5 Benefits of Meditation and How to Do it Right

Meditate

Meditate

What is meditation?

Meditation is a set of techniques to encourage focused attention and a heightened state of awareness. Meditation helps develop concentration, emotional positivity, clarity, and a calm way of looking at things. It also helps you better understand your mind, habits, and emotions.

During meditation, you focus your mind on a single point of attention, such as an image or the sound of your breath. You clear away all other competing sounds, thoughts, and feelings to become fully engaged with the single point of focus. This practice disciplines your mind and helps you develop an altered sense of consciousness that lowers stress and improves brain activity. Some interesting things to note about meditation:

  • It has been practiced in cultures around the world for thousands of years.
  • It is part of most religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
  • It can be used for psychotherapy.
  • It is a set of practices, not a single technique.

Meditation is a deliberate focus on doing nothing in order to reset our brains and bodies and become more healthy and aware. Sitting still and doing nothing can be very difficult for many people, so let’s look at some tips and tricks on how to meditate.

Learning How to Meditate

Meditate

Guided Meditation

Guided meditation is guided, narrated, or led by someone else. This person is usually a facilitator who has trained in meditative techniques. The guide may be physically present, such as in a studio, or recorded on video or audio.

Most people prefer starting with guided meditation. It helps them focus better and helps them learn more easily. It also helps them feel more confident that they are “doing it right.”

Unguided Meditation

Unguided meditation is the opposite. You meditate alone, without anyone narrating you through the process. This method can be preferable in spaces such as your office when you want to close your eyes and refocus for 15 minutes to reduce stress and clear your mind.

Tips for unguided meditation include: finding a quiet space where you are unlikely to be interrupted, finding a comfortable place to sit and a posture you will be able to sustain for several minutes, and deep breathing, usually in through the nose and out through the mouth.

How to Meditate in Bed

Many practitioners prefer sitting meditation rather than meditating while lying down. Often teachers will advise lying on a mat on the floor instead of your bed. Being in bed tends to signal your brain that it is time to sleep, and you may drift off. Of course, if this is your goal, then that’s perfect!

Some people find they enjoy meditating in bed because they are more comfortable. For beginners in the practice, meditating in bed before sleep can be a great way to start. Meditating helps you fall asleep and wake up feeling replenished, full of energy, and more emotionally capable. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, meditating lying down can be the best option.

Adopt the “Corpse Pose”

Called savasana in Hindi, the corpse pose is the best position for meditating while lying down. Lie on your back with your legs about shoulder width apart and your arms out at your sides, away from your body by 6 to 12 inches, palms facing up. Make sure your spine is in a straight line as if it is a chain that has been pulled taut from the top of your head. Place the tip of your tongue behind your front teeth or on the roof of your mouth. Stare at the ceiling, or close your eyes.

Also Read: How to Stay Mentally and Physically Healthy During the Holidays

Squeeze and Release

Beginning at your feet, tighten, squeeze, hold, then release groups of muscles. For example, start with the feet, then the calves, then the thighs, then the entire leg. Do this until you are tensing, holding, then releasing your whole body, including your neck and your face. As you release your muscles, imagine sinking into the bed, with it supporting you without any effort on your part.

Breathe from your diaphragm and imagine your breath traveling from your navel to your nose and back down. It may help to think of it as a thermometer rising, hovering, and then falling. Breathe intentionally and slowly and deeply.

5 Benefits of Meditating

Meditate

1.  Reduce Your Stress

Studies show that meditation correlates to a reduction in your stress levels. Stress increases the amount of cortisol in your body, which then leads to sleep disruptions, increased anxiety, inflammation, fatigue, and pain. Study participants who meditated frequently showed lower levels of cortisol in their blood, with the most significant improvement for those with the highest stress.

2.  Improve Your Chronic Illness Symptoms

If you have a chronic illness, mediation can help reduce the symptoms and flare-ups. Conditions, such as PTSD, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases, improve with regular meditation and lower stress.

3.  Boost Your Mental Health

Several research studies correlate meditation with improved mood and mental health. Regular meditation lowers the number of cytokines in your system. Cytokines are stress-response chemicals associated with depression. Additionally, study participants showed increased brain activity in the areas related to optimism and positive thinking.

4.  Improve Your Attention Span

In today’s world, we may have 25 tabs open on our laptops, or constant phone notifications drawing our attention. All of these distractions compromise our ability to focus. Meditation helps our brains learn or re-learn how to focus, lengthening and strengthening our attention spans. These benefits present themselves quickly, usually after about four days of meditation.

5.  Get Better Sleep

People who meditate fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer, according to a recent study. Meditation helps you redirect or eliminate the racing thoughts that often cause insomnia. It also helps release tension so you can achieve a peaceful state, which relaxes your body and makes you better able to fall asleep.

Phone apps that can help you meditate

Meditate

If you’re looking for some guided meditations to help you begin your practice, there are several apps to choose from. Here are a few:

  • The Mindfulness App
  • Headspace
  • Calm
  • MindBody
  • Buddhify
  • Insight Timer
  • Smiling Mind
  • 10% Happier

At Balanced Care, a meditation practice is often part of our personal and holistic wellness plan for you. If you have questions about the benefits of meditation, feel free to reach out to us for a consultation.

Why Kale is Good for You and Ways to Increase it in Your Diet

kale

kale

If you like to eat healthily and have a lot of variety in your diet, you are probably familiar with kale and all of the fantastic benefits that go along with eating it. If you typically don’t make the healthiest food choices but know you should probably start, kale is a wonderful way to introduce a healthy choice into your diet.

Kale has recently gained notoriety for its leafy green goodness and its huge nutrient content. Thanks to the surge in popularity there are all kinds of tips for how to eat kale, as well as readily-available healthy kale recipes.

If you are looking for something easy and beneficial to help achieve a healthier lifestyle when it comes to your diet, reach out to us here at Balanced Care. One of our naturopathic doctors will be happy to help you with ideas on healthy food choices.

Health Benefits of Kale

kale

You can get so many fantastic benefits from kale that you might wonder why you haven’t yet added it to your diet. Kale is one of the world’s healthiest foods, and it is easy to include it in your diet so that you can reap the many rewards it has to offer.

Full of Nutrients

Kale is a nutrient-dense super-food containing vitamins A, C, K, and B-6. It also has good amounts of calcium and potassium. Just one serving of kale can deliver a huge and healthy package of nutrients that will help your body’s cells function effectively.

Antioxidants

Not only is kale full of nutrients, but it also contains powerful antioxidants like beta-carotene, and vitamin C.

Antioxidants have many fantastic abilities, such as helping to lower blood pressure, help to protect the heart, and even working as antidepressants.

The antioxidants found in kale may help establish lower glucose levels in type 1 diabetics and reduce the risk of heart disease. They may even have some anti-cancer effects.

Digestion

Kale can aid in digestion because it is high in fiber and water which help prevent constipation and keep you regular.

The List Goes On

There are many other excellent benefits of kale; the list goes on and on. The nutrients in kale impact everything from healthier hair and skin, to increased bone density, to anti-viral protection. This potent, nutrient-packed food can provide a considerable boost to your health and wellness routine. With so many benefits, you will be happy when you finally take the plunge and learn how to eat kale and make it a regular part of your diet.

Also Read: Healing Benefits of Garlic

Different Types of Kale

kale

With more than seven varieties of kale, you will easily be able to find this leafy green and add it to your diet. The most common types of kale are Tuscan, red, curly and baby. Each variety has a unique taste, from slightly bitter to sweet and tender.

You can enjoy trying different types and seeing what works best in the dishes you plan to prepare. You can’t go wrong with mixing it up and experimenting with different varieties

Tasty Ways to Add Kale to Your Diet

Now that you know how wonderful kale is for your body, you may be wondering which healthy kale recipes are worth trying. The good news is, kale’s popularity lends itself to a vast selection of recipes. It seems that everyone has a healthy kale recipe to share.

Kale Smoothies

Kale Smoothie

Many people throw a handful of spinach to their morning smoothies. How about also incorporating a serving of kale? When your smoothie includes delicious fruits, you won’t even realize you’re drinking your vegetables. It’s also a great, discreet way for kids to get their leafy greens.

Also Read: How to Prevent the Flu Naturally

Salads

Salads are one way to make adding this healthy food to your lifestyle a breeze. Try this Mediterranean Lentil and Kale Salad for a bold and tasty lunch. This simple but delicious Kale Salad with Beets and Wild Rice will make a wholesome meal with varying textures that will surely hit the spot.

Soups

A hearty and filling soup is a perfect way to use kale. Zuppa Toscana is a favorite soup that you might enjoy at your favorite Italian restaurant. It is sure to delight with its creamy and flavorful goodness. Another Italian favorite, Vegan Gnocchi Soup, is also a delicious way to enjoy kale.

Entrees

Meal

There are many fantastic ways you can enjoy kale in main dishes, too. The more you experiment with this powerhouse, the more you will discover how delicious it is. The benefits of this superfood soon will come second to the amazing taste and flavor you’ll enjoy.

Grilled Salmon with Kale Saute is a simple, yet tasty and healthy dish that is easy to prepare. You can also try this delicious Sweet Orange Chicken Over Kale to enjoy a yummy dinner served on a bed of kale and mushrooms. If you love pasta, you’ll be thrilled with this Scallop, Mushroom and Fennel Campanelle.

Enjoying Kale is EasyEnjoying Kale is Easy

With all of these fantastic recipes and more at your fingertips, you will love experimenting with kale in your meals and enjoying the powerful benefits. There are many choices available, so you won’t have to work too hard to add kale to your diet.

Make a Healthy Lifestyle Change Today

Change

The numerous health benefits of kale are clear. This great veggie allows you to add valuable nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins to your diet. And with all of the healthy kale recipes that are readily available, you can’t go wrong.

Adding kale to your diet several times a week can improve your health and also add some variety to your meal planning with new ideas. The health benefits are well worth the simple addition of this nutrient-packed food.

If you are still wondering how kale can benefit you, and how to eat kale, reach out to Balanced Care, and we will be happy to guide you in your healthy eating journey. We believe that food is medicine, and we love to join our patients as they boost their food know-how and expertise.