meditation, buddha, yoga, mindfulness

Which Type of Meditation Suits You Best?

If someone told you that just a few minutes a day of a particular practice could help you reduce your pain and anxiety, improve how you respond to stress, and better your brain, how long would it take you to make this a regular part of your day? Probably not long, right? Well get ready, because meditation has been found to help with all those symptoms and more.

Meditation is just what you think it is: A stress-relieving practice that involves choosing a focal

point, calming the mind, and repeating a mantra. It’s been practiced for thousands of years, and has evolved to include several different types. For example, gong bath meditation relies on the repetitive sound of a gong to guide meditation and help relieve stress. Yoga, on the other hand, gives practitioners aphysical practice to guide the focus of meditation.

Want to learn more? This graphic brought to you by Club Woodside and Ghergich & Co can get you started on the path toward a meditation practice.

meditation, mindfulness, yoga, stress

30 Valuable Lessons I Learned by 30

I recently celebrated a milestone: my 30th birthday! I can’t help but look back and see how much I have grown. Over the last 30 years I have been to 10 countries, learned 6 languages, published a book, graduated medical school, treated thousands of patients and started my own medical practice. I’ve also been the new kid 7 times throughout 7 states and 8 moves, married, divorced, bullied, disrespected, heartbroken, felt lost, found, then lost again. Here is some wisdom I have gained through my own personal experiences and those with patients over the last 30 years of my life.

  1. Love Yourself
    Without self-appreciation you can’t have health or happiness. I can’t tell you how many patients I know who don’t take care of themselves or are depressed because of a deeply rooted low sense of self worth. Health comes from prioritizing yourself, and true happiness comes from being happy with you.
  1. You can do anything you want in life
    If you want something bad enough, with patience and hard work, you can make it happen.  If I listened to what people told me not to do, I would not have become a doctor or a blogger; 2 things which bring me the most joy. Don’t let anyone else’s doubts ruin your dreams.
  1. Health is achieved through a healthy lifestyle
    This sounds pretty intuitive, but you would be surprised at how many people think a doctor or a pill are the only ways to achieve health. The healthiest people I have ever met always ate healthy, stayed active and had a positive attitude. Everyone is capable of optimal health, but it depends on the positive choices you make to let your inherent healing abilities shine.
  1. Karma is a ….
    There is good karma and bad karma, and I’m a firm believer that whatever you do always comes back to you. So make sure to be putting out what you want to get back.
  1. No one is perfect
    We all make mistakes. Accept your imperfections or else you will never be satisfied. It’s ok to work on improving yourself, but you will constantly be disappointed without a foundation of self-appreciation. As a perfectionist, this is a difficult concept for me, however, the more I accept myself the way I am, the more I end up getting what I want out of life.
  1. Respect everyone and everything
    It doesn’t matter what people look like or what their “status” is. You never know what other people are going through. You also never know who you may have to work for one day. The Earth and the animals also deserve respect because at the end of the day we truly are all connected in some way or another.
  1. Cry
    As one of my spiritual mentors once told me, “tears are water of the soul.” I have known some people who have suppressed sadness for so long that it started affecting their physical health. We are taught to hold in our emotions and but emotions are a natural part of human life. So give yourself permission to cry once in awhile.
  1. The only way out of anything is through it
    We always want the easy way out, but with any difficulty, there are hidden lessons to be learned. Everything you are avoiding has a way of coming back in your life in one way or another. This includes difficult patterns, relationships and emotions. So cry, get angry, settle your differences, speak your truth or else you won’t be able to move forward with all the wonderful things that life has to offer.
  1. Take chances
    You won’t know if you don’t try. (I originally submitted this article to a well known website that told me it wasn’t “personal” enough. It’s personal for me and that’s what matter most, and  I feel happy to be sharing it with you.)
  1. Be grateful
    We spend a lot of time focusing on the negatives that we forget about all the positive things we have going for us. Practice gratitude and you will find more to be happy about.
  1. Forgive
    Forgiving others does not mean forgetting what they have done. It just means that you choose to let go of the negative mental association that binds you to someone else. By holding resentment, the only one who ends up suffering the most is you. Forgiveness is also something to apply to yourself. If we can be gentler with others and ourselves, the world will be a more peaceful place.
  1. YOLO (you only live once) so live in the moment
    I can’t tell you how many people I know who have developed serious health issues as a result of worrying too much. 99.9% of the time, what we worry about doesn’t come to fruition, so we are better off spending our time living and enjoying in the moment. The only time that ever matters in life is the one happening right now so make it count.
  1. Follow your heart
    If it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anyone else, do it. Remember YOLO.
  1. Thoughts are powerful
    If you believe you are not good enough, are going to fail or will never achieve your goals, you set yourself up for a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thinking positively may seem foreign if you are used to thinking negatively, but with practice it can replace long-standing negative thought patterns, leading to a lot more positivity in your life.
  1. Fear is the root of all conflict
    The subconscious mind contains many hidden experiences that influence our perception of reality. We often react to things out of fear because something in our present is triggering something from our past. Practicing mindfulness can help us become aware of our triggers and replace fear with faith.
  1. Your outer life experience is a reflection of your inner experience
    If you don’t like something in your reality, it’s either because it’s something you haven’t accepted in yourself or it’s something you are creating. So stop blaming other people or situations. They are only there to reflect to you what is going on inside of you so that you can look within and heal. Every time I have done this, it’s amazing at how my reality shifts in the direction I want it to. You have a lot more control over your life than you may think.
  1. Today is a new day
    Nothing in life is black and white. Everyone and everything is changing, including you. Every second is a moment to improve your life, regardless of what has happened in the past.
  1. People treat you the way you treat yourself
    There are many books out there that teach you the things you have to do to make people respect you or how to “get” the guy or girl. These will only get you temporary results. Self-respect and self-esteem are the keys to being respected by others. Like Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
  1. Be your authentic self
    I laugh loudly and consider myself to be somewhat eccentric. Any time I have ever tried to be someone different I have felt unhappy. People who truly love you will accept you for who you are, and those who don’t aren’t meant to be in your life.
  1. Travel
    Traveling puts many things into perspective. It allows you to see that there are different ways of being, thinking and living that exist outside of your reality and that your problems may actually be nothing compared to your blessings.
  1. Meditate
    Meditation transformed my life. I feel calm and balanced and my weight has remained stable. Much of our stress comes from dwelling in the past and worrying about the future, so take time each day to practice being present. This can be done with focusing on your breath, practicing yoga or anything that gets you out of your mind and into the present moment.
  1. Failure is a blessing in disguise
    I have not been successful in many of my endeavors, but I have always picked myself back up and tried again. I look back at many of my “failures” and see that there was either a lesson I needed to learn, or a huge bullet I dodged without knowing it at the time.
  1. Delayed gratification and hard work go a long way
    Like with karma, what you give, you get back. Nothing in life ever comes easily. Any major accomplishment I have came with a lot of patience and hard work. Cutting corners may get you instant results, but they will always be short lived.
  1. Nature is the best medicine
    Being in nature is one of the most therapeutic ways to achieve balance. Mother Nature has a lot of healing messages for us, so take some time to sit in nature and listen.
  1. Communication is everything
    Often times, conflict comes from a lack of understanding and miscommunication, and is usually related to fear. Proper communication requires rising above our egos and having a respectful dialogue that ensures all parties’ concerns are addressed. With a little compromise, we can pave the way for a great deal of understanding.
  1. Ditch the drama
    Drama, gossip, and propaganda are all sure-fire ways to keep you hooked into a cycle of negativity. Choose positive comments and interactions and you will find that life becomes a lot less stressful.
  1. Let it go
    The less clutter we have in our life, the more simple life gets. This applies to things, people, emotions and deeply held beliefs. I moved across the country with only my personal belongings in my car. It was one of the most liberating experiences I have ever had. Remember, if something hasn’t served you in the past 6 months, it probably never will.
  1. The root of suffering is attachment
    Buddha was a very wise man. Attachment to people and things, leads to inevitable sadness with their loss. This does not mean that we shouldn’t love our family, enjoy material things or feel sadness with loss. It just means that we would benefit from not delegating our happiness to what lies outside of us. When we connect with the world of love and abundance that resides in all of us, we can practice detachment and understand the true meaning of happiness.
  1. Happiness is a choice
    Like it was noted above, true, lasting happiness does not come from a person or a thing. It comes from the choices you make to live a positive life.
  1. Healing is a lifelong journey
    I have had major breakthroughs throughout my journey of soul searching. However, something else always seems to come up, leading me to realize that we never stop learning lessons. The healing process may never end, but when you decide to work on yourself, the challenges become a lot easier to deal with. Make yourself a priority and everything else will fall into place.

40, I’m coming for you, but I’m going to enjoy the moment for now!

Don’t forget to share your valuable life lessons in the comments below!

meditation, mindfulness, spirituality, holistic health, consciousness, integrative medicine, Los Angeles, Santa Monica

To Meditate or to Medicate? That is the question.

A Medicated Nation

Did you know that the third leading cause of death in America is thought to be related to medical interventions behind heart disease and cancer? Or that greater than 50% of US healthcare costs are caused by chronic medical diseases which can be prevented and effectively reversed with a healthy lifestyle? America is considered a leader in medical advancements, so where is the disconnect?

In Western medicine we do not do a very good job at addressing the root cause of illness. Physicians are trained to focus on symptoms and to intervene at the physical level with pills or surgery, which often cause more harm. Usually these interventions occur when it is too late, which is why focusing on prevention is so important. It’s much easier to prevent a disease than to treat it at a critical stage. As human beings we have more than just a body. We have emotions, thoughts, relationships, jobs and many more things that contribute to our lives and our health. Pills do not fix these other issues.

As a physician I would say that most of my patients’ medical problems come from an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and most importantly, not dealing effectively with stress. Tobacco, alcohol, overworking and eating unhealthy food are often used to self-medicate stress and anxiety. Many people do not realize this because long standing habits have become such an automatic response. Even the most health conscious people I know often suffer from high anxiety levels and poor sleep because, despite their healthy diets and exercise routines, they are still not dealing with their stress or emotional health.

The Mindfulness Solution

So how can we as individuals address the root cause of our health issues? Mindfulness is a powerful way to transform our lives. So many of us are so caught up in the daily grind of life that we have lost touch with what’s going on deep within. When we practice mindfulness however, we become present to what is happening. Instead of reflexively reacting to a stressful thought or emotion, we can take a step back and observe what is going on as if we are an outsider looking in. At that moment we can consciously make healthy choices, whether it be taking deep breaths or not reaching for the chocolate bar.

AunnaPourangMD

If we can incorporate relaxation techniques in our day as we would our favorite TV show or meal times, we would find that stress and anxiety wouldn’t build up to a point where it is unmanageable. In addition to using mindfulness as a prevention tool, can we use yoga, meditation, breath work and other mindfulness techniques to improve blood pressure, weight, immunity, psychological well being and more.

Balanced Health

Even if we do everything we can to practice healthy lifestyle behaviors, a pill may be necessary as a temporary tool to deal with issues that are beyond our control. Medications and other medical interventions do have their place, but not as the all-encompassing, one-size-fits all solution. Ultimately until we uncover and address the root cause of our problems, we will only be putting superficial bandages on deeper issues that will add more stress to our lives. Everyone has the ability to achieve optimal health and wellness with the positive choices they make in the present moment.

What do you do to release stress? Share your comments below.

Learn more about mindfulness and meditation in Dr. Pourang’s book or schedule a mind-body consultation today.

Mindfulness, meditation

Los Angeles integrative medicine and Ayurveda

health

What’s Missing From your Health Routine?

With more and more people trying to improve their health these days, it can become confusing as to which diet or exercise regimen to follow. Many of us also miss the big picture when it comes to health maintenance. Health is about balance, and it involves addressing more than just the body. Read more about this in an article I contributed to with The Active Times at 7 Surprising Habits Your Health Routine Might be Missing

Positive thinking, mindfulness, consciousness, meditation, health

Change your Thoughts. Change Your Health.

The power of positive thinking has been scientifically proven to positively impact our health. Read more at my post featured on The Mind Unleashed: Change Your Thoughts, Transform Your Health. Using The Power of Consciousness to Heal.

11 Ways We Hold Ourselves Back From Our Goals

Hello 2015! Are you still waiting until tomorrow or next week to start working on your resolutions? Well, why have you waited for the past year? We shouldn’t have to wait to make changes that benefit our lives.

Of the 45% of Americans that make New Years Resolutions, only 8% are successful in achieving them. Chances are, many of our resolutions have been carried on from year to year. I am a firm believer that we create our own obstacles to growth but that that we can overcome them and live an amazing life! Often the difficulty is created by our mind, rather than the task itself.

The following are some of the reasons that keep us from achieving our goals anytime of the year.

1. Unreasonable expectations

We are incredibly hard on ourselves, and it doesn’t help that we are constantly trying to be “better,” “fitter,” “richer,” etc. We strive for a different version of ourselves and are never satisfied. How many of us also finally reach our goal only to find something else to try to “fix?”

Solution: Many of us are also striving for perfection, which is unattainable; so when we don’t achieve this we feel disappointment. There is nothing wrong with having high standards, but make sure it’s reasonable goal. Look at your goals from the perspective of improving meaningful attributes of your life. Instead of wanting to be a certain size or shape, think about wanting to be healthy. This approach will help you achieve your goals in ways that are directed toward self-respect rather than superficial ideals.

2. Wanting instant results

Results don’t happen overnight, and neither do the things we are trying to change. We are creatures of habit, and changing habits takes time (they say it takes 21 days…)

Solution: Delayed gratification is important. For example, while a weight loss pill may take the weight off in a short period of time, you still have not made the changes to your diet and lifestyle that will lead you to gain the weight back once you have stopped the pill. Healthy life changes should be part of a daily regimen, not packed into 2 months at the beginning of the year. 

3. Trying to do too much, too fast

New Years Resolutions are exciting. It gives us something to talk about and something to look forward to. Sometimes, however, the excitement drives us to do everything at once and this can be overwhelming. This can lead to burn-out, frustration and may prevent us from taking any more steps to moving toward our goals.

Solution: Focus on what you are capable of fitting into your schedule and prioritize. Cleaning the attic can probably wait. Make a daily commitment to yourself and set short-term goals. Exercise a few days per week or set a time every day to throw away things that you no longer use. Chip away at short term goals and you will be where you want to in no time.

“Embrace that your perfection lies in the fact that you are imperfect.”

4. Excuses

Anyone can make time for what they prioritize. TALK is cheap. The time you spend talking can be time spent doing.

Solution: Avoid procrastination. Get started on your goals now. If you don’t start today, when will you?

5. Focusing only on the outcome

Remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. If you do achieve your goal, how much satisfaction will you have if the process was tedious and stressful? It’s important to have your goal in mind but the way there may not pan out how you expect. It will, however, flourish into a life changing experience what will serve you in the best possible way.

Solution: Let it flow. Make it fun. Want to eat healthy? Find fun recipes or make cooking an enjoyable family affair. Are you dreading the gym? Why not join a dance fitness class or walk outside and enjoy the scenery?

6. Focusing on the past

During any time of reflection we tend to look at all the “mistakes” we made. This brings up many different emotions, such as, regret and not feeling capable of change. This is natural. If we did not have these feelings, we would not think about making any changes. We keep bad habits alive by focusing on them.

Solution: We tend to avoid uncomfortable feelings and repress them only for them to come up again. These negative emotions lead to us avoiding making positive changes or having the clarity to find solutions. While it’s very important to allow ourselves to feel our emotions, avoid dwelling in regret, anger or depression. Keep the pity party short and focus your energy on moving forward.

Happy Healthy Life7. Self-induced pressure

We can be our own worst enemy. Making significant changes is stressful, and the less stress you create will allow for a smooth and enjoyable process.

Solution: If you feel pressure from yourself, monitor your self- talk. Anytime you feel you have to/need to/should do something, you will likely feel resistance to it. Often wanting to change something prevents us from taking steps to change. Let go of wanting to change and start changing, NOW. Here are a few other ways we may subconsciously be sabotaging our path to success:

8. Self-pity

It’s important to accept that we are responsible for our lives, so this means accepting our part in whatever we have gotten ourselves into (nobody forces us to eat unhealthy food or smoke) and to stop blaming others.

Solution: Like in number 6 above, it’s ok to let yourself feel the sadness or regret for a limited period of time. Then tell yourself, “I made some mistakes, I am human. I accept and forgive myself for what I did in the past. The past is in the past and I am going to pick myself back up and make positive changes.” Remember, life is filled with negatives and positives and without mistakes and failures we would not learn for the better. If we can accept that fact, life will be a lot easier.

9. Resistance to letting go

Many people want different things but are hestitant to change. We like easy and comfortable, but remember, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Change takes effort. It means stepping out of our comfort zone. Changes are only difficult if we think they will be.

Solution: In order to make room for the new in our lives, we need to let go of the old. This may mean letting go of old household items, old habits, old ways of thinking, or even relationships with certain people; things we hold on to even though they are the very things that create the unhappiness we feel.

10. Fear of failure

Fears are self-fulfilling prophecies. If you never try, how will you know?

Solution: Recognize the fear, but don’t let it hold you back. Life will go on if you don’t achieve your goals. Learn from the experience and try again with a different approach. Look at “mistakes” as learning experiences, not failures. If you get off track, don’t be hard on yourself. Pick yourself back up and try again. Never give up on yourself. You are worthy of living a happy and healthy life.

11. The “C” word: Can’t

Solution: How will you know if you don’t try? If you have tried in the past and it didn’t work out, identify how you change your approach. It took Thomas Edison several times before he invented the light bulb, but imagine if he stopped trying because he didn’t think he could?

The time to start making changes to benefit your life is…

NOW!!!

What are some ways you hold yourself back? What are some tips you find helpful in moving forward with your goals? Share below!

One Thing No One Will Ever Be Able to Do

There are many things human beings are capable of doing. Just take a look at the creation of the Internet, astronauts going to outer space, and most recently “Spray Cake.” There is one thing, however, that we as human beings cannot do.

Early on in my career, I used to become frustrated when some of the patients I provided care for didn’t improve. Usually this would happen because they didn’t follow my recommendations for one reason or another. Then one day it hit me:

I can’t change people

in fact…

NO ONE CAN CHANGE ANYONE ELSE! 

Why we can’t change others

To think we can change others, means we think that we have control over others. It’s amazing how many of us think that we have control over certain things, which are, in fact, really out of our control. We can try to force people to do things, which may bring about changes driven by fear, but coercion eventually backfires, creating resistance, resentment and even rebellion. (Just look at all of the world empires in the past.)

We can influence how others feel or how others react, but again, it is their choice as to how they will let it affect them. I can blatantly disrespect 2 different people. One person may want to lash out at me, but the other may ignore me and go on about life.

So how can we change?

We can change once we can accept the fact that the only control we have is over ourselves. This frees us from trying to control everything outside of us, that we really don’t have control over. By doing this, we in effect, can change the world around us. Mahatmah Ghandi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

If we make positive changes in ourselves, we can set a good example for others and motivate others to make positive changes. Positivity (like negativity) is contagious, and through a domino effect we can make a positive impact on a universal level. We can also promote change by supporting others and providing them with a healthy environment for when they are ready to change.

This does not mean, however, that we should change ourselves to make others like us or view us a certain way. This is still a form of control and will attract controlling and manipulative people into our life. Wanting others to view us differently implies that deep within we don’t want them to see who we really are, which is an imperfectly perfect human.

People change when they want to change

I can help in changing a lot of things when it comes to people’s health (blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc). Ultimately those changes occur when a patient makes the choice to take my advice and/or be accountable for his or her own health. Take smoking cigarettes, for example. The most successful way I have ever known someone to quit smoking, was to JUST QUIT. They didn’t need a nicotine patch, e-cigs or even prescription medications. It didn’t happen when someone else wanted them to quit. They did on their own terms.

Making the impossible, possible

I’m glad I learned early on in my career that I can’t change people. I know that my intentions are to help people and I will do my part, and that’s all that matters. If you can accept the fact that the only control you have is over yourself, you will lift a huge burden off of your shoulders and you won’t need to control life, because then life will just flow.

If you want to see changes in your life and your world, stop trying to change the outside. Stop fighting others. Stop trying to control others. Change yourself on the inside and the outside changes will follow.

Do you have an idea, product, or skill set that can help change the world? Consider sharing it at the World’s First Pay it Forward Platform at the milliondollarmosaic.org. You can also check out my book for some helpful tips on how to make positive changes within.

The Million Dollar Mosaic
Meditate don't Medicate
Let me know what has helped you move forward with changes in your life in the comments below.

Ask Dr. Aunna: Why am I so tired all of the time?

Source: cdc.gov

Source: cdc.gov

 

Dear Dr. Aunna,

I have been dealing with low levels of energy for the past few years and it only seems to be getting worse. I have seen a few doctors for this but my blood work is normal except for a borderline high cholesterol. Everyone keeps attributing my symptoms to depression, but except for a little stress here and there I feel pretty happy. Coffee doesn’t work anymore and I can barely stay awake during the day. I am at my wits end and need your advice because I am falling behind in everything!

– AH

*AH, a coaching client of mine, like many others, struggles with low energy and fatigue. AH’s doctors did a thorough workup, checking every possible cause of fatigue from anemia to thyroid disease and even sleep apnea and narcolepsy. Most people fail to realize that their lifestyle habits greatly contribute to their fatigue, rather than a serious disease or “hormones.”  Here is a snapshot of part of AH’s holistic health assessment:

Breakfast: Muffin or bagel, coffee with sugar and creamer
Lunch: Don’t have time to eat lunch usually, but will get a snack from the snack machine or run to the cafeteria when I get the chance.
Dinner: My husband and I usually order out or I make a sandwich or heat up a TV dinner.
Snacks: Pretzels, peanut butter crackers
Beverages: Diet mountain dew, 4-5 cups of coffee per day
Water: Don’t usually drink water. Most of the fluids are from diet soda or coffee.

Alcohol: 3 glasses of wine at night
Tobacco: Never
Drug use: Never

Exercise: Don’t have the time or energy
Stress Release (yoga, meditation, etc): No time, but will watch TV until I fall asleep.

Sleep (duration and quality): 5-6 hours per night. Not good, toss and turn

AH may be considered healthy based on her labs and lack of any specific organic disease, but as you can see above, there are many other factors at play. In fact, there were many other emotional and social issues affecting AH not mentioned above. AH was convinced that she had a diagnosis that no one had discovered yet, but given the fact that she was willing to try anything, she implemented the simple solutions I suggested.  She not only regained energy but her cholesterol level dropped and she lost weight. Here are some take away points from her case.

ProblemLack of awareness. AH didn’t even realize how unhealthy her lifestyle was until she wrote things down. Many people are on the go and  accustomed to certain habits, that they don’t even question them or realize how harmful these habits can be.
Solution: Practicing mindfulness is an effective way to be conscious of your habits. You can start out with keeping a journal and seeing what you can change, or take the time to slow down and consciously make healthy choices throughout the day.

Problem: Excuses. Enough said.
Solution: Many people say they don’t have time, but we make time for what we prioritize. You are worthy of being healthy so start making yourself a priority. (Read more about how to overcome obstacles and make effective change here).

ProblemUnhealthy diet. AH’s diet is filled with refined carbs, low fiber, sugar, and barely any fresh fruits or vegetables. Restaurant and frozen meals are often filled with unhealthy ingredients. Whenever we eat high glycemic index foods, our blood sugar spikes and so does insulin, leading to a crash and feeling drained. An unhealthy diet can also lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease which will definitely cause fatigue.
Solution: Eating a diet filled with whole grains, protein, and fresh fruits and vegetables (all which contain healthy fiber) leads to a slow steady state of glucose release in our blood. This helps avoid crashes and the fiber keeps us full longer. Cooking meals is a great way to not only eat healthy but practice mindful habits.

ProblemSkipping meals. A drop in blood sugar can lead to feeling weak.
Solution: Don’t skip meals. If you don’t have the time to eat a full meal, keep healthy snacks such as nuts or apples handy to snack on until your next meal.

ProblemDehydration. Dehydration not only leads to fatigue, but can also lead to feelings of hunger.
Solution: It’s recommended that you drink eight 8 oz servings of fluids per day. It’s best if most of your daily fluid intake is from fresh water, rather than fluids from sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages.. Limit salt intake, as salt without enough water can also cause dehydration.

ProblemCaffeine overload. While caffeine can give you some energy, it can also cause insomnia and throw off your sleep. Caffeine also activates the sympathetic nervous system, so with your body on continuous adrenaline drive you are bound to get worn down. It can also cause or worsen anxiety adding to even more stress. AH was also likely so fatigued throughout the day and developed a tolerance for caffeine, which is why coffee no longer helped.
Solution: Limit caffeine to one to two cups of coffee per day. Since a cup of coffee’s caffeine effects can last up to 4 hours, make sure your last cup is in the early afternoon to avoid insomnia at night. Cutting back on sugar and creamer in your coffee will also help. Applying the other solutions mentioned will also increase energy and decrease the need for caffeine.

ProblemAlcohol. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but the quality of your sleep will be affected. The restful cycles during sleep shorten with alcohol use.
Solution: Cut back on alcohol. Limit yourself to a glass of wine a few nights per week.

ProblemLack of Sleep. Stress, caffeine and alcohol all disrupt sleep. TV, especially at night can be activating and interfere with sleep. What’s worse is that the less we sleep, the more we accumulate a sleep debt. Lack of sleep not only causes fatigue but also increases our risk for infection and can lead to depression.
Solution: Make sleep a priority. Go to bed at the same time every night and use the 30 minutes before to wind down instead of watching TV. Make sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Problem: Lack of physical activity. Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, boosts energy and helps release stress.
Solution: Current exercise recommendations are to engage in moderate intensity exercise, 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. Make sure not to exercise too close to bedtime as it can cause insomnia

Problem: Lack of coping mechanisms. If we don’t release stress we wear ourselves down and can lose sleep. Using alcohol and drugs to cope with stress has detrimental effects on our body.
Solution: Practice daily stress release, whether it be journaling, exercise, yoga or meditation.

If you struggle with fatigue, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional as serious causes for fatigue always need to be ruled out first. Practicing healthy lifestyle habits will improve your quality of life regardless.

Do you have a health question you would like answered? Send us your question for a chance to be featured. Find out more about Dr. Aunna’s Holistic Health Coaching here.

*Information from AH’s assessment was posted with permission. Names are changed to protect privacy.

3 Key Steps to a Meditation Practice

 

Lao Tzu Quote

 

Feeling stressed? You aren’t the only one. In fact, statistics show that up to 77% of people in the USA report feeling physical symptoms related to stress.

All stress is created by our mind’s reactions to situations, rather than the actual situation at hand. Meditation not only helps release stress, but has been found to have many health benefits, including improving back pain and even headaches and blood pressure.

 

The number one concern people present to me when I recommend meditation is, “I just can’t get the thoughts out of my head.”

 

What is meditation?

Many people think that meditation means sitting in lotus posture chanting “OM.” Although this is one way to meditate, meditation is actually about being in the present moment.

Everyone’s true nature is peace, love and joy. It may not seem this way, but that is only because we have been accustomed to associating with our distressing thoughts and emotions. Meditating helps us get in touch with our ever-present sacred peace. Yoga, Tai chi, qigong, painting, walking in nature, and exercise are just a few examples of ways to be present.

If you are stressed and would like to relieve stress, here are 3 steps to a mindfulness meditation practice that have helped me and many others I know:

1. Believe

The number one concern people present to me when I recommend meditation is, “I just can’t get the thoughts out of my head.” If that statement isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy, then I don’t know what is. You can “get the thoughts out of your head.” It takes practice to resonate with your sacred inner space, especially after a lifetime of identifying with your distressing thoughts and emotions.

The key is not to resist the thoughts, since that will only make them stronger. If I told you, “Don’t think about anything right now,” what happens? (Try it). Thoughts create our reality, and just as much as you are in control of reacting to negative thought patterns, you are also in control of cultivating inner peace.

 

As humans we spend much of our time “doing.” We go through the motions of life and lose touch with our true inner peace and even the not-so-peaceful parts of our existence that trouble us. 

 

2. Breathe

Our breath is what keeps us alive and helps us reach the inner peace within. It’s no wonder we disconnect from peace during times of high stress and anxiety, because it is during those times our breath becomes fragmented and shallow.

Start to practice deep breathing in a quiet place, although with time you will be able to focus even with disturbances around you. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Feel the way your breath enters and exits your body. Sometimes it is helpful to visualize your breaths cleansing all aspects of your life, with all the negativity released through the outbreath.

Occasionally disturbing thoughts and emotions will arise, and that is OK. It is helpful to picture yourself (the true sacred peace) as the observer of these thoughts and emotions as if they are images on a movie screen. Then bring your awareness back to your breath. The more you do this, the more you will find that your mind will clear on its own.

3. Be

Meditation and being present, allows us to “be.” As humans we spend much of our time “doing.” We go through the motions of life and lose touch with our true inner peace and even the not-so-peaceful parts of our existence that trouble us. These thoughts and feelings are ones that we repress. Instead of dealing with these issues, we tend to avoid them by overworking, alcohol, food, and even projection of negativity onto situations outside of us. If we do not deal with what is troubling us, however, we will continue to face the same issues over and over again.

The only way out is through, and being present will often bring these issues to the forefront for final healing. Meditation may feel uncomfortable at times because, the painful thoughts and emotions that we are trying to let go of in the first place, are the ones that seem to persist. Don’t be startled if strong emotions wash over you. Feel the sadness, anger, pain or whatever it may be. It may even mean having to cry uncontrollably for awhile. These emotions are trapped energy and experiencing and honoring them will allow you to let go of them once and for all.

Practice makes “perfect”

Remember, it’s important not to get caught up in whether or not you are doing things “right.” This is just another way the mind creates distress. Just focusing on your breath and embracing the moment is enough. Set aside about 20-30 minutes per day to practice.

Share your tips on meditation in the comments below.

How Stress Can Kill

Stress

A Stressed Nation

During a mountain hike in India last year, the trek guide asked me, “Is it true that people in America are very stressed and only care about money?” I couldn’t help but laugh at America’s apparent international reputation of being stressed out. Americans are stressed, and not dealing with this stress is leading to self-medication with food, alcohol, drugs and tobacco. It’s well known that these addictions have harmful effects on the body, but stress by itself is also detrimental.

How stress affects the body

It’s normal and even beneficial to experience stress, because without it, we would not have survived as a species. When our caveman ancestors faced death by a ferocious animal, they had to run away, FAST! An involuntary, protective mechanism in the body, called the “Fight-or-Flight” response, releases a cascade of neurotransmitters and hormones which give the body the strength and speed it needs to avoid danger. This adrenaline and cortisol rush is what enables people to perform extraordinary feats under pressure. 

Holistic Health

Nowadays we don’t have to worry about being another creature’s lunch. Instead our jobs, relationships, drama and other problems have become our lions. Issues that have no relevance in the present moment are causing our bodies to react as if there is an actual threat at hand. As long as our minds perpetuate the stressful thoughts, however, our bodies will continue to be worn down, eventually leading to significant medical problems and even death. It’s amazing to me how many patients present to me for multiple health issues that are usually related to stress.

Modern Day

Holistic health

Not pictured above are the many other ways in which stress affects our body. The increase in blood sugar, meant to give us energy during the “fight or flight response,” has now led to an epidemic of hyperglycemia and diabetes in those who are obese or eat an unhealthy diet. Stress has even been shown to weaken the immune system, thus increasing our risk of infections and even cancer.

The mind-body connection can be demonstrated in even more ways. When the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the “fight or flight” response kicks in, our parasympathetic nervous system slows down. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for many important body functions including digestion, salivation and sexual organ function. Your body is not concerned about digestion when it’s about to be digested, however! Add the fact that our digestive system has more nerve endings than our brains, and it’s no wonder why we experience indigestion and constipation during times of high stress. The underactive parasympathetic nervous system also explains why stress can lead to sexual dysfunction.

Dr. Pourang in the Himalayans

Me during the peaceful hike in India.

STOP STRESSING YOURSELF OUT!!!! 

Dealing with stress

A little bit of stress is ok. It helps us meet deadlines and helps us get out of the way of danger. It becomes a problem when it continues to operate needlessly in our lives. Whether we realize it or not, stress is a choice. In fact, according to Google, the definition of stress is as follows:

A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances

We have unconsciously developed a habit of associating a non threatening stressor as a threat with our minds. The good news is, that we can consciously dissociate with our minds as well. Two ways to do this include:

Avoid the stressor,
or
deal with the stress appropriately.

While many of us may not be able to leave the stressful relationship or job, we can learn how to deal with the situations as they occur (aka NOT worrying about things happening when they haven’t/likely won’t even happen.) This may mean choosing not to react negatively to a situation. Or it may mean taking the time to release stress daily. Yoga, meditation, journaling and exercise are just a few examples of ways to relieve stress. I have applied The Sedona Method, on the spot in stressful situations where I couldn’t otherwise outwardly release stress, and it has helped me immensely.

If you feel like stress follows you wherever you go, it’s worth doing some soul searching to see how you may be attracting it in your life. Anything that happens outside of us, always reflects what is going on within us.

Regardless of how you choose to deal with your stress, make it a priority to do so. Your life and health depend on YOU.

A few of my upcoming posts and my book will be devoted to mindfulness and meditation, so stay tuned for a stress free life, and sign up for my emails if you haven’t already!

 

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Share ways you deal with stress in the comments below!