Mindfulness and healing

Mindfulness meditation has become a mainstream mind-body therapy for health and wellbeing in recent years, especially in Western nations. Mindfulness meditation classes are everywhere: hospitals, mental health clinics, nursing homes, the military, correctional centres, sports centres, universities, schools, and even in nurseries.

Dharma Primary School - Children Meditating 2015
Mindfulness is taught in schools.

Mindfulness is widely accepted partly due to the increase in scientific evidence. There has been an exponential growth in the publication of original research articles in mindfulness over the last 30 years. I did a search on the PubMed with the keywords “Meditation OR Mindfulness”, and I found over 9000 related publications since the year 2000. Over 60% of them were published within the last five years [1].

Much of the health research in mindfulness is focusing on it benefits in reducing stress, reliving chronic pain, alleviating mental health issues, as well as improving mental and physical well-being [1]. However, understanding the health benefits of mindfulness from these aspects is only scratching on the surface of the real power of mindfulness. In fact, mindfulness can be a tool for healing of diseases. This is an aspect that scientific research has yet to uncover.

Mindfulness meditation is not just sitting idle. It can be a healing tool.

How can one apply mindfulness for self-healing? The following is the sharing from a long-term practitioner of meditation, SJ. SJ is experiencing abdominal discomfort for a long while, and a recent ultrasound scan uncovered a liver lesion. While the medical investigation is still on-going, SJ starts her acupuncture treatment. This is her personal experience of how mindfulness helps her in her healing while undergoing acupuncture treatment:

It was an incredible journey yesterday, a real-life case that validated the ancient wisdom.

With the starting of the needling, I could feel its flow and circulation. The energy started from the liver, and it subsequently flowed to the heart area, it then continued to the stomach and back to the liver. At that point, the acupuncturist asked me how I felt, and I said I felt blockages in my heart as well as a spot at the right side of my head. She added additional needles to those areas.

With that, the qi flowed better, and it was like it addressed each organ one by one. With enough energy, the releasing of emotional traps at each spot started. I felt a soft burst of energy at one spot. At that time, I placed my awareness there with kindness. For the beginning, the releasing was slow, so I “sweet talk” to that area, asking for forgiveness and promised I would care for them from now on. That helped!

As the release became smoother, I let go and just let it flow. The released happened from one spot to another.

I discovered the root cause was the sadness accumulated in the heart area. The sadness also accompanied with the scolding and pressures from external people while growing up. Once that was cleared, the outburst of trapped energy in the liver happened at the locality of the lesion. It somehow related to the habit of mine, of the excessive effort of coping mechanism with my life situation. Such coping mechanism drained the life force!! It was my biggest lesson learned yesterday.

The release later moved to the spot of my lower abdomen where the discomfort was, it was about painful emotion.  With that cleared, I saw a bright light in the body, and I just let it be and relax in it. It was not over yet, as I was too tired and couldn’t continue my awareness.

Case in hand: Mindfulness can be applied during an acupuncture session to assist in the release of emotional energy blockages.

A fascinating sharing indeed. Only with years of experience in practising meditation, SJ can apply mindfulness to detect the flow of energy or qi in her body, be aware of the emotional blockages and mindfully letting go of them. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it is known that different negative emotions can hurt different internal organs. Specifically, anger hurts the liver, overjoyousness hurts the heart, obsessive thoughts hurts the spleen, sadness hurts the lungs, fear hurts the kidneys, and surprise hurts the gallbladder [2].

Emotions and internal organs according to traditional Chinese medicine.

The cumulative effects of negative emotions can eventually develop into sicknesses. Such a concept is only starting to gain attention in scientific research. A recent study investigated the relationship between human emotions and cardiovascular diseases. The study found that those who had higher rates of regulation of emotion (i.e. suppression of negative emotions) tended to suffer from coronary heart diseases [3]. Whereas there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that mindfulness may be positively related to cardiovascular health [4]. Such findings are starting to validate the use of mindfulness as a healing tool by releasing the trapped emotional energy in various part of the body.

Be mindful!


[1]        S.L. Ooi, S.C. Pak, The Landscape of Current Meditation Research: An Overview to the Special Issue on “Health Benefits of Meditation,” OBM Integr. Complement. Med. 4 (2019) 8. doi:10.21926/obm.icm.1902033.

[2]        Y.-S. Lee, Y. Ryu, W.-M. Jung, J. Kim, T. Lee, Y. Chae, Understanding Mind-Body Interaction from the Perspective of East Asian Medicine, Evid. Based. Complement. Alternat. Med. 2017 (2017) 7618419. doi:10.1155/2017/7618419.

[3]        C. Vlachakis, K. Dragoumani, S. Raftopoulou, M. Mantaiou, L. Papageorgiou, S. Champeris Tsaniras, V. Megalooikonomou, D. Vlachakis, Human Emotions on the Onset of Cardiovascular and Small Vessel Related Diseases, In Vivo. 32 (2018) 859–870. doi:10.21873/invivo.11320.

[4]        E.B. Loucks, Z. Schuman-Olivier, W.B. Britton, D.M. Fresco, G. Desbordes, J.A. Brewer, C. Fulwiler, Mindfulness and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: State of the Evidence, Plausible Mechanisms, and Theoretical Framework, Curr. Cardiol. Rep. 17 (2015) 112. doi:10.1007/s11886-015-0668-7.

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