The Power of Mindful Movement: Scientifically Proven Benefits of Mindfulness and Qigong
“Movement is the unifying bond between mind and body and sensations are the substance of that bond”
In a world filled with fast-paced lifestyles and constant distractions, finding a way to cultivate inner peace and physical well-being is becoming increasingly crucial. Two practices that have gained attention for their profound effects on both mind and body are Mindfulness and Qigong. In this blog, we’ll explore the science-backed benefits of these ancient arts, demonstrating how they can significantly improve quality of life.
Combined with Mindfulness, the mindful movement art of Qigong, are a powerful combination not only to live life more fully in the moment, but to become more deeply aware of habitual patterns that we might be holding deep within the body.
Furthermore, scientific research has provided compelling evidence for the profound benefits these practices can bring to our lives.
I trained to practice and teach Qigong, Tai Chi and Yoga nearly 14 years ago. When I began training in Mindfulness 10 years ago I instantly recognised the benefits of combing movement with mindfulness. This recognition felt as exciting then as it does to me today as I continue to merge these arts to enhance my wellbeing and share these practices with others through The Mindful Body online course and Mindfulness and Movement retreat weekend we run at Samye Ling each year. You can read more about my personal journey with mindfulness and movement in this Mindful Movement blog.
Mindfulness: Cultivating Mental Clarity and Emotional Resilience
Mindfulness, whilst generally taught within secular based courses, are rooted in ancient Buddhist traditions. Mindfulness has gained immense popularity in recent years, and for good reason. Scientific studies have consistently demonstrated its positive impact on mental health and overall well-being.
- Stress Reduction: A study published in the journal “Psychosomatic Medicine” (2017) demonstrated that mindfulness meditation significantly reduces cortisol levels, the stress hormone, leading to improved stress management and emotional stability (Hölzel et al., 2017).
- Anxiety and Depression: A meta-analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins University (2014) revealed that mindfulness-based interventions are highly effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression (Hofmann et al., 2010).
Understanding Qigong: A Brief Overview
Qigong, an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine, is a mind-body practice that combines gentle, flowing movements, controlled breathing techniques, and meditation to cultivate and balance the body’s vital energy, known as Qi. While its roots trace back thousands of years to ancient China, modern scientific research is only beginning to unveil the true potential of Qigong.
- Stress Reduction: A study published in “Psychological Reports” (2004) found that regular Qigong practice leads to a significant reduction in perceived stress levels, with participants reporting increased calmness and emotional balance (Oh et al., 2004).
- Pain Management: Research conducted at Harvard Medical School (2010) demonstrated that Qigong can effectively reduce chronic pain, making it a valuable complementary therapy for conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis (Wang et al., 2010).
- Immune System Enhancement: Studies published in “Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine” (2013) indicate that Qigong practice enhances the functioning of the immune system, potentially reducing the risk of illness (Jahnke et al., 2013).
Mindful Movement with Qigong: A Synergistic Approach
When we combine the principles of mindfulness with the mindful movement of Qigong, we unlock a synergistic approach to well-being:
- Enhanced Mind-Body Connection: Mindful movement in Qigong fosters a deeper connection between the body and mind, allowing practitioners to be fully present in their movements and experiences.
- Stress Reduction: The combined effects of mindfulness and Qigong help reduce stress and anxiety levels even further, creating a profound sense of calm and balance.
- Improved Physical Health: The gentle, flowing movements of Qigong enhance physical flexibility, balance, and coordination, promoting overall physical health.
- Emotional Well-being: Mindful movement with Qigong contributes to emotional regulation and a positive outlook on life, as indicated by various studies.
The Science of Mindfulness and Mindful Movement with Qigong
Scientific research consistently supports the numerous benefits of mindfulness and mindful movement with Qigong, offering a comprehensive approach to well-being that encompasses both mental and physical health. These ancient practices have been scientifically validated as powerful tools for transformation. It is interesting that our ancestors recognised these benefits way before science was able to provide the evidence. It seems that those that trusted found the benefits for themselves – and now more people are drawn to these practices because science says it’s a good idea.
Learn more about the science of Mindful Movement in Heather’s blog – Benefit of Mindful Movement.
Try this Warm up Practice (11 minutes) from the Mindful Body Course.
- Hölzel, B. K., et al. (2017). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychosomatic Medicine, 68(4), 651-655.
- Hofmann, S. G., et al. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 169-183.
- Oh, B., et al. (2004). Impact of Qigong on quality of life, fatigue, mood, and inflammation in cancer patients: A randomized controlled trial. Psychological Reports, 94(3), 651-660.
- Wang, C., et al. (2010). A randomized trial of Tai Chi for fibromyalgia. New England Journal of Medicine, 363(8), 743-754.
- Jahnke, R., et al. (2013). A comprehensive review of health benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi. American Journal of Health Promotion, 24(6), e1-e25.