How I Finally Made Meditation A Daily Habit

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Meditation has been shown to have numerous benefits to our mind and body such as stress and anxiety management, emotional wellbeing, improved focus and better sleep. Many successful people cite meditation as a valuable tool. For years I’ve recommended it to my clients, and yet, I struggled to make it part of my own routine.

There was always some excuse: an unpredictable schedule, events, deadlines, lack of time. Probably the sneakiest excuse for me of all was that I did yoga so did I really need to meditate on top of that?

I’d interview people and hear them talk about their meditation routine and think, “That sounds nice, but I could never do that. I’m too busy—and besides, I do yoga.”

How I finally made meditation a daily practiceJESSICA CORDING NUTRITION

My studio was like my second home. Aside from being a place where I’d made friends and even business contacts, it had given me a safe place to go work things out in my head. Yoga had seen me through break-ups, career shifts and even my father’s battle with cancer.

Then about a month after my dad died, the studio announced they were closing. This sounds like a total First World Problem—and it is—so I tried to stay positive, calling it a challenge to become more adaptable. Still, as a healthcare professional, I know taking care of myself helps me better care for my clients, so I was anxious to see how this shake-up to my self-care routine might impact my business.

In the midst of all this, I was writing a book, pulling late nights and early mornings. I found myself trying to multitask rest time with meditation time. I often fell asleep while trying to focus on my breath. Unfortunately, a fitful catnap did not have those same mental benefits. The combination of grief, poor sleep, and the loss of that baked-in mindfulness made me feel like my brain was short-circuiting.

You’re probably thinking, “This is New York—why didn’t you just find a new studio?” I was out there trying different places, but building a new routine takes time.

Which brings me back to meditation.

This winter, a friend of mine who was going through a different brand of tough stuff shared that getting back into meditation was helping him. After months of trying to keep my struggle to myself, I opened up about it. He suggested we do regular meditation check-ins to keep each other accountable. I’d never considered this approach but was willing to try.

It took about a week for it to feel like a daily thing, but I quickly noticed the benefits. I became more aware of when my mind started to wander, making it easier to refocus or redirect so I could stay on track with projects. If a situation stressed me out I was better able to identify exactly what was gnawing at me and respond calmly and thoughtfully. I found it easier to prioritize—my daily to-do list got smaller and I felt less pressured to respond right away to every single email. I also did a lot less online shopping.

Meditation has been shown to have many benefits, yet it can feel hard to make it a routine.GETTY

Perhaps the biggest benefit I noticed, though, was that when I got bad news or found myself awake at night with my mind on an anxiety loop, rather than let it hijack my brain, I focused on steps I could take to deal with the situation.

Making meditation a habit turned out to be easier than I’d imagined. Here’s what worked :

-I Started Small

I started with three and then five minutes. Soon 10 or 15 felt doable. On Valentine’s Day I even went to a 30-minute self-love meditation that flew by.

-I Made It Convenient

You don’t have to use an app, but I found the support of a tech tool (I chose Headspace) extremely helpful in staying consistent and tracking my progress to help motivate me. I set reminder alerts for times of day I would be likely to be in a place where I could sit quietly.

-I Found A Time That Worked

I tried out different times of day to see what felt doable. It turns out I’m still not a morning meditation person, but an afternoon reset or end-of-day wind-down works great.

-I Added An Accountability Component

This was huge for me. I’d often thought of meditation as a solitary practice, but checking in with someone every day actually helped me stick to it. Just be careful if you get competitive—it should feel like a supporting, encouraging relationship.

While I’m now meditating daily, I have to admit I’m still on the journey, learning as I go. Like so many things, I’ve found, it really is about learning to be where you are and be open to making changes one small step at a time.

 

To learn more about how to streamline your healthy living routine and enjoy a more balanced relationship with food and exercise, visit JessicaCordingNutrition.com.

Dispositional Mindfulness: Noticing What You Notice

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Many forms therapy and spiritual practice speak of mindfulness. Dispositional mindfulness (sometimes known as trait mindfulness) is a type of consciousness that has only recently been given serious research considerations.

It is defined as a keen awareness and attention to our thoughts and feelings in the present moment, and the research shows that the ability to engage in this prime intention has many physical, psychological, and cognitive benefits.

Mindfulness meditation is different. It has taken the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and introduced it to the western world as a form of preparing and training. Those who practice mindfulness meditation are often encouraged to have a “sitting practice,” where they have set aside time to meditate.

In the West, this practice is considered a means to an end. We will be calmer, have lower blood pressure, better relationships, and less stress if we use this practice. While all this is true, the mindfulness aspect of this practice — the essence of this style of meditation was not designed as a means to an end — it was designed to be a way of conscious living.

Mindfulness, when viewed in this way, becomes a quality in our life — a trait, not a state we enter into during practice.

Don’t get me wrong — mindfulness meditation and the wide variety of training programs and opportunities are all valuable exercises. But the original intention of mindfulness and the science now surrounding dispositional mindfulness may be at the very root of how we maintain hope, perseverance, and mental health.

Here is a sample of the research outcomes from nearly 100 studies using dispositional mindfulness:

  • Lower levels of perceived stress
  • Lower use of avoidance coping strategies
  • Fewer depressive symptoms
  • Greater perseverance
  • Less anxiety
  • More hope
  • Reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Improved adaptive coping strategies
  • Reduced rumination
  • Less catastrophizing about pain
  • Diminished neuroticism
  • Improved executive function
  • Decreased impulsivity
  • Increased emotional stability
Proof Positive

This is an impressive list as the intervention we are talking about is a non-judging awareness of our thoughts and actions. The non-judgment is an important aspect of this practice. Cultivating a witness, a self that views our own experience with a benevolent prospective, has importance and impact.

This means that even before we attempt to change our thoughts, there is value — exceptional value — in simply noticing them.

This wobbly space between perception and response becomes clearer once we are given permission to examine the gap. Dispositional mindfulness is an invitation to widen that gap simply by noticing it exists. As we step back from our moment-to-moment experience we are cultivating our mindfulness, which then opens the way to responsiveness and the possibility and potential to shift our perceptions for the better.

As the Beat poet Alan Ginsberg suggested, one way to enter this gap is to “notice what you notice.” The practice is simple enough. As you survey your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a present moment try to do so without judgment. This pause for thought is, in itself, the very dispositional mindfulness that research is showing has so many benefits.

In essence, the practice is strengthened when we catch ourselves thinking.

Why Spirituality is Good for Your Mental Health

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Why Spirituality is Good for Your Mental Health

Spirituality, or being concerned about your connection to the human spirit and the light all around us, is beneficial and uplifting for our overall mental health and quality of life. The secular world often looks at spirituality as hocus pocus when dealing with mental health or physical concerns, but the truth is the human body is not a car, it is more than just mechanics.

Technology and science are needed and beneficial, but they are not the solve-all that some people hope they are. We have a growing disconnection from that sacred light and love within our bodies, even our physical environments have grown into more concrete and steel with less nature and beauty. This lack of spirituality leaves a void; which we fill with overeating, anxiety, sex, money, fighting, career or some other placeholder which we shove into that void thinking we are doing just fine.

Spirituality or Religion

To be clear, spirituality and religion are not the same thing although they do interact. Religion is organized, has standards and provides structure to someone on how they should interact with and grow their spirituality. While spirituality is very individualized and resides within our hearts, no one has access to that spiritual core except for the one who created it. We can think of religion as more external and spirituality as internal. One impacts the other, one can feed off of the other or hurt the other, but they are not the same.

_We are not human beings having a spiritual experience_ we are spiritual beings having a human experience._

I have always been a spiritual woman, but I spent 30 years searching for my religion which would help me elevate my spirituality. It is important to follow your own path in this, trial and error, for every time we stumble or fall we are actually learning and this doesn’t hurt your spiritual core.

Mental Health Benefits

Our spirituality is a connection to something much larger than ourselves, something impossible to measure or fully comprehend. This means we can outsource our anxiety and depression to the one who created this state of being in the first place. Spirituality encourages us to look within ourselves and ask deep questions. At the same time it makes us contemplate how this all fits into our everyday lives and the world around us. This means it can change your perspective on the very meaning of life. If someone wants to argue their interpretation of the meaning of life has no impact on mental health then I have to wonder if they truly ever contemplated that question.

Here are some examples of spirituality benefiting your mental health:

    • Empowerment. Spirituality puts focus on your individual connection to the divine, to whatever it is you believe to be true in your own set of values and faith. This causes your own sense of self to blossom as you explore that inner dimension of yourself. Spirituality does not judge or label, it is whatever you mold it to be within yourself. While it is very difficult to imagine spirituality as a tangible object you can physically mold, you can imagine it is liken to plasma. A state with no fixed volume or shape that allows for the conduction of electricity like a spiritual boost and responds to magnetism or those beliefs and occurrences that pull you towards spiritual growth.
    • Gratitude. Someone who is more spiritually aware often notices their environment and daily blessings. They literally stop to smell the roses as the expression goes and they see light and divinity within that rose. They feel gratitude for the beautiful sunset because it is a blessing from God to even see this sight and the colors fascinate their senses. Unlike the non-spiritual person who may see the sunset and their first thought is “I didn’t get enough work done today”. Gratitude for what is around us and the people around us naturally makes us happier and alters our perspective to a more positive one.
    • Mindfulness. This goes along with gratitude above as we tend to be more grateful when we are more mindful of what surrounds us. Spirituality encourages meditation/prayer, sitting in quiet places listening to your heart, devoting time to worship no matter what that looks like to you. Being consciously aware of what is happening versus being glued to the phone screen oblivious to the beautiful rose bush next to us. Mindfulness is used to treat anxiety, depression, ADHD etc. Yet with spirituality you get mindfulness along with many other benefits.
    • Stamina. Increased spirituality makes you stronger, you can take more hardships and walk away from them smiling. When something difficult happens, some people fall into despair and cry out WHY ME while others understand everything has a reason and ultimately, it is not what happens to you that matters it is how you respond to it. For Muslims, we say alhamdulillah (all praise to
      God) and those of us strong in faith can move on without dwelling. Instead of “why me” try saying “thank you” then keep going.

WHY-monique hassan

In today’s modern world they tend to look at mental illness as related to hormones, neurotransmitters are off, your diet is unhealthy or in some shape or form you are broken and need repair. While I agree that chemicals can be off balance and your diet will impact you, I would also argue that devoting time to your spirituality and listening to your heart can help you feel motivation for a healthier diet and even help you balance your own hormones. If you don’t believe me then explain the placebo effect. Explain how people taking sugar pills can have the same physical effect as someone taking the actual prescription. This is the power of our amazing mind, when linked up with your spirituality , your potential is beyond what you can imagine.

Final Thoughts

We live in a seemingly disconnected space; where people focus on the physical and ignore the internal, letting it wither away. Yet even a few moments a day dedicated to spirituality and listening to your own heart can change your entire mindset and uplift your mental health. I challenge you to push yourself out of your typical comfort zones and explore a new way of thinking. What can you lose? Worst case you determine that spirituality is hocus pocus to you but best case, it change your world.

 

 

Meditation has become a very common practice nowadays. It is now everywhere. And after knowing the benefits of meditation, you would know that it deserves to be everywhere. With its increasing popularity, people are adopting many methods of meditation according to their preferences and ease. There are many centers and institutes which teach tons of…

via Heartfulness Meditation: A Perfect Blend of Science and Spirituality — Get Well Forever