Marigold flower

Calendula

Glowing Marigold flower (Calendula)

These Marigolds are full of such amazing vibrancy, they were glowing gold in the sunshine this week.  They make me smile whenever I see them, and that has to be good!

Calendula gives us so much, from the simple beauty of the flowers to various herbal uses as well as being a useful garden ‘companion’ plant as it helps to repel aphids and other bugs.  It has been used for centuries for healing skin conditions and has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, antifungal, antiviral, and immunostimulant properties. It also stimulates the production of collagen at wound sites to help minimize scarring and assist with stretch marks.

There is an interesting article in this week’s issue of New Scientist (Vagus thinking: Meditate your way to better health) reporting on a study showing many positive health benefits of practising loving-kindness meditation.

“It might boost your immune system, protect you from cardiovascular diease, reduce vulnerability to stress, improve thinking and emotional control, and even raise levels of empathy, sociability and self-esteem.”

The study focuses on the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to various organs including the lungs, digestive system and, importantly, the heart.  The vagus is a key part of the ‘fight or flight’ response and the relaxation response, and the stronger the activity of your vagus the more readily you assume the relaxed response instead of being stressed out.  It had been though that your vagal activity (known as ‘vagal tone’) was pretty much set by adulthood, but the study shows that you can think your way to better vagal tone.

“Learning loving kindness meditation improves vagal tone, and good vagal tone improves emotional and social well-being.  An ‘upward spiral’ exists, in which higher vagal tone promotes greater social connectedbness and positive emotions, which then promotes even higher vagal tone…

… vagal tone is an important player in the mind-body connection, and loving kindness meditation is a key to improving our mental and physical well-being.”

I am very heartened that science is showing the benefits to the individual of thinking and practising good-will to others.  Imagine the benefits to our society if this were to be common practice, in place of the ‘me-first’ culture?

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