Meditation is like the ocean

If you want to experience the feelings of meditation, look out at the ocean during sunrise and sunset. There is great stillness and silence in nature. That is why we feel good when we spend time in nature. The more time you spend in nature, the more happy and peaceful you will be.

8 execuses for not meditating

We all know the benefits of meditation. But we constantly come up with excuses why we have not established a regular meditation practice. Here are some reasons why we avoid meditating:

1. Can’t sit still. You can sit still if you are totally focused on what you are doing. Remember the last good movie you watched? You were probably so engrossed in the movie that you did not move for a few minutes.

2. Don’t have time. This is the most ironic part about meditation. We do nothing at all, so it seems like we are wasting time. I challenge you to take a week and do meditation, and see if it affects the quantity and quality of what you accomplish in a day, for the better!

3. Too many interruptions. You really need to make time for yourself during the day. Meditation is a gift you can give to yourself. You need to push the world back for a few minutes. I know it is hard for some people but with practice you will see that your world will not fall apart if you don’t respond to every email or phone call right away.

4. Too sick. Meditation can actually help with your recovery, and you don’t have to move to do it. It takes very little effort and energy to meditate.

5. Mind won’t slow down. This is probably the perfect reason why you should do meditation. You will be able to quiet your mind through the practice of meditation.

6. Have already tried, not for me. I hear this so often. We expect to be able to be sitting Buddhas on our first attempt, but it doesn’t work that way. If you can work up to five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes you are going to experience significant changes in your life, so maybe try again?

7. It is too complicated. Meditation is as simple as can be. People try to over-complicate things. They can’t believe something so simple can make them feel so good.

8. Too scared. Totally normal, and I am not sure why. Fear of failure? All of the pictures we see of meditation show perfection – yet that is so far from a lot of the practices I have experienced. People itch, make noises, twitch. I would suggest doing your first meditation on experiencing that fear in your body, move through your body, and just feel it. Don’t control anything. Sit with your feelings and understand that they pass through and that while your body may spasm or make some funny noises, it calms down.

How to get rid of chronic stress

Do you have trouble sleeping or find it really hard to relax? Do you feel overwhelmed by people and things in your life? A lot of us spend our days and weeks running around like headless chickens, frustrated and angry with things, people and ourselves. And new research shows that chronic stress can do as much damage to our bodies as smoking, not eating right or not exercising. Here’s how you can combat this silent killer and start to feel a bit more chilled out:

1. Learn to manage your time better. Learn to prioritize, delegate and say no more often. Time management skills will not only free up time, but also precious mind space. By simply making a to do list and prioritizing urgent and important tasks over things that can be put off, delegated or deleted, you will notice you can get more done with the time you have.

2. Exercise regularly. Exercise is not a luxury or a choice. Whether it is a power walk, a cycle, or a fitness class, it doesn’t have to last long, it just needs to be intense enough to get you out of breath and break into a good sweat. Exercise helps your muscles and your mind relax and as a consequence you’ll get to sleep better too.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Why worry about the traffic not moving fast enough, about other people’s annoying habits, or the rain? First, recognise what is been stressing you out. Then, decide to do something about those things you have control over, and let go of those things you have no control over.

4. Avoid stressors such as alcohol, cigarettes, sugary foods and wheat.
These put your system under immense strain. If you lead a high stress life you can at least help yourself by eating well. Make sure most of what you eat is fresh seasonal produce

5. Breathe! When we are stressed out we tend to hold our breath or breathe quick and shallow therefore taking in little oxygen to our lungs, brain, organs and muscles. Try this out: Inhale for four counts, imagine that your belly is a rubber balloon and you are slowly filling it with air. Hold your breath for four counts. Now, exhale for eight counts, making sure your belly stays relaxed as it lets the air out. You may feel that after four counts you need to expel all the air out. That’s fine. Empty your lungs fully before you take another deep breath into your belly. Repeat eight to ten times.

5 ways to cultivate happiness

Happiness is a person choice that we make everyday. Your choices, thoughts and actions can influence your level of happiness. Below are some great tips for cultivating happiness:

1. Surround yourself with happy people. Being around people who are content buoys your own mood. And by being happy yourself, you give something back to those around you.

2. Express gratitude. Gratitude is more than saying thank you. It’s a sense of wonder, appreciation and, yes, thankfulness for life. Make a commitment to practice gratitude. Each day identify at least one thing that enriches your life. When you find yourself thinking an ungrateful thought, try substituting a grateful one. Let gratitude be the last thought before you go off to sleep. Let gratitude also be your first thought when you wake up in the morning.

3. Cultivate optimism. Develop the habit of seeing the positive side of things. If you’re not an optimistic person by nature, it may take time for you to change your pessimistic thinking. Start by recognizing negative thoughts as you have them.

4. Find your purpose. Having a goal provides a sense of purpose, bolsters self-esteem and brings people together. What your goal is doesn’t matter as much as whether the process of working toward it is meaningful to you. Try to align your daily activities with the long-term meaning and purpose of your life.

5. Live in the moment. Don’t postpone joy waiting for a day when your life is less busy or less stressful. That day may never come. Instead, look for opportunities to savor the small pleasures of everyday life. Focus on the positives in the present moment. Don’t spend your time rehashing the past or worrying about the future. Take time to stop and smell the flowers.

Breathing meditation exercises for stress

Your breath is a barometer of your state of mind. You can tell whether you are stressed or calm by the way you are breathing. Did you know that breathing meditation is one of the most helpful ways to reduce stress? The following simple breath meditation can be done anywhere at anytime:

Sit quietly:

Before you begin, sit quietly for a few moments and allow yourself to relax and unwind. Make sure you are comfortable and there are no distractions. Listen to the sound of your breath and feel your chest rise and fall with each in and out breath.

Focus on your breathing:

Take three deep breaths, exhaling fully each time, then breathe naturally. Do not try to slow your breathing down; allow it to find its own gentle, easy rhythm. Let yourself relax as you feel yourself breathe in and out. Be conscious of the life energy entering your body with each breath.

Visualize:

As you inhale, imagine yourself being filled with light and love. As you breathe out, visualize all the worries and anxieties and any tension resulting from stress leaving your body. Feel yourself becoming light and the sensation of deep inner peace.

Enter the calm, still space:

See your breath as a continual circle. Each inhalation leads naturally to exhalation, flowing into each other. Allow yourself to relax with this process and to journey deeper into your essential self; that calm, still space within you where your breath takes you to. You will now be feeling relaxed and at peace. When thoughts arise, don’t try to push them away. Merely bring your attention back to your breathing and those thoughts will go.

Just be:

As you journey further into this relaxed state, allow yourself to drift with it. Your breath is now the vehicle that carries you effortlessly and even an awareness of your breathing rhythm may slip away at this point. Allow yourself to just be.

Coming back:

When you are ready, take three deep breaths, then breathe normally. Wriggle your fingers and toes, and slowly open your eyes. You will return to a normal state feeling more relaxed and happy.

Learning to control and use your breath will not only help you in your daily life relieving you of stress, but will make meditation more effective.

4 ways to boost your immune system

I can’t believe summer is over. Autumn and winter usually ushers in more colds and flus for people because of the amount of time we spend indoors. There are 5 ways to build your immunity naturally to protect yourself from germs and viruses. I picked 4 ways that I really like below:

1. Add Some Sunshine
Researchers are quickly catching on that Vitamin D may be the secret to avoiding colds and flu. Vitamin D plays an important role in strengthening your defense system to better fight any invading viruses and bacteria.

2. Get some exercise
Most of us are aware of all the amazing benefits exercise has for our overall health and well-being. Few of us, however, know that exercise is one of the most powerful ways to boost the immune system. The amount of exercise required to obtain an immune boost is relatively low. Twenty minutes of brisk walking 4-5 times per week has been shown to significantly improve the body’s immune response.

3. Eat healthy
Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will make sure that your body is getting all the vitamins and minerals essential to fighting off colds and flu. Fruits and vegetables are packed with thousands of phytochemicals.

4. Keep balanced
When we experience stress, the natural balance of the body is affected in ways we could never imagine. In fact, stress takes an enormous toll on the immune system. For this reason, it’s important to find ways to bring the body back into balance. Meditation, prayer, exercise, and yoga are all great ways of taking care of yourself and keeping stress levels low.

Meditation may relieve fatigue and depression in multiple sclerosis patients

A new study discovered that mindfulness meditation could help patients with multiple sclerosis who often suffer from depression and anxiety.

Researchers randomly selected 150 patients to take part in an eight-week meditation program based on mindfulness or receive regular medical care. Patients in the training program were asked to focus on mental exercises that were intended to develop non-judgmental awareness of the current moment, or mindfulness.

The training was held every day for about two and a half hours. One all-day retreat and 40 minutes a day of homework assignments were also included in the course.

The patients who were selected in the meditation program reported lower levels of fatigue and depression than those receiving the standard medical care.

This study is more evidence that meditation can be used in place of drugs in some instances.

Source: BusinessWeek

How to Live an ‘Inside-Out’ Life

Douglas LaBier talks about how a strong inner life is the core of psychological health. Here are a few lines that I liked:

Meditation heightens your consciousness and mental control. It also contributes to a stronger immune system and a more robust cardiovascular system. It shifts your perspective towards just observing the ebb and flow of your emotional states with less knee-jerk reactivity to them. It’s like filling an inner reservoir with clarity and mindfulness that you can carry with you in each moment within your outer life.

Research shows that people who practice positive emotions through meditation show heightened brain activity in regions linked with joy and humor; with feelings of compassion towards people who suffer. They also show diminished brain activity in regions associated with negative or destructive emotions like anger, resentment, depression or self-pity. This indicates that you can physically modify your brain through conscious practice. The upshot is that you can actually learn to “grow” compassion, tolerance and cheerfulness. In effect, what you think and feel is what you become.

The benefits of making time in your day for exercise

Like meditation, there are so many benefits to exercise. If you plan to live a happy and healthy life, I highly recommend you incorporate daily exercise into your life. Here are 5 reasons to exercise:

1. Reduce stress levels. Stress is to blame for many health problems in society. It’s also deadly. Exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of stress and make you feel much more relaxed. It’s a great way to unwind and take a break from work and family worries. Even thirty minutes of walking after work can make you feel ten times better than when you left the office.

2. Burn excess calories that you’ve consumed over the course of the day. Many people overeat every day hence the obesity epidemic going around. By taking some exercise every day you immediately reduce your chances of becoming obese. If you’re already overweight a dose of daily exercise can help you shed those excess kilograms and make you feel more positive about your body.

3. Improve your sleeping patterns by getting more quality sleep. Exercise uses up energy and it makes you feel energized. It also allows for a good nights’ sleep. It will be much easier to fall asleep and sleep through the night if you’ve managed to fit in some exercise to your day. You’ll be able to train your body to sleep a certain amount of hours which will give you the stamina to work and exercise at your best.

4. Relax by having some time to do something for you. Most people use up their time doing things for others. At work it’s for their boss. At home it’s for their families and loved ones. Exercise gives you the time to do something for yourself which is just as important as doing things for others. No one is going to take better care of you than you can of yourself. Exercise is all about you, make the most of it.

5. Food tastes better after a good workout. Food is supposed to be enjoyed but if you’re always eating and not taking the time to burn off the food and give your body a chance to go hungry, your meals won’t taste the same. Making the time to exercise every day helps you burn calories and feel hungry. During hunger your meals will be much tastier and probably even healthier than if you miss a workout.

Meditation can help ease stress and pain

This nice article talks about the benefit of meditation in reducing stress and pain.
I truly feel that we are too quick to reach for prescription drugs to relieve our physical and/or mental symptoms. Drugs can help some people but we should also explore other alternatives such as exercise, meditation and yoga.

Meditation can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression and help manage chronic pain very effectively. But it will not happen overnight. We need to give it time for this beautiful practice to work its magic.

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