Meditate for Better Health

So what exactly is meditation?  Meditation can mean different things to different people. To some, it is something weird or eerie that Buddhist monks do. To others, it is something they think they could never do because they don’t have the patience. To others, meditation is a life-changing experience that gives them mental clarity, less stress, and better physical health. Which of these will meditation be to you?

The good news is that meditation can be a life-changing experience for anyone. You don’t need any special skills, mental super powers, or inductions into secret societies. Meditation simply means mastery of the mind. We can all do that to some degree. Imagine a big, sweet, sticky cinnamon bun, dripping with frosting. It’s easy, right?  You were probably able to control your mind and bring that image into your awareness with a simple instruction. Unfortunately, we don’t focus on controlling our minds very much.  Our thoughts tend to run wild, causing chaos, lack of focus, fear, anxiety, and stress.

Imagine your internal dialogue any time during the day.  Our minds tend to fly from one thought to the next, thinking of problems, solutions, fears, things we are looking forward to, memories of the past, etc. The thoughts are like bubbles coming up through water, and as each one hits the surface, it is in our attention until the next one appears. This is a hugely inefficient and stressful way of thinking.

The goal of meditation is to wrestle control of these bubbling thoughts, and replace them with a fixed thought or series of thoughts, which calms the mind and reduces the internal chatter. In many ways this acts as brain rest, which allows the brain time to recharge and collect itself. It is better than sleep, since when we sleep our minds can be just as active, running rampant through our dreams.

Meditation has been scientifically shown to alter brain waves measured by electroencephalogram. It can reduce stress, and in turn, reduce stress-induced disease. In the world of ancient yoga, it was believed that meditation helped you approach a state of complete bliss without care or worry, completely at peace with yourself and the world. Yoga postures were designed to prepare the body for breathing exercises (pranayama), which were in turn designed to prepare the mind for meditation. So the whole premise behind yoga was that of preparation for more efficient meditation.

There are many types and styles of meditation. In one of the simpler methods, we select a pleasing image (such as the cinnamon bun), an object we associate with, or a memory.  We try to fix the mind on this object or place, and keep thinking about it. If the mind wanders off to the thoughts, we bring it back to this image, and keep doing that until the meditation session is over. Meditation sessions can be minutes or hours (even days) in duration, depending on your goal. There are definite health benefits to even a few minutes of meditation every day. Starting with a modest goal is very reasonable.

With a little practice, this process becomes easier and easier. It becomes possible to drop into meditation almost anywhere, even for a few moments, to help clear the mind and rejuvenate, or de-stress. There is nothing mystical about any of this, it is just a clearing of the mental bubbling.  Anyone who is capable of thinking is capable of doing it.

Fuel

How do you fuel yourself?

  • Working-out
  • Outdoor activities
  • Food
  • Family and friends
  • Music
  • Quiet…?

Recently a student stated, “Remind me what the 5 Koshas represent.”

Read More

Digesting and Transforming Through Transitions

Change in our life comes in many different ways.  Sometimes we plan for the change.  A retirement, career change, moving, or getting married are examples of things that we often consciously choose.  Other changes blow in like a strong wind that destroys any sense of order and stability.

Read More

Boredom

Did you grow up in a family where there was little time for boredom or do you remember days of announcing to anyone that would listen, ‘I’m bored!’

As an adult trying to stay physically active and mentally sharp, boredom can be a challenge.

Muscles get bored with repetitive activity while the multi-tasking mind needs a respite from over-stimulation.

When the body and mind call out for something to spark curiosity and ignite creativity, your yoga is listening.

Read More

The Yoga of Heart: A Simple Practice

We all exist within our own unique expression of physical structure, physiology, mind, personality and heart. These layers of our being, also known as the koshas or sheaths or layers of being, provide a passageway into our deep center, the cave of our heart.

Read More

Renew Again Every Day

Yoga is a daily renewal, a practice of stopping, slowing down, breathing and moving consciously, witnessing thoughts, and setting or renewing intentions. This daily renewal might be just 5 minutes of conscious breathing, 10 minutes of meditation, or a 20 minute yoga posture practice that helps you prepare for or unwind from your day. Whatever you commit to practice will often have de-stressing effects that stay with you for 24 hours and help you strengthen will and change habits.

Read More

Breathe Your Way to Vitality & Stress Reduction

I’m a skeptic.  I’m not into the latest diet craze, exercise routine, electronic device or trendy clothing designer.  I don’t own a purse that costs more than the monthly home mortgage.  But I am into science and I love what research continues to teach us about our experiences as human beings.  I was skeptical but intrigued when a master level yoga teacher challenged a group of us to take 5 minutes each day to breathe deeply to see if it changed our lives.

Read More

Using Yoga for EmBODIED Awareness

Conscious Eating, Active Living, Habit Change

Can the tools of yoga help us change our habits?  Yoga is a powerful practice for transformation and change.  The tools of yoga can be applied in specific ways to help us strengthen will and change habits around food, exercise and body image.

Read More

Cultivating Contentment

con·tent·ment
noun kən-ˈtent-mənt : the state of being happy and satisfied : the state of being content

We all want happiness and contentment.  My teacher, Gary Kraftsow, says that santosha, the Sanskrit word for contentment, is “the way you take experience.”  It’s an internal state of mind and attitude that permeates your internal being, words and actions.

Read More