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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

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.

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!

The Secret to Healthy Living

The Karma AppleAs a family physician, I see patients of all ages and different medical backgrounds. Unfortunately, with obesity and chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes on the rise, I do not see as many healthy patients seeking preventive care.

With people living longer these days, I also care for many patients who I like to call “less young.” Certain medical problems can also arise with age. Nevertheless, I have met many patients over the age of 80 who are healthy and hardly look their age. When I encounter these individuals, I always ask what their secret is, and each person has told me essentially the same thing:

“I never smoke or drank.”

“I grew up eating healthy food.”

“I always stayed active. I still exercise everyday.”

“I always try to make the best of everything.”

A patient with dementia once even told me “The Golden Rule.”

Most responses I have gotten revolve around the same theme: a wholesome diet, exercise, healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude. Not once has anyone said, “Well Doc, I just took all my pills like you told me to.”

The Real Secret to Health

When you dig deeper into these responses, you will find that there is a much more powerful force at play.

KARMA: Do good things for your body and mind, and in return you keep your body and mind healthy.

It seems so glaringly obvious, yet there are many people out there who don’t realize that their health issues are primarily caused by the choices they (knowingly or unknowingly) make. They then take pills for these self-created issues, and often in addition to not feeling better, end up experiencing more problems related to side effects from these pills.

Health is a Choice

The leading cause of death in the USA is heart disease, which continues to rise, due to an an increase in poor lifestyle choices. These lifestyle habits include smoking and alcohol use, as well as an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise, both which lead to obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol. What’s interesting is that heart disease can be reversed by adopting healthier lifestyle habits, as demonstrated by this study. In fact, according to the CDC, the most common diseases are not only the most costly, but can be prevented just by eating a healthier diet, being more physically active, moderate alcohol use and not using tobacco.

Chronic Disease

What about a positive attitude? I truly believe that happiness creates health, and that emotional health is just as important as physical health. Positivity is highly underestimated in its role in health. This great article explains the power of the mind in healing.

Regardless of what health issue(s) you are dealing with, it’s important to be aware of how you may be contributing and why? Until the root cause of illness is identified, no amount of pills or doctors is going to make you healthy.

Old Wive’s Tales

I have taken the advice of my healthy and happy older patients, and guess what? I am healthy and happy, and you can be too. It’s simple, doesn’t come in a pill bottle, and it ultimately starts with you. Remember, do to yourself as you would want done to you.

Share your secrets for health or what you have done to become healthy again in the comments below.

 

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