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7 tips for getting a good night’s sleep

We have people come to our meditation classes because of insomnia. As you know most Americans are chronically sleep-deprived. This affects our physical, emotional and mental well-being. A good night’s sleep can do wonders for you. Here are 7 of my favorite tips to get a restful night’s sleep:

1. Make your bedroom as dark and as quiet as possible. The darkness is particularly important for the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.

2. Turn off the television and computer at least 45 minutes before you go to bed.

3. Try a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime to help with relaxation.

4. Invest in a quality mattress that supports your back in a way that isn’t too hard or too soft. The right bed and the right pillow are critical for a good night’s sleep.

5. Make the bedroom a sanctuary. Make your bed and keep the surroundings neat, clean and comfortable so it becomes a place you look forward to.

6. Establish a sleep pattern in which you try to get sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning.

7. Regular exercise that includes strength training (aka lifting weights) will help normalize sleep.

7 tips for healthy aging

If we keep our body and mind in good shape, we should still be in excellent health during our senior years. Life does not have to end at a certain age. It just gets better and better.

This article gives some wonderful wonderful tips for healthy aging. Here are the 7 tips:

1. Help Others. Volunteer, participate in a charity event, or simply visit a friend to see how they are doing. When you help others you also help yourself in ways that contribute to overall health.

2. Stay Positive. A positive outlook contributes to lower stress levels and other chronic health conditions common among seniors. Focus on all the things you are thankful for, and don’t fret the small stuff.

3. Keep Mentally Fit. Exercise your mind by doing a crossword puzzle, playing memory games on a computer, or taking classes. Continue to challenge yourself and never stop learning.

4. Walk More. Wear a step counter and walk at least 5,000 to 10,000 steps per day and at a comfortable pace. Add variety to your routine, and walk with a buddy or group to keep motivated. Be sure to get medical clearance before starting any exercise program.

5. Pray. Research suggests that those who pray every day have a greater sense of well-being. Cultivate your spiritual life in prayer and meditation.

6. Eat Balanced Meals. Eat at least 3 balanced meals throughout the day without skipping a meal. Eat slower and enjoy your food.

7. Take a Nap. Rest rejuvenates the body. Take a 20 minute nap if you feel like you need it, and don’t feel guilty about it.

7 great tips for boosting brain power

One of the findings from recent research is that the human brain is always changing throughout our life. It is always developing and growing new brain cells. This is contrary to the popular myth that we lose brain cells as we age.

This article talks about 7 tips to keep your brain in top shape:

1. Play games

Sudoku, crosswords, playing chess or bridge, dancing regularly and electronic games can all improve your brain’s speed and memory. These games rely on logic, word skills, math and are also fun. You’ll benefit more by doing these games a little bit every day — spend 15 minutes or so, not hours.

2. Meditation

Daily meditation is perhaps the single greatest thing you can do for your mind/body health. Meditation not only relaxes you, it gives your brain a workout. By creating a different mental state, you engage your brain in new and interesting ways while increasing your brain fitness.

3. Turn off your television

Television can stand in the way of relationships, life and more. Turn off your TV and spend more time living and exercising your mind and body.

4. Exercise your body to exercise your brain

Physical exercise is great brain exercise too. By moving your body, your brain has to learn new muscle skills, estimate distance and practice balance. Choose a variety of exercises to challenge your brain.

5. Read something different

Branch out from familiar reading topics. If you usually read history books, try a contemporary novel. Read foreign authors, the classics and random books.

6. Learn a new skill

Learning a new skill works multiple areas of the brain. Your memory comes into play, you learn new movements and you associate things differently. Learning a new language or becoming computer literate is equally good. Reading Shakespeare, learning to cook and building an airplane out of toothpicks all will challenge your brain and give you something to think about.

7. Make simple changes

We love our routines. We have hobbies and pastimes that we could do for hours on end. To really help your brain stay young, challenge it. Change routes to your destinations, use your opposite hand to open doors, and eat dessert, shave, and brush teeth, texting, using the computer mouse. Writing with the other hand is a useful way of using the non-dominant hemisphere to do a component associated with speech – usually located in the dominant hemisphere.

Bad habits can age you by 12 years

This is another startling reminder of how our bad habits can affect us physically and emmotionally.

A recent research suggests that smoking, drinking, no exercise and bad diet can age us by 12 years. The study tracked almost 5,000 British adults over 20 years.

Overall, 314 people studied had all four unhealthy behaviors. Among them, 91 died during the study, or 29%. Among the 387 healthiest people with none of the four habits, only 32 died, or about 8%.

These habits combined substantially increased the risk of death and made people who engaged in them seem 12 years older than people in the healthiest group, said lead researcher Elisabeth Kvaavik of the University of Oslo.

10 benefits of napping

I usually take a quick nap after lunch. I don’t nap in my office but do it in my car. I would close my eyes for a few minutes and drift off to sleep. I always wake up after 5 or 10 minutes. I feel more refresh and calm after this ‘power nap’. Do you take a nap during the day?

This great article talks about the benefits of taking a nap.

The 10 benefits are:

1. Less stress.
2. Increased alertness and productivity.
3. Improved memory and learning.
4. Good for the heart.
5. Increased cognitive functioning.
6. Get motivated to exercise.
7. Boost your creativity.
8. Make up for midnight tossing and turning.
9. Protect yourself from sleepiness.
10. Better health.

Read the article for details of each benefit.

Exercise = happy and healthy life

If you are under tremendous amounts of stress, it can be very tempting to engage in unhealthy habits or activities to try to make you feel better. You may eat too much junk food, drink too much alcohol, smoke or take illegal drugs, which can all help you to calm down temporarily but will only damage your health in the long run. This will not be the case if you decide to use exercise to unwind, as exercise can actually help prolong your life.

Exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy mind and body, which is particularly important when you have a lot of stress in your life. Exercise is an effective way to cope with some of the pressures you face and is much better for you than some of the other alternatives used for stress relief.

As long as you make exercise a regular feature of your life you should feel much healthier and happier, which will make it easier for you to stay upbeat even when life is getting you down. If you combine exercise with a daily meditation practice, you will find that you feel much better about yourself.

Source – Helium

5 tips to help with digital overload

Did you know the average American adult now spends 8 1/2 hours a day staring into screens? We spend more time using media devices such as TVs, computers, cell phones and iPods than doing anything else.

Yesterday, I pointed to a story on NPR about how our modern technology is affecting our brains and hindering our ability to stay focus. Today, I want to share with you things you can do to minimize technology’s impact on your brain.

1. Unplugged from the Net

To prevent digitial overload, you just need to unplug yourself from the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc. You should not feel that you need to always be connected 24/7. If we are open to information 24 hours a day, we give our brains no time to relax, to change modes, to have fun.

2. Reduce your information intake

There is no way we can consume all the information that is out there. If you focus on what you need rather than what others think you want, you may be surprised at how much you can cut out of your online time.

3. Get out and enjoy life

We are constantly glued to our computer, smartphone or TV screens. We need to get out and enjoy some social interaction with other people. Get out and get a life!

4. Practice meditation

Meditation can strengthen connections in certain areas of the brain. Research suggest meditation preserves various regions of the brain. It will also help us to develop our focus and concentration skills that can be lost as a result of digital overload.

5. Get some exercise

One study found that adults who were more physically fit tended to have greater memory than those who are less fit. Physical exercise helps maintain good blood flow to the brain and encourage growth of new brain cells. Also exercise just makes you feel good!

How the digital world is affecting your ability to focus

Do you find yourself having a hard time focusing? This can be a result of digital overload from such things as cell phones, emails, Twitter and Facebook. The average person today consumes almost three times as much information as what the typical person consumed in 1960, according to research at the University of California, San Diego. This story from NPR describes how multitasking on computers and digital gadgets affects the way people process information — and how quickly they can then become distracted. This is a growing problem for almost anyone who uses computers and gadgets throughout the day. It will only get worse as more and more of our lives are connected with the digital world.

15 things in life that drain your energy

In order to live in happy states of mind you need a lot of energy. Your life either gives you energy or takes your energy. You need to setup your life so that it is giving you energy. You can raise your energy by practicing meditation. But if you are not aware of how you are losing energy in your life, then the energy that you gain from meditation will be wasted. Here are 15 things that drain our energy.

Take a breath of fresh air

When you are under extreme stress, you breath is more shallow and comes from your chest. When you are relaxed, you tend to breathe from your abdominal.

Before getting caught in a stressful situation, it is helpful to practice breathing deeply on a regular basis. Deep breathing is relaxing yet energizing. It helps calm the mind by focusing on the breath.

Intentionally paying attention to your breath on a regular basis will teach you how to have more control over your mind. You may think, “I just can’t stop my mind from going.” This may be true to a certain extent. However, if you build your skill of paying attention, you will find that you have more control over when to think and what to think than you previously thought.

Learn more about breathing here.

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