What I’m Reading Now?

I’m journeying on a new path to learn how to meditate. I need to bring calm, stillness, and peacefulness to my mind. I’ve heard and read about the many amazing benefits on practicing meditation, and I’m at the right stage in my life where I need it the most. With a full time career, three children, husband, and a dog; it’s a time much needed. I chose The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe to kick start my journey because it came highly recommended by Bill Gates. No, I don’t know him personally, although I wish! I follow his blog, gatesnotes. If you don’t, you should. He’s brilliant, Google him. Bill is the reason why I researched Andy in the first place. Andy is 47 with many years of training in monasteries in India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Australia, Russia, and Scotland. He’s even an ordained Buddhist monk.

Andy’s approach to meditation is clear and easy to understand. He teaches amazing techniques, and they’re easy to apply to your everyday busy lifestyle. Andy also believes all you need is 10 minutes a day. Obviously, if you have the ability and time to meditate longer, by all means meditate. When you think of 10 minutes, it’s actually not that long; however, it’s hard for the average person to sit still with a clear mind. More importantly, the practice of meditation is about much more than simply sitting down for a set period of time each day. Andy says, “it’s about training in awareness and understanding how and why you think and feel the way you do, and getting a healthy sense of perspective in the process.” His book also looks deeper in the differences between understanding mindfulness and headspace. He even have an app called, Headspace available on IOS. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I intend to. Let’s take a look at mindfulness, Andy explains it as the temptation to judge whatever emotion that comes up, and therefore neither opposing or getting carried away with a feeling. And headspace is the result of applying this approach. Headspace delivers a sense of ease with whatever emotion is present.

How many times you’ve been in a situation where someone pissed you off? It angers you, and you feel like you just want to explode. Then you move through your day retelling that scenario over and over to everyone you possibly can share it with. Instead of moving forward productively with your day, you dwell and relive that situation over and over again transferring that negative energy to your friends, love ones, and even into your workplace. This behavior is toxic and becomes debilitating to your mind, body and soul. Who wants to go through life this way? Surely not me! Knowing how to let go and release these toxic thoughts and energy is my goal.

Andy’s book offers four steps to help you achieve meditation. His Take10 summary is recommended to follow each and every time before you meditate.

  1. Getting Ready
  2. Checking-in
  3. Focusing the mind
  4. Finishing-off

The book explains in detail what you need to do in each step to get your mind and body ready. I’m almost midway finish reading the book. I feel more confident than ever. This book has already taught me about the layers of my thoughts, dealing with my emotions, and how to tackle each one as they come to mind. I’ve re-read many chapters and made side notes. It’s definitely a page turner. If you’re interested in learning how to meditate, this book may help you. I would love to hear about your journey or any suggestions on meditation.

Advertisements

Natural Anxiety Treatments

It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time, but if you’re exhibiting symptoms of anxiety (such as excessive worry, restlessness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating and insomnia) every day for several months, you may have an anxiety disorder that needs treatment.

Anxiety Disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year, causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty.

Severe anxiety disorders are often treated with medications like antidepressants, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), but people with mild to moderate anxiety symptoms can often find some sort of relief through natural anxiety treatments. These treatments can be very effective if thy’re done the right way and incorporated into your daily lives.    

Natural Anxiety Treatments

Image

Yoga and Meditation: 


Yoga is a great way to quiet your mind and relieve stress. Simple meditation techniques can also help you control your breathing and thoughts to help ease panic attacks.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: 


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most effective ways to reduce or eliminate anxiety symptoms. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works by helping patients use new thinking skills to modify negative behaviors and thought patterns.

 

 

Image

 

Massage and Acupuncture: 


Many studies have proven the healing power of touch. Both massage and acupuncture help restore the body’s emotional balance by stimulating the flow of energy through specific points on the body. Both treatments are widely used to relieve stress, diminish muscle tension and improve sleep.

 

 

Image

Diet: 
Studies show that a healthy, balanced diet improves your mood in numerous ways. Anxiety symptoms can by greatly reduced by eliminating caffeine and alcohol and reducing your intake of sugar, refined carbohydrates and foods with additives and chemicals. Increase your consumption of foods rich in omega-3s, an extremely healthy oil found in salmon, walnuts, flaxseed and other foods that has been shown to boost mood.

 

Foods high in vitamin B (include beef liver, ground beef, clams, salmon, herring, tuna and breakfast cereals, 
and calcium) help the nervous system to function properly. Also, try adding foods high in folic acid, which some studies suggest helps improve the effectiveness of antidepressants. Folic acid can be found in many vegetables, beans and whole-wheat products.

 ImageChamomile Tames Anxiety

While traditional healers have long recommended chamomile for anxiety, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania were some of the first to examine this relationship scientifically. In a 2009 study, the authors compared scores from standardized tests designed to measure generalized anxiety disorder or GAD. Over a period of eight weeks, one group received a placebo while the other took pharmaceutical grade chamomile capsules. Subjects were then tested to measure changes in symptoms of anxiety during this time. Those who took chamomile enjoyed a reduction in anxiety symptoms and the changes were termed “clinically meaningful and statistically significant.”

 

Chamomile is readily available in capsule form and as a tea in most grocery and health food stores. However, proceed with caution if ragweed causes you to sniffle and sneeze. Chamomile is in the same family and could cause a similar allergic reaction.

Image Passion Flower:

Passion flower and anxiety are two terms that are often inextricably linked. In the Americas, even before Europeans arrived, the Native Americans used passion flower infusion to brew tea that was prescribed for hysteria, insomnia, epilepsy, and pain relief. European immigrants adopted and continued this practice.  In more modern times, drug manufacturers often use the Passion Flower as an ingredient because of its various beneficial properties. The passionflower tea is great 

 

 

Image

 

Omega-3 Fats: New research shows that healthy young people who consumed more omega-3 fats showed a marked reduction both in inflammation and, somewhat surprisingly, also in anxiety.

The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA also play a role in your emotional well-being. The Brain Behavior and Immunity study showed a dramatic 20 percent reduction in anxiety among med students taking omega-3, while past research has shown omega-3 fats such as those found in krill oil work just as well as antidepressants in preventing the signs of depression, but without any of the side effects. Low plasma concentrations of DHA is associated with low concentrations of brain serotonin, which may be associated with depression and suicide.

 

Image

In fact, inadequate intake of omega-3 fats is known to change the levels and functioning of both serotonin and dopamine (which plays a role in feelings of pleasure), as well as compromise the blood-brain barrier, which normally protects your brain from unwanted matter gaining access. Omega-3 deficiency can also decrease normal blood flow to your brain, an interesting finding given that studies show people with depression have compromised blood flow to a number of brain regions.

Finally, omega-3 deficiency also causes a 35 percent reduction in brain phosphatidylserine (PS) levels, which is relevant considering that PS has documented antidepressant activity in humans. Interestingly, omega-3 fats have even been known to help reduce violent behavior and aggression, and even improve the ability to concentrate in people with ADHD, so the impact on your brain health is quite significant.

 

 

 

Resources

  1. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf0403282
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21784145
  3. http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(04)01261-2/abstract
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=%22Aggressive+behavior%22%5bJour%5d+AND+2010%5bpdat%5d+AND+Zaalberg%5bauthor%5d&cmd=detailssearch