I want to talk this week about meditation. This is a practise that I’ve recommenced over the past few months because of the numerous benefits to health and peace of mind. A few minutes of meditation can relax my muscles and calm my state of mind, setting me up for the day. As we all know there are so many things that we can’t control in life, but one thing we can do is control our state of mind and learn how to use our emotions and responses for the better. Meditation is so helpful with positively reinforcing your belief in yourself and your ability to deal with situations.
Now on my journey, on and off, over the past twenty years I haven’t found this easy. I’ve spend time on my own, in meditation groups, Buddhist centres and even in a little room in a busy recreation centre with the sound of balls bouncing off walls and children shouting.
One thing I have learnt with all this is that it can be really infuriating and takes practice and patience, but the benefits are really worth it. Nowadays I find a little time at some point in the day and use an app on my phone called Insight Timer – Meditation Timer. It gives me the option of guided meditations for relaxation, peace of mind, health or anything I fancy I can also just put the timer on with relaxing background music. Now I realise that many of you reading this will think that you just don’t have time, but let me ask, do you spend a few minutes a day looking on social media? A Zen Proverb states “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
Science has now caught up with thousands of years of Eastern practice and studies at Harvard Medical School have found that individuals who used long term relaxation methods like yoga and meditation, in fact had many more active “disease-fighting genes” than those who did not undertake a form of relaxation.
Research has also shown that there are many positive benefits and I have listed a few below:
1. Increased Immunity
2. Emotional Balance
3. Increased Fertility
4. Relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
There are varying ways to simply practise meditation. You can start by simply watching you breath. Slowly breathe in through your nose and extend your breath to your abdomen and then gradually exhale whilst being aware of all tensions being released. If your mind wanders whilst doing this, let your thoughts go and return to following your breath. You’ll be amazed at how relaxed you feel.
I’ve found that meditation has the additional benefits of helping me to trust my instincts more. I feel that I’m drawn to go somewhere, do something or say something that is really beneficial not just to me but to others around me. I also feel more able to deal with difficult situations, although not always because let’s face it this thing called life isn’t always easy. But I feel a little more at peace and in control of my responses and decisions.
Give it a go and let me know how it is for you.
Love Rachel x
I remember watching a television programme months ago about a few groups of individuals who were on a quest for longevity. Obviously I always find these shows compelling watching and the groups involved included a restricted eating group and the paleo lifestyle community, along with a couple of others that I don’t really recall.
I remember watching the restricted eating individuals with amusement because, they looked so unhealthy and the food looked really unappealing. The paleo group were interesting and on the whole I like the paleo lifestyle. But what struck me was an interview at the very end of the programme where a 100 year old man lived his life believing in everything in moderation. What he did do though every morning, was make himself a smoothie that included berries and superfoods.
I love superfood powders and they are always a favourite addition to my kitchen. I’ve listed a few below because I think everyone should include a few of these in their diets:
This is a deep purple berry that grows in the Amazon. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin E and contains anthocyanins which have been named “beauty antioxidants” and have the reputation of being particularly anti-ageing. It’s also one of the few fruits that contains essential fatty acids. New research has found that it seems to encourage stem cell production and it is considered a primary choice for rejuvenation and recovery with athletes and health enthusiasts alike.
This is a regular addition to my morning smoothie or juice. This superfood originates from the baobab tree in Africa and contains more iron than red meat, six times more vitamin C than oranges and is a fantastic source of calcium, potassium and magnesium. It has a high fibre content and it is believed that it may help increase energy levels, immune function and collagen formation (which supports healthy skin, cartilage, bones and blood vessels). It has high antioxidant properties which are anti-ageing and skin protective.
Cacoa as we all know is where chocolate originates. It is the original product prior to being roasted and therefore still contains it amazing health properties. Cocao is full numerous minerals including high levels of magnesium, the mineral which which may contribute to pain relief and reducing muscle cramps and also enables relaxation. It is also one of the highest antioxidant foods available and these antioxidants in the form of flavonoids have been linked in studies to increased heart health, which includes improved blood pressure. It also contains amino acids and phytochemicals that are beneficial in energizing the body and improving moods.
Chlorella is a blue-green algae that is rich in vitamins and minerals and is a detoxifier of heavy metals and toxins in the body. It is supportive of the immune system and recent trials have shown that it increases levels of “natural killer” cell activity in the body. It has been shown to naturally increase levels vitamin A, vitamin C and glutathione in the body which enables the elimination of free radicals, therefore promoting younger looking skin. It also contains high chlorophyll levels which have been shown to protect the body against ultraviolet radiation treatments.
This originates from South America and has a reputation for increasing energy and stamina. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and numerous studies have shown that it has the incredible ability of being able to balance hormones for males and females and has been called nature’s Viagra. It is thought that it may help menopausal symptoms and skin conditions and is a beneficial adaptogen which is believed to have a positive effect on moods.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that was named as the original superfood. It is nutrients dense and is 60% protein, including all of the essential amino acids. It is rich in vitamins and minerals including vitamin B12 and has a high chlorophyll content. It has been shown to be an excellent detoxifier of heavy metals and is also extremely energizing with the addition benefit helping balance moods.
Wheatgrass is extremely rich in chlorophyll which is a natural cleanser, blood strengthener and energizer for the body. It is rich in vitamins and minerals including high levels of calcium, iron, magnesium along with vitamins A, C and E. It it believed that it may improve immunity and kill harmful bacteria in the digestive system. It is also an excellent detoxifier.
I hope this list will encourage you to try at least a couple of these because they really are a magnificent addition to the diet.