Check out my live videowith some tips to get your meditation practice started.
Starting a meditation practice can be daunting. We have these images in our mind that meditation is sitting quietly on a mountain top, in lotus legs, hands turned up on the knees, eyes closed in rapture, and exuding the bliss of enlightenment. Um, I don’t know about you, but that aint practical for me.
Before diving in, it is helpful to define what a meditation practice is and isn’t.
What meditationÂ isn’t is making the thoughts in our head stop. We are human and we are living in the real world. Our thoughts will never cease. We need thoughts to get us through every day. To help us make sense of the world we are a part of.
What meditation is, is the process of seeing these thoughts as the thinking mind separate from how we actually are. We are not our thoughts. Who we truly are and our thinking mind are two separate parts inextricably connected.
A meditation practice can be what we imagine above, or it could be washing the dishes. The key is the way in which you do the practice, that you do it in earnest, you practice regularly, and do it with purpose.
You will have setbacks. There will be days when you come out more frustrated than you went in. You will have days where it is impossible to concentrate. Remember, that isn’t you, that is your thinking mind. Let it be upset you didn’t “succeed at meditation” and then look at that desire to succeed with discernment rather than judgement that you couldn’t do it.
There will also be days where you are completely tapped in. When you have a set back, remember these connected days. See if you can bring that Â deep sense of connection and see if you are able to refocus your efforts.
Here are some tips I have for starting a meditation practice.
Find a spot where you will always meditate. Let it be a place that is free from interruption and distraction.
Pick a time, morning is ideal to help set our day up to be amazing.Â
Choose the type of meditation you will do before you sit down to meditate and stick with it for at least 30 days before trying a new one.
Have a test amount of time. Can be as little as five minutes.
According to Ayurveda, spring is the Kapha season. Kapha is a blend of water and earth elements which give it qualities like heavy, dense, wet, cool, slimy, dark, smooth, liquid, stable. These are not to been seen as negative qualities, but qualities in of themselves. We need these qualities in our life to function. Without the heavy and dark qualities it would be difficult to sleep. Without stability, we would fall apart. Without liquid or slimy qualities, our joints would dry out.
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In spring time these qualities are more abundant and directly affect us so it is important to take care to not let ourselves be overwhelmed by them. Like increases like and opposites balance is an adage closely followed in Ayurveda.Â By adding light, dry, warm qualities throughÂ lifestyle practices and diet choices it is possible to bring balance to the qualities of Kapha and prevent them from taking over and creating that sluggish, don’t want to get off the couch feeling and add spring to your step!
Think of the “spring cleaning” ritual many of us follow with our homes. It is the same thing with our body. We need to shake out the cobwebs we accumulate over winter to make space for the fun of summer and begin to feel light on or feet.
If we are wise, we begin to incorporate the practices just when the weather is starting to turn from winter to spring to reduce things like allergies and colds as much as possible. But it’s never too late!
Start to move your body more! Exercise is critical to keeping the heavy and sluggish qualities at bay. Every day move your body for at least 30 minutes. This does not have to be high intensity or all in one take, simply walking, or dancing in your living room counts!
Kapalabhati Breathing is also a great way to bust up excess Kapha. Kapha tends to collect in the lungs and airway, which is why it is important to breathe deeply. To do this, sit tall, have a tissue on hand, forcefully heal air through your nose. Your inhale will happen on it’s own. If you feel light headed, take a break or stop. Always be safe and listen to your body.
Doing a saline rinse with a Neti Pot helps keep the cilia in the nostrils functioning at full capacity to help filter allergens, dust, and other pathogens keeping galleries and colds at bay.
Drink your beverages warm or room temperature (At least no ice!). Because Kapha has the cold quality already, we don’t want to aggravate it and further reduce our body’s ability to digest the food we eat.
Incorporate more foods with bitter, astringent and pungent tastes and try to reduce sweet, sour, and salty tastes. In Ayurveda, sweet is more than sugar and candy. Sweet is anything that has a sweet taste like dairy, heavy meats like red meat or pork, wheat, etc. Replace flour with amaranth, millet, oat, barley, or buckwheat.
Have your meals warm to make them easily digestible. During the spring, our digestion is not as strong, so eating fully cooked foods that are warm make it easier to digest to the food. Make dinner your lightest meal or if you’re digestion is particularly sluggish, you may consider skipping dinner all together for a short period of time.
Begin to reduce oily, cold, dense, and sweet foods like fried foods, avocados (I know, it’s a bummer. Don’t have to give them up entirely, just reduce to like once per week and you can bring them back in full force over the summer!), soy, sweet potatoes, olive oil, cucumbers, bananas, oranges, dairy, etc.
All Stuffed Up this Spring? Clear Up with Neti Pot
Spring is beginning bloom with blossoms beginning to open, leaves growing on trees, birds chirping, and with it, possibly allergies and congestion. If seasonal allergies are something that create discomfort and prevent you from stopping to smell the roses, the Neti pot (or nasal rinse) is here to help!
What Is It?
A Neti pot (pronounced naytee) is a small, usually, porcelain vessel resembling a small watering can. The pot is filled with a saline solution which is poured in one nostril and flows out the other using gravity. Rinsing the nasal passages has become a widely used practice and it is now possible to buy saline rinses at your local drug or grocery store if using a Neti pot is cumbersome.
What Does It Do?
A saline rinse for the nose helps clear mucous from the nasal passage and keeps the cilia (the little hairs in your nose) flexible to keep catching allergens and other irritants from entering the respiratory tract. When mucous builds up in the nose and nasal cavity, the cilia get bogged down and stuck to the skin in the nose preventing them from moving freely and collecting irritants. The Neti pot gives theses little hairs in the nose a bath so they stay flexible and free to catch all the pesky stuff floating around that create allergies, colds, and congestion.
Helps clear congestion due to allergies and oncoming colds
Improves speed and coordination of the cilia
Thins mucous to flush nasal passage
Keeps the head clear, when we can breathe it allows for movement of energy
Balances nervous system
Supports upper respiratory health
When to Use It
Daily/weekly for prevention and maintenance
Seasonal shifts, especially winter to spring and summer to fall
When allergy or cold symptoms begin to present
Before and after traveling, during if you’re able to bring it with you
What You Need
1/4 tsp non-iodized salt (sea salt or prepared nasal rinse salt)
1 cup water (distilled or boiled and cooled to room temperature
Dissolve the salt in the Neti pot. If using boiling water, make sure it has cooled to a comfortable temperature. Never use hot water.
Place the opening of the Neti pot against one nostril to form a seal.
Begin to breathe out of your mouth, do not breathe through your nose.
Over a sink or water basin, tilt your head to the direction of the open nostril and slightly forward
Water will begin to drain through the nasal passage and out of the open nostril. Do not tilt your head back to prevent the saline solution from draining down your throat.
If the water gets stuck, you may need to adjust the tilt of the head slightly forward or more to the side to help the water flow more easily.
Use half of the mixture on on side and repeat the process on the other side.
When the Neti pot is empty, tilt your head forward over the sink or basin to let the remaining water drain from the nostrils. Do not blow your nose.
Using a tissue, gently wipe your nose and exhale through the nostrils into the tissue. You may need to do this more than once. Do not blow your nose.
Clean your Neti pot. Wash after each use with mild soap and dry well. It is is critical to keep your Neti pot clean and dry. If you have a plastic one, it may be dishwasher safe.
Use the Neti pot 2 to 4 times each week for maintenance throughout the year. This is different for everyone and you may choose to use it every day or once a week. Ideally, use the Neti pot in the morning before you start your day. However, it can be done any time during the day on and empty stomach. When pollen or allergens are high, as when seasons change, it is a good practice to use the Neti pot once per day. If you feel allergies or a cold coming on, use the Neti pot once per day to help ease symptoms or possibly prevent a cold, and for at least two weeks after symptoms have subsided. Return to maintenance schedule once major triggers and symptoms have subsided. Do not use the Neti pot while you are experiencing a cold.
You may discover one side is more congested than the other, and this may also change day to day. Experiment with which nostril it is most beneficial for you to start with. You may find the water flows more freely if you start with the Neti pot on the nostril that is more open. If you are experiencing severe allergy symptoms, you may want to use a full Neti pot in each nostril.
There are lots of Neti pots out there. I recommend porcelein, especially if you plan to use boiled water. You can allow the water to cool in the Neti pot or in whatever you used to boil the water. I donâ€™t recommend microwaving the water, or putting the water in a plastic Neti pot and then micrwaving. A tea kettle is a quick way to boil water. Always use clean water suitable for drinking.
It is also possible to buy salt specifically for nasal rinsing. These usually come with a measuring spoon. Generally, 1/4 tsp in 1 cup water is a good ratio. Experiment with the ratio that works best for you and your nose.
Use the Neti pot on an empty stomach. We all know what it is like to drink salt water, so you donâ€™t want food in your stomach if you accidentally get some saline down your throat and start to gag.
Always pay attention to the way practices effect your body. If you get nose bleeds regularly, donâ€™t use the Neti pot every day and always be aware of the way it effects your nose. For some people it may help to use Nasya Oil for the nostrils after using the Neti pot to help with the dryness.
Use clean water suitable for drinking. The water must be boiled or distilled. Boiled water must be cooled before using. If you forget about the Neti pot and it sits for too long, make a new one. Distilled water should not be used for more than one day. Once a water bottle has been opened, use what you need for the Neti pot and drink the rest.
DO NOT use the Neti pot if you are already sick or have a cold. It may aid with mild congestion and allergies, but has potential to make colds worse.
Yoga and Wellness With Angelina Fox · Angelina Fox, ERYT500, YACEP, SUP Yoga, Ayurveda Health Counselor, Certified, Insured, and CPR/First Aid/AED Trained Yoga Teacher – Washington DC and Northern Virginia, Alexandria and Lake Anna