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Healing

Things to Know About Meditation for Health According to The National Institute of Health

Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being. Many studies have been conducted to look at how meditation may be helpful for a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders, and pain. A number of studies also have helped researchers learn how meditation might work and how it affects the brain.

Here are eight things to know about what the science says about meditation for health:

1. For people who suffer from cancer symptoms and treatment side effects, mind-body therapies, such as meditation, have been shown to help relieve anxiety, stress, fatigue, and general mood and sleep disturbances, thus improving their quality of life. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines from the Society for Integrative Oncology recommend meditation, as well as other mind-body modalities, as part of a multidisciplinary approach to reduce anxiety, mood disturbance, chronic pain, and improve quality of life.

2. There is some evidence that meditation may reduce blood pressure. A literature review and scientific statement from the American Heart Association suggests that evidence supports the use of Transcendental Meditation as an adjunct or complementary therapy along with standard treatment to lower blood pressure.

3. A growing body of evidence suggests that meditation-based programs may be helpful in reducing common menopausal symptoms. A 2010 review of scientific literature found that yoga, tai chi, and meditation-based programs may be helpful in reducing common menopausal symptoms including the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, sleep and mood disturbances, stress, and muscle and joint pain.

4. There is moderate evidence that meditation improves symptoms of anxiety. A 2014 review of the literature found that mindfulness meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety, depression, and pain, and low evidence of improved stress/distress and mental health-related quality of life.

5. Some studies suggest that mindfulness meditation helps people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but there’s not enough evidence to draw firm conclusions. A 2013 review of the scientific literature concluded that mindfulness training improved IBS patients’ pain and quality of life but not their depression or anxiety; however, the amount of improvement was small.

6. Meditation is generally considered to be safe for healthy people. However, people with physical limitations may not be able to participate in certain meditative practices involving movement.

– I teach simple meditation techniques to individuals and groups as a part of my Stress Management Program or stand-alone sessions.
– These meditations are customized to meet my individual client’s needs such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, digestive disorders etc.

Let Breath Be Your Medicine

Breath is the bridge between body and mind
Changes in the body affect breathing
Changes in the mind affect breathing
Changes in breathing affect the body
Changes in breathing affect the mind

Test your Breath
1. Place your right hand on your chest.
2. Place your left hand on your abdomen.
3. Breathe gently and notice which hand moves more than the other.

– Greater movement of your right hand indicates chest breathing and the activation of your sympathetic nervous system, possibly resulting in:
• Irregular heartbeat
• Higher blood pressure
• Constriction of arteries
• Increased muscle tension
• Reduced oxygenated blood to the heart

-Diaphragmatic or belly breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping regulate:
• Heart rate
• Blood pressure
• Respiration
• Muscle relaxation
• Increased oxygenated blood to the heart

Dr. Andrew Weil’s Relaxation Breath

1. Breathe out through the mouth.
2. Breathe in to the count of 4.
3. Hold the breath in the body to the count of 7.
4. Gently breathe out through the mouth to the count of 8.
Repeat 2-3 times. Do not exceed more than 4 cycles at a time.

According to Dr. Weil, this breath exercise induces the body’s relaxation response as described in diaphragmatic breathing test.

Dr. Weil further recommends placing the tip of the tongue at the roof of your mouth during these 3-4 rounds of the Relaxation Breath.

BITS-Body Intelligence Tips

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
– Hippocrates

Below are some health tips from Dr. Deepak Chopra.
They can be found in his book: Perfect Health by Dr. Chopra, Deepak, Three Rivers Press, 1991.

1. Eat in a settled atmosphere
2. Never eat when you are upset
3. Always sit down to eat.
4. Eat only when you feel hungry
5. Reduce ice-cold food and drink.
6. Don’t talk while chewing your food.
7. Eat at a moderate pace, neither too fast nor too slow.
8. Wait until one meal is digested before eating the next.
9. Sip warm water with your meal.
10. Eat freshly cooked meals whenever possible.
11. Minimize raw foods-cooked food is much easier to digest.
12. Do not cook with honey-heated honey is considered to produce ama (toxic residue).
13. Drink milk separately from meals, either alone or with other sweet foods.
14. Experience all six tastes at every meal.
15. Leave one-third to one-quarter of your stomach empty to aid digestion.
16. Sit quietly for a few minutes after your meal.
(Note: Find detailed information in Dr. Chopra’s book)

Ayurveda

Let’s chew on healthy digestion …

  • Digestion begins in the mouth as the food mixes with digestive enzymes of the saliva. Although we may not choose to follow the Ayurvedic principle of chewing each mouthful 32 times, thorough chewing helps break down complex carbs and saliva lubricated bolus, soft mass of chewed food, easily travels through the esophagus. Additionally, chewing helps release gastric juices and prepares the stomach to receive food.
  • Smaller food particles are easily digested while helping the small intestines absorb nutrients. Conversely improperly digested, large food particles can result in a host of digestive problems such as bloating, gas, diarrhea etc.
  • Eating food while feeling upset or angry, is discouraged in Ayurveda for many reasons including the fact that the release of stress hormones impede proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Attune to the natural rhythms of nature and eat the largest meal at midday when the sun and digestion and metabolism are at their peak.

Let’s toast to healthy digestion…

  • Drinking cold water or drinks with meals adversely affect digestion by overly diluting the gastric juices. It has been shown that water that is one degree below the body temperature slows the digestive process by five minutes and so on.
  • Sipping warm or hot water throughout the day strengthens digestion, relieves heartburn, help clear sinuses, reduce cravings and flushes ama, the metabolic toxins of the body.
  • Sipping warm water with or after meals helps break down food and supports healthy absorption of nutrients.
  • According to Dr. Michael Wald, the director of Nutritional Services at Integrated Medicine and Nutrition in Mount Kisco NY, the receptors in the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain with the consumption of hot water.

>> Learn more about my Ayurveda Lifestyle Program sessions

From My Grandmother’s Kitchen: Healing Foods and Water

My Grandmother’s kitchen in New Delhi, India, was tiny, even from my vantage point as a young child: Comprised mostly of a cement platform on which she sat and cooked our meals on a coal filled, clay lined stove- angithi.

ayurveda-blogI would catch the soft rhythmic chanting of her daily prayers while the fragrance from a ghee (clarified butter) lamp permeated the atmosphere and Goddess Annapurna ( the Giver of Nourishment) benevolently looked upon us from her alter in a recessed alcove in a wall. A ghee lamp, I was to later learn, purifies the environment ,ridding it of air borne allergens while protecting and lubricating one’s nasal membranes.

We, my brothers and I, would squeeze into the even tinier space in front of her platform as she fed us her prayer infused food and water. Without explicitly stating, this was her way of increasing healing vibrations in our bodies.
Over the years, as my experience and relationship to energy healing has deepened, and having been exposed to the works of researchers such as Dr. Masaru Emoto (The Hidden Messages in Water), my practice of food preparation too has evolved. Cooking is now a meditation with focused attention to the task at hand. It is said that mindfulness is an act of love. So here I am, over six decades later, consciously infusing loving peaceful vibrations in food that will be consumed by my family and in gratitude to my Grandmother as I continue her legacy.

Influenced by Dr. Emoto’s work, I have experimented with imbuing our drinking water with various healing intentions.

Here is a client’s experience:

“The idea of water having the ability to absorb and then transmit an intention was an intriguing new concept. With, Ila’s guidance, I created an infusion of “gratitude” in a clear glass carafe labeled with the intention facing towards the water leaving it undisturbed for 24 hours. Recent changes in my circumstances had affected my outlook, and I found that several glasses of the “gratitude water” gave me a more positive and relaxed state of mind. I have since added 2 carafes to my daily collection, one labeled “Heal” and another, “Sleep Well”. I receive benefits from both on a daily basis feeling stronger as well as sleeping much better.

I have even tried the healing water on my cat’s recurrent eye irritation with positive results. Healthy water is amazing and remarkable!”

Kimberly I.
7/30/14