The Right and Wrong Way to Meditate: Finding Balance and Purpose


Meditation has gained immense popularity in recent years as a powerful tool for reducing stress, enhancing focus, and promoting overall well-being. However, like any practice, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach meditation. In this blog post, we will explore both ends of the spectrum to help you navigate the path towards effective and meaningful meditation. By understanding the do's and don'ts, you can create a practice that brings you true inner peace and personal growth.

The Wrong Way to Meditate:

  1. Forcing Out Thoughts: Many beginners make the mistake of believing that meditation involves completely emptying the mind of all thoughts. However, this can lead to frustration and discouragement. The goal is not to suppress thoughts but rather to observe them without judgment. Acknowledge your thoughts as they arise, let them pass by, and gently bring your attention back to your breath or chosen focal point.

  2. Expecting Immediate Results: Meditation is a journey that requires patience and consistency. Some individuals may expect immediate relaxation or enlightenment, but this can create unrealistic expectations. Instead, approach meditation with an open mind and embrace the gradual progress that comes with regular practice. The benefits will unfold naturally over time.

  3. Lack of Consistency: Consistency is key when it comes to meditation. Many people fall into the trap of sporadic practice, only meditating when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. True transformation and growth occur when meditation becomes a regular part of your daily routine. Aim for a specific time and place dedicated to your practice, even if it's just a few minutes each day.

The Right Way to Meditate:

  1. Creating a Sacred Space: Designate a specific area in your home or workplace where you can meditate without distractions. Decorate it with calming elements like plants, candles, or meaningful objects. This space will become a sanctuary that signals your mind and body to enter a state of relaxation and focus.

  2. Setting Clear Intentions: Before you begin each session, take a moment to set clear intentions for your meditation practice. Whether it's to cultivate gratitude, reduce anxiety, or improve self-awareness, having a purposeful focus will enhance the effectiveness of your meditation.

  3. Cultivating Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the art of being fully present in the current moment. Instead of getting caught up in thoughts about the past or future, bring your attention to the sensations of your breath, the sounds around you, or the physical sensations in your body. By practicing mindfulness, you deepen your connection with the present and develop a greater sense of peace and clarity.

  4. Experimenting with Techniques: Explore different meditation techniques to find what resonates with you. This could include mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, body scan meditation, or guided visualization. Experimenting allows you to discover the techniques that align with your goals and preferences.

Meditation is a powerful practice that can positively impact your life if done with the right mindset and approach. By avoiding the common pitfalls and embracing the correct methods, you can unlock the full potential of meditation. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to meditation, and it is essential to listen to your intuition and adapt the practice to suit your unique needs. With consistency, patience, and an open heart, you can cultivate a meditation practice that brings you peace, clarity, and personal growth.

The Benefits of a Daily 20 minute Yoga Routine

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years and has become increasingly popular in recent times as a form of exercise and relaxation. Many health experts believe that a daily yoga routine can help overall health and boost energy. A 20-minute yoga workout can offer a wide range of benefits for both the mind and body. In this blog post, we will explore the advantages of a 20-minute yoga workout and why it is a valuable addition to your daily routine.

Improves flexibility

One of the most apparent benefits of yoga is that it improves flexibility. A 20-minute yoga workout can help you stretch your muscles, which increases your range of motion and reduces the risk of injury. Yoga also helps release tension in the muscles, which can improve overall mobility.

Reduces stress and anxiety

A 20-minute yoga workout can help reduce stress and anxiety by calming the mind and promoting relaxation. Yoga has been shown to decrease the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Boosts energy levels

Yoga helps to increase energy levels by stimulating the nervous system, which increases blood flow and oxygen to the body. A 20-minute yoga workout can leave you feeling invigorated and refreshed, ready to take on the day ahead.

Improves posture

Poor posture can lead to a range of health problems, including back pain, headaches, and poor digestion. A 20-minute yoga workout can help improve your posture by strengthening the muscles that support your spine and neck.

Enhances focus and concentration

A 20-minute yoga workout can help enhance your focus and concentration by calming the mind and increasing blood flow to the brain. Yoga also encourages mindfulness, which can help you stay focused on the task at hand.

Improves sleep quality

Yoga can help improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety. A 20-minute yoga workout before bedtime can help calm the mind and body, allowing you to drift off to sleep more easily and sleep more deeply.

Boosts immune system

Yoga has been shown to boost the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies and improving lymphatic flow. A 20-minute yoga workout can help strengthen your immune system, making you more resilient to illness and disease.

Promotes weight loss

Yoga can help promote weight loss by increasing metabolism and reducing stress and anxiety, which can lead to overeating. A 20-minute yoga workout can be a great addition to your weight loss regimen, helping you burn calories and reduce stress.

Improves cardiovascular health

Yoga can help improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, and increasing circulation. A 20-minute yoga workout can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, making it a valuable addition to your exercise routine.

In conclusion, a 20-minute yoga workout can offer a wide range of benefits for both the mind and body. Whether you are looking to improve flexibility, reduce stress and anxiety, boost energy levels, or promote weight loss, yoga can help. By making a 20-minute yoga workout a part of your daily routine, you can enjoy these benefits and more, improving your overall health and well-being.

Photo by kike vega on Unsplash

Does Crying Make You Healthier?

Suck it up. Don’t be a crybaby. Quit your crying. For years, we were told not to shed emotional tears, to pack away our facial tissues and save the tears for something really worth crying about.

But it turns out that a sob session isn’t all bad. In fact, research suggests that crying has a number of health benefits, including:

· Fending off eye ailments. Tears bathe the eyes in lysozymes, antibacterial enzymes that protect against infections like conjunctivitis, according to a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

· Relieving stress -- in the right circumstances. Experts say that after a good cry, your heart rate and breathing slows. The result: You feel calmer and less tense.

· Providing a cathartic release. Research shows that almost 90 percent of people believe that shedding tears is a good way to let go of pent-up feelings.

· Encouraging close relationships. According to evolutionary biologists from Israel’s Tel Aviv University, tears signal your vulnerability to others, which encourages people to bond and form better relationships.

When Crying Feels Good

The benefits of a good cry depend on why you’re shedding the tears, explains Lauren Bylsma, a doctoral student at the University of South Florida and the lead author of a study on crying, which appeared in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

If you’re dabbing at your eyes with tissues over your own actions, like bickering with a friend, those tears are likely to make you feel better. Crying can help you achieve a better understanding of the scenario that you’re involved in, says Bylsma. Plus, you know that you’re able to make a positive change in improving the situation. For instance, you could call your friend to apologize and hash out underlying issues.

On the other hand, sniffling about something you’ve witnessed -- like a dramatic movie or tragic news story -- won’t provide the same healing release. Bylsma says that people are less apt to feel better after weeping about external events that are beyond their control.

A Safe Place for Tears

Whether you reach catharsis also depends on your surroundings. Having friends or family who soothe or hug you when you weep makes you feel loved, which improves your mood. But “if you cry when it’s embarrassing or if others respond in an unsupportive way, that can make you feel worse and more stressed out,” says Bylsma.

So before you grab a tissue and release the floodgates, make sure you’re in the right environment. Surround yourself with supportive people, like friends and family.

But if you think tears will lead to shame or humiliation, try to suck it up -- temporarily. Crying in the office in front of your boss, for instance, may cause you to feel more distressed afterward, explains Bylsma. So suppress those tears until you’re in a safe place, like your home or a friend’s office behind closed doors. Then go ahead and let out your feelings; it can be good for you.

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Create an At-home Spa: 4 Simple Herbal Recipes

You're in serious need of a pampering day at the spa, but you're short on time and money. The solution? Transform your own bathroom into a sanctuary. At the Lake Austin Spa Resort, I teach classes on how to turn common kitchen and garden ingredients into luxurious skin scrubs, bath salts and more.

The key is using herbs and flowers. Certain aromas have a powerful effect on the nervous system, leaving you feeling relaxed or energized. I recommend using the following ingredients for their scents:

  • Lavender: This soothing, antimicrobial herb has been shown to help you relax and get a good night's sleep. Wesleyan University conducted a 31-person study and found that when people sniffed lavender before bedtime, they got more slow-wave (or deep) sleep and reported feeling more energetic in the morning.
  • Eucalyptus: Developing research suggests this woodsy scent may help break up mucus and stop coughs, according to the National Institutes of Health. And a study published in the journal Respiratory Medicine shows that eucalyptol, the active ingredient, has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Mint: Perfect for hot days, spearmint and peppermint are cooling and refreshing. And a recent study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy also found that applying menthol to the skin increases blood flow.
  • Ginger: When grated and added to a bath, the spicy root provides an invigorating sensory energy boost. It can be mixed with coconut oil for a mildly exfoliating scrub.
  • Rosemary: This herb has a refreshing, stimulating effect.
  • Rose Petals: Pluck them from your own garden to add a sweet fragrance to any bath or body treatment.

Once you've chosen your herbs, mix them up with one of the following recipes. With a few household ingredients, you can go from stressed and tired to relaxed and glowing:

Basic Bath Infusion

  • 4 cups fresh herbs (or 2 cups dried)
  • 4 cups water

Boil water in a large pot; add herbs. Stir, cover and remove from heat. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and pour into a hot bath.

Soothing Bath Bag

  • 1/4 cup powdered milk
  • 1/4 cup Epsom salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried herbs
  • 10 drops of essential oil

Stir together all ingredients and place in a muslin bag (or several layers of cheesecloth); secure with a rubber band. Add to hot bath and steep for several minutes. Open the bag and use the softened herbs as an exfoliating body scrub. You can also seal unused bags in a glass jar for several months.

Energizing Coffee Body Scrub

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 4-inch sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup coffee beans, finely ground
  • 2 tablespoons bentonite clay (found in health food stores)
  • 3 tablespoons oil, such as olive, grapeseed, coconut or avocado
  • 3 drops each of rosemary oil and grapefruit or peppermint oil

Combine sugar and rosemary in a spice grinder and process until finely ground. Pour into a medium-sized bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients. Use the scrub on skin; shower off. Moisturize with additional body oil.

Skin-Softening Bath Blend

  • 1/4 cup rolled or instant oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup milk powder
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup herbs of choice
  • 10 to 15 drops of essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons body oil

In a food processor, combine oatmeal, milk powder, sugar and herbs until coarsely ground. Pour in bowl and combine with essential oil, honey and body oil. Place in muslin bag and steep in a hot bath for a few minutes. Use cold tea bags (green tea or chamomile) over your eyes as you enjoy your bath.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

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Massage Away Allergies: 6 Expert Moves

Without a doubt, allergies can make you and your little one miserable -- not to mention wipe out your tissue supply. Fortunately, it's possible to reduce the congestion, stress and headaches with the right touch: Massage can relieve these symptoms by improving circulation, lessening anxiety and releasing muscle tension.

Case in point: Researchers from The Ohio State University found that allergy sufferers had more severe -- and lengthy -- attacks under stress. That's where touch can help:

According to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,  massage lowers stress hormones like cortisol and stimulates the immune system.

But there's no need to book a massage every time you're stuffed up. By gently pressing on your acupressure points, or on those of your child, you can safely ease allergy symptoms and return to your usual sunny-day activities within minutes. In other words, in about the same amount of time as it takes to blow your nose. Just follow these six expert moves:

Massage to Ease Allergy Congestion:

1.    Place the tips of your index fingers where the inside corners of your eyebrows meet the bridge of your nose. Use gentle pressure, and either hold until you feel a release or massage in slow, small outward circles.

2.    Place the tips of your middle fingers just to the side of your nostrils, at the edge of the cheekbone. Hold with gentle pressure or massage in easy outward circles.

Massage to Ease Allergy Headaches:

3.    With your middle and index fingers, lightly massage temples (outside corners of your brows, above your cheeks) in a circular motion toward your ears. It’s actually an instinctual reaction to rub this point, and for good reason: It melts away pain.

4.    Locate the points where your neck muscles meet the base of the back of your skull, and hold with moderate pressure. Press in an upward direction until the muscles release.

Massage to Ease Stress:

5.    Squeeze the fleshy part of the hand between the thumb and index finger. The thumb of the squeezing hand should be on the top side of the hand being squeezed. Hold with moderate pressure and then stroke for a few repetitions, gently pulling out (in the direction away from the wrist).

6.    Place your index, middle and ring fingers at the tops of your shoulders and hold. If massaging your child (or another adult), you can also gently squeeze the muscle or rub it along the fibers toward the outside of the shoulder (versus upward, toward the neck).

For all points, hold or massage for 20 seconds to two minutes or until there is a release. The pressure should feel good -- not acutely painful.

One warning: If you or your child has a fever (and congestion from a potential virus or infection), steer clear of massage of any kind, as it increases circulation and could actually worsen the illness. The same goes for inflammation and skin irritations, like a rash.

Photo by Antonika Chanel on Unsplash

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