Hey HFF viewers!! I know I haven’t posted in a while. Okay, a LONG while. About a year to be exact. I’ve been working on some really exciting things to share with you that are coming very soon! The thing I’m most excited about is that I have worked up 2- eight week fitness plans to share with ya’ll that will be available for purchase right here on healthyfitfabguide.com! Yayyy!
In the meantime, I wanted to take a quick minute to talk about something that we haven’t talked about much, but that I believe has the utmost importance when it comes to our degree of wellness. Now, before we dig into this, I’m asking you to have an open mind. I know that for a lot of people, as soon as the word “meditation” comes up, your mind automatically goes to a place of weird, tree-hugger, spiritual guru nonsense… But listen, I’m telling you there is really something to this.
Over the last few years, I’ve really been digging deep into yoga and meditation and experimenting with various types and degrees of both. As you may know, the two often go hand-in-hand as I believe that yoga, especially “Yin” is really a stepping stone directly into a meditative state. Not only does Yoga help to stretch and strengthen your muscles and the deep connective tissues within the body, but it also helps slow your mind and align your entire being, mentally, spiritually and physically. It allows you to feel grounded, centered, secure, and connected with life and the creator of life… however you think/believe in that creator. This is not religion-specific. This is literally for everyone! The transformation that you can realize in yourself, even after a few weeks, is something truly worth trying to achieve. Less anxiety, better sleep, better relationships, less irritability, more control over your own experiences, and a deep feeling of love and connection… If that’s not something worth at least experimenting with, then you can stop reading now.
So, let’s start with meditation. What is meditation? How do you do it? Well the truth is that the answer is different for everyone. For some people, praying is meditation. Some people like to focus on a mantra, a desire, a good feeling, and empty the mind of everything else. Meditation is really just getting to know your inner self. (mind, body, spirit connection) The most important thing to realize is that meditation is a “practice”. This means that it is not something that comes easy at first, you must work at it. And the more you do, the more you realize that you’re getting better at it, and start noticing subtle changes in your life. You have to give up any thoughts of “Am I doing this right?” and just focus and be mindful of your own unique experience. The fact that there are tremendous benefits to strengthening this practice/skill/whatever you’d like to call it is impossible to ignore. Research has shown that monks who meditate for thousands of hours alter the structure of their brains and significantly decrease emotionally reactive behavior. However, we in Western cultures are trained to think that we don’t have the time or patience for these types of practices. We don’t have much free time, and the time we have is far too precious to spend it sitting and doing nothing, right? WRONG!! The fact is, the less time and patience you think you have for it, the more you need it! Last year Harvard research found that even those who had never before meditated, saw benefits in five different regions of the brain from just 30 minutes of practice per day, over the course of eight weeks. There are different types of meditation, so it’s important to find the type that is right for you. I’ll go over some of them briefly.
- Mindfulness – Here, you train your mind by focusing on your breath, or on sensations in the body. The goal is to purposely pay close attention to your experience with acceptance, patience and compassion. By intentionally focusing into the moment, we train ourselves to live less on auto-pilot, be more present in our own lives, and more comfortable in our own bodies. This type of meditation helps you to increase focus and release stress. This is a meditation you can even do while doing other things like walking or commuting. Although it is best done sitting in a comfortable, quiet place where it is easier to focus.
- Loving Kindness – This one’s pretty simple. It’s all about surrounding yourself with love. Connecting to the infinite loving power, or God if you so choose, and sending good thoughts, care, kindness, and love out to the universe and others. You start by focusing your attention on your chest area or “heart chakra”. As you focus on your inhales and exhales, you can imagine this area expanding and sending out love. Mantras such as “I am loved”, ” I am happy”, “I am grateful”, “I am safe” or “I am surrounded by love every day” can help this process. This type of meditation can decrease self-criticism, release emotional tension and blocks, and reduce risks for tension-related health issues like migraines. Also, the more love and gratitude you send out into the universe, the more love and things to be grateful for come back to you like a boomerang. BOOM! Who couldn’t use a little more of that?
- Moving – If you really cannot fathom sitting still for 20-30 minutes, then there are also physical practices such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong, which involve mindfulness, breath work, and movement. If you’re not sure where to start, you can sign up for a yoga or tai chi class. Or, if you’re still shy of doing these with other people present, just try searching YouTube for videos you can do at home. In any of these physical practices, you link breath to movement, which encourages a mind-body connection and focuses your attention on the present moment, which is the ultimate goal of all meditation.
I’ve found that a combination of Mindfulness, Loving Kindness and Yin Yoga works best for me, but it is different for everyone. Yin is a practice that encourages slowing down and introducing the kind of stillness that can lead to the expansion of consciousness. It’s a nice counter-balance to the intense physical practice I’m incorporating into my daily routine. When we do high-intensity workouts, we’re activating the sympathetic nervous system, which if not countered, can lead to anxiety, anger, aggression and competitiveness. Yin works to activate our parasympathetic nervous system which switches our body into a “rest and digest” mode, so that we don’t get stuck in that “go go go” mode which can be stressful and exhausting. Yin not only counter-balances the intense workouts we’re incorporating in our lives, but releases emotions and tensions that we are holding deep within our body and mind. It changes the patterns we’ve created in our body from feeling constricted, to feeling free. It releases our entire being in layers from physical muscles and organs, to emotional and spiritual blocks, allowing for an expanding of consciousness.
There is a direct connection between our physical, spiritual and emotional health. The amazing thing about these practices is that in practicing them, you are able to take the lessons you learn during your yoga/meditation and apply them more easily to your life. This allows you to slow down, be more aware and make better choices day-to-day. I will be getting more into this in future posts as I start posting yoga videos and sharing a few accounts, apps, etc. that have helped me in this journey, and will hopefully help you as well! But for now, I urge you to watch the short video below that I thought was a cool intro.
We can’t talk about health, fitness and wellness and not dig into this critical factor. I’m really looking forward to sharing with you some of the amazing things in the works for Healthy Fit & Fab. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please click the “follow” button at the top of the right-hand banner here and do so. As always, feel free to comment, or contact me via the contact tab at the top of the site to let me know anything you are interested in discussing or may have questions about.
Til next time! 🙂