You are likely well aware that meditation can help reduce stress. However, did you know that it can also lead to a healthy stomach and digestive system? The connection between your mind and your gut is extremely powerful. You may have heard of the mind-gut connection (a.k.a. the brain-gut connection).
The mind-gut connection
Just think about the last time you saw your crush, had to speak in front of a large group of people, or got pulled over by a cop. You probably felt a bit queasy in your belly or as they say, “sick to your stomach.” Nothing and no one made physical contact with your gut, yet you immediately felt a physical reaction in the pit of your stomach simply from your thoughts.
Your thoughts can clearly make your stomach upset. When you’re stressed, your body cannot function properly and disrupts your digestive system. Some people can’t eat with a stressed stomach. Others overeat to temporarily block the stress with pleasure. In either case, a stressed stomach can lead to acid reflux, inflammation, ulcers irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and sometimes allergic reactions to food.
Your thoughts can also make your stomach feel better. Meditation helps clear your mind of all negative thoughts and relax your body to help settle your stressed stomach and aid in digestion.
How to properly meditate for digestion
There are many different types of meditation, from active meditation to spiritual mediation. Here, we will touch on aspects of focused, mindfulness, mantra and visulization meditation. Any type of meditation requires three basic things: space, time and mindset.
Unless you’re a monk with years of experience, chances are you that you’ll have trouble meditating in super loud and crowded areas. Find a quiet space where you can sit comfortably with proper posture (spine comfortably upright and shoulders relaxed) to support deep breathing.
If you have digestion issues, it’s always best to meditate just before or during eating. This helps ensure that your stomach has quieted down and relaxed to allow your digestive system to work properly without irritation or distraction. It is advisable to avoid meditating just after eating because you may get distracted by the activity in your stomach. However, these times may not always be convenient, so meditate anytime you can—any meditation is better than no meditation.
Dedicate a specific amount of time with no interruptions to meditate. It can be any amount of time you see fit for your needs and your schedule, whether it’s 1 minute or 1 hour. Whatever it is, allow yourself to let go of all distractions for that period of time. (Don’t forget to silence your phone of all notifications, besides your meditation timer of course.)
In order to successfully meditate for better digestion, your head needs to be in the right place. You must be focused on your intention to heal through relaxation and letting go.
The most basic way to meditate is to focus on deep breathing to bring yourself to the present and help block any other thoughts. You can also focus on a mantra (a word, sound, or short phrase) to say in your head or quietly to yourself. A popular mantra is “om” (pronounced “aum”), but you can say whatever you like. Maybe something like “peace” or “I’m relaxed” makes more sense for you.
If you decide to meditate while your eating, you can simply focus on every bite of food you put in your mouth. Close your eyes if you are comfortable doing so. Be especially mindful of the taste, smell and texture of the food. Slow down to appreciate and enjoy each bite. Visualize the food slowly making its way through your digestive system and nourishing your body. This process should be done as often as possible while eating as it is especially helpful in preventing indigestion.
If you’re just starting out, it may be very difficult to quiet your mind and focus. In this case, you may want to try a guided meditation or watch one of the videos below without any external distractions.
Meditation videos for better digestion (use the mind-gut connection)
Play these videos for meditation that promote relaxation. As they aid in de-stressing your entire body and senses, they can also help with focus and deep concentration. You may either close your eyes to focus on the sounds or keep them open to watch the videos as well. Although keeping your eyes closed is the traditional way to meditate, you can achieve the main benefits of meditation by simply watching these videos in a quiet space as well.
Keep meditating on a regular basis and your digestion (and other aspects of your mind & body) will, undoubtedly, be much improved.
Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.