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Meditation…

Why Meditation is as Important as a Healthy Diet and Exercise

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By: Cat Ebeling, BSN, co-author of the best-sellers:  The Fat Burning Kitchen, The Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging & The Diabetes Fix

Meditation used to be something I thought about as applying mostly to Eastern cultures and yoga fanatics. I just didn’t see how it could be possible to transcend thoughts and never wanted to take the time to practice it. I always found meditation to be too complicated and time-consuming and actually never felt it was productive to ‘disengage’ from life and swirling thoughts long enough to make it worthwhile.

I was never so wrong.

Meditation has become mainstream these days, thanks to the popularity of yoga and other eastern practices. It seems that everyone, especially productive, creative ‘game-changers’ are doing it and having amazing benefits. The most successful people in the world meditate. They apparently know something about its benefits, or they wouldn’t waste their time.

People like Paul McCartney, Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Richard Branson, Derek Jeter, Ariana Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and more all practice some form of meditation. Olympic athletes do it, top-level CEO’s do it, and super successful celebrities do it—and everyone in between. These people are not doing it because they have too much time on their hands; these people are busy super-performers who have learned how to become even more productive and more clear-headed with meditation.


It’s a discipline that needs daily time and attention.


Meditation is not just for yoga fanatics. Meditation is not mysterious or complicated. It is exactly and perfectly made for us–busy, crazy, too-much-stuff-packed-into-one-day folks. It is a simple process of clearing one’s mind of all the crazy clutter that we get hammered with on a day-to-day, minute-by-minute basis. You clear your desk to work, right? Well, when you clear your mind, you will find that work, health, exercise, personal relationships, creativity, and more—all become better and more productive.

Meditation will change your life for the better if you make it a habit.

One of my resolutions for this year is to get more disciplined in a meditation practice. After seeing dozens of articles come up on my computer, I decided it was high time to look into the benefits and get my own practice going. It’s not easy at first, but it’s like exercise for the brain. At first, it’s difficult and you may struggle with this, but it’s an EXERCISE, which means that with practice, you will get better and better, and see and feel results more and more!


What are the Benefits of Meditation? 

Below are twelve ways that meditation is as powerful for your health as a healthy diet and exercise.

Stress Reduction


Have you ever felt like there is information overload going on in your brain and you feel you just need hit a shut off button to reboot? This is where meditation can be extremely helpful. Depending on the meditation style you practice, you can virtually empty your mind of all the excessive clutter flying around in your head and reset your focus.

Meditation is incredibly effective at slowing down your thoughts and lowering stress and anxiety. In fact, many people often meditate before stressful events like going onstage to speak or perform in front of thousands of people.

One study found that mindfulness and Zen meditation significantly reduced stress after only a period of 8 weeks. Another study found that meditation actually changes the brain structure, especially those parts associated with stress and worry.

Both mental and physical stress can increase the hormone cortisol. This is what causes many of the harmful effects of stress, such as insomnia, high blood pressure, tight muscles, weight gain and more. Cortisol is an inflammatory hormone that has very negative effects on the body.

In this study of med school students, a meditation style called “mindfulness meditation” reduced the inflammation response caused by stress. Research also shows that meditation can not only lower stress and cortisol response, but it also has a very positive effects on those conditions affected by stress like irritable bowel syndrome, PTSD, fibromyalgia and even more serious diseases like cancer. I know for me, meditation is a definite stress reliever. It does seem to really help to rewire my brain.


Helps with Razor Sharp Focus



Need to sharpen up your focus a bit? Meditation improves your ability to stay on task, focus on being productive, and also helps with cognition. This study shows how meditation improves focus.

With the computers and the internet on everyone’s desktop, focus has become a diminishing ability. However, focused meditation actually helps us increase this all-important ability once again, and clears your plate for razor sharp focus. Meditation helps to increase both the strength and length of your attention.

This study published in Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience journal shows that just 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation improves the ability to reorient and maintain attention. And a similar study shows workers who practiced meditation were able to stay on task and focus for longer periods of time while multitasking—and remember details of their tasks better than those who did not practice meditation.

While our digital phones, pads and computers, combined with social media, have actually shortened our attention spans to about 8 seconds, according to a study by Microsoft, meditation can help to reverse those brain wave patterns that have contributed to mind-wandering, worry, and short attention spans. This study actually found that just four days of short meditations helped attention.


Reduces Anxiety


Meditation lowers anxiety as well as stress. Many people have out of control anxiety which results in panic attacks, social anxiety, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This comprehensive scientific review of 47 studies shows just that. Positive effects of meditation have been seen across multiple studies, and it only takes about 2-2.5 hours per week, or 20 minutes a day for these effects.

One of the best types of meditation for anxiety is a type called mindfulness-based stress reduction or MBSR. Mindfulness meditation is one of the easiest types of meditation to learn. It merely means you stay in the moment and focus mostly on your breathing while letting your thoughts just pass by.

Having a meditation practice shows promise, especially after a few years of following regular meditation. This study of 18 people shows that after an 8-week meditation program, the participants who practiced regular meditation had maintained lower anxiety levels over the course of three years. And a larger study shows a variety of meditation techniques work for reducing anxiety. Some techniques include visualization that helps to shift attention away from the thoughts that may cause anxiety.

Meditation may also help control anxiety that comes from a high-pressure work environments. Here is a study that shows how a meditation program reduced the related job anxiety in a group of nurses, which as we all should know is a very high stress job.


Promotes a Positive Mindset



With a reduction in stress and anxiety, the chance for hope and a positive mindset can come in. Many forms of meditation help to improve self-image and create a happier, calmer, more positive mindset.

In fact these studies show that mindfulness meditation helps to get rid of depression in 4,600 adults, and meditation can produce lasting results when practiced for longer periods of time.

And guess what? This meditation practice literally changes your brain! Those who meditate actually show measurable changes in the activity areas related to positive thinking and optimism.

Positive thinking helps to bring about positive results in your daily life. What a great reason to make meditation a daily habit, along with your cup of coffee in the morning!

Increases Feelings of Kindness, Compassion and Love

We just discussed how meditation helps to increase positive feelings and actions, and this translates to positive feelings towards yourself and others as well. Creating feelings of calmness and happiness also help to generate this loving kindness. A specific type of meditation, Metta, especially enhances loving-kindness feelings, beginning with yourself. Metta increases feelings of positivity, empathy and compassionate behavior toward others. Over twenty studies on this type of meditation have shown that it increases one’s feelings of compassion and self-worth. And the more it’s practiced, the better it works!

While meditation is helping to improve your ability to empathize, it also allows you to increase your intuitive ability to notice subtle cues that will help you understand how others are feeling.

Meditation also increases your emotional stability, making you less likely to be influenced by negative people or negative emotions in your life. And because of all of this, meditation has a definite positive influence on relationships and marriages!

Whatever type of meditation practice you choose, rest assured, it will help to increase your feelings of being self-aware, having greater self-worth, and feeling more loving of yourself and others.


Better Self-Awareness



One of the great things about mindfulness meditation (which I think is one of the easiest to understand and follow) is that it helps to create better self-awareness. As you meditate and go within yourself, you will begin to notice passing thoughts and feelings. Meditation helps you become more aware of your own feelings and instead of being reactive, it helps you to see your thoughts and feelings and to understand them better.

Other types of meditation help you to recognize harmful or negative subconscious defeating thoughts that may be operating in the background of your mind, creating situations for you with poor outcomes. Meditation helps to break this cycle and helps you to see and separate out those negative, self-defeating thoughts. And, as you gain a better awareness of your own thoughts and habitual ways of thinking, you can begin to steer your thoughts to more constructive patterns.

Gaining a better understanding of yourself and your subconscious thought patterns can go a long way towards changing your whole life for the better. This can become a huge starting point for positive changes in your life. Want to change your life? Meditate on a regular basis!


Improves Memory


Did you know that improving your attention and clarity of thinking helps keep your mind young? In essence, meditation helps to reduce the noise and clutter going on in our brain, and that allows people to remember things better. In addition, because meditation helps to tap into the subconscious, many forgotten memories can be tapped into as well.

An interesting review of 12 different studies found that many different meditation styles increased attention, memory and mental quickness in older volunteers, especially. For aging people, meditation is especially good at helping to reverse age-related memory loss and even dementia. So meditation is good for keeping your brain young!

Kirtan Kriya is a particular type of meditation that involves chanting, using a repetitive motion with the fingers that actually helps to focus thoughts. It was shown to improve participants’ ability to perform memory tasks, especially for those with memory loss due to aging.


Controls Pain



Physicians know that when a patient is anxious, they tend to feel pain even more, so oftentimes patients in pain are given medications that help to relieve anxiety, as well as the pain. What if you could do that without taking addictive medications that have undesirable side effects?

Since your perception of pain is very attached to your own state of mind, pain is elevated when you are stressed. And pain, is of course, stressful all by itself. Especially chronic pain.

One study used MRI techniques to observe brain activity on participants experiencing a painful stimulus. Some participants used a type of mindfulness meditation while others did not. Meditating patients showed increased activity in the brain centers known to control pain. They also reported less sensitivity to pain.

Another study looked at the effects of habitual meditation in 3,500 participants. It found that meditation was associated with decreased complaints of chronic or intermittent pain. And further studies of meditation in patients with terminal diseases like cancer found that meditation not only helped reduce anxiety but it also helped mitigate chronic pain, even near the end of life.

While both both groups were experiencing the same cause of pain, the meditators showed a greater ability to cope with pain and even experienced a reduced perception of pain.

With diseases like breast cancer, meditation is not used just as a treatment for pain or the disease. It is supportive care designed to help a person deal with the stress that comes with cancer. While this area currently needs more research, meditation may actually help fight cancer on a cellular level.


Helps Fight Addiction



It’s apparent that meditation helps to strengthen the mind and the will power. Using this mental discipline that can be developed through meditation may actually help break dependencies on addictive substances or behaviors. Not only does this practice help to focus and redirect attention, it also helps to lower stress, lower anxiety and reduce depression. All of these things are extremely helpful in breaking free from addiction.

Mindfulness meditation also increases self-awareness, helping to break down some of the barriers in understanding how one gets addicted in the first place. Meditation also helps to stop food cravings and impulsive eating as well, making it helpful for weight loss too.

Can’t Sleep? Meditate!

One of the reasons many people say that cannot sleep is because they have a hard time calming an overactive mind. Most of us have problems with insomnia at some point. Some of the common reasons for trouble sleeping include stress, discomfort, anxiety, inability to relax, and just a busy mind that cannot shut down. Meditation is helpful for all of these things and helps to put you in a relaxed state of mind to sleep soundly.

Participants in a study on sleep and meditation fell asleep sooner, stayed asleep longer and slept more restfully than those who didn’t meditate. Meditation helps to relax the body, release tension, and allow for natural, beneficial, restorative REM sleep. And another benefit of meditation is that you don’t need to rely on harmful sleep medications that destroy one’s natural restful sleep cycles.

Avoiding those racing thoughts in the middle of the night that wake you up and cause you to worry needlessly will help you feel rested and relaxed in the morning and much better able to deal with the daily issues.

Decreases Blood Pressure

While meditation has many benefits for the mind, it also has beneficial effects on the physical body including the heart and blood vessels. High blood pressure can be partially a result of stress and excess tension, and create extra strain on the heart and blood vessels. This can lead to strokes, heart disease, and blood vessel irregularities like aneurysms.

Meditation can become a form of biofeedback that helps in focusing on relaxing the mind and lowering overall blood pressure. This seems to be even more effective in older people and those with higher blood pressure. Meditation is thought to actually control the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, lower the heart rate, and the tension in the blood vessels as well. Cardiologists, take note!


You Can Meditate Anywhere



Unlike other activities, meditation does not require any fancy equipment or specific locations to practice. You can practice meditation virtually anywhere! Well, maybe not while driving a car, but you know what I mean! And it only takes a few minutes a day. One of the best ways to start meditating and reaping its benefits is to meditate a few minutes in the morning when you first get up and meditate right before bed.

How Do I Get Started?

While there quite a few different meditation practices out there, there are two basic types:

Focused-attention meditation which allows you to concentrate your attention on a single object, thought, sound or visualization. This helps by ridding your mind of other distractions. Meditation may focus on breathing, a mantra or a calming sound. I find this is the best form for me, as I tend to get distracted easily by sounds and other things.
Mindfulness meditation encourages more awareness of all aspects of your environment, your train of thought and your sense of self. While you want to relax your mind and slow it down, it allows you to become aware of your thoughts and feelings and letting them go. Think of it like you holding onto a helium balloon. As you become aware of a particular thought or feeling, you just consciously let it go and its drifts away. This practice is an easy way to begin.

Don’t be like I used to be and think that meditation required a lot of training or studying. It’s easy and is something everyone can do—you can too—and reap some amazing benefits. That’s not to say that a meditative class or yoga practice won’t improve your chances of incorporating it into your life as well if your home space is not conducive to a quiet meditative practice.

I set my appointment alarm to remind me that I have an appointment to meditate every morning while I drink my coffee. I currently only meditate for about ten minutes in the morning but setting a timer helps so you don’t have to keep peeking how long you’ve been at it. There are also quite a few good apps you can download on your phone that will take you through the steps and offer guided imagery, mantras, or gentle directions. My two favorites are Headspace and Russell Simmons’ Meditation Made Simple.

Many of the studies above utilized mindfulness or TM style meditation, but that is simply because they are the most well-known. There are around nine major styles of meditation to try out if you’d like. Start simple and incorporate the practice into habit. Other types of meditation styles may fit your personality better, but they all will have positive benefits, and some, if you stay with the practice, can radically transform your life in such positive ways, you will become a new and better person.

Trying out a style of meditation suited to your goals is a great way to improve your quality of life, even if you only have a few minutes to do it each day.

Thank you for reading 🙂

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Meditation~ Inflammation Relief

“Inflammation is a common contributor and possible cause underlying all diseases, whether you are talking about heart, liver, kidney problems, obesity, or psychiatric disease,” says Dr. Daniel Lee, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Medical Center and School of Medicine.

In general, when your mental energy takes too much from your physical energy, it puts your body in a state of deficit, and inflammation in the body occurs.

It takes mental energy when we use our brains to think and analyze. In fact, we are constantly using our brains to think, analyze, and figure stuff out. This continual thinking from the brain takes energy from our body. At some point our body needs to rejuvenate.

We need to take time to relax, and get out of our heads, so our body can rejuvenate. There is such a thing as “too much thinking,” just like too much of anything is not good. Thinking needs to be balanced with non-thinking. Balance is good. Take time for thinking, then take time to relax. This allows for optimal functioning of the brain and the body.

What happens when we think too much?

When the thinking of the brain takes too much energy from the body, this depletes the energy of the body. Lower body energy affects our immune system — it functions more slowly. The immune system is our natural response to inflammation in the body. An impaired immune system results in incomplete repair of cells and tissue, and inflammation in the body expands.

We’ve all heard the saying, “keep your mind active,” especially as we age. Well, this is a little bit of a misnomer; more precisely it’s saying, “keep your brain active.” While brain activity is all well and good, there needs to be balance. There needs to be brain activity, and rest. Just like anything, balance is best.

We are thinking when we work and when we play. Our brain is “on” all day during work or at school. Our brain is “on” when playing sports, or other games such as cards, board games, checkers or chess. If you are, for example, constantly working, playing games, or thinking, you are not giving yourself downtime — a chance to rest, relax, and renew.

This can lead to inflammation in the body.

Common examples of inflammation are arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and other autoimmune problems. Be active, get going during the day, but give yourself time to rest, too. Balance. Then the body gets a chance to recuperate, and your immune system ramps up to repair damaged cells and tissue. Isn’t an awesomely functioning immune system invaluable?

This is similar to exercise. Exercise is good for the body, but you need to rest after exercise.

A good way to relax the brain is to get into the mind. The mind only knows balance and does nothing in excess. The flowing energy of the mind brings our bodies back to balance.

Meditation teacher and author, Ron W. Rathbun, says, “We need to get out of our brain activity, and into our minds, so the mind can balance the brain and the body. In mind, we balance the body and reduce inflammation. The mind allows for mental and physical rejuvenation.” 

MeditationBeatsInflammation_640x359

Nature is simple. There is the brain and the mind. By learning to access your mind, you move away from the brain and into a more relaxed state of renewal.

Kelee® meditation is a way to access the mind.

In a study at UCSD, patients who did Kelee meditation for 12 weeks saw a significant reduction in stress, anxiety and depression. Lead author of the study, Dr. Daniel Lee, says, “These days, researchers are looking for answers on how to control inflammation to fight disease.  However, Kelee meditation provides a unique way to access the mind to calm and quiet brain activity, which helps to relax the physical body allowing for recovery and rejuvenation.  It is through understanding the concept of moderation and the balance between mind function and brain function that ultimately leads to the improvement of quality of life and begins the process of the reversing the disease process naturally, without having to rely on medications.”

https://www.thealternativedaily.com/meditation-beats-inflammation/

Wondering how to access your mind and balance your brain and body? You can download this simple-to-follow ebook, Kelee Meditation: Free your Mind, and practice Kelee meditation today.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Meditation

8 Surprising Benefits Of Meditation

By now, the world has warmed to the idea of meditation. People no longer roll their eyes and mutter under their breath when they hear that so-and-so has started up guided meditation. The facts leave no doubt: meditation really works.

And in today’s world of fast-paced corporate life, social jet-setting and tech gadget infatuations, we can no longer deny that meditation has a certain charm. Our lives are becoming increasingly stressful, to the point where our adrenals are exhausted. Our bodies are beset with anxiety and fatigue. Meditation provides calm in the eye of the storm, and everyone can benefit from a little of that every now and then.

Meditation’s most obvious benefit is stress relief. Guided meditation forces the mind to release its hold on nagging everyday worries and focus on a single point. That point allows the mind to finally relax. It releases all that tension and constant planning to focus on the now.

Meditation’s effect on the body is almost instantaneous. With the brain no longer sending fight or flight signals to your adrenal glands, they discontinue producing adrenaline and cortisol. Finally, after constant hours slaving away over a hot stove, producing the hormones they think the body needs to stay alive, they can take a much-needed nap.

As the adrenaline gradually exits from your veins, you find yourself almost miraculously free of stress, feeling calmer, more relaxed and more focused. Your body is no longer in stress-response mode. You finally feel like yourself again.

The scientific community agrees. A study from Texas Tech University quantitatively demonstrated that mindfulness meditation significantly lowered anxiety in test subjects. Another meta-analysis examined a range of different mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques and found much the same thing. The study concluded that “these results suggest that MBSR may help a broad range of individuals to cope with their clinical and nonclinical problems.”

Sounds pretty good, right? Happily, it doesn’t stop there. Meditation can provide an impressive array of benefits, both to your mind and your body. Many of these benefits may even come as a surprise, or at least have you muttering “huh!” and raising your eyebrows. Here are 11 such benefits, and what they mean for your health and wellness.

Meditation helps you lose weight

Meditation Reduces Overeating

Let’s kick things off with a bit of a strange one. It turns out that sitting around breathing deeply and looking inward may not just be a workout for the mind. When we’re stressed, our adrenals produce an excess of cortisol. Chronically high cortisol levels contribute to accumulation of fat around the stomach and other areas over time. Meditation helps to lower cortisol levels, thereby decreasing your risk of putting on hormone-related belly fat.

Not only that, studies show that mindfulness meditation can reduce your risk of binge eating. People who are stressed often have a strong tendency to overeat or turn to “emotional eating” as a way of cheering themselves up. If you’re in the process of dieting and trying to address this issue, meditation may be the answer.

It helps you sleep better

Daily meditation can help you sleep better. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback examined the effects of Kriya yoga (a form of meditative exercise) on people suffering from chronic insomnia. The study found that total sleep time, sleep efficiency, sleep quality and depression all improved in patients who used meditation. And with better sleep, comes better health, faster weight loss and improved brain function. 

It helps you build better relationships

The human mind has a tendency to dwell on past events or frantically plan for the future. With your mind always elsewhere, you may find yourself growing further and further away from those you love. It can be frustrating and difficult trying to part with your ever-present regrets and worries for just a moment so that you can pay attention to your family and friends.

Daily guided meditation can help you to live in the present moment. It can als help you focus more on the people and places around you. You’ll find a greater connection with those you love. You’ll also develop more wholesome relationships with the people in your life.

It increases productivity

Meditation Improves Productivity

Meditation can help you work better and get more productivity out of your day. A study which examined the relationship between “Transcendental Meditation®” and productivity at work found that meditation made a huge difference. Study participants who used meditation reported increased job satisfaction, better performance and better relationships with supervisors and co-workers.

So next time you’ve got a tight deadline and are struggling to find the motivation, consider popping down to the park for 10 minutes for some guided meditation!

It rebuilds you brain

If you’re naturally skeptical about the quantitative benefits of meditation on the mind and body, this one’s for you. Researchers at Harvard Medical School examined the impact of meditation on the brain. They used MRI scans over the course of eight weeks. The results showed that while the control group experienced no changes in brain activity, the group subjected to regular meditation had a dramatic increase in their brain’s gray matter.

Gray matter is a major component of the central nervous system. It is found in areas of the brain which control muscle function, sight, hearing, memory, emotion and speech. So yeah, it’s kind of a big deal! Not only that, the study found that “brain analyses identified increases in the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporoparietal junction, and the cerebellum in the MBSR group compared with the controls.” In plain English, meditation literally makes your brain bigger.

It can make you a morning person

If you’re like me and positively loathe getting up early in the morning, it may be a good idea to take up meditation. Meditating for just a few minutes when you first wake up can help clear your mind and get you energized for the day ahead. It can help you to focus your mind on the tasks ahead, relax any anxieties you might have about the day, and shake off that sleepiness which never seems to go away.

It relieves anxiety and depression

Meditation Relieves Depression

Researchers have documented the positive effects of meditation on depression and anxiety many times. Experts think that this positive effect on mood comes from meditation’s ability of help people think of more creative solutions to problems, rather than feeling stuck or helpless. For example, a 2012 study demonstrated that those who practice Buddhist meditation have far greater mental flexibility than those who don’t. This enables them to maintain a more positive outlook on life and more effective at solving problems.

It can improve your sex life

Perhaps the most surprising benefit of all is that meditation can dramatically improve your sex life! Firstly, meditation alleviates stress, which as we know lowers cortisol. Because elevated cortisol is associated with lowered libido and propensity for orgasm, the more you meditate, the more you’ll enjoy sex!

Next, meditation gives you more energy. And that energy doesn’t just have to be used up going for a run or working more productively; it can also be applied between the sheets! Finally, it improves your focus and ability to live in the present moment. This is absolutely essential for relating to your partner and really getting into your next bout of intercourse.

Thank you for reading 🙂

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