Tag Archives: meditation

How to Deal With Stress in a Large Family

StressIn my last post, I walked through how to prevent stress in a large family. But some days, despite best efforts, family members experience stress. Kids feed off of the stress from their parents and siblings, so in a big family stress can spread among family members quickly. Parents can use stress management techniques to enable the family to combat stress and avoid the negative health effects prolonged stress causes.

 1. Interact with your loved ones.

Spending time with family members helps you avoid overreacting to the stressful situation, helps calm your nervous system by being around others who make you feel safe and loved, and releases hormones to reduce stress. Taking a moment to chat with your child about his day or playing a game with your daughter can help you, your child, or both manage stress.

 2. Play stress management games.

While physical versions of these activities are preferred, online versions can be a great tool for your kids (and you) to manage stress -check it out here. Online Zen gardens, creating kaleidoscopes, and playing with stress balls can be a fun way for your family to play and reduce stress at the same time. You can involve your whole family in a game, such as getting everyone to paint on an online easel and then share what they created.

 3. Go for a walk.

Exercising with a short walk offers many health benefits, particularly stress reduction. After a few minutes outside focusing on something other than the stressor, stress levels go down. Take a solo walk, or gather your whole family to spend time together outside.

4. De-Stress after work.

Be intentional about de-stressing after work. Don’t carry stress from work home with you, it can set a stressed out tone for your family in the evening. Moms and dads should take time to meditate, do an essential oils massage, or whatever they need to reduce stress after a long day.

With large families come a number of people who can become stressed. Using stress management techniques helps decrease the stress in the family member and keeps the stress from spreading. Play around with different techniques to see what works for your family, and remember a low stress family is a happy healthy family!

Finding Your “Zen Moment” Every Day

Life is stressful. Period. It’s easy to get caught up in running around, getting to meetings, rushing to pick up the kids, sitting in rush hour traffic, killing yourself to meet deadlines…the list can feel endless. But the good news is that there IS time for you to have your daily moment of Zen, I promise. So let’s get started.

Wellness Coach
First, define for yourself what you want your Zen moment to look like. Do you want to commit to meditating ten minutes a day? Have you wanted to start taking walks at lunchtime? Are you happiest when you take a time out with your favorite latte? Whatever it is, identify an activity you can do every day that’s for yourself and will make you happy. If that feels like a lot—start small.

Okay, now you know what you want to do, but you’re wondering how you’re ever going to find the time. You’re running around from the second the alarm goes off to the second your head hits the pillow. Easy. Schedule time with yourself. No matter what the activity (hopefully you’ve chosen something healthy!), put it on your calendar and commit to it. Treat it like any other obligation. No, that doesn’t sound very Zen-like, but if that’s what it takes to get you to be good to yourself, so be it.

It takes 28 days to form a habit. Stick to it and before you know it, your Zen moment will be a part of your everyday life. And you’ll notice that you’ll start looking forward to it. It won’t be something you’re forcing yourself to do because it’s on your calendar. It willfeel good to commit to yourself, to have some quiet time, time to just breathe and be with yourself. Plus, it’s so good for you.

Daily Zen moments will allow you to focus better, manage stress better and be an all around happier person. And who doesn’t want that!?

8 Reasons You Should Probably Try Meditation

CoachMeditation may not be the easiest habit to form, but it could be one of the most rewarding. Meditation has the studies behind it that prove it’s good for you to do. From personal experience, I can tell you that although it was definitely a struggle at first, meditation is something I began to look forward to. I noticed a difference in my mood, the way I reacted to work stress, as well as my general stress level. But if you don’t want to take my word for it, check out eight great reasons that studies show meditation is good for you

1. Lower your stress levels. Much like yoga, meditation helps to relax your nervous system. This helps to lower the level of cortisol in your system, and that’s a good thing. When you’re sympathetic nervous system is constantly engaged your body takes a beating. In today’s go-go-go world, it’s pretty common to live in a constant low-level stress state. Meditation gives your system a break

2. Sleep better. If you meditate before bed, it can help slow down the busyness of your mind, allowing you to fall asleep easier and stay asleep

3. Be more creative. Calming your mind, your body and your nervous system can help you focus, bringing greater clarity of thought. When you’re focused you’re freer to be more creative

4. Improve your mood. If you’re less stressed and are sleeping better, then you’re two steps closer to feeling better

5. Get a better handle on your emotions. When you meditate on a regular basis, you learn how to watch thoughts and emotions bubble up without engaging with them. This extends into your everyday life, so when you encounter life’s little obstacles, you’re less apt to react without thinking first

6. Improve your memory. Research proves that regular meditation can thicken the brain’s cerebral cortex due to increased blood flow. Learning, memory and concentration take place in the outer cortex, so meditating can help improve all three

7.Be your own fountain of youth. Every time you stress about something, cortisol is released and your body pays for it, becoming a little bit older. Lowering your cortisol level isn’t just good for your stress level, is also helps to save brain cells. High levels of cortisol can kill off those precious cells leading to cognitive issues. So in the same way it helps you better your memory, it also helps maintain the life of your brain cells and cells throughout the rest of your body

8. Increase your overall health. Better mood, healthier brain and restful sleep…it’s no wonder your overall health will improve. But that’s not all; studies also show that meditation can have a positive impact on your heart, as well as other organs throughout your body.

This is just a brief overview of some of the wonderful affects meditation can have on your body and mind. And maybe best of all—it’s free! All you need is you. So if you’d like to be calmer, happier and healthier, why not give meditation a try?

Finding Your Happy

at-home yogaHappiness

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’ve probably heard a teacher say that deep down inside we are nothing but love and happiness. I know I’ve heard that countless times, and while I always wanted to believe it, I never truly felt that in the core of my being I was a happy person. I had struggled with depression on and off for too long to feel like I was anything but a sad person fighting my way into the sunlight.

I’m not saying that I am not happy these days; I’ve worked hard to get to a place of happiness, stability and self-awareness, but there was always a part of me that felt like all of that was a fragile state. At any moment the dark chemicals in my brain would take over again and shatter the balance when I’d be least expecting it. But then I went to India.

It was a trip I didn’t necessarily want to take, it was one I felt like I had to take. I didn’t know what was in store and what I learned in those two weeks is hard to describe. But there was one day, one moment even, which changed everything.

It was the second morning of our stay at the Govardhan Eco Village. Three pilgrimage groups had come together to do sunrise yoga in a gorgeous wooden yoga shala lined with giant windows that looked out into the mountains that surrounded us. Kirtan was being sung; the sun was rising over the mountains and shining in through the windows, taking the morning chill out of the air. And there I was—in India.

In that moment, I took in the sounds, the smells and the energy. There was no work stress, no money stress, no everyday life stress—there was just love. There was music, love, support and happiness pouring out from everyone around me and filling the room. And as hippie as that may sound, I felt it wash over me and ignite every cell in my body. I was alive and completely free. I felt light and happy—completely happy. Before I knew it I was crying tears of joy. That morning and that feeling will stay with me forever.

It wasn’t until I got home and was talking about that morning that it dawned on me: I am not a sad person trying to be happy, I’m a happy person who just needed to clean the dirt off of the lens (albeit, a lot of dirt). Knowing, feeling and truly believing that there is a core of utter bliss inside me, whether or not I am able to find it on a daily basis, changed what I thought I was made of deep down. It completely changed my perspective on life.

Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to hop a plane and go spend two weeks in India. What I am saying is that, for most of us, there is something in this world that makes us truly happy, that allows us to tap into that core of love and happiness each one of us has inside. There is something out in the world that makes you feel connected and alive. There is something that will help you clean off your lens.

I encourage you to find what that is. And if you don’t know, or it takes sometime (or help) to find, know that it’s okay. It took me 35 years, several medications, various hobbies, entirely too many drinks and trips all around the world to find my inner peace. But finding it, finding my footing in this world was worth every second of the struggle.

Meditation Styles to Suit Your Personality

Just like there are different styles of yoga, there are different styles of meditation. If you’re eager to start a meditation practice, explore your options and find one that works for your goals and your personality.

Here are a few meditation styles to help you start on your journey.

meditation styles

Guided Meditation

Personally, I would recommend this for beginners. The mind is so busy and running all over the place that it can be helpful to have a reminder that you should come back to your breath, or whatever your focus point is. You can find recordings online and sometimes your local yoga studio will have guided meditation classes. It can be helpful to do it in person with a guide when you are just beginning.

Breath Meditation

When I started meditating, I used guided meditation to help keep me focused. But once I got used to the process, I moved to breath meditation, as I found it less distracting. It’s just what it sounds like—you focus on your breath. Notice the length and depth of your breath, but do not get involved in a conversation with yourself about it. If your mind wanders, come back to your breath.

Concentration Meditation

During this type of meditation, you focus on a single point. So, in theory, breath meditation could also be considered concentration meditation, since the breath is the “one point.” But this could also mean staring at a candle flame, a picture of a beloved place or person, or even repeating a mantra to yourself. When you notice your mind running off, come back to your point of focus.

Metta Meditation

This is also known as loving-kindness meditation. When you practice metta meditation, you first find kindness and love for yourself, then others, including those you do not like. Then you move to wishing and cultivating love for all living being. A common metta meditation is: May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be free.Then thinking of someone you love, followed by someone you dislike, followed by all beings you say: May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free.

Walking Meditation

This is “meditation in action”. The focus in walking meditation is on the physical act of walking. Don’t have a destination, walk for the sake of walking, and the purpose of using it as time to meditate.

Guided Visualization

Here you have a guide, generally in the form of a recording. All you need to do is listen to what he or she is saying and let your mind follow. This can help foster deep relaxation and help improve overall well being by the use of positive imagery.

No matter what you choose, give yourself the time to explore what works for you. I’ve been told that when a person starts meditating they should choose one method and stick with it to fully explore everything it has to offer. But I do think it’s okay to try a few on in the beginning. Eventually you’ll find yourself coming back to one form or another. Then the real journey begins.

Why Diets Don’t Work

If you walk into a bookstore on any given day, chances are you’ll see a section designated specifically to diet books. The newest trend diet that promises you that you’ll drop fifteen pounds in two days or that you’ll have rock hard abs in less than 24 hours. Only cabbage soup? Microwaveable meals that are chock-full of processed chemicals and preservatives? If you’ve been in the ring for a while, knocking yourself out with one diet trend after another, you’re probably beginning to realize that a book claiming to zap your pounds away is not the answer.

Unfortunately we are conditioned to believe that we must be a size zero or look a certain way and apparently the media does a marvelous job at marketing these tactics to us via diet trends, social media, celebrity figures, etc. It’s no wonder that we’ve lost touch with our wild, human and might I add, feminine nature. How is it that no other species, but us, relies on a diet book or doctor to tell them what to eat? If you go outside right now, you will be surrounded by wildlife. Wildlife that is functioning in perfect alignment with what is truly innate to it. Frolicking in the sun. Eating what is provided by nature. Moving the body and taking appropriate amounts of time for restoration.

I’m going to share a not-so-secret secret with you: diets don’t work!

Why Diets Don’t Work

1. Diets are created simply to attract us to these ideas. The more extreme, the more likely it is to have a following just for that reason. The truth is they are not sustainable over long periods of time. Our bodies are incredibly resilient, but they can only take so much negligence. Eventually your body will begin attacking itself and a number of horrible things can transpire. Weight gain, lackluster or acne-prone skin, or even worse–autoimmune deficiencies, disease or even cancer can result from not taking care of our precious bodies.

2. The key to unlocking good health relies simply on dropping the idea that you can lose weight, improve your skin, or whatever it may be, through the newest diet. The answer is to listen to your body and make a lifestyle change! This may sound strange to you, but imagine battling your cravings by actually understanding what you are craving, why you are craving, and how you can emotionally, physically or spiritually release that craving. Typically when a person craves sugar, for example, we don’t even think about the fact that we are even craving it other than the mere seconds it takes for us to swallow a candy bar whole. By making a lifestyle change you begin to realize what your trigger cravings are, what nutrients may be lacking or over-abundant and what foods or activities it will take to heal that craving.

3. If you are craving sugar, it is entirely possible that your craving has nothing to do with wanting sugar, but wanting something to give you instant energy. The downside to consuming sugar is the immediate spike in blood sugar, which ultimately leads to a quick crash, thus perpetuating the cycle of needing even more sugar. Perhaps what you really need is extra or better quality sleep at night to lessen your chances of being energetically deprived during the day. Or maybe you simply need foods that will nourish your body with vitamins and minerals that will actually give you sustained energy without the painstaking crash later on.

4. Eating food should be about pleasure, nourishment and of course fueling ourselves with nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It should not be about deprivation, starvation, skipping meals, or loading up on processed, chemical-laden “low-fat” or “sugar-free” foods. Taking a more mindful approach to healing your body will help you release your fear of making a lifestyle change–which is not just about what you eat, but how you live your life. A lifestyle change requires an open mind and heart, a positive attitude and a willingness to experiment with new ideas.

5. Keep in mind that each person on this planet is unique in what is needed to heal on a body-mind-soul level. The foods that nourish one may sicken another. Get familiar with eating only fresh, organic whole foods. These are foods that are provided to us in their natural form, straight from Mama Gaia herself! Whether you choose to nutrify yourself with animals products or not is up to you. I encourage you to experiment with all whole foods and find what makes you glow and what doesn’t quite sit right in your body. Keep a food journal each day and write down what you ate, how it was prepared and how you feel minutes and hours after consuming it. This will help you find out which foods trigger allergic reactions or sensitivities.

why diets don't work

Lifestyle Changes

As mentioned before, a lifestyle change is not just about nutrition. It’s about your life as a whole. Take some quiet time each day to check in with yourself. A few moments of deep breathing, meditation, or reflection on a daily basis will help you relax and find inner peace. We often forget how to simply be. We focus too much of our time on being perfect and getting copious amounts of work done. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but it is completely necessary to have time to just be as well as time to devote solely to yourself! Practice some yoga, journal or snuggle up with a good book and a green smoothie.

Moving your body daily is just as important as eating delicious whole foods. Skip the judgment and do something you love! Did you have a blast hula hooping as a kid? Order a dance or fitness hoop online and release your inner goddess! Perhaps you enjoy swimming? Hit the beach and frolic in the waves or dive into a pool at your local gym! The possibilities for movement and play are truly endless. Just focus on having fun, working up a sweat and releasing the glow from within!

Another crucial factor of a lifestyle change is getting ample amounts of high-quality sleep. High-quality sleep is delicious! This kind of sleep can be described as deep, uninterrupted, soul restoring, clutter releasing, nourishing and energizing. Once you have this kind of sleep you’ll never want to go back to late night caffeine binges, midnight snacks or hours of mind-numbing television. In order to have better, more restful sleep you should skip eating late, drinking little to no caffeine or having small amounts early in the day, and turning all technological devices off a few hours before bedtime. Having nighttime rituals like yoga, deep breathing, hot tea or a warm bath might help you sink into deep, enticing sleep.

Want to know another easy tip to long-lasting health? Drink more water! Yes, water is ultra healing if you didn’t already know that! Our bodies are comprised of mostly water, which we lose through bodily functions like sweat and urination, so it only makes sense to hydrate with more water in order to replenish those lost minerals. If you find drinking water to be difficult, try adding some berries, cucumber, lemon or lime slices to a mason jar and top with water and ice. You can start a challenge with your friends or colleagues to see who can drink the most water, or you can carry a water bottle around with you as a reminder.

Changing your lifestyle habits doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take patience, lots of love and kindness towards yourself. This is a journey and we are all in this together. If we continue to listen to our bodies and take action to heal, then we will always be in alignment with nature and the cycle of life.

 

6 Tips for Finding Self-Love

Love is a beautiful, enchanting thing. It is held dearly and shared amongst friends, lovers, and relatives, passed down through generations like a precious heirloom. It’s that one thing we all yearn for so desperately. We search endlessly for it, lifetime after lifetime, seeking out the comfort of love in all the wrong places, and if we’re lucky, in all the right places. It resides in between pages of novels about star-crossed lovers and in the hearts of new mothers’, cradling their babies for the first time. Love is the key to a peaceful world, a better place, a new hope. Imagine a world filled with not only love for others, but love for ourselves. A love so deeply rooted within our bones and soul that it’s only natural to let it flow freely. We seem to have disconnected completely from our inner spirit, our love, and the degradation of our self-love burns a bright path to slowly destroying our planet as a result. We can heal this though.  It starts with each of us and our ability to love ourselves through and through and building that sacred bond that transforms us entirely. Self-love can be renewed, built or simply maintained by following some healing core concepts as defined. Come in to this experience with an open heart and mind in tow.

Find Your Self-Love

● Self love starts with self-acceptance: It’s easy to be hard on yourself or to punish yourself for being a certain way, doing a certain thing or showing a specific behavior. Everyone has self-doubt, an inner shadow within your ego that belittles you for what you ate for breakfast or how little work you did over the weekend. In order to begin the flow of authentic self-love, you must accept yourself fully and truly. Instead of focusing on the negative aspect of something or judging yourself, simply accept whatever it may be and say to yourself aloud “I accept this part of me and I release any negative energy surrounding it. I choose to heal and live in a path of love and light towards myself.” Then simply let that thought go. You can practice this in a moment of self-judgement to bring awareness to any self-destructive habits and replace it with thoughts of abundant love.

● Look into your own eyes: You know that feeling of staring dreamily into your partner’s eyes? Try channeling that love while looking into your own eyes in the mirror. You can do this as a daily practice for a set number of minutes or simply do this anytime you come face to face with yourself, perhaps while washing your hands in the bathroom, applying your makeup or brushing your teeth. However long you choose to do this self-love mirror work, release any snap judgements
or harshness. Smile gently. Feel the love, warm and radiant, flowing through your entire body as you lock eyes with your reflection. She is you and she is beautiful. Acknowledge and accept yourself as you are, find something to love in the things you feel that you don’t. Saying positive affirmation aloud can be incredibly beneficial during this self-love ritual. Something as simple as “I love you,” or “You are beautiful,” can be effective in generating more awareness and love within.Self-Love

● Set aside time for you: Life is busy and hectic, but that’s no excuse to deny yourself some pleasure or relaxation. Carve out some time in your schedule each day to do something just for you. It can be as extravagant or indulgent as you want. Do you have a stack of books you’ve been itching to read? Pour yourself a cup of tea, sink down into your favorite chair and dive into the first one on your list. Is your body trying to tell you that it’s exhausted? Accept this with love and draw yourself a hot bath, toss in some epsom salts, a few drops of lavender essential oil, and soak luxuriously while listening to your favorite playlist by candlelight.

● Eat whole foods that nourish YOUR body: Getting caught up in the newest diet trend is a waste of your precious time and money. The real secret to losing weight, increasing energy and living a healthier, happier life is by eating real food. Everyone is unique and learning what foods make you glow inside and out will align you with your true path to healing, thus perpetuating the wondrous cycle of self love. It’s been said that when you look good, you feel good and perhaps even more rightly so, when you feel good, you look good. When you take the time to give your body what it actually needs, you are operating from a place of love and understanding. Real food can be defined as whole, unprocessed, and fresh. So whether you are an omnivore or a plant-based eater, you will undoubtedly benefit from choosing organic whole foods to nourish yourself–mind, body and soul. Our wellness coach can help you create a meal plan based on real food and give you more information about the impact of ingredients on your overall health.

● Embrace your passion: No matter what it is that you’re passionate about, whether it’s living a healthy lifestyle or a specific hobby, such as dancing or painting, pursue it wholeheartedly. Never let anyone or anything stop you from embracing who you are and what you enjoy or want. When you make the time to live in your passion zone, you are living on course with your authentic self. Authenticity is a catalyst for abundant self-love in all areas of your life.

● Be more mindfully sensual and feel: You don’t necessarily have to make this practice about enticing or attracting a mate or your partner. This practice is for you and your inner goddess. Take some time out to simply feel your body in the moment. If you’re doing yoga, feel your muscles stretch gently and be mindful of each movement as you transition to another pose. Or learn to start meditation. If you are drinking a beverage, engage all of your senses and feel the liquid as it swirls on your taste buds, igniting them. Simply be in your body and feel each pulse, each trigger, each touch or aroma you encounter. Experience it in that brief and fleeting moment. Take it all in and allow it to fuel your desire to be even more mindful. Nothing is more delicious than feeling every sensation and generating that positive self-love while doing so. Being in touch with your body is the gateway to self-love, so embrace it fully and without regard.

How to Start Meditation

Meditation is a mindful process and just another piece to overall wellness. We like to think of health as a whole, not just individual pieces. There are many aspects that go in to overall health, and none are less important than another because they all are connected. Part of our health and wellness coaching discusses Meditation and Yoga and the impact it can have on your health.

Meditation

Meditation isn’t easy in the beginning. If it was, everyone would be doing it and we’d all be happier, healthier, slightly saner people. My first attempt at meditation went a little something like this…Meditation

About a minute into the guided meditation, I began sweating and felt like I was on fire—this from just sitting still. As my body temperature began to rise, my brain started spewing thoughts uncontrollably. I felt like I was miserably failing meditation, which continued the complete loss of concentration. This went on for five minutes, the entire time, I wanted to get up and run out of the room.

I thought I had to silence my mind and my mind fought it the entire way. What I didn’t realize that first night was that I was missing the point. The noise doesn’t quiet down; it’s all about how you deal with it. When you learn to not engage with your thoughts, you find stillness in your mind, your breath, and your body.

Sounds nice, right? So how do you get there? Start small. I can’t stress that enough. If you go into meditation thinking you’re going to be sitting down for a half hour in a state of bliss, well, that’s probably not going to happen. In the beginning, five minutes will likely feel like an eternity. Start with three and see how it feels.

There are several different types of meditation, but I found in the beginning it was incredibly helpful to have a guided meditation practice. There are plenty available online. There are even apps you can purchase for your phone that will walk you through a meditation. Another popular technique is to focus on your breathing.

Breathe

  • If you have a yoga practice, it helps to meditate after yoga. (That is the point of yoga, after all; it prepares the body for meditation.)
  • Find a comfortable place to sit. You can sit upright in a chair with your feet grounded on the floor or you can sit cross-legged on the floor. If you decide to sit on the floor, it could help to sit up on a pillow or a rolled blanket to elevate your hips.
  • Once you’re seated comfortably, close your eyes, take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale. Sit up tall. Picture warm water running from the center of your head and slowing washing over your body. Let each muscle slowly relax and as you picture the water running over it.
  • Softly focus on your breath. As thoughts come up, don’t engage with them. Acknowledge them and then let them go. Imagine they are a parade and you’re just watching them go by. If you get attached to one, notice it, then let go and refocus on your breath.
  • You want to move as little as possible during your meditation so your mind doesn’t get distracted. Notice if you get frustrated or uncomfortable at any point. This is normal. Just like your thoughts, let the emotions come and go without attaching to them. If you get lost, it’s okay, just remember to come back to your breath once you notice your mind has wandered.

Remember, this is the practice. And you have to practice at anything to get better at it. Your mind will never be completely empty. If you’re having a hard time getting started because your mind is so busy, try starting your meditation when you are the calmest. If that is in the morning before the day begins, try then. Some people do better after they have tackled the events and can let it all go, so maybe the afternoon or evening is best for them.

As you practice this more and more, you’ll start to apply the letting go to your daily life. If you get frustrated at work or mad in traffic, life’s little annoyances will be easier and easier to let go of. Eventually, you will learn how to engage less and less with your thoughts and just notice them. Slowly increase the length of your meditation and you’ll notice that sitting still with your thoughts gets a little easier each time.

Good luck!