“If you want to have a healthy immune system, you need to laugh often, view life with a positive eye, and put yourself in a relaxed state of mind on a regular basis.”
– Michael T. Murray
With the record cold brought on by this year’s harsh winter, we are all looking for new ways we can warm up our day and at the same time, tap into our authentic selves, as we move into the New Year. We want to reach homeostasis, come back to our center and set our intention that each day be positive and productive. The mind, body and spirit are intricately connected. The body's immune system is the engine from which our spirit and energy maintain balance. Our bodies remain regulated as we build up antibodies to fight off infection. The health of our body contributes to the emotional well being needed to function at a higher consciousness. What we accept and allow for ourselves in creating this best possible environment helps us to grow into our most fully realized version. As we work to do this, we have highlighted three ways that help boost our immune system:
1. Sleep is the Best Meditation
2. Breathing Exercises Foster Mindful Meditation
3. Return to the Moment with a Cup of Chai
Before we explore each of these actions, consider their commonality, self love and its overall effect on our ability to fight off infections.
Sleep is the Best Meditation
Sleep is one of the most important rituals humans perform. The Dalia Lama states that, “sleep is the best meditation.” It allows us to access the unconscious mind, and rest our conscious mind from daily cognitive processes. Sleep often takes up a third of our day and impacts the range of the frequency we vibrate on. It can be said that a good night’s sleep is worth its weight in gold and the inverse is also true. A poor night’s sleep can negatively impact our immune system and completely derail any consistency built up during previous days. By going to bed a little earlier in a relaxed state we are better able to activate REM cycles ensuring better rest. We pass through the first three stages of non-REM sleep in the first 90 minutes. REM sleep then lasts for a minimum of 10 minutes and can get longer depending upon how long our slumber lasts. During REM sleep we store memories and have dreams making it a significant stage of our sleep. Our pineal gland also produces DMT which is linked to our third eye and often called the seat of our soul. Some believe DMT has mystical or psychedelic powers that foster within us a spiritual awakening. Dreams can also be heavily linked to a spiritual awakening as well as waking consciousness. During this period our brain activity heightens and our memories are processed, making it an important nightly custom. It is also while we sleep, as our body passes through the four sleep cycles that it releases cytokines which fight against infection. White blood cells called T-cells are also produced to further improve our immune response.
They help to ward off a virus or disease that attack the molecules, glands and tissues that make up our endocrine system. The many healing properties of sleep repair fibers and restores muscle tissues returning our bodies to homeostasis. It has also been found that reduced sunlight in winter can affect our circadian rhythms as we produce more melatonin which leads us to feel increasingly tired throughout the day. To achieve a more peaceful sleep we can turn our nightly routine into a spiritual practice as we listen to what our body needs to get proper rest. Lack of sleep has also been found to block creativity and weaken energy. As such, we are better able to serve ourselves and others when our energy field vibrates further. Sleep is an important lubricant to the engine for which our spirit and energy maintain balance. Although heavily underrated when considering our immune system, sleep is a holistic ritual that should be taken seriously.
Breathing Exercises Foster Mindful Meditation
Take a deep breath, inhale peace, exhale happiness. Grounding ourselves in the awareness of our breath, can recenter us, and help us connect to our true self. Being aware of where our breathing process, can elevate our body into a relaxed state. If we breathe deeply, this increase in oxygen will diffuse throughout our body giving the circulatory system and vital organs the necessary oxidization needed to feel revitalized and refreshed. We can use meditation as a time to understand where our breath is, starting with inhalation through the nose, filling the lungs, expanding the diaphragm and circulating to every other part of our body. With more oxygen in our blood stream the oxidization process creates a stronger, more increased immunity. Our body can achieve this through important tools such as Kundalini or Warrior breathing. These practices can lift the spirit and give it space to grow, while at the same time fostering peace and creating awareness of the importance of self-care. When the body is in a fight or flight response and the sympathetic nervous system is engaged, the body uses less energy to create white blood cells. This is why relaxation is considered vital to a strengthened immune system. The intent of meditation is a kind act for the self; to be present, focused and in touch with what we are thinking and feeling. With this philosophy at our finger tips we open ourselves up to positive vibrations that can be felt from head to toe. As these vibrational energies relax our mind and body, they also boost our immune system by decreasing stress.
Return to the Moment with a Cup of Chai
Food as a medicine is an idea that has grown from holistic practitioners to dinner tables all around the world. The healing powers of chai have been discussed in a previous chai guide Origin and Healing Power of Chai – Chai Ghai. Drinking a cup of chai can be a form of meditation in that it gives us permission to relax. It can offer us respite during the day, but also elevate our consciousness and cognitive ability. Chai sends love into the areas that need it and each of our senses will be thankful for its warm embrace. The properties found in chai are an offer to ourselves that we are worthy of good health. The masala spices and other ingredients hold medical properties that strengthen our immune system. A common root found in many of our chai blends is ginger, which is an incredible super food that contains an abundance of nutrients and bioactive compounds to prevent damage to our bodies DNA and boost our immune system. Cardamom, a super spice, can help improve breathing and digestion. These chai staples, along with black tea and other spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg make it a leading source for immune health. The antioxidants that are found in both the tea and masala spices reduce free radicals in the body and work against diseases that threaten to upset the balance of our immune system. Without antioxidants to play defense, free radicals would run rampant and cause the body serious harm. Think of chai as a holistic blockade with the goal of reducing oxidative stress and creating a calm aura that allows us to better interact with the frequency of the universe. The aromas wafting out of a cup of chai open up our senses and help any tension and tightness in the body float away. The Indian tradition of having chai promotes togetherness as it is enjoyed with family and friends. The custom has long been an offering when one comes to another’s home. As we are limited in our social gatherings, Chai Ghai allows you to send a cup of chai to those you would normally share it with. Although the social warmth a cup of chai brings is still at the forefront of the tradition, the healing properties and their effects on the immune system are also starting to become revered.
“As you begin to heal the inner you, you alter your immune system”
Opening our mind to revelations about the health realm can enlighten us on practices that date back centuries. Self-care is an active process that feeds the immune system that many people have closed their minds to. Sleep, meditation, and chai are three things you never thought would boost your immune system, they all contribute greatly to a healthier immunity. Humans have known that getting enough sleep is an important practice to better well-being for thousands of years. Likewise, meditation focused on breathing exercises is a vital thread in achieving self-actualization and increasing the oxygen in our blood stream which fights off infections. Chai takes these ideas and includes the power of black tea and super spices to create an experience that fosters mental clarity along with a stronger micro biome that helps to increase immunity. When we focus on these principles we invite ourselves into a life of better health, doing everything possible in order to maintain strong, positive energy that lasts longer. With these tools within our grasp our spiritual energy connects with the vibrations from our body to form our best self and allows us to feel better day in day out. These three actions all embody self-love, which you may never have thought would boost your immune system, but they can. Our bodies deviate from their natural energies as we defocus them from their primary objectives. Returning to homeostasis requires self-love and mindful recentering. In doing this our body builds it defenses against the universe. So relax and vibe on.