Posted by on June 15, 2011

How Mindfulness Can Lead to Better Health

In this life, there is no such thing as an absolute truth. Not in business, an argument or in health and wellness. The sun causes cancer, saturated fats are bad for you, mammograms prevent breast cancer, smoking causes lung cancer. Our medical institutions have declared these as medical truths.  The truth is we are each individual, what is good or bad for us is also individual; our chemistry and constitution unique.

I am not saying that we should not listen to those experts who have done research studies proclaiming what is good for all. However, when we are trying to achieve better health, all the information out in the ether can be confusing and feel overwhelming.

For example, one recent study has proclaimed that the majority of Americans are severely Vitamin D deficient. Severely! How did this happen? We have listened to the experts and stayed out of the sun to the detriment of our mental health (lack of Vitamin D leads to depression, among other things). Last week, I read an article that said the experts have got it wrong and the sun isn’t bad for us after all. See now, this is just crazy-making. If all you did was listen to experts touting research you might feel like you were going insane. I believe the real goal is to learn to discern for ourselves what is good or bad for us, on an individual basis.

Ultimately, no one doctor, drug, diet or healing modality could possibly know enough or be enough to successfully treat all people. Additionally, research study results are not absolute truths, there are a lot of factors in research that we should be aware of; what was the hypothesis, who funded the study, were there any other factors that might affect the results, etc. But don’t despair, there is a magic tool that so many of us discount that will actually make all of the possibilities available to us less overwhelming. The magic tool is good old instinct. Trust your intuition, your hunch, your gut reaction. Follow your instincts when looking for the right health practitioner, the healthiest cooking oil, or the best over-the-counter cold medicine. Between the marketing, the media and the science, we have information overload with little understanding of what we are being offered. Learning to trust your intuition, which always has your best interests at heart, can provide some clarity and confidence in the face of too much information.

Our intuition is like a muscle, it needs exercise to get stronger. To sharpen your intuition you can begin a practice of mindfulness. Spend time each day in solitude, in quiet and listen to your inner voice. Pay attention to your body. What do feel? Any pain? Where? What do you think is causing it? Are you hungry? What are you craving? What do you think your body wants? Ask the questions out loud if you want. And answer out loud without thinking about your answer. Let it just rise up as you open your mouth to speak.

This method is surprisingly accurate. Trust your answers even if you think you are making it up. Most of all continue to practice this exercise of mindfulness regularly. Listening to your intuition, and more importantly, acting on the information. Keeping a journal can help you build confidence by having something to refer back to and confirm your experiences with intuition.

After about two weeks, review what you have discovered about yourself. Are there any surprises? Now notice if you are more aware of your body/mind/spirit and its’ needs throughout a normal day, not just during the exercise. Building the connection to our intuition can provide us with concrete knowledge and understanding of our unique health needs and opportunities. Achieving better health can be daunting, using the power of intuition can bring a lot of light to the quest.

I will be offering the Mindfulness Series again soon. Stay tuned here for the date to be announced.

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