As you read this article, you are breathing. Without a thought, you are expanding your rib cage, letting in a full breath of air, filtering the air, and delivering oxygen to your cells. Incredible, isn’t it? And yet most of us don’t think about our breath.
Indeed, taking time to contemplate is a luxury. With constant demands on our time — kids, work, social life — it seems impossible to sit down and do nothing but think. Read more
Meditation has been around for thousands of years. As an umbrella term, ‘meditation’ can evoke an incredibly diverse set of practices and techniques, from simple relaxation and breathing techniques, to more intense versions of cognitive manipulation like suggestibility and hypnosis. And while there are certainly commonalities across disciplines, not all meditations are the same.
In the United States and the rest of the Western world in particular, there are two main practices that have swept the nation: Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation (TM). From meditation retreats, to books and courses and apps, there are hundreds of ways to choose and learn one of these practices and begin reaping the mental and physical rewards. But which should you choose? If you’ve learned one, is it worth moving on to the other? We’ll delve into exactly what these practices are and what sets them apart, look at which is best for beginner meditators, as well as what health benefits you can expect to see with both to ultimately help you answer what type of meditation might be the best for you and get you started on your meditation journey. Read more
In the face of so much stress, many are looking for anything that will help them calm down and become more healthy in today’s world. One of the best ways to do exactly that is to regularly practice deep breathing. However, many people are reluctant to try it, because it seems too simple. How can something as natural as breathing make such a big difference?
Most people breathe from their chest instead of from their diaphragm. This results in shallow breathing that taxes the body and doesn’t give it the amount of oxygen necessary to keep everything running at optimal function.
Did you savor each bite? Or was it gone in two seconds? Were you really present during that meal?
Often we finish our meals in a hurry because we’ve got another meeting coming up or we’re distracted by good company. You might even find yourself eating by yourself with your thoughts completely elsewhere.
While we can appreciate the taste, health benefits, and even appearance of our food; most of us don’t really pay attention to how we eat our meals.
However, it can be just as important and beneficial to be truly mindful of our eating habits.
The practice of mindfulness is simply to practice bringing your whole attention to the present moment. You can practice mindfulness through meditation or breathing, and now you can also bring mindfulness to eating. Read more
The National Institute of Health reports that 25 million American adults suffer from pain daily. This pain can can range from brief to long lasting, and minor to severe. Additionally, some 40 million Americans suffer sever pain on a regular basis.
Pain not only hurts, but can also have a deep impact on your everyday life.
Severe pain, whether in the form of migraines or bodily pain, can cause you to miss work and other important events in your life. For those suffering with chronic pain, the impact is even worse. While aspirin and prescription medications are viable options to combat pain, many are turning to complementary health services like yoga, massages, and meditation to help manage their pain on a daily level.
Those who wonder if meditation for pain actually works are in for a pleasant surprise.
Meditation has been recommended as a way to manage pain for numerous ailments, such as migraines, back pain, and chronic pain.
In our busy world, it’s hard to find a moment of relaxation. However, those moments are important to your health. When your mind is constantly pulled from one thought to another without a moment to recharge, stress mounts.
The great thing about mindfulness is that it’s a simple concept and there are many different ways to practice it. Mindfulness can be practiced while doing everyday chores or in a special, reserved moment of calm. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, try out these mindfulness practices below.
You’ve heard that being mindful can help you in a variety of situations. It helps reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and makes it easier for you to enjoy what’s going on in your present. One of the easiest ways to get into mindfulness is to start with mindful breathing.
By understanding how breathing exercises help you be more mindful and give you several health benefits, and by learning about different types of breathing exercises you can do, you can figure out which ones to try, and which ones to use when you’re experiencing distress.
Why They Work
Breathing exercises are some of the easiest ways to get into being mindful. One of the biggest benefits of taking the time to breathe is that it calms your fight, flight, or freeze reflex. Deep breaths give our brain the ability to calm this response by helping our amygdala see that we are safe from harm.
The fast paced flow of the modern world makes it difficult to find peace of mind. Between work and home, there are plenty of excuses as to why you don’t have to time to relax.
It can be hard to switch your brain off, but making time to relax is important for both your physical and mental well-being.
For those struggling to find their zen moment, guided relaxation can be a good way to your train body and mind to discover calm.
What is guided relaxation? Simply put, it’s a form of meditation where an instructor gently guides you into a relaxed state.
Benefits of Guided Relaxation
Meditation is a simple way to calm your mind, but can seem difficult to incorporate and maintain in your everyday life.
However, once you add it into your daily routine, you can easily reap the benefits for years to come.
One study found that guided relaxation improves mood, reduces levels of clinical depression, and anxiety.
Combine the method with yoga and guided relaxation can even reduce activity in the sympathetic nervous system – the system in your body that is responsible for the fight or flight response.
Busy minds who struggle to relax will find that one of the biggest benefits of guided relaxation is that a calming voice is instructing you what to do. Following along with someone’s careful instructions means you can take the pressure off yourself.
With guided relaxation, there’s no need for previous training; all you need is a quiet place where you can listen carefully.
How Does Guided Meditation Work?
There are many types of guided relaxations you can follow along with. Most will use visualization techniques and deep breathing to effect positive changes.
Often times, the guide will ask you to visualize your stress and anxiety as an object that you can see yourself pushing away. After pushing away the object, they will guide you into a meditation that enhances feelings of positivity and calm.
More often, guided relaxations will ask you to participate in mindful breathing. Taking a breath is a fast and easy way to regain calm. In a guided meditation, you deepen or slow the breath so you can stay in that calm moment for longer.
Where to Find Guided Meditations for Relaxation
A quick search on Google will turn up plenty of guided meditations for relaxation. Each guide will have a different style and technique for leading you into relaxation, so don’t feel like you have to commit to one guide every day.
A great place to start is with guided meditation from the Plum Village monastery, trained by prominent mindfulness leader Thich Nhat Hanh.
Follow along with their full-body relaxation guide here:
In this guided meditation, the Plum Village monastery leads you to find compassion for your body, discover more calm and fall into a deeper sleep.
For a simpler guided relaxation that focuses more on your breath, follow along with Spire co-founder Neema to develop clinical-strength calm.
To find more guided meditations, check out Spire’s Boosts where you can listen to guides for mindfulness, focus, and rest too.
Additionally, Spotify has a few good playlists of guided meditations for relaxation. The following playlist has over 100 tracks of calming meditations.
If you are more visually inclined, YouTube has a great selection of guided relaxation videos as well. This particular guided meditation video uses sounds and images of a peaceful beach to guide you into blissful, deep relaxation.
Guided meditation can help you develop a healthy relaxation habit that you deserve. Your brain needs to take a break just as much as your body does. Yet, so many of us often forget that.
With guided meditation, it becomes a little simpler to clear your mind and take that break. All you need to do is find a quiet place or plug in a pair of earphones to start relaxing.
If you still need a gentle nudge to take a break, Spire can help by sending you a notification when your breathing gets tense.
Refresh your energy, find some peace of mind, and discover calm with guided relaxations.
Mindfulness, the practice of bringing your mind into the present moment, is a powerful tool to help you discover during the craziness of the day. If you haven’t thought about adding it to your everyday life, it may be time to reconsider.
With all these benefits, it’s no surprise that TED has invited multiple notable speakers to share their experiences with mindfulness. Be inspired to incorporate mindfulness in your daily routine with a few of these powerful TED Talks about mindfulness, meditation, and discovering calm in your life.
1. “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes” – Andy Puddicombe
As the CEO of Headspace, the popular meditation app, Andy Puddicombe knows the importance of meditation and mindfulness. Your brain is your body’s most powerful instrument, yet we rarely take time to recharge it. Fortunately, if you have just ten minutes to spare, you have plenty of time to take care of your brain…all you need to do is practice mindfulness.
2. “The art of stillness” – Pico Iyer
Travel writer Pico Iyer knows that one of life’s greatest luxuries is empty space. In this talk, he shares his experiences in stillness and going “nowhere.” He knows that to truly enjoy life’s experiences, you must truly pay attention, and that you can only really pay attention when you slow down.
3. “The practice of mindfulness” – Diana Winston
Diana Winston is the director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Center. Before that, she was a Buddhist monk; she has more than 20 years of experience in the study and practice of mindfulness. In her talk, she starts with the story of her first attempt at mindfulness and goes on to discuss how it has profoundly impacted her life. She explains that just a few moments of mindfulness can create a lasting impact on our everyday lives and relationships.
4. “Mindfulness and Healing” – Shannon Paige
Shannon Paige battled cervical cancer and won, but then found herself up against different beasts – depression and anxiety. She discovered yoga, not as a cure for depression, but as a way to get back into her body and change the mind. Through this, she found mindfulness can create a state of empowerment, stability, and release.
5. “The Power of Mindfulness: What You Practice Grows Stronger” – Shauna Shapiro
Dr. Shauna Shapiro knows that being in the present moment can be tough. But she also knows that being more mindful can be transformative. She uses modern neuroscience and ancient wisdom to show how mindfulness can help make positive changes in our brains and our lifestyles.
6. “Don’t try to be mindful” – Daron Larson
It’s easy to get frustrated with practicing mindfulness if you don’t instantly feel results.
Daron Larson practiced mindfulness for 13 years and felt it slowly transform his life – he just had to stop looking for the results to start to see them. Here, he talks about how mindfulness helps us burst out of the narrative restraints we put on ourselves and accept obstacles as part of our lives. Stop checking out when it gets hard. Tune in and practice mindfulness instead.
7. “The habits of happiness” – Matthieu Ricard
What does mindfulness have to do with happiness? Buddhist monk, author, and photographer Matthieu Ricard has devoted his life to the pursuit of happiness. In this talk, he shares his findings on meditation, mindfulness, and training the brain to become happier. If you could create a path towards happiness, wouldn’t you?
Once these TED Talks have inspired you to start on your mindfulness journey, you can begin with this guide. You can also find guided meditations with renowned leaders Thich Nhat Hanh and Deepak Chopra. To discover even more calm in your life and better manage stress, use Spire to give you a gentle reminder to bring mindfulness to your breath.
The new year is here. Now that schedules have resumed and life is back to normal, you may be doubting your resolutions. Feel like you’ve already fallen off the nutritional bandwagon? Are you overwhelmed or discouraged? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Eating healthier is not simple and doesn’t happen overnight. Creating a mindful practice around health and nutrition is the key to better health overall.