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September 17, 2020
Stress is such a big glow killer in our lives and not only that, it shows up in our lives and on our faces. It throws your hormones out of whack, disrupts the thyroid, can lead to weight gain, zaps energy and kills your sex drive, and dulls that glow of yours, all the things you just don’t want to happen. Cortisol is totally a buzz kill. I want to dive in deep with something that has helped me so I bet it will melt away your stress too. Meditation, it’s not as woowoo as it sounds.
Meditation is a process of calming your own mind. Now this sounds basically impossible and is interesting when you’re beginning because there are lots of thoughts that pop into your head when you try to quiet the monkey mind. This is totally normal and something that should be welcomed. Allow the thoughts to enter and leave your head like waves on the beach. Actually, the practice of meditation is noticing when your thoughts are taking over and bringing it back to your breath.
There is no judgement of the thoughts, no action required. Just sit and let them pass by like clouds in the sky. Soon you then get to a place where your thoughts are less and less and you become fully present with you and your breath. That’s the practice, the zen moment. The quiet speaks volume and that’s when you learn the most about yourself. Once you start, you’ll begin to crave the stress melting experience.
Fun fact: 20 minutes of meditation is worth 3 hours of sleep, so if you’re tired, which most of us are, then this is a great way to reset and recharge.
There are lots of different types that you can do such as Transcendental Meditation (TM), Kundalini meditation, and one of the most popular is mindfulness meditation (my personal favorite).
One of the ways this helps you is to slow down, to breathe, to be fully present, and become more self-aware without the world swirling around in your head. This can help set the tone for the day or relax you before sleep. Meditation slows down the mind with your breath, stress melts away, and you're finally focused on just you. So how in the world can you do that (yep, I can hear what you're thinking) ?
I’d like you to start by firstly noticing how you’re breathing right now without changing anything. Is it short, sharp and shallow? I bet it’s shallow, where your belly and chest is barely moving. Maybe it’s long, slow and deep? Or somewhere in between?
Now take a breath. Notice where it comes from. Is it from your shoulders or from your belly? A lot of us tend to breathe from our shoulders when we take deep breaths but the most efficient way to get oxygen into our bodies is to breathe from our belly.
So let me show you. When you take a big, deep breath in, we want it coming in through our nose and into our belly so it expands and gets bigger and moves into our lungs.. Then I would like you to exhale through your mouth. When we inhale through our nose, our bodies know (no pun intended) how much oxygen our bodies need so that’s why it’s more beneficial to breathe through the nose. Plus we have little hairs and mucus membranes that help filter the air.
Did you know when you breathe deeply through your nose, it drives more oxygen more efficiently into the lower areas of your lungs, which then sends messages to your brain to say that you can calm down more? This helps your body back to repairing and restoring itself compared to when you breathe through your mouth. Mouth breathing sends signals to the brain that you’re still in flight or fight mode. The body is pretty cool, huh?
For 5 minutes, try breathing in to the count of four, holding for 4, then exhaling to the count of 8. The longer exhales lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, slowly relaxing you. It may take a couple breath cycles for you to get comfortable with this pattern but trust me, it’s worth it.
Remember, meditation is simple, don’t get hung up on if you’re doing it right, if you can’t stop thinking, just come back to the breath. Count the inhales and exhales, that helps me.
Pro Tip: Try this simple breathing technique while soaking in a tub with an aromatherapy bath salt.
Sit comfortably or even lay down if you like. Pop a timer, close your eyes, and relax through this exercise. You can even put an alarm on if you feel you might fall asleep!
Here are some other ways to try meditating:
There’s no right answer on how often you should meditate and for how long but I encourage you to set aside 5 minutes each day building up to 15 minutes if you’re new to meditation. Even just 5 minutes makes quite a difference. Try this even in the shower, bath, at the kitchen table drinking your morning coffee, or right before bed as a part of your nightly bedtime routine.
Finally, a tool to quiet and relax your mind that can literally be done anywhere at any time. Carve out Me Time with mindfulness, is vital for reducing stress and recharging the soul.
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