more relaxed, manage anxiety better and can cope with some existing health conditions more independently.
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Please click here to read all our previous blogs on other Wheel of LifeTM categories.