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Meditation as a Lifestyle

We are learning in times of crisis that some things are out of our control and our best way to recover is by tapping into our inner strength and healing.  It seems counterintuitive that sitting still and looking inward helps to cope with the ever changing external world.  I believe that having a personal meditation practice can help to create a lifestyle in which you can recover from the challenges that life throws at you.

I started my meditation journey 20 years ago when I accidentally discovered yoga in a discount book store.  I was in medical school, and at the time, I did not fully appreciate what a treasure I had discovered.  

Meditation can become part of your lifestyle.  There are so many reasons why I believe it’s worth carving out the time for this, allow me to share a few of these.

Sustainable energy

As we move through life we’re all aware of things that can add to our energy and make us feel alive such as laughter, love  and joy.  We’re also aware of things that deplete us such as anxiety, dealing with energy vampires, or depression. We have to consider what we feed our minds and our bodies.  We want pure, clean fuel to keep our energy going.  Meditation can be energizing.  Giving your brain a few minutes of rest and closing your eyes even for a few moments is wonderful.  When you slow down your breath and let your diaphragm work to its fullest capacity, you allow the oxygen level in your blood to rise.  Your brain will love that feeling, trust me.

four rock formation
Photo by nicollazzi xiong on Pexels.com

Self-care is mandatory

We are all learning during the pandemic of 2020 that while we have systems in place to provide care those systems are getting depleted. and one way or another we almost find a way to take care of ourselves. Self-care is no longer an option or a luxury. It is mandatory for survival.

I believe meditation can be part of a healthy, holistic lifestyle. It is a perfect compliment to a lifestyle that revolves around self-care and healing. Meditations, in combination with having a reliable care team, a healthy whole foods diet, and movement of the body that feels good is a powerful combination.

Resilience when avoidance of pain is not possible

During the year 2020 everyone was affected in one way or another. We have all been affected either personally, emotionally, financially and physically.   We are learning that there are times when pain is unavoidable. We are learning that sometimes we must find a way to recover from what has happened.

I have personally heavily on my personal meditation practice to help me during times of uncertainty.  Meditation has helped to calm some of my anxiety related to uncertainty. 

I have created a 21 day Meditation Journey you may want to consider if  you are wanting an introduction to meditation, or would like to have support in developing a daily practice of meditation.  Sign up for my newsletter if you would like updates.

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The 5 Best Meditation Techniques for Beginners

The 5 Best Meditation Techniques for Beginners

Meditation is something that many of us want to do well to gain the benefits associated with the practice. Unfortunately, for many of us, the constant mind chatter can make it frustrating to sit down and meditate for any period. If you are starting out with your meditation practice, here are five great techniques that can get you started on the path to mindfulness.

Technique #1 – Breathing Meditation

This is one of the best techniques if you are just starting out in your meditation practice. It is an ancient and powerful technique that is extremely effective. By just paying attention to your breathing, you give your mind a point of focus in a relaxed way. To start this technique, get yourself in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and slowly begin to observe your breathing. Pay attention to how it feels as you breathe in and out. If you find your mind starting to wander, just bring your focus back to your breathing.

Technique #2 – Mindfulness Meditation

In mindfulness meditation you become fully present in the moment by paying attention to the sensations in your body. Start the practice by focusing on your breathing, then allow yourself to become aware of the other sensations running throughout your body. You don’t want to analyze or judge the experience; you simply want to observe.  

Technique #3 – Mantra Meditation

By repeating a sacred word, like “aum” or a meaningful phrase, you can bring your mind into a state of tranquility. With this technique, you can either repeat the mantra out loud or repeat it to yourself silently.  

Technique #4 – Walking Meditation

If you don’t think that you can sit still for an extended period, you can try the walking meditation technique. This can be done anywhere. You simply have to focus on your body as it moves. Focus on how your arms swing, how your legs are lifted and extended, and how your feet rise and touch back down on the ground. If your mind starts to wander, bring your focus back to the movement of your body. 

Technique #5 – Empty Minded Meditation

Photo by Charlyce Davis

Empty minded meditation, allows you to be aware without having to have a specific focus. To practice this technique, sit quietly in a comfortable place. Close your eyes and let your thoughts freely float in and out of your mind. Observe each thought as they enter your mind without any attachment or judgment.

These five meditation techniques are simple enough that you can start your practice today, or enhance an existing one. 

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3 Physical Benefits of Regular Meditation Practice

As meditation has become more popular in our culture, scientists have
begun to study the many physical benefits that can be gained through
regular practice. Practicing meditation helps to slow down your breath,
quiet your mind, and find peace. Along with its numerous mental benefits,
practicing meditation on a regular basis can be a useful alternative to
medical treatments for a variety of health concerns. Here are three physical
benefits that daily practice of meditation can have on your life.

Reduced Pain

If you suffer from chronic pain, meditation has been shown to help. Various studies have discovered that if you can focus and calm your mind and body, you have the capability of controlling the pain. Meditation makes it possible for you to face the common symptoms that are associated with chronic pain, like muscle tension, sweating, and irritability. 

Practicing mindfulness meditation will enable you to come to terms with the pain that you are experiencing, instead of just running away from it. Taking the focus away from your pain will enable you not to experience as much of it. Meditation helps to shift your attention away from the illness and into the moment

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Meditation has been proven to help lower blood pressure while allowing the body be less responsive to the hormones that cause stress. When you enter into a relaxed meditative state, the brain releases more nitric oxide which is responsible for the regulation of blood pressure levels, the improved functioning of the immune system, and the enhanced functioning of the central nervous system.

Conditions like stress affect the rate at which your heart pumps blood. When you practice meditation regularly, your heart rate decreases, allowing blood to circulate through the body more efficiently. This helps keep your cardiovascular system in shape, allowing the rest of the body to function with ease and enhances your ability to handle stressful situations.

Strengthens the Immune System

Recent studies show that meditation helps to increase the activity of ‘natural-killer cells’ in the body. These cells are responsible for killing off bacteria and viruses that find their way into our body. With regular practice, you can strengthen your immune system, which will result in the reduced risk that you’ll become ill and enhance your overall health and well-being. 

There are many physical benefits that you can gain from meditation. Engaging in daily mediation will help you improve your overall health, leading to living a healthier life. 

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The 4 Best Meditation Postures for Beginners

Meditation is meant to bring you clarity and relaxation. Unfortunately, for many beginners of the practice, sitting for long periods can get downright uncomfortable, leading to an ineffective session. While the standard lotus or cross-legged position is the most popular positions used in meditation, some alternative positions are suitable for beginners or anyone who suffers from back pain.

The Astronaut

The astronaut posture is essentially an inverted sitting position. Rather than resting your back against a chair, you lie on the floor with a chair supporting your legs. To give your head and neck some extra support, place a pillow under your head. Place your hands on the floor beside you and begin your session.

The Corpse

The corpse position is extremely gentle on the back and is useful for people who have a problem keeping in an upright meditation position. It is also suited for guided meditation and pure light visualization. To get into this pose, simply lie down on your back, on either a bed or the floor. Rest your hands beside you with your palms facing upward. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, removing your socks and shoes. If needed, place a pillow under your head to support your neck. 

The Prayer

This is an alternate pose to the traditional kneeling position. It can get extremely uncomfortable kneeling, unsupported with your rear resting on the back of your heels for an extended period. Instead, you can use a kneeling bench with a padded, sloping top. The kneeling bench tilts your back forward slightly, taking the pressure off your lower spine when you assume the position. To keep your knees from feeling the pain, place a cushion or zabuton between the floor and your knees to prevent bruising.

The Sleeping Buddha

Like the corpse pose, the sleeping Buddha is suitable for beginners, as well as those with back and joint pain. To get into this position, lie your side on a flat, horizontal surface. Place one hand under your cheek for a little bit of support. Rest your other hand lightly on the side of your body. Bend both your legs slightly, resting them on top of one another. Place a pillow between your knees and thighs to prevent your upper leg from rotating forward.

Practicing meditation is a great way to bring about self-awareness and healing into your life. If you are just beginning and aren’t able to comfortably sustain the traditional meditation postures, try these four alternatives.  

 

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The Top Mental Health Benefits of Meditation

Over the last several years, more and more people have started practicing meditation as a way to stave off stress and health problems related to stress. When you start practicing meditation on a regular basis, your brain’s physiology changes. This mental shift helps to decrease the harmful effects of stress, mild depression, and anxiety. Here are the top three mental health benefits of practicing meditation on a regular basis.

Preserves the Aging Brain

Various studies of the last several years have revealed that when you are in your 20s, your brain begins to decline. This reduction in volume and weight continues throughout your life. Practicing meditation on a daily basis can help prevent many of the neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia. It can also help to stave off the cognitive decline that comes with age. 

Meditating regularly can also help to increase the protective tissues in your brain. When you engage in meditation, you’re introduced to states of intense relaxation and concentration which leads to the growth of new cells. This helps to protect against shrinkage of your grey matter.

Reduces Stress

One of the main reasons why people practice the art of meditation is to find relief from depression, stress, and anxiety. Regular meditation practice helps to reduce the levels of stress and depression, both physically and mentally. When you experience stress or a sudden threat, your body enters into a flight or fight mode. This leads to an immediate rush of adrenaline, which can cause an increase in your blood pressure, pulse rate, and increase blood flow. Meditation helps to relieve these symptoms of stress. 

Need help getting your Meditation Practice started? Have a look at my free course, Starting Your Own Meditation Practice

Training your mind through the various meditation techniques works to increase the mental resources that can help you address stress and depression-related symptoms. The mind becomes clearer, more focused, and calmer, which automatically leads to the reduction of stress.

Improve Attention

In just over a decade, researchers have measured a decline in our average attention span, from 12 seconds to only eight seconds. That’s a whopping 33 percent decrease, and just one second shorter than the attention span of a goldfish. Practicing meditation can help improve your attention span, by optimizing the flow of sensory information that your brain takes in. Meditation helps to make your brain much more efficient at processing information.  

If the hectic pace of today’s 24/7 society has your mind reeling, starting a regular practice of meditation can help. With just ten minutes a day, you can start seeing a reduction in your stress levels and an increase in your overall attention span. 

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The Basic Elements of Meditation

Life can get a little crazy. The hectic pace and demands that we often face on a daily basis tend to leave us feeling stressed, tired, overworked, and unhappy. Mindfulness meditation is an easy and effective way to relax your body, calm your mind, and become grounded, finding inner peace amidst the chaos. The basic elements that are involved in the practice of meditation include finding a quiet place to practice, having a poised posture that is comfortable, getting an object to focus on, and being able to develop a passive attitude without any attachments. 

Learn about the best meditation postures here

The Place

If you are just starting your meditation practice, it is important to start the process off right by finding a place that is comfortable. You need a space that will allow you to feel completely relaxed and free of distractions. Before you begin your practice, you need to turn things off, like your cell phone or any form of device that would be distracting. 

The Posture

Another basic element that you need to work on is maintaining a good body posture as you meditate. The posture that you take can impact how your practice goes. While the most natural posture you can take is the sitting position, you need to choose a pose that makes you feel comfortable and focused. Try to avoid using postures that can lead to falling asleep, like lying down or reclining. 

The Object

When you begin a practice of meditation, you need to have an object that you can focus on. The object can either be a repeated mantra, focusing on the breathing process, bodily sensations, or any other object like the flame from a candle. Engaging in meditation that will enhance your level of concentration requires that you have an object to focus on.

The Attitude

The final basic element that you need for successful meditation practice is a positive attitude. When you have a positive attitude, you can look at the external distractions and your internal thoughts in a different way. Having a passive attitude allows you to watch the thoughts as they come and go in your mind, without having any attachments to them.

During the process of meditation, it is important to stay focused. If you notice that your mind has started wandering, bring your attention back to the object of focus. These basic elements of meditation can help you get started on the path to clarity and awareness. 

Need some additional resources? Try my free E-Course, Starting Your Own Meditation Practice, to help get you started.

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Reiki Practitioners- returning to your practice

One of the blessings of Reiki is that I have met people I would not have met had I not learned this healing modality. I have met several individuals in my medical practice, personally, and in social media who share with me that at some point in their lives they learned Reiki I or II or even Reiki Master but over the years have forgotten to continue practicing.

These individuals will have to share that so much time has passed that they don’t feel connected to the energy of Reiki.

Herein lies a true gift of Reiki that we often forget. Once you have been attuned to Reiki you are attuned your whole life. You are always connected with the energy and it never goes away. Of course, if you’re not practicing it is easy to forget that you have this gift at your hands.

I advise individuals that the easiest way to reconnect is simply to start performing Reiki on yourself on a regular basis. It is best to do a full treatment from head to toe, however if your life circumstance does not allow the time or place for this even a three minute treatment is better than nothing.

I’ve noticed that many of these individuals often don’t have dedicated space in their home, office, or anywhere in their life that they can practice their healing art. In my course, Starting Your Own Meditation Practice, I give brief advice on how to reclaim that space for yourself. If you don’t have a space you can go to you may need to create one.

Once you know where you would like to start your daily Reiki practice consider setting a timer or a reminder in your calendar. It’s simply a good habit that you’re trying to get back to. Plan to treat yourself for 21 days daily. If you recall in your initial attunement you had a 21-day. Of self treatment that allowed for self-improvement.

Once you decide to return to your practice try not to focus too much on feeling the energy flow or any specific outcome. You may recall when you first learned Reiki you may not have had immediate response or felt anything right away. But if you give it time, your own body’s ability to heal will become apparent to you and it will come to you easily.

I practice Reiki on myself daily. I did not always do this but in the last 2 years because of transitions and stress in my own life I found this to be a lifesaver. There are times I do only a brief 15 minute session and there are times I do a full session that I last more than an hour.

If you need any help getting started I have created a short 9 minute self treatment meditation track that you can find below. I do hope this helps any Reiki practitioner who feels like they’ve lost their gift. I promise you haven’t lost anything you just simply had to pick it back up.

9 minute meditation for Mind-Heart-Gut