THE BENEFITS OF MOVING MEDITATION

There are lots of specific health benefits to meditation, and while plenty of people still picture meditation happening as you sit cross-legged and bathe in your own silence, you don’t actually have to do any of that for it to work.

Brendan Leonard discovered exactly that in a recent essay for Outside. He found it massively challenging to fully embrace meditating while sitting still. He accidentally fell asleep during one of his Headspace sessions, and a flood of thoughts distracted him during another.

But he eventually realized that his runs, which “are sometimes an hour, two hours, four hours, or even eight hours,” also function as a kind of meditation.

“I don’t have headphones in my ears. I don’t talk to anyone besides the occasional ‘hello’ to fellow trail users, I don’t listen to music to make the time pass more quickly, and I don’t listen to podcasts,” Leonard writes. “I just run, in relative silence, and my thoughts go wherever they need to go.” These runs have also sparked great ideas, which he then writes down.

Even if you’re not a runner, sitting still isn’t the only way to meditate. Here are three other types of moving meditation that you can try.

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Take a walk in the park

Research in the Journal of Behavioral Health shows that a mindful walk in nature can provide a mental health boost, positively impacting “cognition and affect, anxiety reduction, tension, sadness, and fatigue.” Plus, engaging in mindfulness during a walk can also result in “a deeper connection with exercise,” the study authors say.

Strike a yoga pose

Yoga is a form of meditative movement that has been found to ease chronic pain. Plus, research in the International Journal of Yoga states that there’s “an indisputable connection between a person’s overall physical and mental health, and the inner peace and well-being yoga is designed to achieve. Yoga suspends the fluctuations of the mind, and by acting consciously, we live better and suffer less.”

Try Tai chi

A study in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that engaging in Tai chi as a form of moving meditation should create “functional balance internally for healing, stress neutralization, longevity, and personal tranquility.”

Interested in learning Tai chi for yourself? “Many places are teaching students one movement, like ‘cloud hands,’ which is a signature. Learn half a dozen or a dozen movements and do them repetitively,” suggests Shin Lin, Ph.D., the founding director of the Laboratory for Mind-Body Signaling & Energy Research, and Professor of cell biology and faculty of the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute at the University of California Irvine. Even just this shortened version of a practice can help you feel meditative and more balanced.

— Originally published on November 13, 2018 on THRIVE Global

THE BEST MEDITATION APPS FOR BEGINNERS

Meditation. It’s not just for yoga-loving, holistic lifestyle-living, Instagram perfect people. Meditation has so many benefits and is often misunderstood. Many think meditating is about losing all thoughts and being one with yourself, but mediation is what you want it to be, and what you make it. I’ve tried a couple different meditation apps and have found my favorite, so take a peak and try one (or them all) for yourself!

HEADSPACE

This was by far my favorite meditation app. The app is laid out nicely and easy to navigate. There are meditation packs for different things, for example, health packs, happiness packs, student packs, sport packs, and of course the foundation packs. There are also single meditations for different scenarios and mediation minis for a quick moment to check in with yourself. The app even has a whole section of kid’s meditations for all you vinas with little ones! I started off with the first basics pack which has ten sessions. When starting, the app asks some basic questions to help you get started. I chose to meditate for five minutes and dedicated time after my shower at night to sit down and meditate. When starting a meditation, there is always a little text to read before starting to get you ready, and on some days, there is even a little animated video to put your mind at ease. During the actual meditation portion, the recording guides you through what to do, helps you breathe, and makes you feel comfortable with words of encouragement. I definitely recommend this app for those who don’t think they can meditate properly, or who have had a hard time meditating in the past, like I had in yoga. The first basics pack is free, and there are other packs you can try a session for free, but Headspace is a subscription-based app.

CALM

Calm has a couple different tabs: home, sleep, meditate, music and masterclass tabs. When starting the Calm app, I was asked my goals for meditating. I was then prompted to sign up for a one week trial which would turn into a yearly subscription. The intro to meditation is 7 sessions long, perfect for the free trial. On day one you learn the basics and the recording walks you through how to breathe and what to do. After the first day of meditation, you are asked to confirm your goal for what you want to work on and how many days a week you want to meditate. The app also has sleep stories to help you fall asleep, meditations for different scenarios, and music for things like sleeping, relaxing, and focusing.

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10% HAPPIER

I recommend this app for anyone who is skeptical about meditating. I actually found this app reading a book called Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, which gives you access to corresponding meditations in the app. The first 8 meditation sessions are free in the basics course, but the other 8 and the rest of the content need to be unlocked with a subscription. The full version gives you meditation courses, a meditation of the day, single meditations for different scenarios like stress, sleep, focus, happiness, etc. You also get coaching with real meditators with 10+ years of experience to answer all your questions. Both the book and the app stemmed from a TV news anchor, Dan Harris, who was a normal person who took up meditation after having a panic attack on national TV. The app brings together scientists and teachers to help even the biggest skeptic find the benefits of meditating.

So what are you waiting for, vinas? Start meditating and find your zen (and your vina) today!

LET’S TALK SUICIDE: HOW TO BE THERE FOR A VINA IN NEED

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and while I am thankful for those acknowledging this crisis, it also hits quite close to home for me. As three of my closest friends have attempted suicide and I have had to talk my one friend out of self-harm, this issue is more than just a topic in the paper. Suicide might be uncomfortable for some to talk about, including myself, but the more we are made aware of this subject, the better we can help those struggling during times of need. Here are some suggestions on how you can be there for your vinas who need your support.

LET THEM KNOW THEY ARE NOT ALONE

The main thing that I make sure all my vinas know is that I’m there for them: day or night. Whether they need to talk or need someone to walk home with them, it’s vital that they know they have a friend they can count on. Mental illness can sometimes make us believe we are all alone, so if you have a friend or family member who may be contemplating self-harm, let them know their emotions are being acknowledged and most importantly, noticed. If you can offer an ear to listen and shoulder to lean on, that makes a huge difference.

OUTDOOR BENEFITS

I constantly give my friends suggestions about the latest Netflix comedy special that can brighten up their mood or a cool activity they can do with others. If your vina seems to be a bit down, see if you can get her out of the house and into nature. The outdoors and sunshine are very beneficial! Vitamin D is essential for our mental well-being and the best way to get some is by enjoying a little sunshine. It doesn’t matter if it’s a quick walk to get some ice cream or a short stroll through the park, your vina needs to get out of the house where her insecurities hide in the shadows. Some fresh air can go a long way.

SELF-CARE

In the midst of being a female, I think all of us females can agree sometimes our hormones get the best of us, and not giving enough back to ourselves, self-love and care need to be practiced. A little reflection while meditating can really help you get to the root of what is going on within. Maybe going out to a yoga class isn’t ideal for your vina at the moment, but in the age of the internet-you can pop a basic yoga video on your laptop and do it together in the comfort of your own home.

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PATIENCE

It is very important that you take your time with a vina. It may seem time consuming and repetitive, but your vina needs you now more than ever. A funny gif here, a good meme there, a well-placed trip to the movies, or an occasional walk … no matter how small it may seem to you, it could mean the world to your vina.

Remember: There are many resources available to provide support to those affected by suicide. If someone you know needs help, suggest these resources immediately:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or text “Talk” to 741741.
  • Crisis Text Line — Text START to 741741
  • TREVOR Project — 866-488-7386
  • Trans Lifeline — 877-565-8860

Of course, new vinas are always waiting to talk. Click here to start your friendship journey.

 

 

HOW TO MEDITATE AND MAKE IT PART OF YOUR DAY

Have you ever wanted to live the zen life but felt it took a ton of candles, incense, crystals, and possibly a mountaintop for complete mediation? It doesn’t have to be elaborate or as planned out as you would imagine.

Consider the benefits of meditation:

  • Reduces stress
  • Improves concentration and reduces distractions in your daily life
  • Increases happiness
  • Improves mood and emotional awareness
  • Reduces premenstrual problems

HOW TO MEDITATE

A busy vina knows that it might not always be feasible to get in a full meditation session. One of the key things to remember when meditating is quality over quantity. You want to make sure that the way you are meditating surpasses the amount of time you spend doing it. Meditating for a solid five minutes where you can clear your head, gain mindfulness, and embrace the clarity is far better than 30 minutes of interruptions and tense shoulders.

BE STILL. LITERALLY!

Sitting or lying down is ideal when meditating. You need to be able to relax every muscle. Breathing in, concentrate on channeling your breath to the top of your head and relaxing yourself. With each breath, breathe in a feeling of light or positive energy to that area; on the exhale, imagine releasing the negative energy. Continue breathing like this through each part of your body, down to your toes. As a beginner, you can start with the larger body parts and with more experience get more detailed.

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QUIET YOUR MIND

The hardest part of meditating can be quieting your mind. We have a laundry list of things that need to get done. We live in a society with deadlines and clock watchers, but that needs to be put aside when meditating. A lot of vinas recite mantras or affirmations to lessen the noise and streamline their focus.

Some examples are:

Today will be a great day.

I love myself and all my imperfections.

I release all negativity from my surroundings.

If you find yourself drifting into thoughts about the report that’s due tomorrow, simply allow it and gently bring your mind back to your practice. Forcing your mind to go blank will only make the process more difficult. Another great option is to look for a meditation soundtrack that can block out outside noise and reinforce your solitude.

FALL DOWN SEVEN TIMES….

Even if you don’t accomplish absolute bliss during your meditation session, don’t get frustrated. Being resilient and trying again will only help improve your skills. Try a different position or time of day. Maybe music isn’t your thing, but candles are, so give it a try! Anyone can meditate, it just takes practice to get good at it. Namaste.

Share your meditation and relaxation tips with other vinas to spread the positivity! 

 

HOW TO TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH—EVEN WHEN YOU’RE REALLY BUSY

I have always been the type to take on a lot and do it all without pause for a break. There was a point while attending my university where I was so sick I had a fever every day for about two weeks because I just didn’t have time to sleep.

Yeah, I know, I was a keener.

Now, I’m not what you would call a “keener” anymore, but I still do overwork myself because I’m the type of person who needs to be doing something constantly—whether it’s reading a book, cleaning the house, or binge-watching an entire season of a show. It’s like I have to accomplish something (even the tiniest thing) every day; everything besides my mental health.

Well, I’ve learned that mental health is ESPECIALLY important when you’re really busy, but I know it seems impossible when you’ve got a lot going on.

Listed below are ways to alleviate the stressors of your busy day that are so beneficial to your mental state:

Give yourself AT LEAST one block of time a day to take a quick break.

This could be the half hour after you get home from work, or going to bed 15 minutes early.  My favorite time is after school and before bed. I use the time to connect with my partner and chat about the day and to read. The point is to use that time to wind down, maybe read a book or just lie on your bed for a few minutes and clear your mind. Whatever you do, during this time, stay away from screens. Your brain needs a break, and social media, even though we like it and want to use it, makes you feel busy and overwhelmed. It’s just the nature of it. Disconnect for only a few minutes a day, and it will help improve your mental health!

Eat more nutritious food.

I am definitely guilty of eating frozen pizza and chicken strips when I’m swamped with work, but that only puts more stress on our bodies, resulting in exhaustion. But when I bother to get up and chop some vegetables to eat with dip as a snack and eat healthier meals, I not only feel less stressed but I feel more positive!

So take 10 minutes to chop up some carrots and celery so that you have it ready when you need a snack. Plan a couple of quick meals ahead of time so that on your busiest days you can conveniently reheat it in the microwave. The best thing is to do this in advance, so if you know you’re going to be busy freeze some meals and thaw them out when you need it. And when you’re really busy, take an hour on the weekend and cook up a meal, so you have it for the next few days. I know, it feels like you could use your time for something better, but if you feed your body what it needs, you won’t be as tired and you won’t feel as stressed. It’s worth the effort!

If you have a friend or a significant other, who can help you, ask them!

I used to have a super weird habit of not moving from my desk when I’m on a roll with writing, not even going to the washroom! So, when I was in university, a good friend of mine would check on me every so often (we lived on the same floor in residence) and she’d just open the door, say, “go to the bathroom!” and wait for me to come back so we could chat for a quick break.

These are people who care about you, so if you just let them know you’re feeling overwhelmed, they’ll want to help. If you live with your friend/significant other, ask if they do more cooking or take out the trash or whatever it is to help lighten your load. Ask a friend if they can come over at a particular time of day and force you to go to for a walk (or make you go the bathroom…)

Work at least 10-20 minutes of exercise into your day.

It doesn’t need to be a big deal. Just go for a walk, and after 10 minutes turn back. Alternatively, download Zova or QuickFit and do a couple of exercises quickly! It will do wonders for your mental health, so if you can scrounge 20 minutes of your time, you won’t regret it. It might hurt at the time (well, it will) but after you will feel a bit better! If you have to, reward yourself after – like chocolate milk, my favorite! Try to do this three times a week, but if you can’t, don’t worry about it. The point is to reduce stress, not add to it!

If you bus to work or to your activities, listen to music or read a book instead of checking your phones for emails and text messages. 

Use the time to give yourself a mental break or reflect on your day. Again, any chance you have to stop feeling like you need to be doing something is vitally important! If your commute is especially long and you need the time to check those emails or do some work, then give yourself at least 15-20 minutes of a mental break during that time where you don’t do any of that work. Then get to it!

Reduce the stress by writing everything you have floating around in your head down.

Get it out of your head! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re trying to remember everything randomly. If you get all your to-dos and obligations out either on paper or in a list on your phone it will not only help you to see exactly what you have to do in a manageable way, but you’ll offload some of that stress because you don’t need to keep remembering – you can just refer to it on your phone, your planner, or wherever. It won’t be swirling around your head! So look at your list and figure out what needs to be done right away, what can wait, and do the most urgent things first.

Start saying no and cutting out things you don’t NEED to do.

When you’re super freaking busy, it’s the time to start prioritizing. You need to decide what’s most important to you. For me, I decided I don’t need to dust every single day or clean the bathroom every single week so that I can have some extra time to myself to literally. just. breathe. (see below)

If you don’t start prioritizing you-time and your mental health, your stress will start building. You need to start letting things go! Make a list of things you’re feeling pressure to do and begin generously crossing things off that you don’t have to do. Look at what you have left. Do you have the time, energy, and/or money to do them? Then do them, but ALWAYS make sure that no matter what, even if you can fit all those things in, you leave some extra time for just. Doing. NOTHING. Even for 10 minutes!

Read. (Seriously.)

Yep. Not joking. It keeps me grounded, even if I only read for 15 minutes a day. (If you have time, or during your daily block of just 15 minutes, read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck to start. Trust me, it’s the best.)

Use a meditation app (or just simply breathe) for 5-10 minutes a day.

I used to work in the service industry in a busy downtown restaurant in Vancouver, and there were days where I had 12 tables at once, which is completely outrageous. When I felt overwhelmed and freaked out, I would stop at the till where I was entering in orders, close my eyes, and breathe for a few seconds. It was kind of incredible how well that works!

Now I use the app that came with my Bellabeat Leaf (a pretty step-tracking device) when I have a few minutes of free time and I actually remember. You might not think breathing and being mindful helps, but if you take it seriously and you give it a chance, it really does help!

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Get enough sleep and make sure you have a good pillow!

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to sleep lately, because well, I suck at it apparently. I keep waking up groggy, sore, and hating mornings. I discovered my pillow was REALLY bad, so I found a new pillow that I decided to splurge on (it’s amazing, by the way – the Xtreme Comforts Memory Foam pillow on Amazon) and it helped a lot. Like, the first night I slept on it was like a dream! And it’s been consistent since then.

Besides that though, I tend to get between 6-7.5 hours of sleep each weeknight, and for me that’s not enough, even though I’m sleeping better.

It’s important to get enough sleep, because it helps you physically but it also reduces stress. Have you ever noticed how freakin’ bitchy you are when you’re tired?! I know I can be awful. So take care of yourself and get a MINIMUM of 7 hours a night at least on average.

Even if you think you can get more work done if you stay up late, it will not only reduce your efficiency that night, it will also effect your work the next day.

I hope these tips help you out. I know they’re all things you KNOW you need to do to take care of yourself, but you struggle to do them. (I know I do!) So choose one or 2 of these things to incorporate into your life and practice doing them. You’re not going to do it consistently right away, but any improvement is a good improvement!

Do you have any more ideas? What do you do to take care of yourself when you’re really busy? Share in a comment below!

This article was originally published on FlightandScarlet.com.

Take some time away from the stress and team up with a vina to hit up a local yoga class! 

 

MEDITATION IS NOT JUST A SOLO ACTIVITY – HERE’S WHY

There are tons of good reasons to meditate. When I started, I couldn’t get through more than a minute, but my vina guru told me that it was a-okay. We all start somewhere with any new venture.

Gradually, that minute became two, and then three. Meditation increases your self awareness, pension for joy, and cardiovascular health. It is easily overlooked and yet quite possibly one of the best things you can do for yourself.

My above mentioned vina guru is the one who got me into it. I started with her sitting right next to me. It took that kind of support, that kind of push to get me on the floor with legs crossed and sage lit. For whatever reason – my own insecurity, no doubt – I felt like meditating wasn’t something I could do. However, having someone there with me was enough to start.

As the moments ticked by, I knew that if I was alone I would have gotten up and occupied myself with something else. Perhaps I would have rolled around on the floor and checked my Instagram. More likely, I would have given up.

There was something about the accountability of having a friend there with me that kept me on the floor. I remember thinking, “What if she’s deep in meditation and getting her inner peace on? Leaving might pull her away from that.” I stayed out of respect.

In staying, I tapped into the briefest flash of the shores of my mind. In an instance, I stopped thinking, stopped counting time, or wondering. It happened like the flickering of a lightbulb, so faint that I wasn’t sure it had happened at all. So I settled in the hope that I might find it again.

I didn’t find it again in that session, but I would continue to seek and find it in my practice during the years. As we sat there in her bedroom in Santa Fe, what I did find was a peace, warmth, and love that I am sure was a product of our bond. A kind of energy passed between the two of us that I couldn’t have collected on my own.

Much of the time, I meditate by myself for a few minutes at the start or end of my day. When I can, I cherish that space after a yoga class where you and a bunch of strangers are just breathing and humming next to each other. On the very best of days, I wander back to Santa Fe and sit on that bedroom with my vina guru.

Meditating with a vina can get to you the floor, keep you there, heighten your energy recharge, and bring the two of you closer, but only if you’re willing to let someone in that inner space.

(Featured image via theculture.forharriet.com)

SAY AHHH… WITH THESE 4 RELAXING VINA-DATE IDEAS

We totally understand that life can get a little crazy sometimes, and the idea of adding socializing into the mix might seem impossible. We just think: if you need to unwind, why not do it with your vinas?

Here are four vina dates that require little more than sitting back, putting your feet up, and relaxing the day away.

HOST A GUIDED MEDITATION

It’s a proven fact that meditation can calm the mind. If you or vinas are new to the practice, a guided meditation is the perfect way to begin. You can find dozens of guided meditation tutorials for free on YouTube, or you can hire a local practicer to guide the group in person. As a host, all you’ll need is somewhere cozy to set up the group (like a living room or a backyard), and maybe add some light refreshments for afterwards. Clear your mind for a bit, and then sit back and enjoy the quiet with your guests.

ORDER IN

The creation of food delivery apps like Foodler, Caviar, and Uber Eats is truly a godsend. Don’t feel like cooking? Invite your vinas over for a night of ordering in and watching movies! Let the delivery men and women do the hard work for you, and all you have to do is decide on the type of cuisine.

BRING YOUR BOOK CLUB OUTSIDE

Whether it’s a calm day at the beach, park, or in your own backyard, you can relax and get some sun by bringing your bookclub into the outdoors. Don’t have a bookclub with your vinas? Use our tips to get one started and then have your first meeting out in the fresh air!

PAMPER YOURSELVES

Nothing screams (or whispers) relax like a good ol’ spa day with your gals. Stock up on the face masks, nail polish, and deep hair conditioning treatments, and spend the day pampering. You’ll all feel relaxed and refreshed in mind and body.

(Featured image via @_tianalewis)