Archive for the ‘health & wellness’ Category

Doctor’s Orders

November 14, 2011

 

I just returned from the doctor with a clean bill of health. However, I did go home with one prescription to help me to relax and be stress-free with my busy lifestyle. My doctor, who is not a naturopath or alternative medicine practitioner just told me to keep practicing what I preach – get at least 20 minutes of meditation daily.

She explained that there are studies in cardio-vascular health correlating meditation to reduction of heart problems. That beautiful heart pumps roughly 2000 gallons of blood a day, and in under a minute, your heart can pump blood to every cell in your body. That’s no small feat!

Studies presented at an American Heart Association meeting demonstrated that even high risk cardiac patients benefit from meditation. Patience saw a reduction in coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks and other problems associated with obesity by adding meditation to their daily lives.

Not sure how to get started? There are plenty of books out there to help you learn, but reading isn’t necessarily doing. A favorite book on Breathe’s teacher trainee list is “Meditation Made Easy” by Dr. Lorin Roche. Dr. Roche is one of my favorite teachers and I recommend making it to one of his workshops when he is in the area.

But here’s the nitty-gritty: What you really need to do is start. That’s the hardest part, I promise you that it gets easier with time as most things do. Below are some little checklists that have helped me and many of my students find their seat.

WHAT YOU NEED:
1. a blanket, cushion, block or chair
2. music (try some from here)
3. a timer or clock with an alarm

STEPS TO GET YOU MEDITATING:
1. Make your health a priority – You get one body/mind this time around, take care of it!
2. Make time – In this busy city life we lead, we never feel there is enough time. You can always carve out a few minutes.
3. Manage your schedule – This step is key and goes hand-in-hand with the two steps above. Keep a
calendar, make to-do lists, and stay on target – SCHEDULE “me” time. If you fall behind, don’t automatically go to “me” time and pencil in other stuff.
4. Find a space – Whether it’s arriving to yoga class a little early to start your meditation or turning a corner of your home into a sactuary, do it.
5. Get comfortable – Being seated on the floor isn’t comfy for most of us, but it can be. Don’t be afraid to use props. You can sit on a blanket or block and even extend the legs if you find you get cramping or feel fidgity.
6. Set realistic goals – Don’t expect to be completely still, completely focused the entire time, or able to sit for an extended period of time. Use a timer so you don’t have to worry about when your sit is up. Start with just a few minutes, then gradually increase over several weeks to reach your target length of meditation.
7. Ready, set, meditate!

HOW TO:
1. Start by closing your eyes and relaxing comfortably.
2. Focus on your breath. Hear it, feel it, allow it to deepen and lengthen.
3. As thoughts come into your mind, try and not focus on them, just let them be. As the thoughts trickle in, they begin to trickle out again. When you find yourself paying attention to something else, come back to your breath as your focal point.
4. Slowly you begin to drift off…find that place between sleep and wake.
5. If you feel an itch, scratch it. If your legs fall asleep, it’s ok to move. Just try to be as still as possible allowing the mind to rest.
6. Allow your timer to bring back to the awareness of the room and open your eyes.
7. Pat yourself on the back for a job well-done. What matters is that you started your practice!

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