MEDITATION: IS IT FOR ME AND WHERE DO I START?
Do you feel like life seems to be this perpetual struggle of getting stuck in the “if only” syndrome… If only I had more money, then I would be happy. If only I could lose 20 pounds, or had someone who really loved me, or had a better job and so on….
Are you stressed, anxious, irritable or depressed?
Meditation is the solution!
Our modern day society feeds instant gratification, fast-paced mindlessness, and constant distractions, which lead to an addictive, unsatisfied, anxious, stressed, binge eating, obese and depressed culture – whew! But let’s not harp on the negative, because Meditation can provide the answer!
Mindfulness + Meditation are powerful tools to a journey
– a journey of compassion, acceptance, resilience, happiness and joy.
Even just a few minutes a day can make an incredible difference!
As a Registered Dietitian and Yoga Teacher, this space of integrative wellness and meditation is one that can no longer be ignored in my work with clients… it IS a foundational tool and solution for so many of our problems – many of which we think that food alone can fix. It is my responsibility to share this with you.
MY STORY OF MEDITATION
For me, meditation (looking inward) has been the spark that has changed my life. Officially "diagnosed" with anxiety, for years I felt an overwhelming sense of panic, an inability to think clearly, and just could NOT focus and get tasks done. This chronic stressed out anxious state led me down an unhealthy relationship with myself and toppled with constant worry and negative feelings of... "I'm not good enough" - I was EXHAUSTED!
I came to meditation, because I knew there was something missing… there was a space inside of me that felt needed to be nourished. I had always practiced yoga, but had not quite committed to observing my overactive/anxious mind and sitting still, fully experiencing my emotions and LETTING GO of the thoughts that didn’t serve me.
By starting with only 3-5 minutes a day (that’s it!), I started to see the transformative ripple effects in my life. And today, whether it is 20 minutes or 2 minutes, I make sure that I close my eyes and experience the present moment. And I remind myself, there is no “perfect” way to meditate – there is just the act of sitting still for a period of time where I can be aware of my breath and checking in with how I feel moment to moment. And if my mind wanders (as it ALWAYS) does, I just compassionately remind it to come back to watching my breath.
If you find your internal dialogue to be negative, if you feel anxious, depressed, or overly stressed - meditation is the answer. Let me share my top tips to getting started, and a few meditations to help you start off!
ask the rD: WHAT is meditation?
- Meditation and Mindfulness is about being fully aware of the present moment without criticism of judgment
Ask the RD: WHERE can I practice?
- Anywhere! Ideally, we want to find a comfortable seat, but you can meditate standing too! Find a cross legged position, kneeling, sitting on a cushion, or sitting on a chair with the spine fully erect.
Ask the RD: My mind keeps drifting off… am I doing this wrong?
- The moment when you notice the fact that your mind has wandering… that is mindfulness! If you are aware of your thoughts and you pick up on the fact that your mind is “thinking” that is mindfulness! Just be aware of that thought, and kindly bring your mind back to focus and attention on your breathing or the mantra/intention you might be repeating.
Ask the RD: I get sleepy.
- Try meditation in the morning when you first wake up rather than right before you go to bed. Also, try taking more full, deep breaths. You can also use a drop of peppermint essential oil on your wrists or behind the ears.
Ask the RD: There are so many different types… what is the best for me?
- There isn’t one! Whether it is Zen, Buddhist, Insight, Mantra, Intention, Guided, etc. It doesn’t matter what type of meditation you choose, instead it’s finding what works best for you, what resonates with YOU! I could honestly write a blog (or book) on each one of the individual meditations we did together for our meditation challenge, so know that this is just the TIP of the iceberg!
refocus with Meditation
I know you’ve heard it before, “It’s good for me. I know I should do it”... but honestly research has begun diving deep into the psychological, mental, and physical benefits of mindfulness meditation… and at the end of the day, you just have to DO IT, to actually see the benefits!
health benefits of meditation:
- Decreases Stress and Anxiety. Research shows mindfulness reduces feelings of stress but also helps to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Increases Patience, Gratitude, and Body Awareness
- Increases compassion
- Increases sense of peace and happiness
- Reduces depression and Increases serotonin (our happy brain chemical)
- Increases focus and concentration
- Increases creativity and the ability to think clearly
- Reduces emotional reactivity (increased stress resiliency and ability to “respond” rather than quickly reacting)
- Increases satisfaction in relationships
- Increases quality of life
- Teaches the ability to sit with discomfort or uncomfortable emotions and how to work through these
- Teaches the ability to look inward for solutions, rather than to external stimuli
- Reduces tension, fear, and worry
- Reduces restlessness
- Sharpens Intuition
- Increases deep awareness, insight, and self reflection
KRISTENS TOP TIPS TO GET STARTED
1. Set a time in the day you can dedicate.
- It doesn’t matter what time of day, but find what will work for YOU! I prefer in the morning before others are awake and it is just quiet. But you can also practice on a bus, on your lunch break – wherever! Another favorite is once you park your car (either on the way in to work or once you park getting home from work), just sit in the car for 5 minutes… whatever you have going on can wait 5 minutes!
2. Do it EVERYDAY. Yes. Everyday.
- Make it a non-negotiable in your life. If we say we are going to do it twice a week, what happens is Monday get’s busy and we say ‘oh I’ll do it tomorrow’, and then tomorrow is suddenly crazy (how did that happen?!), so we push it to the weekend… but then we forget when it’s the weekend and say ‘oh I’ll start on Monday – Monday is a great day to start!’. STOP. Just start RIGHT NOW. And make it a daily non-negotiable to really see what the practice has to offer you!
3. Start with a Passage.
- At least this is what I like to do! It could be a poem, an article, or a book on meditation and mindfulness to help you get into that space… personally I would HIGHLY recommend getting Mindfulness in Plain English. I started with this book and continue to read it over and over again because it helps to reinforce why we practice, and different ways and techniques to help start or grow your meditation practice. I read for maybe 5-10 minutes and then have something to reflect on in my meditation.
4. Set a Timer.
- If you don’t set a timer, you’ll constantly be peeking at the clock! Set your phone to airplane mode (get rid of those vibrating message alerts!) and then hit your timer for any amount you want to sit for – and I recommend to set the alarm to be a bell or chime (rather than the alarm that will alarm/startle you). You can also use the app “Insight Timer” which has an easy timer function that will start and end with a soft bell.
5. You may enjoy a Guided Meditation to get started!
Here are some great meditation apps and websites to get started:
- Present – Guided Meditation
- Insight Timer and Guided Meditation
- Aura Meditation
- Headspace – Meditation Made Simple
FREE GUIDED MEDITATIONS VIA WEBSITE RESOURCES
I hope these resources and my personal story has helped open a door to welcome you to try meditation and mindfulness in your life! Remember, starting with just 3 minutes a day can lead to tremendous benefits! Let me know what questions or insights you might have in the comments below! I look forward to hearing from you!
(Namaste: The light within me, honors, bows, and respects the light within you)
P.S. NEED TO RECHARGE + REFOCUS + RESET YOUR HEALTH?
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