Meditating for Health

You may have heard of the incredible benefits of meditation – from improved emotional well-being, to increased mental focus to a healthier body. It really is good for your health. I’ve been meditating for many years and can attest to how much better I feel.

Over time I’ve heard people say they can’t meditate – that sitting still for any length of time is too hard or their brain won’t shut up or outside distractions bring them out of it too easily. My reply is always the same.

Meditation is a practice.

The goal isn’t to do it perfectly. The goal is to simply do it. If you get distracted, simply start again. If you miss a day, start again. Let go of any judgement around this. Simply relax and start again.

If you are new to meditating, allow me to share a few tips:

The most basic technique is to sit quietly. It can be on a chair or cross legged on a pillow on the floor. Close your eyes. If you prefer, you can leave your eyes open and stare at something, such as a candle flame or nature. Place your hands in a relaxed position on your lap.

Let your mind move from outside distractions and start to focus on your breath. Feel the air come in, then out. Over and over again. If you can do this without the mental chatter we all have, then go for it. Silence is golden!

If you are like me and find the brain sometimes won’t stop chattering, then repeat a word or phrase to focus the mind. It can be anything from a simple word like “relax” to a sacred mantra such as “Om” or “Namaste.” Simply say it over and over again, either out loud or quietly inside.

Relax. Check in to see if you are holding any part of your body tight and let it soften. I often find my jaw is tight. Loosening it relaxes my entire body.

Keep going for as long as you like. You can meditate for three breathes or three hours. It’s all good!

Whenever you forget to focus on your breathe or your word (and trust me, you will), simply start again. Remember this is a practice.

Oprah and Deepak Chopra are starting a free 21 day meditation experience called “Perfect Health” tomorrow (February 3). You can sign up or try out a sample meditation on Chopra Center Meditation.

Namaste!

Blue Zone Basics

The community in which I live is set to become Canada’s first city to adopt the Blue Zone lifestyle and I couldn’t be more excited! The principles behind this movement have been around for a while. I actually wrote about it back in April 2014 in How to Live to 100 and Stay Healthy.

If you haven’t heard about Blue Zone or aren’t sure what it is, here are a few basics:

What are Blue Zones?

  • A term to describe various regions of the world where people live active, healthy and much longer lives (more).

Why is it called Blue Zone?

  • During research, regions with the highest concentration of centenarians were (literally) circled on a map with a blue marker and then referred to as “Blue Zones” (more).

What is a Blue Zone lifestyle?

There are nine healthy lifestyle habits practiced by active, healthy, long-lived people:

  1. Move more by adding moderate, regular physical activities throughout your day (walk everywhere, garden, hike, etc.).

  2. Have a life purpose, something to live for beyond work.

  3. Slow down at times by adding stress-free routines into your daily life (meditate, pray, nap, happy hour).

  4. Eat (a lot) more plants and vegetables and lower protein intake (beans, whole grains and garden vegetables). If you do eat animal protein, keep your portion to the size of a deck of cards.

  5. Eat in moderation by practicing portion control (eat until you’re no longer hungry, rather than until you’re full).

  6. Drink alcohol moderately limiting to one or two glasses a day, preferably with friends and food.

  7. Incorporate a regular spiritual or religious community into your life. The choice of denomination doesn’t matter.

  8. Join a social circle or build a group of friends for companionship and to support each other.

  9. Make loved ones a priority by spending time with your children, spouse and elders. Show them your love.

If you already incorporate Blue Zone habits in your life or this inspires you to make a few simple changes towards a healthier and happier lifestyle, I’d love to hear about it!

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