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Category Archives: Health

Power of Deep Breathing

Let’s get started.

A healthy bloodstream is key to a healthy body. It is responsible for transporting all of the oxygen and nutrients to all the cells in body. Having a fully functioning circulation system means a healthy body free from illness and disease. The captain of this system is breathing.

Let’s look a little closer at this.

If you’ve been meditating for any length of time, or even if you’re just making a start, you will know that the breath forms a cornerstone of many of an effective meditation practice. But it is also the way that you fully oxygenate the body and charge the electrical energy of every one of your cells.

Okay, nothing radical there, that’s covered in a basic elementary biology class. But one fact that is not so well known is how your breathing helps drive the function of the lymphatic system. This is a crucial network to consider when looking to achieve optimum health.

It is, for all intents and purposes, the body’s sewer system.

The Lymphatic system is crucial in maintaining good health and acts as a secondary circulatory network alongside the blood circulation system. Lymph is the fluid carried by the lymphatic system, and is a clear or slightly yellow fluid that originates as blood plasma leaked from the blood vessels.

The lymphatic system has several functions:

  • Drains fluid back from the body tissues to prevent dehydration
  • Fights infections and prevents invasion by bacteria, viruses, and fungi
  • Recycles plasma proteins
  • Filters the lymph fluid of waste

This system is so important to our health and well being that Gerald M. Lemole, chief of cardiovascular surgery at Christiane Health Services of Delaware, called it ‘our river of life’. This river can be kept healthy through exercise, healthy diet, stress reduction, massage, and deep breathing.

Which is just about where we came in.

The lymphatic system isn’t closed, like the circulatory one, and it has no central pump like the heart.

Instead, this system is powered by the breath.

Any health system worth it’s salt will, first and foremost, teach you how to fully cleanse your body through effective breathing. Effective breathing is characterised by deep inhale, pause at the end of the inhale to allow transfer of oxygen, and a slow exhale to ensure effective removal of toxins.

We can think of this breathing technique in a three stage cycle.

By using deep diaphragmatic breathing, a vacuum is created that effectively sucks the lymph through the blood stream. As oxygen content is key to healthy non-malignant cells, fully oxygenating your system would seem to be the number one priority.

This is one of the reasons that yoga focuses so much on healthy, deep breathing.

Here is the most effective breathing system for ensuring that your lymphatic system operates to full effectiveness.

1. Breathe in for one count

2. Hold this inhale for four counts

3. Exhale for two counts

So just remember those ratios. Inhale for 1, hold for 4, out for 2.

Those counts are relative to each other, you can use them simply as ratio guides. So in actual fact you might breathe in for 4 counts, hold for a count of 16, and then exhale for a full count of 8. That’s okay, just follow the ratio guideline.

What you are doing, with this breathing pattern, is allowing enough time for cells to be fully oxygenated from the blood, and for toxins to be transferred back into the blood and lymph to be expelled.

Glow of Self Awareness

A timeless concept

Meditation is said to have been first mentioned in the Vedas in 1500 BCE. It has been mentioned numerous times in great detail in all schools of philosophy – from Tao to African culture.

Why is this idea so important? Think of meditation as a cleaning process. By focusing and getting rid of mind clutter, you’re smoothening out your life force and creating a strong balance between all the energies. Alertness and self awareness will cause your body to grow without being stunted by external hurdles. Refined mental peace is the fundamental reason why positive, calm people are more likely to be healthy and successful than distressed people.

Of course, every mind is different and while everyone is capable of self alertness, a person should look for a technique that best suits their state of mind.

Point source meditation

This method involves focusing on a single point, single mantra, your own breath or single image. You must not allow your mind to think about anything except that point. If you’re focusing on a flame, you must reflect on the appearance of the flame and be aware of it, and avoid any unnecessary thoughts. It is effective if a person does this ten minutes every day, but for better results, you must try to increase your
concentration span periodically.

Wandering meditation

This method is for the abstract minded. Instead of an external source or word, simply watch the thoughts that pass through your head. The key is to not think too deeply about these thoughts or shift to memories. Do not judge these thoughts. Simply watch them.

Having a detached view of your own thoughts is a remarkably effective way to develop self alertness.

Void meditation

This is a rather challenging form of meditation, but once you’ve mastered point source meditation, it is a good idea to advance to void meditation.

Void meditation requires you to keep your mind blank- create a vast nothingness in your mind. The only thought you must have is the awareness that your mind is empty. This prominently reduces the clutter of the mind and is super effective for the anxious.

Action meditation

For the fitness freaks, focusing on your body movements is also a meditation technique (this is essentially yoga!). Action meditation also includes focusing on music or beats, or any complex dynamic in your environment.

Spiritual Meditation Can Improve LIfe

One of the major benefits of spiritual meditation is stress management. Not only does meditation release any stress that has accumulated over time, but it also helps prevent stress from entering the system in the first place. Both of these positive benefits are experienced simultaneously, resulting in a relaxed, joyful, and refreshed state. Many people are able to quickly return to a calm, peaceful state of mind when faced with a challenging situation by simply meditating for a few minutes.

During meditation, brainwave patterns are brought into an Alpha state, which naturally promotes healing. With regular sessions it is common to experience an increase in creativity, decreased anxiety, and improved emotional stability. Problems are dealt with easily and happiness increases.

In addition to the numerous mental benefits of spiritual meditation, people reap a wide variety of health benefits. Meditation helps lower blood pressure, improve the immune system, and decreases pain that is caused by tension. Some examples of tension related pain are insomnia, tension headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, and ulcers. Anxiety attacks are reduced because blood lactate levels are lowered. Meditation is known to increase the production of serotonin, which results in improved behavior and mood.

In order to reap the many benefits of spiritual meditation, it is necessary to practice regularly. It takes practice, but the rewards are well worth the effort. It doesn’t take much time; just a few minutes each day. Once meditation becomes part of your routine, you’ll wonder how you functioned without it. Meditation will likely become the part of the day that you look forward to most. Some people start their day with meditation and others end the day with a session.

No special equipment is required for traditional meditation; just a few minutes and a quiet place. It can be practiced at any time and nearly anywhere. People from all walks of life are enjoying the benefits of regular meditation. It takes just a few minutes to pause and refresh themselves. Spiritual meditation is an ideal method for busy people that want to enjoy a happy, healthy stress free lifestyle.

Meditate for Improved Productivity

– Mindfulness meditation can improve your multitasking skills

– Learn to work fast without raising your stress levels

Most of us experience situations in our private or professional lives where the to-do-list seems to be overwhelming and almost never-ending. Finding a way to deal with all tasks effectively and preferably at the same time can be challenging and causes some of us to struggle more than others.

Meditation training can enable you to deal with those kinds of situations better in that they don’t represent as much of a strain anymore. It has been found in a study on multitasking that after an eight week long meditation training, the ability to stay on task for a long period of time had already improved and people were less easily distracted. Participants with meditation experience switched between the tasks less often, but completed the overall workload just as fast. This way of approaching multitasking led to reduced stress (relative to non-meditators) and also allowed participants to memorize the tasks they were performing better.

Mindfulness meditation is a tool that allows you to train your mind: Just like you go to the gym to exercise your body, you can practice meditation to to exercise your mind. Over time you will notice changes in your abilities and even thinking patterns. Day-dreaming, rumination and worrying can be reduced through regular practice, and this effect is beneficial especially during multitasking. For example, worries about not getting everything done in time can be justified and sometimes seem to recur although they slow down your progress. Learn to focus your mind on what matters in the present through mindfulness meditation practice. At the same time you can work on extending your attention span by a little more every time you practice. All of those effects are beneficial in situations that challenge your mind at various levels.

Daily Meditation Practice

  • Time. I used to feel like I didn’t have time for anything, like time was continually slipping away and I was running to keep up with all the items I had to check off my to-do list. I still have the same amount of responsibilities in my life, but now I experience a lot more space around these responsibilities. Time seems to be elastic, rather than fixed. And although I’m taking at least 10 minutes a day to sit in stillness, somehow I seem to have more time to do the things I need to do and, more importantly, the things I want to do.
  • Inner Peace. A funny thing started to happen after I’d been meditating for awhile. I started sweating the small stuff less. For example, I live in New Jersey and have struggled my entire adult life with road rage. The moment I get in the car I’m “horn happy.” I won’t claim to be a saint now, but I will say that my tolerance for sitting behind someone who has stopped at a green light has increased ten-fold. I no longer take their absent-mindedness as a personal affront, but recognize that they may be having a bad day. Nowadays when I find my stress levels rising, I remind myself that “we are all one.”
  • Perspective. We all struggle. We all have stressful aspects to our lives that aren’t going as well as we wish they would. Meditation has given me the perspective to recognize that my problems are only as big or as small as I make them. I have the power to change my perspective. I have the power to decide if a problem is going to ruin my day.
  • Positivity. Before I started meditating, I was often at the mercy of my mind. Human beings have a tendency to over-focus on the negative and I was no exception. Since I’ve started meditating, I’ve become more aware of my negative thoughts. When you notice a negative thought before it takes hold, you can easily replace it with a more positive thought. One of my favorite sayings is: “You don’t have to believe everything you think.” Meditation has given me the power to choose more positive thoughts and that is an invaluable gift.

Luminosity Meditation

STEP ONE: Imagine yourself standing under a multihued glistening light shower and visualise your light body and let the rainbow light in. Take about five deep breaths, and draw from the large (imaginary) shower head, rays of light. As you inhale keep yourself in the centre of this circle of light. See magnificent rays of light coming from the top circle and entering your body at all points, centralising itself at your solar plexus. If comfortable you can hold your breath for a few moments, focusing at this central point of your body; the solar plexus- then slowly exhale. As you do this, mentally see imaginary rays, or sprays, of rainbow light going up through the body, and down and out through feet. Mentally spray your entire body with this imaginary multitude of colourful light.

STEP TWO: Practice the multi-coloured light waves spreading from the being and extending all the way to the front and touching the souls all around, Let the consciousness elevate their sadness and bring them to joy, help dissipate worry into relaxation, create relief and contentment.

STEP THREE: When ever we feel stressed, let go of all the negative feeling in the form of dark coloured light rays; like brown or black and greys.and pour it out from the imaginary holes in the fingers and toes. With our souls’ inner eye, imagine the darkness leave the body through the toes and fingers… (its highly effective to combined this meditation while taking an actual shower).

STEP FOUR: Fill the hollow incorporeal body with beautiful lilac / golden glittering ray; Rays of white, pink, orange, golden, blue, yellow, silver and more.

The benefits of doing this meditation are astounding. It is an instant “Feel Good” or “Revitaliser”. It is an essential tool to help us jump inward Nodes. This practical impressive method commences to raise vibrations, we feel great immediately! Not only that but our feeling of joy will be contagious, as we will be able to influence, how others feel around us as well! Amazing hey!

Meditation Techniques

It is not easy for any beginner to perform advance techniques, as advanced meditation is quite complicated and long. It requires people who are having superior meditation abilities to be able to attain a unification with the universal energy and the powerful spiritual bliss, which begins to flow from them and spread onto the other people.

Meditation practices meant for beginners help you to clear your mind of thoughts. It also helps you to get rid of the stress and woes of your day to day life. As you move ahead towards the advanced meditation stages you will have to use your experience to resolve any stresses and issues in an active manner. The advanced techniques train you in setting aside the conscious mind and move ahead.

Deep meditation creates the route for the internal subconscious mind to get ahead and the brainwaves are restricted to less than the normal sleeping limits. This process is not at all easy and you should be prepared mentally to begin implementing these advanced techniques.

It is very important to be able to remain focused and prepared for a long session where you are not allowed to dose off.

If you wish to get better clarity on advanced meditation, you should relate your brain to an onion where all the layers are formed during the course of your life, beginning from the time of birth.

Just like an onion, our brain too has various layers. The internal core of the onion is similar to our instinctual and primary segments of your brain and they make us aware of our thirst, sleep requirements, hunger, process of swallowing and blinking. These sections are also related to virtuous and pure.

This layer is followed by the childhood brain which stores the mastered behaviour patterns and life experiences. Often this section is full of clutter and problems which does not let them view life in the proper aspects. In fact these people do not even know about the true perspective of life.

This particular area makes us work very hard and you need to really struggle to focus on this area. Advance meditation stresses on this area effectively. You can compare the external layers of the onions to the adult brain. The outer skin can be compared to the conscious mind which is always cluttered with numerous stresses and thoughts. You need to tend to each layer carefully and the advanced meditation techniques are ideal for holistic healing.

Relaxation Response

To bring out the physiological benefit of your own response, follow these two easy steps:

  1. Concentrate on a word or group of words that matters to you and has a positive effect such as love, hope and peace.
  2. When negative thoughts start to enter your mind, disregard then and then continue to concentrate as what you are doing in step 1.

It is very normal that some thoughts will just enter your mind which will make you wander. Allow those unnecessary thought which brings you to step number 2 – letting go. You will need to let go of those thoughts as with letting go of worries and doubts. This is actually a healing effect of relaxation – surrendering your negative feelings like worries, doubts and tensions to get the healing benefit of your own response.

Practicing relaxation response daily will provide best results. A 10 to 15-minute session for once or twice daily will already provide the maximum benefit.

There are some techniques that we may consider in doing finding our response such as:

  • Focusing – A word, phrase or a prayer.
  • Sitting quietly and comfortably
  • Closing your eyes
  • Relaxing your muscles, and feel the progress going to other parts of your body.
  • Breathing naturally and slowly while focusing on the word
  • Assuming a positive attitude letting go of the negative thoughts
  • Continue for 20 minutes
  • Continue to sit until thoughts return to normal phase
  • Do this daily during breakfast or dinner

Frequent practice of relaxation response is proven to treat stress-related disorders. It can also provide cure for other known diseases. Other techniques for relaxation response are the following:

  • Imagery. Creating mental pictures and focusing on it will create relaxation response.
  • Breathing focus. Focusing on breathing can give relaxation response.
  • Constant physical activities such as running, walking or swimming. Focus on a word while doing these activities.
  • Meditation. Mindful meditation is the key. This is done by observing things carefully. Notice every action that you do or everything that you see.
  • Prayer. This elicits relaxation response.
  • Muscle relaxation. This is done by alternately tensing and loosening muscles from head to toe. This can provide beneficial effects of relaxation response.

Meditation Tips for Beginners

For a long time now, meditation has been used by many for a variety of reasons. In the old times, meditation was a way of communicating with the Buddha or achieve a higher level of consciousness because the practice of meditation first started with the ancient Buddhists. Meditation was not just a way of relieving oneself from stress but more of actually being able to keep the balance in one’s self and exercising the mind to concentrate and focus. For beginners who do not know what to do when meditating there are a few tips they can make use of.

Learn about the Breathing Techniques. In meditation, one of the first few things that is needs to be learned is proper breathing techniques. To do this, you must first sit comfortably (either on a chair or on the floor) with legs crossed or the Indian sit. Place your palms on each leg with palms facing up. Close your eyes and start to listen to the things happening around you. Start paying close attention to your breathing making sure to slowly inhale and breathe out through your lips. Do this in a slow manner until you are able to concentrate on without being distracted of the noise around you or be bothered by thoughts running through your head.

Pick a place to meditate. You do not necessarily have to go far and wide and go to mountain tops just to meditate. Even a corner of your bedroom is already more than enough to be able to meditate. The important thing in making meditation successful is to be able to find a place where the noise is minimal and is free of distractions.

Make use of music and other things if needed. There are actually music that are really meant for meditation. It usually entails the use of ancient musical instruments or the sounds of nature such as the gushing water or the sound of the wind and the trees. These are actually a few things that can help you concentrate. You can also make use of scented candles if you like to make meditation more inviting.

Practice makes perfect. Remember the old cliché that practice makes perfect? It is very much applicable to meditation for beginners to. To concentrate and not have to think of anything is hard. It could be frustrating after a few tries but doing it regularly allows you to focus clearly and be able to perfect and master the art of meditation.

All about Mindfulness and Me

Another friend said mindfulness teaches you how to listen fully to others when they are talking. “Well,” he said, “Now that I’ve learned to listen to people I forget what I was going to say.”

If I thought too much about it, though, I would not have signed up for the classes. Meditation was never something I practiced. Too deep for me. I could never sit still that long without jumping up to do something. There is always something.

However, at the orientation, the practice, as they call it, sounded as though it could help me to focus better as a writer. I wanted to see if I can slow down the chatter in my head and think more clearly of the task at hand.

The formal definition, as described by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts, said mindfulness is a way of bringing meditation into the medical mainstream. He describes it as a basic human quality, a way of learning to pay attention to whatever is happening in your life that allows you a greater sense of connection to your life inwardly and outwardly.

Kabat-Zinn earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1971 from MIT and also studied with the Insight Meditation Society and eventually also taught there. In 1979 he founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he adapted the Buddhist teachings on mindfulness and developed a stress reduction practice or MBSR.

The formal course is set up for 8 weekly sessions of two and half hours. Between the sixth and eighth meeting there is an all-day retreat that includes several hours of “noble silence” and guided meditation.

My apprehension doubled. In the first class I struggled with meditating for 30 minutes. A whole day of silence seemed impossible. I’m a writer, a journalist and a talker.

After week six, on a rainy Sunday in November, we gathered at a large cabin-like home in the Redwoods. Couldn’t have been a more perfect day for a meditation retreat; Dark clouds overhead and a steady rain with short periods of pounding thunder.

We were warmed by a wood stove, cozy in our cushioned chairs and blankets. The mood started out with a fair amount of anxiety admitted by each of the attendees. None of us was practiced in long-term silent treatment… at least not outside of our various personal relationships.

While I was feeling insecure about my ability to embrace five hours of not talking, I was unaware of my vulnerability at the same time.

We started our session with a practice called “Standing Yoga Meditation.” As we were in a personal home, there were family mementos around the room. While in a pose, I turned to face a different direction and there on an end table were two bronzed baby shoes.

A bolt of lightning pierced my chest. Tears suddenly dripped down my face. I held the yoga pose longer than called for. I couldn’t turn away. The shoes brought me back to my childhood, my mother and father both dead now, and playing with my brother. I was back on the front yard of the small, WW II built house in North Hollywood, CA. I can see the rose trees my mother planted. My older brother with silver caps on his two front teeth and me with my skinny braids and cowboy boots. It was profoundly sweet and sad at the same time.