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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

9 Reasons to Incorporate Yoga Meditation and Mindfulness into Your Life

9 Reasons to Incorporate Yoga Meditation and Mindfulness into Your Life

I’m mindful. Mindful in running down my to-do list, my wish list, my dream list, my ‘it seems impossible’ list. Mindful of the demands of life, work, relationships, communication, travel, meetings, traffic, and a constant conversation of positives and negatives having an NPR style narrative in my head.

Sure, I’m mindful. I’m a yoga instructor. It comes naturally, right? But the reality is, so much of the “mindfulness” in our mainstream is a cheap imitation of real connection, a desire to fast track our minds to a calm, focused space where we can be happy — but without much work, of course.

Being mindful is about being an impartial observer. It’s the ability to stay present in your moment without allowing the mind to get side-tracked. We all know that can be hard to do. Mindfulness is meant to be a state of awareness without judgement. Also, hard especially when we want easy happiness in the midst of a complex world.

Mindfulness isn’t exactly a new concept. It’s been a part of ancient meditations and yogic practice for centuries. Yoga started 5,000 years ago with the Vedic priests of India and yoga meditation has traces in 1500 BCE. Their original purpose was to train the body and mind to be self-aware. Not so different from what we want today.

Incorporating yoga and mindfulness into my lifestyle has not only allowed me to make it financially beneficial but it has shaped my body and mind in new and important ways. It is a full-time lifestyle, but it can be done with a few simple things. Here are nine reasons to help you increase your yoga meditation and allow everyday miracles to happen while connecting with real people and yourself:

1. On the Go Meditation Tools Are Everywhere

Downloading one (or a few) meditation apps is a good alternative to doing nothing at all. There is some controversy on the approach of meditation apps that are based in financial gain but have little to no incentive to get people to an independent place of stillness.

Many feel it takes away from the original purpose of learning with a trained coach. But for those on the go, they offer easy access to guided inspirational words to boost their day.

Mediation shouldn’t be a business about consumption, it should be about improving personal wisdom, real meditative yoga skills and mindfulness. If you’re a traveler these come in handy. Try Pocket Yoga and Universal Breathing apps.

2. It Allows Your Body to Physically Relax (Tons of Benefits)

Ever found yourself clenching your muscles, shoulders drawn up to your ears, without even being aware? This combination of muscle rigidity and stress can create a variety of connected issues including, sharp or persistent pain, body misalignment, and headaches, to start.

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Yoga, meditation and mindfulness allow a space to align your body correctly, lengthening and toning muscles that support long term health. Combined with breath, the body can release stress and finally relax.

Try Hatha or Vedic Meditation for deep meditative yoga options, and simple poses like Supta Tadasana to open hips, or Up Dog to open the chest and release the back. Five to ten minutes of simple stretching or holding an active resting position with deep breathing allows the muscles of the body to release. So, release those lines in your forehead and take a moment to try it now.

3. “Active” Silence Is Important

It’s a loud world out there, one that seems to distract from our true selves. One of the most powerful things we can do to be mindful is to take control of our thoughts. Our inner dialogue creates the reactions that drive our life, and they can dig in and take hold.

Taking a moment (5-10 minutes) to sit in stillness and breathe deep, activates the awareness to slow down. It oxygenates our muscles and tissues, improving real oxygen intake unlike our accustomed shallow breathing habits.

A moment of silence is best recommended in the morning. Before opening email, apps or swiping through dating profiles.

As a reminder, I enjoy spiritual leader and activist, Thich Nhat Hanh’s quote on active silence:

“This is not the kind of silence that oppresses us. It is a very elegant kind of silence, a very powerful king of silence. It is the silence that heals and nourishes us.”

I choose to find active silence in the outdoors hiking a mountain, or resting on my back in the ocean taking in the amplified sounds underwater. Nature is powerful.

4. Mental Breaks Not Mental Breakdowns Help Productivity

The brain naturally gives itself “time outs” by day dreaming. When you find yourself zoning out, your brain is taking time to reconfigure its complex maze of neurons. This usually happens when not involved in a detailed task, and the brain is tapping into its muscle memory. Basically, you’re on autopilot, and that’s a healthy part of our physiology.

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If we’re not taking time for self-awareness and self-actualization, we’re putting ourselves at a higher risk of mental and emotional stress. Leading to increased anxiety and pressure that affects our ability to concentrate.

If there are underlying genetic factors or negative experiences that spike emotional stress, this increases exposure to breakdowns. On the other hand, a scheduled time out allows our brains to take a break and be more productive.

If you’re new to yoga meditations, here are a few inspirations to start your own personal mantra:

What is my deepest desire? What are the emotions I’m feeling? What is my reactivity based in? What can I let go?

I invite you to take a moment to breathe deep, hold for five seconds, and breathe out, emptying the chest and belly. Namaste.

5. Brain Health

When we add time for yoga meditation and mindfulness, we tap into the brain’s state of “waking rest” or our default mode network. If done actively, we can take control of our thoughts and instead of our mind running us, we can run our mind.

The result? The ability to stay centered in many circumstances, circumventing ruminating thoughts, and added stressors.

Stress damages our body and brain. Here are just a few ways it does: anxiety and depression, emotional reactivity, eating disturbances, sleeplessness, weight loss, heart disease, chronic pain, affecting memory, over active cortisol levels in the brain, lower decision making and a shrinking pre-frontal cortex.

Luckily, according to Psychology Today, we can repair many damaged neurons and brain connectivity by reducing stress and cortisol production.[1] Yoga meditation is a simple, free, effective tool to do on your own time, almost anywhere.

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Yoga meditation is about observing our own thoughts and sensations in the body with real openness. I’ve had many yoga students share their stories of improved health and focus by adding this into their lifestyle, so I know the physical postures, breathing and mindfulness improve brain health.

We are more than our emotions, and there is a scientific chemistry behind our functions, let’s give ourselves the tools to be as healthy as possible.

6. It Allows Depth over Superficiality

We are all meant to create and enjoy deep relationships, leaving behind difficulties in our lives, childhood wounds and emotionally charged experiences. We do this inner work to allow authentic connections to happen and for a healthy mindset.

I believe most people want to go deeper, they just may not know how. Yoga meditation and mindfulness can help get you there. You don’t need to accept and stay around superficial relationships that don’t serve you, or worse, hurt you.

Start by evaluating your relationships. Which ones can you cultivate to be deep? Which ones lead you into superficiality? Which ones leave you feeling negative, depleted or insecure?

Evaluate your activities. Which ones cultivate deeper thinking, deeper relationships? Which ones benefit long term health and mental clarity? These may sound unoriginal, but ask yourself, when’s they last time you sat and really gave yourself an answer.

Here’s some meditation insight from Dr. Joe Dispenza,[2]

“Meditation opens the door between the conscious and subconscious minds. We meditate to enter the operating system of the subconscious, where all of those unwanted habits and behaviors reside, and change them to more productions modes to support us in our lives.”

Those supported lives lead to deeper everyday relationships.

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7. Connecting IRL with Others Looking for the Same

Most of the time it seems like the online world, mindfulness apps and practicing with others have been mutually exclusive. But they don’t have to be. Finding your yoga tribe at a local studio or wellness retreat can happen for you. There are so many options to choose from, and the increased desire to find more introspection is creating more outlets to explore.

According to neuroscience research, a subject I love, mindfulness increases the connections between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex,[3] ultimately helping us be less reactive and more resilient to stress. Real social interaction should be the heart of a meditation experience, not an add on, and there are plenty of welcoming tribes.

8. Eventually It Becomes a Habit

Productivity isn’t usually what you think of with mindfulness, but the more clarity you have the more productive you are. That starts with creating good habits and minimizing the ones we love to love; chocolate, snooze buttons, procrastination….and practicing regular meditation then becomes part of our lifestyle.

The habit of regular mediation is being explored by schools, pro sports teams and military units to enhance performance, according the Scientific American.[4] In addition, there are positive results with chronic pain, addiction and tinnitus. And because our emotional minds are so connected to our physical responses, there is evidence it helps with certain physical conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome,[5] cancer,[6] and HIV.[7]

Give yourself time to proactive adding meditation and mindfulness to your life daily. It can be as simple as 90 seconds of deep breathing in the car before work. Breathe, be aware, repeat. Soon those synapses will have new mindful pathways.

9. Sharing Your New-Found Stillness with Others

Like our life, the best advice I can give to share your mindfulness journey is to find the unique version that works for you and be supportive of others on their own journey.

The meditative technique that is the “stillness of the mind” is meant to pull us out of our self absorbed state and be more open. It’s basically in search on “mental fitness”.

Just like we would lift weights for physical fitness, accepting that mental health is important is part of the process. Allowing yourself to take a moment of stillness.

Final Thoughts

Yoga meditation is not a cure for everything or everyone, and it can unlock subconscious thoughts you’d rather leave alone. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, sometimes it’s hard to face inner truths and feelings or get beyond the monkey mind.

In the end, whether you decide to do this as a personal quest or share it with a partner or group, take the time to prepare your mind for yoga meditation and do the version that works for you. Make it yours. It takes some work, more than we may be used to, but it’s worth it.

More Resources About Meditation & Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Ksenia Makagonova via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Liz Galloway

I'm an idealist, columnist & traveler helping people connect through personal discovery. Stay inspired!

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

How to Cope With the Stages of Grief and Heal After Loss

How to Cope With the Stages of Grief and Heal After Loss

The death of a loved one is, unfortunately, something most of us have experienced or will experience at some point in our lives, but grief and loss are not felt only when someone passes away. You may move through the stages of grief quickly or slowly, and you may even find yourself moving back to a stage you thought you had passed. People grieve differently, and there is no correct way to grieve in any situation.

A close friend or family member moving away, a divorce or breakup, loss of a job, as well as a number of other life experiences can cause feelings of grief or loss. Coping with loss is one of the most stressful and difficult things we have to deal with in life, but it is an experience everyone can relate to.

The Stages of Grief

The five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—are related to the common emotions we go through when we experience loss. This grief model was identified by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969[1].

However, because everyone is different, there is no “standard” way to react to grief and loss.[2]

Some people will wear their emotions on their sleeves and be outwardly emotional. Others will experience their grief more internally, and may not cry. You should try not to judge how a person experiences grief, as each person will experience it differently.

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Stages of grief

    Stage 1: Denial

    The feeling of shock when you first find out about a loss can lead to thinking, “This isn’t real.” This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion and a defense mechanism for your mind.[3]

    Stage 2: Anger

    Feelings of frustration and helplessness take hold during this stage. Thoughts like “It’s not fair” can be common. Even being angry at your loved one who died for “leaving you behind” is natural. This anger can spill over into your close relationships, and you can find yourself getting angry at those around you for no apparent reason.

    Stage 3: Bargaining

    During this stage, you are constantly thinking about what you could have done to prevent the loss. Thoughts of “What if…” and “If only…” replay in the mind. You might also try to bargain with a higher power in hopes of reversing the loss.

    Stage 4: Depression

    This stage brings the deep sadness you feel as you realize the loss is irreversible. You think about how your life will be affected by the loss. Crying, loss of appetite, feelings of loneliness, and unusual sleeping patterns are all signs of depression.

    Stage 5: Acceptance

    You accept the loss, and although you’re still sad, you slowly start to move on with your life and settle in to your new reality.

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    The stages of grief don’t have to be in this order, and you might not experience all stages. There is also no set time period for grieving, and some people take longer to heal than others.

    How to Heal From Grief and Loss

    When you’re experiencing those heartbreaking feelings and the stages of grief, it’s hard to believe that you’ll eventually heal, but you really will. Here are some ways to help the healing process:

    1. Confront the Painful Emotions

    Try not to bottle up your emotions. Allow yourself to express how you feel. It’s a healthy part of the grieving process.[4]

    If you’re not ready to get together with friends and family to talk about how you’re feeling, you can work with your emotions through mindful meditation, which can help create space for you to take a look at what you’re feeling and why.

    2. Talk About It

    When you’re ready and have entered the final stages of grief, talking to someone about the way you are feeling can be very helpful in starting the healing process. Often, people want to isolate themselves while grieving, but being around friends and family can help. Talking can also help you to confront your emotions if you have been unable to.

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    3. Keep up With Your Routine

    Loss can make you feel like your world has been turned upside down. As you move through the stages of grief, getting through your daily routine may feel more difficult, which can cause you to put self-care to the side. Keeping up with your routine can help bring back some normality and ensure you are showing yourself love and consideration.

    4. Take Care of Yourself

    When you are grieving and depressed, simple things like eating become an afterthought, and sleeping may become difficult. Taking care of yourself and your health will help with the healing process.

    While you may not do everything you were doing before your loss, try to do one act of self-care each day. It can be taking a long bath, going for a walk, making a nice meal, or even practicing a hobby once you feel ready. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated; it just needs to be something that makes you feel good.

    5. Don’t Make Any Major Decisions

    Grief clouds the ability to make sound decisions.[5] Try to postpone making any big decisions for a while or get guidance from close friends or family if you can’t put it off.

    Grief may also make you feel like making major changes to your life, such as quitting a job or ending a relationship. Try to remember that now is not the best time to make these changes, and hold off further consideration until you have moved through all of the stages of grief.

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    The Bottom Line

    It is important to heal after a loss so that you can get on with life. There is no set time period for grieving, but if you feel that your grief isn’t getting better, and you are unable to accept the loss, it might be time to seek advice from a mental health professional.

    In the meantime, accept that now is a difficult time, but that it will get better. Time will inevitably help and make the pain less powerful. One day, you will wake up and realize the pain is simply a small echo in the back of your mind and that you have successfully moved through each of the stages of grief. It’s time to get back to your life.

    More on Dealing With the Stages of Grief

    Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

    Reference

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