APRÈS

Après Sessions embrace embodied and progressive practices. Holistic Health. Train Your Brain. Find Your Freedom.

 

What’s next?  SESSION IT

 

Our holistic approach to optimal health and performance empowers you to discover your true potential.

 

Everything we do is about finding your freedom.

 

Why “Après”? Because “after” coaching, you will find your line.   

 

Inspired by riding mountains and surfing oceans, Après Coaching Sessions are a nod to the discipline and diligence necessary to master these epic environments, the freedom found in doing so, and the reward of post-excursion celebrations known as après-ski. Après Sessions, on and off the mountain, are holistic meaning an integrated whole experience.

 

Holistic health coaching considers the whole human system to spearhead what we find in the state of “flow” resulting in optimal performance and wellness in all realms of life.

 

Joni Madere - Teach. Coach. Consult.

 

HOLISTIC HEALTH, HOLISTIC HEALTH COACHING, HUMAN DESIGN, LIFESTYLE DESIGN, LIFESTYLE, FOOD, WHOLE FOODS, NUTRITION, EAT, SLEEP, DRINK WATER, MOVE, EXERCISE, FITNESS, YOGA, MEDITATION, COACH, COACHES, COACHING, HEALTH, WELLNESS, HEALING, LIFE, MINDSET, GOALS, CAREER, BUSINESS, EXECUTIVE, STARTUP, STARTUPS, CREATIVES, ARTISTS, ENTREPRENEURS, NEUROBIOLOGY, PSYCHOLOGY, PHYSIOLOGY, TECHNOLOGY, PHARMACOLOGY, FIND YOUR FREEDOM, FREEDOM, MIND BODY SPIRIT, MINDBODY, TRAVEL, TRAVEL WELL, TAKE LIFE BACK, TAKE ACTION, MAKE IT HAPPEN, FIND YOUR LINE

Filtering by Tag: meditation

Adrenal Fatigue

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As mentioned, we can eat all the kale in the world yet remain far from well. Stress is actually the ultimate cause of dis-ease in our society. Tough to detect, adrenal fatigue is one of many forms of dis-ease due to stress.

Types of Stress:

1. Physical Stress – accidents, injuries, falls, traumas, poor posture

2. Chemical Stress – from poor nutrition, smoking, drinking alcohol to toxic chemicals and hormones in food, water, personal products, cleaning products to bacterias, viruses, heavy metals; these affect blood sugar levels, hormone levels and much more.

3. Emotional Stress – family tragedy, major illness of a loved one, loss of a loved one, job loss, finances, divorce, strained relations, traumas small and large, negativity loops

When I couldn’t figure out what was going on in my body despite being a life-long athlete and healthy eater with a daily yoga/meditation practice, I had a big huge puzzle to solve. Once I got through the bulk of it, I came to my own conclusion that my adrenal glands were fatiqued. I had been doing all the right things for so long, but the severe stress from simultaneous multiple sources (several times in the span of several years) got the best of me and my adrenals were no longer doing their job. Given the way adrenals work, they were actually working overtime, akin to pressing the gas pedal and the brake at the same time.

Over 80% of us will experience adrenal fatigue multiple times over in our lives. It’s an epidemic that many people have no idea exists. And most often stems from chronic stress which can affect every physiological system in your body including your thyroid and adrenal glands.

The symptoms of adrenal fatigue include, but are not limited to:

weakness
lack of energy
trouble concentrating
depression
anxiety
insomnia
waking up feeling unrested
crashing mid-morning or mid-afternoon
becoming “wired” in the evening
decreased ability to handle stress
easily confused
forgetful
trouble completing tasks once found easy
hoarse voice
poor digestion
constipation
body aches
lack of interest in sex
increased struggle with PMS and menstrual cycle
weight gain around mid-section
food and environmental allergies
postpartum is often the result of adrenal fatigue as well

Because so many of these symptoms overlap with other issues, adrenal fatigue can be super tough to identify.

The adrenal glands are located directly above each kidney. Their duty is to promote hormones essential to your health including adrenaline and cortisol. It is believed that adrenals stop producing these hormones, when they are fatigued. However, this varies greatly based on any existing health issues such as hormonal imbalances, emotional stress, nutritional deficiencies and environmental factors. So, they actually swing back and forth between producing too much or too little hormones. This fluctuation is what creates fatigue. It is as though the gas pedal and the break pedal are being pressed at the same time… often resulting in what is labeled today as “autoimmune disease”.

The adrenal glands are amazing. They give us the ability to get through challenges such as short-lived stress and highly charged emotional experiences. However, if the stress is chronic, lasting for a long time or constantly recurring, the adrenals will behave erratically and become fatigued. Unfortunately, these days this type of stress is all too common in all realms of life. Under these conditions, not only do the adrenals become fatigued, but the adrenaline emitted specifically becomes acidic and corrosive. Our bodies can handle brief emissions to protect ourselves, but when this quality of adrenaline is constantly flooding our system it can also become damaging to the brain, liver, pancreas, and more.

Questions to ask yourself beyond simply creating awareness of the symptoms listed above:

•  Are you addicted to the adrenaline rush of action sports?
•  Do you get a rush from meeting every single demand of the day as a working single mother or entrepreneur?
•  Are you so into meeting the expectations of your work or family or fans that you skip lunch relying on the high of the “wins” to get you through the day?
•  Is what is being asked of you by your boss or even your lifestyle straight up ridiculous?

Recovery

It took me a long time to figure out what adrenal fatigue was much less truly recover. While everyone is unique, I made a lot of shifts over a long period of time within my already optimally performing self and several years later I am now functioning at the exceptional level within body, mind and the big doozie, emotions/spirit/whateveryouchoosetocallit. While I recently had neurofeedback that still showed high levels of activity in the area of the brain that houses emotional trauma, that information allowed me to at least go easy on myself and better allow huge triggers to pass. Now you know there is something lurking around the next corner that is gonna try to take my flame away, so this is why we move beyond optimization and tweak and turn the levers at every level so that when we get caught off guard - because we will - we are at least somewhat prepared.

Due to a prior health scare, I had already put extra attention on my nutrition, yet tweaked it more to focus on fatigue.  I left my career. I took a good chunk of time off even though I felt like I financially could not, which in truth was a very risky move. But everything in my gut told me it was absolutely necessary. I kept one small client in place, dropped into some education, and went surfing – a lot. I shifted some of my yoga practices to more receptive and restorative, I skipped running and walked a lot more.

I took my social life down to almost nothing. I stayed in and rested – a lot. Socializing mostly included seeing friends at daily yoga and maybe grabbing lunch or tea afterwards. I rarely went out at night. I drank almost zero alcohol. I ate as well as I could, but without being neurotic about it. And I ate when I was hungry which resulted in lots of grazing. I listened to my body and tried to give it what it needed. And I went to bed early, rested a lot, and essentially spent a lot of time horizontal. I made art. I studied and read – a lot. I let go of friendships that lacked depth. I let go of all relationships that were out of balance within the individual and regarding how the individual related to me and with me. I lived at the ocean and took full advantage of its healing waters as much as I could. As in getting into the water as often as possible even though it is cold year-round. I put my bare feet on the ground every single day. I finally fully taught myself to surf – something I had wanted to do for years, but with work and life didn’t have the time nor energy to battle the waves nor the people in the waters of Los Angeles.

I felt guilty about all of this which was not helpful. But I did it anyway. This went on for a few years until I began to gain some pep in my step. After all, it had become almost impossible to get out of bed at one point which lasted for months, and this began to occur a few months after I had quit my career. So yeah – LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

It takes copious amounts of self-care to reset one’s system. Yet it is 100% necessary.

These ideas will certainly assist with adrenal fatigue as well as many other chronic issues that more often than not result from other things in life, not just how well you eat, exercise or even meditate.

If any of this rings true for you, by all means get in touch with me. I can provide further offerings towards methods and modalities to continually reset your parasympathetic nervous system so that it finds its way back to naturally accessing the rest and relaxation response. All resulting in overall stress reduction which is likely the primary root cause of your adrenal fatigue. Never feel guilty about self-care. Good luck and please let me know how you’re doing.

Neurochemicals That Make You Go Hellllllll Yeah

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At Après Sessions, we are coming from a place where we constantly push ourselves, historically most often in the great outdoors, finding challenge in action sports, nudging ourselves right up to the edge and just beyond our comfort zones. We do so, not only physically and mentally, but with additional risk that instantaneously pushes the brain to produce specific neurochemicals that make you feel… well... there are no words to do that state justice.... just "Helllllll Yeah!".

Much like a “runner’s high” or being “in the zone” or the transcendent places meditation can take us, it feels amazing with the added mega-bonus feel good of gracefully riding gravity which can only truly be met in a few other select ways. But we will keep it rated PG for now.  

For many of us, these experiences have saved us. For many, they become addictive and take many, athletes in particular, to a place of risking everything. We in fact lose many people to the high who can never quite get enough of the high. However, that bit of additional risk is what forces us to focus to the point where the brain drops into altered states of consciousness allowing for more creativity, much more efficient productivity, and seemingly extraordinary performance. These states of consciousness where you feel and perform your best are what some people chase for a lifetime, which can result in both positive or negative results, dependent upon checking ourselves day in and day out. With all of the research taking place as we speak, we are learning how to tap into these altered states in all realms of life in healthier and much more balanced ways for best results across the board while feeling freaking amazing. 

The nitty gritty of it all is that that added bit of risk shuts down the frontal lobe of the brain so that we move away from beta brain waves (thinking, analytical, planning, assessing) toward alpha waves (calm, lucid, reflective mind, diffused awareness) and theta waves (deeper awareness, stronger intuition, from focus to meditation) that allow for a more self-trusting state of being, running on instinct, intuition, and toward best decisions.

While I touched on brain waves in prior posts on neuroscience and team brain function, I also hinted at the neurochemicals activated. Let’s dive in a little deeper now.

When we are in beta brain waves, where we spend most of our days, we are thinking, analyzing, and struggling to a certain degree, and producing cortisol and norepinepherine/adrenline. These are not necessarily negatives, they are just what get us to come online, become alert and pay attention.

Then as we leave this phase, nitric oxide releases and next dopamine kicks in telling us we are onto something, our pattern recognition kicks in, this starts to feel rewarding. We follow that feeling and continue to pay attention.  Endorphines follow, we start feeling really good, we feel no pain, and then there is a hit of anandamide that prompts lateral thinking. This lateral thinking is a step beyond our normal waking states of consciousness. So called downloads occur and we can connect dots in ways that we would not normally see. Breakthroughs occur. These incredible moments of arrival arise anywhere from within science to art to sport.

Why does this matter? Because the people reaching these states in balanced ways are the happiest people in the world. And most of these people have, unknowingly even, built their lives around this state of mind. This can look a lot of different ways and in fact just took me back to college days where we lived on State Street, a famous little street only a few blocks long in Baton Rouge, LA where friends in a college band penned the song, “State Street State of Mind”. While that song may not have referenced the most balanced state of mind, we have realized that this more harmonious way of living in a focused yet uber fun lifestyle is what will make this world a better place. We come together, we share, we learn, we train, we play, we create, we party, we move into a mode of being in these states as often as we can throughout each day making the time on earth its very best for you, your family, your chosen family, your friends, your teams, your life.

We all have not only the ability, but the right, to access and benefit from these neurochemicals because they are already there in our very own human design anxiously awaiting us to awaken and have some serious fun.

Getting Gritty and Going One Step Beyond

We aren't just speaking on your athletic endeavors or your success in business, your wedding ring, nor your social media following. Well, some of those things are pieces of the puzzle regarding getting gritty to get to where you want to be. But the external is far from what is authentically living a holistic lifestyle. Appearances are one thing. Only you know what is truly going on within your world.

Did a potential business partner question why you negated what they brought to table per your request? Were you respectful and authentic in your response? Did you respond at all? One example. These types of life happenings are always worth revisiting. The only way to go beyond is to first acknowledge what is.

The willingness to get a little gritty - and even a little scrappy - to get to where we want to be begins by committing to cultivating awareness. Meditation is certainly one way to begin.

Cultivating Awareness of the Necessary External Grit + Cultivating Awareness of the Necessary Internal Grit = Change is a Comin’ 

If you haven’t already become aware of the external grittiness necessary, welp, that would be step one. The things you want do not formulate out of thin air. But if you are here, you already know this.

Whether you want to step up a level within your physical health or within all of your relationships, by cultivating awareness of external grit, I’m referring to the physicality and the tenacity. The next step of taking daily action will not happen without cultivating awareness. Yes, this may seem obvious. But there are also key elements to working smart versus working hard. Ask me.

The action includes the commitment to rise each day and not just move through the day, but move through best practices. We move through rituals and movement, through the things we want to do least, moving from duty to duty, meeting others halfway, with willingness to let go of things (that cocktail or toke, for example) and people (self-serving, needy, codependent, et al) who pull us off track. We stay the course and constantly course correct until we close our eyes each night.

The internal grit is not always so obvious. However, it is far more important and exactly what lends to our ability to gracefully move through the external grit – and then some. Anyone can elbow his or her way through a race, or into a meeting, or even into a relationship. So circle back to… how you do anything is how you do everything. Most importantly, this internal tenacity is what lends to our ability to navigate what lurks in the shadows, inevitably popping up when we least expect it.

This internal grit - the willingness to look at oneself every single day - and how to navigate what comes up, is no small task. Why? Because it means not only discovering what is your part in what you don’t like in your life, but actually owning your part in what you don’t like in your life. Life is not fair. Many are handed far too many experiences beyond their control. However, with tools and techniques at our fingertips – because we have practiced them so much - we can cultivate an environment of welcoming these challenges with an open mind seeing them as gifts versus anything with negative connotation. No small feat.

If you just balled your eyes out to someone you hardly know. No sweat. It happens. We come back to our “beginner’s mind”, we notice, breathe, inquire, see and meet what comes up both big and small with curiosity, gain understanding, learn the lessons, integrate them, and eventually transition through them to where we prefer to stand tall. Much like the yoga pose example, we cannot ever ignore the difficult dark parts of the psyche because they will eventually take us down much like falling out of that yoga pose due to lack of a strong base and quiet mind.
This newfound awareness often requires a neutral eye so that we can uncover what we cannot see in ourselves.

Everyone has these blind spots. An example would even be repetitive phrases we no longer hear ourselves saying because we have been repeating them for so long. Sometimes a friend repeating this back to us can not only be revealing, but a little shocking. As Gloria Steinem said,

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

So while it will still piss us off, it is usually much better received and integrated with the correct info, tools, and techniques from a more neutral perspective.

Revealing what we cannot see on our own may require stepping out of one’s comfort zone by hiring said neutral eye. Within holistic health coaching, we too, hire coaches. My most recent hire is someone who excelled to the point of being able to fully retire for the rest of his life at under the age of 35. Instead of wooping it up on an around the world vacation, he decided to step further into his purpose, dove deep into self transformation work, and now coaches and consults within business and life to share what he learned and support the growth and progression of others. Hiring accountability comes with this whole trendy cliché, but truth, of “one step beyond our comfort zone is where the magic happens”.

This often means stepping way far beyond where our egos wanna go. Egos get a bad rap. We need the ego to make shit happen. But like anything else out of balance they too will hold us back. Doesn’t matter if our ego is blown up or shot down, either way, there is lack of balance.

Perhaps our ego being out of balance does not hold us back in our work given this is a lot of surface/external/material stuff. But if not in our work, perhaps it has held us back in our intimate relationships, or even in an area no one but ourselves are aware of, but that we must resolve within ourselves in order to find peace.

It’s much easier to step into “I’m going to be the best at XYZ so I’m going to travel halfway across the world to do XYZ with world renowned XYZ and publicize it for the world to see. This may assist in finding material success, but then there it is for all to see... the very apparent, even in high performers, continual seeking of validation from outside sources versus within oneself. Therefore, it is super to work with a coach who has also done the deep personal work, not to perfection, but to vast understanding, in supporting our own deep dives towards transformation.

Circling back - notice I said zones - plural. Yup – within all realms we must look within, find the gritty darker sections and move through them versus around them. Much like that yoga pose, you can go through all sorts of contortions to get to what looks like the pose to the untrained eye. But upon closer inspection there are all sorts of body parts out of alignment. This means we might get to the pose – for a second or two – but we will not be able to maintain the pose without doing the practice it takes to achieve strength, flexibility, and correct, safe alignment, essentially the truths. And even those able to hold the pose – that too is external. Transitioning that work off of the yoga mat is essential. Finding, building, maintaining these truths eventually leads to day-in and day-out practices including comfortably, effortlessly holding that yoga pose sans the physical and mental gymnastics – while calmly, smoothly, and surely breathing. 

The natural inclination is to avoid the yoga poses we do not like. These are the poses that we usually need to lean into and practice. Regarding embodied cognition – if our heart has been broken, moving through “heart openers” can literally be physically as well as emotionally extremely confronting. But eventually, opening these areas of the body physically, can lend to opening them back up emotionally. This is embodied cognition at its finest. Same in other realms of life - we run away from the parts we don’t like, that may not feel good, that scare us, that we just don’t want to deal with, while they are exactly what we need to face, head on, stepping out of our comfort zones, right through the door into our full capacities and everything we really want.

So how do we be sure to incorporate getting gritty?

With daily rituals, structure, meditation, movement you can quickly be on your way each day. Ready to après? Session it. But truly getting gritty internally, what some therapists and coaches term “shadow work”, is where we can really level up, which washes out into the world in beautiful positive waves. And then there is always another level, right? I would be happy to suggest a few ways I have personally employed plus some exciting upcoming offerings. Super excited to guide you and your teams through these processes. #SessionIt

Neuroscience Nerds Unite

From Yoga Nerd to Brain Nerd

I am far far away from being a neuroscientist. But… as a yoga nerd, I accidentally became a brain nerd. Following up on Meditation Basics - meet Neuroscience Tidbits. A brief and basic touch on neurochemicals, brain waves and why meditation works.

Without going into the ins and outs of the neurochemicals at play, I feel the need to point this out. Neurochemicals and our brain waves do ridiculously amazing things and while our body has been practicing, our brain has also been practicing. Specifically within action sports, we catapult ourselves into death-defying realms, where suddenly nothing else matters, which feels like no words could ever describe. If you flow, you know.

But it is highly possible to access these states in many other ways. So yes, we jump off of cliffs on our bikes and skis to automatically (sometimes) send ourselves into that beautiful and addictive neurochemical nirvana. And that’s cool. These folks who have mastered their skill set certainly gain accolades, athlete sponsorships and get paid a hell of a lot of regard. But the question remains – are they able to access that same state any time, any place, in any situation – living a holistic and truly well lifestyle? Think: On a yoga mat? In an intense conversation? In Los Angeles traffic? Day-to-day with family? Are they humble? Are they kind? Are there addictive or negative tendencies in other realms of life that would not equate to similar accolades? I can give many examples, personally and professionally, that point directly to NO.

On the other hand, we also can’t all go sit in a cave and practice meditation for 30 years to activate those same neurochemicals to cultivate that constant transformational elevated and perfectly peaceful state of a Buddhist monk.

Ultimately, in order to be well, live in harmony, creating peace versus unrest, our aim must be to cultivate this state, this experience, within all realms of life so that we can access remnants of it no matter what insane challenges life throws our way. It is not easy. It will be a challenge that arises regularly. And it requires stepping up, which will no doubt bring more challenge and test you in the most unexpected and intense ways.

The ski bum might effortlessly rip lines down crazy couloirs, but what does the rest of life look like? The uber successful tech guy might be making millions, but what does the rest of life look like? The seemingly perfect mother with impeccably clean and well-dressed children – is it all really so perfect?

Within the space of utter bliss in whatever we do, there is always the flip side. The flip side, more often than not, does not reside in the physical realm. It resides in the mental, emotional and much more subtle realms. Rituals, structure, movement, meditation, breath, great nutrition - for you very specifically, getting outside, conscious relationship skills, spirituality or any term that works for you, living and work environment, social life, service, creativity, finances and career, continuing education and overall lust for life … if only these all deemed sponsorships, big bucks and glory, right? And if only, when you thought you totally had your shit together in your 20’s, 30’s, 40's, you were right, right?

The takeaway is that just because people are capable of finding fleeting glimpses of oneness and pure bliss in the physical realm does not mean they have it all figured out in reference to holistic health and overall wellbeing. It does not mean it translates over to mental and/or emotional realms and quite often it is quite the opposite.

The talented artist, the unbelievable athlete, the million dollar suit, yes - even the world renowned yoga teacher, the seemingly perfect mother, the ever-giving social worker – all must also access the subtle realms that truly cultivate self-awareness, awareness of others, and how the two are intricately and inextricably connected. We all get yanked in different directions on the daily, but it is totally possible to foster an environment where we are meeting our needs and others equally, where our brain waves slow down bringing us to even deeper states of awareness and the perfect cocktail of neurochemicals show up to the party every day and every night. What is this mix? How can we incorporate it on the daily? Let's Après.

5 Categories of Brain Waves + How They Relate to Meditation

            1. Gamma
            2. Beta
            3. Alpha
            4. Theta
            5. Delta

            1. Gamma Waves  - active learning, hyperactivity, most opportune time to retain information. Life Coach Tony Robbins employs techniques of overstimulation by having his clients jump up and down and dance which supports the prior in part by decreasing anxiety

            2. Beta Waves – thinking mind, logical, working, analytical, planning, assessing, categorizing, pre-frontal cortex – where we spend most of our day

            3. Alpha Waves – where waves start to slow down, moving from thinking to calm, peaceful, anchored, lucid, reflective, slightly diffused awareness, sometimes spacey like after an awesome yoga class. Yoga, walks in the woods, pleasurable sex are examples that lead our brains to this place where the body and mind relax and neural integration occurs.

            4. Theta Waves – thinking/verbal mind transitions to meditative/visual mind, able to begin meditation, move into deeper states of awareness (often felt as drowsy), stronger intuition, more capacity for wholeness and complicated problem solving.

            5. Delta Waves – that oh so elusive state Tibetan monks who meditate for decades reach. Most of us reach this state during deep dreamless sleep.

A simple meditation with focus on the breath can help you transition from Beta or Alpha to Theta state. The more time we spend here, the more we are able to cultivate deeper awareness, elevated levels of intuition, trusting our gut, becoming more creative and open to receive solutions to problems, we will work smarter versus harder and generally gracefully moving forward in the world. What is my simple daily meditation? Ask me. I would be more than happy to walk you through it.

KEY TO SUCCESS: Consistency. 5 minutes per day, every single day.

Meditators are regenerating on a cellular level resulting in youth, vitality, and optimal wellness.

       87% decrease in chances of heart disease
       55% less chance of getting cancer           
           
Need More Motivation? Well then - here is why mediation works:

            Because it forces us to be in the present moment.

            It forces us to focus on what’s right in front of us, which becomes a habit. (Rather than worrying about what anyone else is doing.)

            When you are right here right now, you are FREE.

            Our mind has a natural negativity bias. It is wired to remember negative experiences to protect us. It takes effort and practice to strengthen the positive flexible parts of the mind that keep us honed in on the big picture - clear perception - and one pointed focus. This leads to progression > fulfillment > success > happy life.

            Transforms negative thoughts. That downward spiral is real. It gets the best of the best. Meditation brings you back to neutral ground.

            Teaches us to accept what comes up, moment to moment, without judgment. Start where you are and it will, with time and consistency, translate to all realms of life.

            Supports ditching the drama – ask about this one as we will dip into depth psychology.

            Banishes your inner critic. One we may have no idea even exists – but it does. And that guy will hijack you when you least expect it. The inner critic includes, but does not limit itself to:
            comparing ourselves to others
            negative self-talk
            paranoia
            insecurities
            focusing on what we did wrong rather than what we did right

Just to name a few because the inner critic does not like to shut up.

KEY TO SUCCESS: Yes, again... Consistency. 5 minutes per day every single day works wonders compared to 30 minutes every few days. Drop in. Every single one of us has 5 minutes.

Meditation Basics

While most folks teaching, coaching and consulting within holistic health are not scientists, it has been refreshing to not only know deep in your bones that what you have practiced in your mind and body truly works, but that science is now backing it. 

Science has now proven that meditation restructures the brain. Therefore it literally changes our mind and in turn uplevels our lives.

We think over 70,000 thoughts per day. And whether we want to believe it or not, they totally create our realities.

Yes, yes, yes, some folks just cannot imagine a daily moving meditation such as a yoga asana class much less sitting in daily meditation. I’ve been there. However, the day just may come when this is something that will prove to be useful. Knowing that it is scientifically proven to be of use – why not challenge yourself and give it a whirl? It won’t likely be easy. Shit will come up. But that’s the point.

Within those 70,000 thoughts every single day of your life, there are both empowering uplifting thoughts and negative thoughts whirling like a dervish in a repetitive feedback loop. Meditation serves you in that it gives you the freedom of choice. It generates space to notice the thoughts and change them. In time you will not only have the awareness to choose, but to further notice whether any thought reduces or replenishes your energy. Please note that this is very different from ignoring anything that comes up that doesn’t feel good. It is of utmost importance to deepen your curiosity about what feels “bad”, investigate it, dive much deeper into it, in order to learn ways to transmute it. For now, the opportunity you give yourself to change the thought is your first opportunity to create change.

We now also know stress is proving to be the ultimate contributor to much of the dis-ease we experience today. The word ‘stress’ did not even exist a few decades ago.

Acute stress is a specific response to a real or anticipated trigger. It is temporary. Work demands, preparation for a new baby, divorce, and car accidents are all examples. Chronic stress is an intrinsic response based on your past experiences that wires your brain to be on alert to defend from the source of the stressor. This stems from stressors such as growing up in a violent neighborhood, constant financial strife, or ongoing physical illness. These often lay deep in the subconscious and play out by way of the psyche forming defense mechanisms such as rigid thinking, prejudices and exaggerated fears. Going back to embodiment, the physical body will even transform itself to protect itself. Think – caved in chest, slumped shoulders, spine shaped like a cashew – as one visual example.

The physical experience of stress is as follows: 1) stressful event occurs, 2) body sends sensory message to brain about the event, 3) brain interprets sensory data as positive or negative, 4) if negative, brain sends message back to the body to respond.

Responses include: releasing stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, muscle tension, extraction of vital energy out of the organs to prepare for “fight or flight”.  When we are living with chronic stress, our bodies are never given the opportunity to recover. Our bodies continue to try to protect themselves and the parasympathetic nervous system is unable to reset itself. This can go on for years and years in a vicious cycle resulting in weight gain, heart disease, adrenal fatigue and on and on.

Meditation is one of the best ways to reduce inflammatory stress from all of the above examples in a constructive daily way.

Meditators are regenerating on a cellular level resulting in youth, vitality, and optimal wellness.
     87% decrease in chances of heart disease
     55% less chance of getting cancer           

Research also shows that practiced meditators may have an increase in tissues in brain areas that involve impulse control and attention. 

Research also shows that people who meditate may be kinder than those who do not. 

The two main neurological factors:

1. The Amygdala Gland

            Inside the “thinking mind”, this is the part of the brain that processes anxiety and stress. Meditation reduces activity in the amygdala thereby the severity of the experience of stress. It also regulates emotions.

2. The Hippocampus

            The hippocampus activates learning and is responsible for housing our memories. Meditation lights up this area of the brain increasing our capacity to work with both sides of our brain (neural integration), support stronger memory and problem solving skills, and allow for more vivid creativity.

Meditation literally weaves new neural pathways to create new ways of thinking. Our neurotransmitters fire faster so new tissues can be generated (neuroplasticity). This proves we are physically transforming the tissue of our brains through the power of awareness and thought. 

There are many styles of meditation and some meditation teachers choose to break it down and analyze it thoroughly, which is amazing and helpful to many. For me, I prefer not to overthink it and depend on my simple practice learned from my teachers along the way. There is no one way and there is no right way. Find a way that works for you. While you may need to utilize moving meditations (individually and with no digital devices recommended) for years before being able to sit still, that is A-OK. Implementing a daily seated practice is 100% achievable for anyone.

Want to know more about how trail running as a moving meditation is similar, but does not quite deliver the same benefits? Session It

More reasons to meditate? Ask me... and here's a big one.

What is my simple meditation practice? Ask me.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. – Viktor E. Frankl