Using Meditation To Improve Your Health

For thousands of years, meditators have claimed many benefits for their practice. Regular meditation can be an effective treatment for stress, worry, lack of focus, relationship problems, addictions and more. It creates peace of mind and wellbeing, improves focus and creativity and strengthens relationships.

Through meditation, your brain physically changes, even though you’re not aware of it re-wiring itself. Meditation activates the ‘relaxation’ part of our nervous system which supports stress management. It also affects awareness and allows you to put stressors and “to-do” lists on the back burner by filtering out that part of your thought process. Researchers have found that after just 11 hours of meditation, practitioners had structural changes in the part of the brain involved in monitoring our focus and self control.

Researchers have found that, compared with the people who didn’t meditate, those trained in meditation concentrated and stayed on task longer. It has also been shown that the majority of practitioners see a noticeable reduction in anxiety and anxiety related behaviors.

Meditation has also been shown to improve relationships, including marriages. It can improve mindfulness of how the couple treats each other as well as improve communication and connectedness.

Try this amazing five-minute meditation from Dr. Alejandro Junger. (http://www.cleanprogram.com/group-detox-cleanse)

*Commit to daily practice and make note of the changes in your behavioral patterns*

Step 1: Get Comfortable & Breathe

Sit up in a chair with your back straight. Place your feet flat on the floor under your knees. Rest the palms of your hands on your thighs and relax your arms. Look straight ahead but try not to focus anywhere in particular. Instead, notice everything in the room at once.

Take a deep breath and start feeling your feet. Feel them touching the floor or the inside of your shoes. Feel the temperature, the humidity; feel the texture of your socks. Feel your feet intensely from inside. Do not “think” about them, just feel them, sense them.

Step 2: Scan Your Body with Attention

After a few breaths, move your attention to your calves and legs. Feel and sense these for several breaths. Then move your attention from body part to body part, first to your thighs, then your bottom against the chair, then to your abdomen and lower back, your chest and upper back, your shoulders, your arms, your hands, your neck, face, and lastly your head.

Then let your awareness cover your whole body at the same time. The idea is to “scan” your body with your attention, stopping for a few breaths on each part. This practice will strengthen your ability to direct and hold your focus.

Step 3: Thank Your Monkey Mind for Sharing

You may notice that the moment you sit down, you start remembering things and feel the urge to act on them. This is part of the process. When those thoughts come and try to steal your attention away from your body, simply say silently to yourself, “Thank you for sharing,” and direct your attention back to your body.

If you feel discomfort or frustration and want to stop, just keep sitting calmly. Know that the discomfort you feel is not caused by the exercise itself. It’s what happens when you become aware of your baseline state, that underlying anxiety you are typically not aware of when the outside world is at full volume and your attention is far from your body.

Becoming aware of this underlying state is the first step toward dissolving it, and claiming back the energy it consumes.

Step 4: Where did that thought come from?

When you find yourself consumed by your monkey mind, try for a second to separate your attention from your thoughts and re-focus it on the present. Ask yourself: “Who is deciding that I think these thoughts? If I had a choice, would I be thinking them?”

Step 5: Use Anytime, Anywhere

This technique can also be used in the middle of any stressful situation like a business meeting or a job interview. When we are nervous, it is because our unconscious thoughts are interpreting, judging, measuring and expecting. This process takes energy and attention.

By re-directing our attention to our body and breath, we reclaim this unnecessary use of energy. It may be hard to remember to do this in difficult situations. Start with easy ones. Then try to do it in harder and harder ones.

My personal experience is that if I have the presence of mind for a split second to remember and start doing it, immediately the energy of the situation shifts, usually for the better. When you become more present, others in the room feel it as well.

Practicing being present will help clear out your mind. You will begin to be able to use your energy and attention to stay present and be more productive. This practice will also help you be more aware of the decisions you are making about what you eat.

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Treat Depression Naturally

It is very important to make a distinction between situational depression, which is a normal reaction to events around us, and clinical depression, which is triggered from within and is not related to external situations. Situational depression is quite common and normally follows stressful situations or losses. Rather than suppress these feelings, it is best to work through these periods with help from psychotherapists or counselors. Clinical depression is a medical diagnosis and often requires other forms of depression treatment.

Treatment 

  • Exercise. Exercise is proven to be one of the best natural ways to reduce depression. Numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of a daily workout for improving emotional health and boosting self confidence. Ideally, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week to help keep the blues at bay.
  • Daily Meditation. Focusing within yourself and making time to care for yourself daily is very important. You can buy books and do a self-guided meditation, or choose a guided meditation. You can find some great guided meditations for free on YouTube. Taking time to center yourself and clear your head daily can help significantly in reducing depression and/or anxiety.
  • Check your meds. This is a a great tip from Dr. Andrew Weil…Make sure you are not taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications that contribute to depression. Avoid all antihistamines, tranquilizers, sleeping pills and narcotics if you have any tendency toward depression. You should also be cautious about the use of recreational drugs, notably alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, downers, marijuana and ecstasy. These substances may provide a temporary sense of relief, but are likely to intensify depression to dangerous levels if used regularly.
  • Eliminate Caffeine. Regular coffee and caffeine consumption can interfere with your moods. For a natural alternative to coffee, consider Dandy Blend or Teecino.
  • Acupuncture. This treatment can be effective in reducing anxiety or depression without medication.

Nutrition and Supplements  (as recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil, MD)

  • B vitamins. The B vitamins, especially folic acid and vitamin B6, can be helpful in mild depression, and you should know that B vitamins can increase the efficacy of prescription anti-depressants.
  • St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort is an herbal remedy that has long been used in Europe as a treatment for mood disorders. Standardized extracts have shown an effectiveness equaling Prozac in the treatment of mild to moderate forms of the disease. It should not be taken with anti-retroviral medications, birth control pills, or antidepressant medications, especially SSRIs like Prozac or Celexa. Try 300mg of an extract standardized to 0.3 percent hypericin, three times a day. It’s full effect will be felt in about eight weeks.
  • SAMe (S-adenosy-L-methionine). Has the advantage of working more quickly than St John’s wort. Use only the butanedisulfonate form in enteric-coated tablets, or in capsules. Try 400-1,600 mg a day on an empty stomach.
  • Fish oil. Recent preliminary studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be helpful in maintaining a healthy mind. I think that reasonable doses of fish-oil supplements (1,000 – 2,000 mg per day) might be useful in addressing mild depression. Fish oil is an excellent source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential fatty acid found in nerve and brain tissue.
  • In addition, follow a well-balanced diet and include an antioxidant multi-vitamin/mineral supplement to ensure you are meeting your nutritional needs for all the essential nutrients.

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Morning Pages…Get To Know Yourself Better

Writing is a powerful channel for some clients to get to know themselves better. Using the Early Morning Pages exercise helps to clear the mind and retrain its focus. I highly recommend committing to this process for at least two weeks to see if its something you may find helpful long term.

Directions:

There’s a time every morning when we are half awake, half asleep and not quite fully conscious. At those moments, we have access to our unconscious mind and our inner workings. But like dew on the morning grass, it will soon be gone without a trace. Listening to these tender morning wisps allows us to reach into our inner world, the deeper part of ourselves that helps guide us on our path of transformation.

Early morning pages are a stream of consciousness written in a journal first thing in the morning. Keep your journal by your bed and reach for it while you are still half asleep.

Begin by writing down any memories you may have of your dreams. At first there may be nothing, or simply minor recollections, but as you do this over and over you will build the muscle. You’ll send a powerful message to your brain: I am prepared to accept my unconscious thoughts and feelings, and I accept that more and more will be revealed. You will develop a deep, direct relationship with your inner self.

Next, write 10 things you are grateful for from yesterday. Usually our minds focus on everything that’s not going well, skipping over the fact that we live in a peaceful, democratic country. Your mind easily forgets that you have great friends, a place to live, plenty of food to eat, access to education, a job and freedom. Take time for thanksgiving and appreciating what went well yesterday.

Next comes the stream of consciousness writing. Write for at least a page, maybe two. Write whatever crosses your mind. Nothing is too petty, too bad or too silly to write down. Nobody will be reading this, so write it all. No censoring. You will be amazed at what comes out of your sweet, innocent mind. Write quickly or write slowly. Find a pace that works for you.

All the angry, ugly stuff that you write in the morning would otherwise stand in the way of you being your best you. By doing early morning pages, you get all those repressed thoughts out of your system so you can live your life and realize that you are not your mind and you are not your thoughts. You are a spiritual being in a material world, moving forward toward the life you deserve, which is the life you truly came here to live.

Watch your breath. Watch your mind. It’s like a meditation. Be still and just let it all pass from your mind onto the paper.

Inspired by The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron.

The Power of Meditation…

For thousands of years, meditators have claimed many benefits for their practice. Regular meditation can be an effective treatment for stress, worry, lack of focus, relationship problems, addictions and more. It creates peace of mind and wellbeing, improves focus and creativity and strengthens relationships.

Through meditation, your brain physically changes, even though you’re not aware of it re-wiring itself. Meditation activates the ‘relaxation’ part of our nervous system which supports stress management. It also affects awareness and allows you to put stressors and “to-do” lists on the back burner by filtering out that part of your thought process. Researchers have found that after just 11 hours of meditation, practitioners had structural changes in the part of the brain involved in monitoring our focus and self control.

Researchers have found that, compared with the people who didn’t meditate, those trained in meditation concentrated and stayed on task longer. It has also been shown that the majority of practitioners see a noticeable reduction in anxiety and anxiety related behaviors.

Meditation has also been shown to improve relationships, including marriages. It can improve mindfulness of how the couple treats each other as well as improve communication and connectedness.

Try this amazing five-minute meditation from Dr. Alejandro Junger. (http://www.cleanprogram.com/group-detox-cleanse)

*Commit to daily practice and make note of the changes in your behavioral patterns*

Step 1: Get Comfortable & Breathe

Sit up in a chair with your back straight. Place your feet flat on the floor under your knees. Rest the palms of your hands on your thighs and relax your arms. Look straight ahead but try not to focus anywhere in particular. Instead, notice everything in the room at once.

Take a deep breath and start feeling your feet. Feel them touching the floor or the inside of your shoes. Feel the temperature, the humidity; feel the texture of your socks. Feel your feet intensely from inside. Do not “think” about them, just feel them, sense them.

Step 2: Scan Your Body with Attention

After a few breaths, move your attention to your calves and legs. Feel and sense these for several breaths. Then move your attention from body part to body part, first to your thighs, then your bottom against the chair, then to your abdomen and lower back, your chest and upper back, your shoulders, your arms, your hands, your neck, face, and lastly your head.

Then let your awareness cover your whole body at the same time. The idea is to “scan” your body with your attention, stopping for a few breaths on each part. This practice will strengthen your ability to direct and hold your focus.

Step 3: Thank Your Monkey Mind for Sharing

You may notice that the moment you sit down, you start remembering things and feel the urge to act on them. This is part of the process. When those thoughts come and try to steal your attention away from your body, simply say silently to yourself, “Thank you for sharing,” and direct your attention back to your body.

If you feel discomfort or frustration and want to stop, just keep sitting calmly. Know that the discomfort you feel is not caused by the exercise itself. It’s what happens when you become aware of your baseline state, that underlying anxiety you are typically not aware of when the outside world is at full volume and your attention is far from your body.

Becoming aware of this underlying state is the first step toward dissolving it, and claiming back the energy it consumes.

Step 4: Where did that thought come from?

When you find yourself consumed by your monkey mind, try for a second to separate your attention from your thoughts and re-focus it on the present. Ask yourself: “Who is deciding that I think these thoughts? If I had a choice, would I be thinking them?”

Step 5: Use Anytime, Anywhere

This technique can also be used in the middle of any stressful situation like a business meeting or a job interview. When we are nervous, it is because our unconscious thoughts are interpreting, judging, measuring and expecting. This process takes energy and attention.

By re-directing our attention to our body and breath, we reclaim this unnecessary use of energy. It may be hard to remember to do this in difficult situations. Start with easy ones. Then try to do it in harder and harder ones.

My personal experience is that if I have the presence of mind for a split second to remember and start doing it, immediately the energy of the situation shifts, usually for the better. When you become more present, others in the room feel it as well.

Practicing being present will help clear out your mind. You will begin to be able to use your energy and attention to stay present and be more productive. This practice will also help you be more aware of the decisions you are making about what you eat.

Staying Grounded…

Sometimes life gets CRAZY!!! We are in the middle of buying and selling homes right now, with an impending move Thanksgiving weekend. Lately, I haven’t been making time to take proper care of myself and boy am I feeling the effects! I looked at myself in the mirror the other day and realized I need to make myself more of a priority.

The fact is, as Americans, we are always GOING, GOING, GOING. We rarely take time to stop and smell the roses. All this running around really takes a toll on our bodies. Many of us have adrenal fatigue, exhaustion and poor sleep.

When we treat our bodies poorly and don’t make ourselves a priority, our body shows us it is unhappy by giving us clues. We start to get bags or dark circles under our eyes. We get sick frequently. We get aches and pains and start to feel sluggish.

The holiday season is an especially hectic time for most of us. Take some time to treat yourself right NOW before we get into the full swing of the holidays. Get a massage, a pedicure or a new haircut. Treat yourself to a new yoga class, meditation group or even a boot camp to get the blood flowing.

Making yourself a priority is not selfish, it is a necessity. You can’t help others unless you are taking proper care of yourself!

Spirituality…What Does it Mean to You?

Many people believe that we are simply spiritual beings having a human experience. Where do you stand on spirituality?

Personal faith, like food, comes in all forms. Maybe your idea of spirituality is finding solace on a long walk where you feel connected to nature, or perhaps you connect to your local yoga community for a spiritual outlet. There are countless ways to develop your personal faith, and it’s important to remember that we are all connected in the matrix of life.

Consider the last time you found yourself eating an entire bag of chips or cookies – what was the reason? Often we eat not because of hunger or stress, but due to pure boredom or restlessness. Cravings for crunchy foods in particular signal a restless mind. If these emotions resonate with you, perhaps you are unfulfilled due to a lack of spirituality in your life.

TRY THIS EXERCISE

Could your spiritual side use some extra attention? Allow yourself a few minutes and begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?
  • What contribution do I want to make to the world?
  • What is my story?

If you feel these questions are broad, you’re right! The intention is to internally expand on your answers during meditation. Each time you ask yourself one of these questions, pay attention to how you feel and see if you can find deeper meaning in your answers.

Do your cravings decrease the more you connect to your spirituality?

If you enjoy meditating, be sure to schedule times for regular reflection in your planner. Even deep breathing is a great tool – I tell my clients it can apply to almost any scenario. Simply close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply until you feel calm and in control. You’ll be amazed at how effective it can be!