a beginners guide to meditation
we all feel as though there are not enough hours in our days. we’ve become so accustomed to a hectic pace of life, full schedules, city traffic, travel and deadlines that many of us almost accept stress as normal.
BUT we are not built for chronic stress!
prolonged stress can in fact wreak havoc on your body and impact your digestive system and your skin directly. have you ever noticed how your digestion goes a little cray cray during a stressful period - perhaps you completely lost your appetite or mindlessly ate an entire packet of Tim Tams in one sitting?!
stress triggers what's know as the 'fight or flight' response. this results in decreased blood flow to your digestive muscles and reduced secretion of digestive enzymes. stress can also result in gastrointestinal inflammation, constipation or diarrhoea. so taking care of your emotional wellbeing is vital to keeping your stress levels in check.
some of the easiest ways to build time for relaxation into your day include regular exercise to release endorphins, taking a lunch break away from the computer and outside in the fresh air, or trying meditation to focus on deep breathing and calming the mind.
note: distraction is not relaxation, so put down the electronic devices!
if you're new to mediation or mindfulness it might feel a little overwhelming to know where to start. you might even be thinking you'll never be able to have an empty mind or that it's only for the zen. in fact, it's ok to still have thoughts and it's completely normal and all part of the process. it's about being present and letting these thoughts just come and go.
so how do you get started?
start by taking as many pauses as you can in the day to breathe slowly. place awareness on your out breath and slow your breathing right down, breathing from your belly, not your shoulders. this pulls you back into the present moment and turns off the fight-flight-freeze response. try and increase the time you spend doing this each day, counting in for 3 and out for 3.
if you'd prefer a little guidance, here are some of our favourite meditation apps to get you started:
with small change comes big rewards, and soon you'll not only be meditating easily, but will be making it a part of your daily habits as you see the results of reduced stress. how you handle stressful situations will also start to be easier.
for more wellbeing tips download our free gut health guide here