Health & Wellness

Nutritionally speaking: Keep calm with meditation

Yaakov Levine

We all know that stress can have a big, and not so positive effect on our health, so reducing stress, especially with the fears we are feeling with the looming virus should be a goal for all of us….and a meditation practice can be a simple and effective tool for our self-care toolbox. I’ve shared this information before in this space, and it’s time for a reminder. What I share today, and most of what I write about are things I need to hear myself as well. We are in this together, my friends.

There are some “lifestyle” changes we can make that are often magical in their positive effect on our health. One of these is mindfulness meditation. 

One of my favorite guides for meditation is Jack Kornfield’s book, The Path with Heart. Following is a mindfulness mediation practice gleaned from from his book. This is simple, and gets easier and more beneficial with regular practice. A regular meditation practice is a great way to relax, support healthier levels of blood pressure, and a great way to reduce your time with your electronic “gadgets”. Don’t forget, these modes of self care are referred to as a practice, because we do not always get it perfect, and (it’s not about that anyway!) but get more benefit as we repeat the process. 

To start, find a posture on a chair or cushion where you can easily sit erect without being rigid. Let your body feel planted firmly on the earth, your hands resting easily, let your heart soften, and keep your eyes closed gently.

At first feel your body and allow the softening of any tension. Let go of any habitual plans, worries or thoughts, and bring your attention to your breathing. Take a few deep breaths to sense where in your body you can feel your breaths most easily. 

You may feel your breaths as coolness or tingling in your nostrils or throat, or as movement in your chest, or as a rise or fall of your belly. Then let your breath be natural, and feel the sensations of your regular breathing. Relax into each breath as you as you feel it, noticing how the sensations of breathing come and go with each breath.

After a few breaths you will notice your mind wandering, when you notice this, just return to noticing the sensation of your breathing. You can acknowledge where your mind was with a word such as thinking, wandering, hearing.

After gently and silently noticing where your attention has been, return to your breathing. As you sit, let your breath change rhythms naturally, allowing them to be short, long , fast, slow , rough and easy. When your breath softens, let your attention be gentle, as soft as the breath itself. 

This practice is similar to training a puppy, you gently return your focus repeatedly back to your breath, each time naming and noticing the thought or sound … only as such. As you do this listen deeply and you will find your breath helping you connect and quiet your body and your mind. Many regular practitioners of mediation have found that awareness of the breath, can support relaxation and awareness or mindfulness in all they do. (maybe we can be touching our face less if we are more mindful?)

This practice may not be a magic or wonder pill for all that ails us, but it can contribute toward a great sense of calm and wellbeing. This is simple, and gets easier and more beneficial with regular practice. We spend much to many hours with our electronic devices, and meditation is a way to spend time on self care … no gadgets needed. Do try this at home! 

Contact Yaakov at [email protected]



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