Contemplate This!

Meditation was something for yogis and the crunchiest of granolas.

You know, something for people without their feet planted firmly on the ground. It was something they did to take them out of life – to become “detached” from all that was around them.

Or so I thought.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Just as yoga had quickly shattered my notion that it was simply about stretching the muscles, meditation has revealed how a spiritual practice effects the physical. Meditation grounds me so fully into myself and into my life that there are days when I can’t function (on a solidly practical level) without it.

Sitting in stillness quiets the inner voices calling out all the shoulds to my day.

It removes the worry about what others will think and gives me the freedom to just be who I am – one of the things that can suck my energy dry if I let it.

Along with yoga, meditation has become the logical antidote to our overly stimulating lifestyles, to the stress levels at the root cause of just about every ailment we currently know.

I love how mindfulness and breathing have trickled into the mainstream world of business, sports, medicine, law – everyone’s getting in on it.

It makes us more relaxed, more productive. Seems so counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? That taking time out of you jam-packed day to sit quietly would improve how you work. But it does.

Since starting my morning practice about a year ago, my ability to focus and stay on task has sky-rocketed. It’s effect is abundantly clear on the days when I don’t sit for those vital 10 minutes and I find myself back in some form of working-mom-ADD.

No lotus position required.

That’s the thing: It doesn’t take a huge investment in time. It doesn’t take any special equipment or cost a dime (unless you want to train more deeply).

Simply sit in a comfortable position – legs crossed or feet on the floor – so that your sitting bones are settled evenly on the cushion/chair/floor and your spine is straight.

Then breathe.

You can get apps to help with specific techniques, such as at where they have intro videos and a free trial period. (No, I’m not an affiliate.)

The simplest is to stay focused on the in & out of your breath, and label any thoughts as such and let them float away as a cloud.

That analogy always seemed rather airy-fairy and elusive to me until I heard the folks at a headspace explain it like this:

The blue sky is there all the time, yet on grey days we focus on the clouds, letting them get us down or change the focus of our day. But, get in an airplane and there it is: perfectly blue sky.

Who you are, the essence of you, the seat of your gifts is like that blue sky: there all the time. Again, we focus on the clouds; our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, criticisms, bad news, etc. as the source of our self-definition. Like the clouds, these things are nothing more than what’s most readily visible in a given moment.

In the 10-15 minutes that I sit, I revel in the concrete sensation of being fully in touch with my essence. I’m reminded that it’s accessible all the time by simply parting the clouds.

Spending that time with that internal truth is just as valuable as spending 20 minutes playing with your child or chatting with your sweetie. It strengthens the relationship.

Acknowledge it or not, housewife or CEO, holistic practitioner or plumber, that deeper connection to self

  • Builds trust and improves the communication channels, giving you better access to your values, and priorities.
  • Helps you get clear about your needs
  • Eases the struggle with lifestyle choices…and business choices
  • Deepens the connection to Source and engages the Universe to move with you and for you, in whatever you undertake.
  • Improves your health and vitality. Unplugging from the constant buzz of the outside world gives your adrenals a break, which means better sleep, concentration, creativity. More libido and less belly fat. (Read more about those interactions here.)

When I was preparing the “recipe card” for vibrant health that I now hand around as a business card, the first “ingredient” was a no-brainer.

Warm your heart with daily contemplation until it holds the steady glow of a pilot light.

That’s the source of your inner glow, the heat that sparks any action you take, the flame of the gifts and integrity you spread to your loves ones, your community, to the world.

So I dare you, have a seat and breathe.

Try it for a few days then come and tell me what you’ve noticed. Or what’s changed for you in a big way if you’ve already got a practice going. When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Get your friends in on it too! Use any (or all!) of these social share buttons to dare them.


Sex and your Muffin Top

muffin top

You know effects of stress on your heart, your body, your health, your belly,…

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a super hero or a magic pill that could wipe the slate clean and slow down all those effects today?

There is!

The best part? It doesn’t come from a lab, deplete any natural resources or cost hundreds of dollars. You’ve got it already.

Stress and your Body

You know the story about the fight or flight response, right?

When something happens and you need to move fast. After the fact, the stress response goes into high alert for a certain time to make sure you’re out of the woods.

The good news is that, in this state, your adrenal glands pump out cortisol to keep you going like the Energizer bunny.

If your community has just been evacuated to a shelter because of a flood; if you just lost a loved one and have to keep putting one foot in front of the other through the funeral; if you were in a car accident and are recovering from whiplash and a broken leg, then good doses of cortisol are just what you need.

As one of the hormones of the endocrine system, cortisol impacts the entire system in the same way that one musician will influence the sound of an entire orchestra, for better or for worse. Click here for a quick physiology lesson to explain further.

Cortisol influences hunger, blood sugar levels, inflammation and libido, all for the sake of keeping you moving until you’re out of danger. Because that’s what the stress response is: a survival mechanism to get you out of danger.

However, when you’re under constant stress, day in and day out – yes, I’m talking to you, Ms-Trying-to-Do-it-All, with work, children (or trying to get pregnant), love life (or trying to have one), traffic, over-stimulation from TV. The drive and drama in your life + the caffeine you consume means you’re in chronic low-level stress mode all. the. time.

The bad news is that given too much reign, cortisol will keep playing its tune all day, every day.

In your body, cortisol
• Stimulates insulin: increases your hunger, decreases your satiety (feeling full), ultimately messes with your blood sugar
• Stimulates belly fat: enough said
• Displaces progesterone: reduces your sex drive, makes it harder to get pregnant, AND opens your body to the damaging effects of estrogen dominance
• Suppresses the immune system: makes you more susceptible to getting sick
• Suppresses melatonin production: makes it harder to sleep

OK in the short term, when you’re coping with a real emergency.

Not ok in the long term.

Which is why we need a super heroine to come along and keep that stress hormone in check!

Enter: Oxytocin

Not just for labouring women, this hormone is the champion of feeling safe, aka reducing danger signals and promoting the relaxation response.

Oxytocin reduces cortisol levels.

Think about it, in order to give birth to or nurse a baby, a woman must feel safe. This is an animal instinct. The “tagline” for the relaxation response is rest and digest: necessary to proper sleep and nourishment. (You wouldn’t take a nap or stop for a meal while you were fighting or fleeing, would you?)

Oxytocin improves digestion and sleep, and cuts the muffin top off at the pass.

Oxytocin is also known as the bonding hormone. Under its influence, babies bond to their mothers (and fathers), couples bond to each other, individuals bond to community.

Oxytocin creates connection.

What better way to find a sense of safety and reduce cortisol levels?

I suggest you take several doses of oxytocin daily:

1. Deep hugs
2. Massage or other body work
3. Hold a baby, play with a child, snuggle a pet
4. Hang out with your soul sisters – even through email, chat, texts and Facebook groups, the intimacy is real and has an impact on your physiology
5. Need an extra boost? Have an orgasm…or two…which, in the right company, means you’re deepening the connection to your self.

Have something to add to the list? By all means, tell us in the comments below. When you share your thoughts, you open the possibilities for others.

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