Think about it. The quality of our relationships, the meaning of the minute would all be elevated if we were immersed in the moment. And science has shown that mindfulness of intention helps not only improve our emotional health but also our overall physical well-being.
Exercises such as mediation, breath work, yoga and tai chi are great tools to improve the function of our autonomic nervous system which is responsible for heart rate, blood pressure, digestion as well as hormonal regulation. And the health and regulatory function of our autonomic nervous system is a known predictor of overall longevity and quality of life.
Our autonomic nervous system is run by two competing controls, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for flight and fight and acts as the gas, revving us up, while our parasympathetic system acts as the brakes, responsible for slowing us down.
When these systems are healthy, there is a gentle tug of war between the two and the predominance of one or the other is reflected by a change in heart rate, also referred to as HRV, heart rate variability.
Research has proven this measurable index, called heart rate variability, is a good reflection of the health of all important parts of the nervous system. Having a low HRV predicts poor autonomic function. Conversely having a high HRV predicts a healthy autonomic function.
Sometimes one of these systems goes into overdrive, preventing our body from appropriately reacting to the situation at hand.