By: Marcia Keilen
Our bodies have been hard-wired for survival and self-preservation through a reflex known as the fight-or-flight response. This reflex kicks in when we perceive a threat to our physical body and our body responds in one of two ways: to fight or to run. Basically, our body responds to this threat physiologically by pumping out stress hormones, specifically, adrenaline and cortisol, which in turn causes our blood pressure to rise, our heart rate and blood sugar to increase, the blood circulation to our digestion to decrease, suppresses our immune system, and increases the stickiness of our platelets. After the threat passes our bodies should return to their normal state of homeostasis. This is certainly important if we are indeed faced with bodily harm, but unfortunately, this stress response can become chronic in our everyday life when we are faced with the many stresses we encounter everyday. Dr. David Simon, M.D., one of the co-founders of the Chopra Center for Well Being, gave this definition of stress, “how we respond when our needs are not met.” How many times do we deal with unmet needs? For example, someone cuts you off on the roadway, your workload becomes overwhelming, you’re running late for an appointment and there is a traffic jam that makes you even later. There are many, many examples of these unmet needs that we face everyday. The important question is, how are we going to respond to these situations? That is what determines our emotional and physical health. Over time chronic stress can lead to a myriad of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, anxiety, insomnia, poor digestion, infections, strokes and heart attacks, to name a few.
One of the best antidotes to stress is meditation. When we meditate, our body’s chemistry actually changes as we move into a state of restful awareness. Meditation helps us to respond in a more mindful way to the world around us, we can’t control what goes on around us, BUT we can choose how we respond to what is happening around us and meditation helps us to be less reactive and more reflective, we are less impulsive and more intuitive, and we make more conscious choices. As meditation reverses the negative effects of chronic stress, we find more peace of mind and a healthier state of being as well as many other benefits. Learn about these benefits of meditation as well as how to meditate by taking a meditation class or booking a private session to learn how easy it is to meditate and how you can fit a meditation practice into your everyday schedule.
The holiday season is rapidly approaching. Many of us have already noticed changing emotions and increasing stress. Autumn and the transition into winter can stir up emotion. Our environment is changing with falling leaves and whirling winds. It can be difficult not to spin in an internal whirlwind.
With the holidays come company and the desire to be around others. In order to be truly present and grounded in our experience, we must care for ourselves:
- 1. Getting enough sleep, remembering and taking the time to eat balanced meals and breathing are great ways to start. Then, tune into your body. What is your body needing? By using our senses, we can soothe stress. Adding aromas and mindfulness throughout the day can help reduce stress.
- 2. Make your space a sanctuary. When your environment is peaceful, the mind finds ease.
- Our sense of smell is directly connected to our memory. Consider using aromatherapy. Aromatherapy uses oils extracted from flowers, seeds, leaves, roots and fruit. Essential oils for stress include bergamot, patchouli, blood orange, Ylang ylang, lavender, chamomile and grapefruit. Oils can be heated in a diffuser to release the scent. This is great for filling a space with the scent. Other ways include adding 8-10 drops to a bath, 1-2 drops on a tissue or adding 5 drops to an unscented lotion. You can also dilute the oil with water to make a spray. Or add 10-20 drops to a load of laundry. Personally, I like to spray my blood orange and bergamot blend when I get home. It is a helpful reminder that I have left the stress of the world and have returned to my place of peace. I use the affirmation, “I am home, I am safe, I am at peace” when I spray it. Whether I believe those words at the time is irrelevant. It is a game of tricking the mind. By saying those words, I create those thoughts. When the brain ‘hears’ that phrase and registers the smell stress reducing hormones are released.
- 3. Finally, mindfulness is essential. Being mindful means being present in body and mind. Taking time to breathe deeply drastically reduces stress. Give yourself 2 minutes to do nothing but close your eyes and breathe. It can be difficult to quiet a stressed mind. Feel your body completely empty of breath. Slowly inhale starting way down in the root, as you feel the belly expanding and the breath rising feel your ribs expanding, your chest opening, filling all the way up underneath your collarbones when you can no longer sip in any breath pause. Then release out though your mouth. Visualize all the stress spewing out though your mouth.
A vibrational sound environment creates a soft mind. My stress stone recommendation for the holidays is white alabaster. This fine grain is variety of gypsum. It aids the body by centering the self to further mental activity. It teaches forgiveness, enhances skills employed for serving other and allows for maturity and self-composure. It alleviates the “seeking” tension found in the mind. Alabaster allows one to understand that tension will pass and aids in diminishing internal anger or struggle.
Give yourself care this holiday season. Care for your body, care for your mind.
Written by… Leanna Defere
Learn to Meditate with Marcia Keilen at Living Arts Wellness
October 22nd, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
The Fall Autumnal Equinox was September 22, taking us from the busy summer into a slower paced time of year. This is a time for introspection, for taking a look at what we have accomplished and planting the seeds for future endeavors, to move from outer journeys to inner journeys, to connect to our inner wisdom and to the deepest aspect of our being. In other words, an optimal time to learn to meditate. In this two hour class, you will learn about different types of meditation, how to fit meditation into your daily routine, the benefits of meditation, and experience guided meditations. The cost is $50 for a two hour class with a FREE followup class to answer all your questions and talk about what you are experiencing both during your meditations and in your daily lives. Plus ongoing support as you begin this amazing inward journey.
Marcia Keilen is a certified meditation teacher through the Chopra Center for Well Being in Carlsbad, CA.
Recent research shows that early development of microbiome development plays a significant role in your adult mental health. The brain – gut connection has been known by researchers for decades. It has become obvious that probiotics are important in treating stress and anxiety! Learn how to make probiotic, cultured and fermented foods at our upcoming Living Foods workshop.
For more information, take a look at this article by Carrie Arnold.
Magnesium intake is one of the most important factors for diabetes prevention and management and is an essential mineral required by the body for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping a healthy immune system, and building strong bones. Deficiencies can lead to muscle spasms, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, migraines, and osteoporosis.
Here’s a list of magnesium rich foods: Bran (rice, wheat, and oat), seeds (squash, pumpkin, and watermelon), cacao (dark chocolate), sesame seeds, flax seeds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, and molasses.
Dark Chocolate is High in Magnesium