Health and Wellness isn’t just about exercise and nutrition, although they are important. Practicing meditation and taking the time to breath is also beneficial. Mediation, is a practice where you focus on a point, like your breathing, and when your attention wanders, you return back to that point. It helps you deal with awareness and stress. There are many different types of meditation. Additionally, choosing a place for meditating is also crucial. You don’t want to meditate in the city with different noises and air pollution. Consider going on a meditation retreat where you can relax and meditate peacefully and practice your breathing exercises with nature’s fresh air.
The benefits of mediation are emotional as well as physical. From an emotional standpoint, as mention, it helps with stress management and can help reduce negative emotions. While much more research needs to be done, and you should speak with your health care provider about meditation if you have a chronic physical condition, according to the Mayo Clinic*, it may help people manage symptoms of conditions such as:
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Sleep problems
- Tension headaches
Deep breathing is part of meditation, but it can also be practiced on it’s own. It is also a way to reduce stress and help you with relaxation.
Val Desjardins of PUMP Fitness MTL practices meditation and deep breathing as an important way to reset and rejuvenate the body and mind. Val strongly believes in a holistic approach to wellness and this includes movement, mindset, recovery and nutrition. Meditation and deep breathing are important components of this holistic approach. She talked to us about a couple of simple ways to incorporate meditation and deep breathing into your daily life, even if you are a beginner.
The Calm App and Guided Meditation
I am a big fan of the Calm app – it’s a really simple solution. I have over 50 clients and many use this app. The Calm App has something called “The Daily Calm” which is a ten-minute guided meditation. When I say meditation, people have this misunderstanding that you have to have be this practiced meditator and that you need to be sitting in the middle of the woods in silence. I personally don’t enjoy a silent meditation. I like there to be sound, music and someone guiding me.
Guided meditation is a really good place to start because the person leading the meditation will likely be chatting with you about the fact that it is really hard to stop thinking while meditating. I use this app with my clients after training sessions sometimes. It’s just a matter of sitting there with your earphones and you can literally do it anywhere. You don’t need special mats; you just need your device and a set of earphones. I think it’s too hard for people who are unfamiliar with meditation to know where to start. We need coaches and guidance. We need people to support us in our practices. That’s why I exist and why these apps exist.
From there, in terms of daily regulation of stress my recommendation is always going to be to bring attention to breath. I use the four X four method (also known as box breathing). You are inhaling through the nose for four, you hold the breath for four and then you exhale through the mouth for four and you do that four times. Deep breathing is known to reduce the hormones associated with stress like cortisol.
We will continue to speak with Val about how to build an intention mindset in a future article.
*The Mayo Clinic “Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress” April 22, 2020