2 Minute Breathing Exercise with Dr. Andrew Weil

In this video, Dr. Andrew Weil demonstrates a breathing exercise that has been profoundly effective for both myself, my coworkers, and several of my clients.

The benefits of this exercise include:

  • Improved sleep (falling asleep and going back to sleep)
  • Craving management (cigarettes, chocolate & coffee)
  • Decreased stress
  • Decreased anxiety (most effective method at no cost)
  • Lowering of blood pressure
  • Increased state of relaxation
  • Mental clarity

Unlike medications that are used to treat the conditions listed above, this breathing exercise has 0 side effects!!! Therefore, it can’t hurt to give it a try.

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Beginners Guide to Meditation

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We have all heard that meditation has many benefits to our mental health. That is super great, but how does one begin to meditate? Just as with anything new, it takes practice. There are many different ways to meditate so please keep in mind that not one size fits all. Here is my guide to beginning a meditation practice.

1. Pick a time of day that works best for you. Usually first thing in the morning or right before you go to sleep.

2. Create a sacred space for your practice. Sitting in the same space creates an energy and you become familiar with that space. You can light a candle or incense, sit on a pillow or decorate your space with pictures of loved ones.

Your meditation space should be somewhere that you will not be interrupted.

3. Choose your sound. I try to meditate without any music for the most part because it helps to relax without any external stimulation. However, sometimes it is a little harder for me to sit and stay focused so I will turn on some music on low volume. I really like the “calm meditation” station on pandora radio.

Now that you have set the stage for your meditation practice you can begin. Here are some pointers that will help you focus:

– Close your eyes and begin to breathe in and out through your nose. Your inhale should match your exhale in intensity and length of time.

– When a thought begins to arise, acknowledge the thought and then let it pass as if it is a cloud floating over your head in the sky. If you notice that you are holding on to a thought then return your focus to the breath.

– You can either repeat a mantra to keep you focused or you can focus on your inhalations and exhalations. I usually keep a steady even count of my breath “inhale for 1,2,3,4,5 then exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Another option is to do a full body scan slowly from head to toe assessing which areas you are holding tension in. When you find a spot that is holding tension, breathe into that spot and then move along to the rest of your scanning processes.

– Start meditating for a short period of time at first. You can start with just 5 minutes and then move to 10 minutes. Set a timer so that you don’t have to worry about how long it has been or how long you have left.

The truth is that some days your practice is going to be much stronger than other days. Sometimes you will feel like the time is going by really slowly and other times you will be surprised when the timer goes off. The most important part is to be consistent.

When most people start developing a meditation practice, they might be able to sit for a few sessions and then their mind comes up with all of the excuses in the world to avoid meditating. Before you start your meditation practice, write down what you would like to get out of your meditation practice ex. lower stress, wind down before bedtime, personal time. Keep this paper on hand for the moment where you start making excuses not to meditate. Commit to starting out your practice by staying faithful to your practice for the first week without any breaks.

It will not take long before you reap the benefits for personal growth and overall health.

Namaste

Can’t Fall Asleep?

Can’t fall asleep? Yes, even you who has tried every prescription drug out there. This may not be the answer to your problem but it may be the answer to your problem. You won’t know until you try and, unlike every sleeping-pill out there, there are no side-effects if you do try.

So, let’s get started.

All day long, our mind is overly-stimulated. Most of the time we don’t turn off our computers or the TV until right before we close our eyes and try to fall asleep. Now, I don’t know about you but after a run or after my heart rate gets nice and high, I don’t really feel like closing my eyes and falling asleep right away. Same thing with your brain. Your brain is running a million miles an hour each day. Brain cells are communicating with another to create thoughts and commands for your body.

How about trying a little “cool-down” before you hit the sac. Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour of de-stimulation. Remove your computer and your phone from your room. Do not just turn them off, remove them from your room. You can buy an old-school alarm clock, I promise it will do the trick. Turn off the TV.

Here are 7 activities to help you de-stress, wind-down and un-stimulate:

1. Drink some tea- chamomile or peppermint tea are both very soothing

2. Read a book or a magazine- nothing work-related

3. Take some deep breaths or meditate

4. Stretch- focus on the areas that are the most tense during your work-day or when you are studying. eg. shoulders, back, hips

5. Close your eyes and think about what you are grateful for

6. Listen to some relaxing music- I like the “calm meditation” playlist on Pandora. **

7. Write in a journal

** Listening to music might still be too stimulating for some people. Test it out to see what works for you.

If there is something else that helps you wind down then by all means, use your own tools!

Prioritizing this short amount of time for yourself will essentially save you the time, energy and frustration you feel when lying in bed trying to fall asleep. In reality, you are most likely going to get more stressed by “trying” to fall asleep. Rather, do something productive to help yourself get into a restful state.

One tool I use is setting a goal for what time I want to go to sleep. Then I work backwards from there to allow myself time to wind-down.