The word “spirituality” means different things for different people. For some, spirituality is associated with religion and is tied to concrete rites and rituals. For others, meaningful activities like swimming, making art, and walking through the woods brings on a spiritual experience. For the most part, though, the word spirituality has become as ambiguous and vague as the word “the,” and is often stigmatized by associations to “hippy-dippy” new-age philosophies, patchouli, dreadlocks, and yoga pants.
Spirituality seems to have become confused with religion, as it is common to now associate as “spiritual” or “not spiritual”. However, at its core, spirituality is a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and is not an ideology to believe or not believe in. Spirituality is, in fact, what gives life a sense of meaning and purpose.
Practicing spirituality has scientifically-validated benefits, making it important for each and every person, not just yogis in the Himalayas. If you find yourself skeptical about the necessity of spirituality, check out these 10 reasons why spirituality matters for the average Jo(sephine):
1. Be Present
The spiritual life is based in the present moment, as the present moment is the only real moment; the past and future are concepts in the mind. When living with our minds in the present moment, we function with greater focus, clarity, and spontaneity. We also feel greater levels of joy, as happiness is only accessible in the here and now.
2. Get Smart
Studies show that many spiritual practices, especially meditation, result in increased grey matter area in the brain. Among its many benefits, regular meditation leads to increased cognition, improved focus, attention, and ability to perform under stress, and higher levels of emotional intelligence, all of which contribute to enhanced work performance.
3. Be Healthy
Most spiritual paths and religious traditions recommend abstaining from behaviors and substances that are detrimental to health, such as drinking, smoking, using drugs, committing crimes, and harming others. Many paths, such as Ayurveda and Buddhism, even make dietary recommendations, which can lead to a lower body weight and lessened risk for chronic health problems.
4. Let Go of Grudges
A basic tenet of most spiritual paths and traditions is forgiveness. When we forgive ourselves and others, we are able to let go of blame, negative feelings, and anything else holding us back from moving forward in our lives. In fact, studies now show the positive health benefits of forgiveness, which include lowered risk of heart attack, lowered blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, and reduced levels of pain, depression, anxiety, and stress.
5. Bounce Back Faster
Studies show that people who feel a sense of spirituality have greater resilience to hardships. Those with a spiritual outlook have an easier time moving through challenges by finding meaning in difficult situations. High resiliency is also a trait associated with the most successful people in the world.
6. Make Better Decisions
Decision-making is an area that many people struggle with. By simply identifying a set of values that we feel aligned with, we can make decisions that help us feel connected to the greater whole and with a sense of purpose. Spiritual paths also tend to support the development of faith and trust, which helps with stress-reduction in times of uncertain decision-making.
7. Enjoy Amazing Relationships
Research in social science demonstrates that humans are neuroscientifically hardwired for connection, and that connection is what brings meaning to life. Interconnectedness, which is at the core of spirituality, helps us to recognize the shared human experience and feel compassion for others. And when we feel compassion, we enjoy the company of others more and find it easier to find common ground.
8. Release Stress and Anxiety
When we feel a sense of connection to a higher power, we experience mental and emotional freedom. Personal spiritual practices, such as yoga, meditation, running, gardening, and other meaningful activities, are all correlated with lower levels of stress and tension.
9. Enhance Creativity
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “True art takes note not merely of form but also of what lies behind.” Many of the great artists in history attribute their creations to a higher power. When we are relaxed and in the present moment we can more easily experience the state of flow, which leads to more spontaneous ideas and greater levels of creativity.
10. Be Happily Alone
In our modern day culture, it is all too easy to never be alone. If you walk into any restaurant or cafe and look for the people sitting by themselves, chances are they will be absentmindedly eating their food while scrolling through Instagram and sending Snapchats to people in other locations. People in this day and age find it difficult and even painful to be alone, both metaphorically and physically. However, when armed with spirituality, being alone is a gift, offering an opportunity to look inward and know oneself. Because, as almost all spiritual traditions teach, our Self is all we truly have. Spirituality teaches us how to ENJOY being alone, so that we can truly enjoy being with others.
Full article originally posted on ArtofLiving.com
By Amanda Turner
In a world filled with distractions, trying to find a way to have a zen session without something popping up to break us away from self-care in inevitable. Taking time to have a zen session each day allows you to clear your mind of the clutter and distractions that happen each day, so finding a way to squeeze it in and not be distracted is essential. To discover ways to dedicate time to meditation, take a look at these tips to avoid distractions.
It is essential to dedicate time each day for meditation and self-care, so treat it as such. Whether you make a point to have your zen session every morning or every night when there are fewer distractions, or you plug it into your calendar to make sure you don’t overbook yourself, make sure that self-care is considered a priority for you.
Use “Do Not Disturb”
Whether you use your phone for guided meditation or an app that walks you through a yoga sequence - it is hard to not peek your eye open when you hear that “ding” letting you know that you just received a text or an email. Even the most disciplined individuals will find it hard not to take note of your phone making a sound during meditation. Most modern phones have a “Do Not Disturb” option to keep those notifications from happening during your moments of zen.
Create a Routine
Did you know that when you create a routine, your mind and body will automatically start to get used to tuning into certain tasks at certain periods of time? Whether you want to create a routine for creativity, physical fitness, or for meditation, your body will begin to look forward to these tasks at certain periods of time each day. Create a routine for your mind and body so that it will tune into “zen mode” for whatever time you decide to dedicate a zen session during the day.
Get Rid of Excess Noise
During your zen session, make sure that there is as little excess noise as possible. If possible, call a repairman to fix any noisy or faulty appliances so that they don’t distract you throughout the practice. On the same note, you may experience your family and friends that are staying with you feeling the liberty to interrupt your session without understanding its importance. If you have family that is prone to opening the door during your zen session, consider putting a note outside the door to let them know this is “you time” to avoid having to pause your time for meditation.
Now is Not the Time for Multitasking
Your zen session is a time to clear your mind and focus on being in the present. This helps mitigate stress, anxiety, and even depression. Now is not the time to try and do yoga while also playing with your child or dog. When you prioritize your zen session, make sure that you are not multitasking to also squeeze in other tasks at the same time.
With continued research, fans of cannabis - both old and new - are coming to realize how useful CBD can be as part of an overall wellness regime.
Cannabis is not just something that "stoners" use on a recreational basis in an effort to get high. While it certainly can be consumed for recreational purposes, cannabis has so many more uses.
In fact, science continues to show us how the various cannabinoids in cannabis - including CBD - play a key role in health and wellness and serve as a natural alternative to traditional remedies for various ailments.
With continued research, fans of cannabis - both old and new - are coming to realize how useful CBD can be as part of an overall wellness regime.
How CBD Helps Your System
CBD - or cannabidiol - may have some incredibly promising cannabis health benefits to the mind and body, but how exactly does it work to do this?
CBD's ability to promote better health and wellness stems from its interaction with the endocannabinoid system of the body. This system is tasked with regulating brain, endocrine, and immune functions, and influences various experiences in the body, including appetite, pain, stress, anxiety, inflammation, and mood, among others.
More importantly, the system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis - or balance - in the body that's needed to keep the body healthy and free of disease and ailments.
The endocannabinoid system is made up of endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors located throughout the central and nervous systems. The body produces its own cannabinoids that bind to these receptors, but cannabinoids from outside sources - such as CBD and THC from the cannabis plant - can also serve a similar function.
When cannabinoids interact with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system - either directly or indirectly - they can relieve pain, minimize inflammation, improve mood, promote better sleep, and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Why Incorporate CBD Into Your Wellness Routine?
As already mentioned, the endocannabinoid system's main job is to maintain homeostasis in the body. The body's internal conditions must constantly be controlled and in proper balance because the cells depend on this environment to function properly. If the conditions are not optimal, certain processes will not function the way they should, and that can lead to disease.
CBD can help the endocannabinoid system maintain this balance and help the body adapt to outside stressors. As such, adding this cannabinoid to your daily wellness regime can help you boost your overall level of health and wellness.
Here are four main areas in which users can take advantage of the benefits of CBD.
Promote Better Sleep
Good sleep is integral to overall health and wellness. Lack of proper sleep can bring about a myriad of health issues. In fact, not getting enough quality sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and even heart disease.
Many people go to great lengths to try and improve their sleep patterns, including taking sleep medications. However, CBD may be an effective natural alternative to pharmaceutical meds.
Studies have been conducted on CBD and its relationship with sleep, revealing that the cannabinoid can encourage better sleep and may be able to treat specific sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy, to name a few.
Induce an Anti-Inflammatory Effect
Inflammation in the body can lead to a host of issues because of the damage it causes to the cells and tissues as a result of oxidative stress from free radicals. A high level of oxidative stress can cause serious damage, even to our DNA.
Recent research has shown a link between CBD and reducing inflammation. More specifically, CBD can mimic how the immune system works to alleviate inflammation in the body. By reducing inflammation, a number of ailments can be relieved, including pain and skin conditions.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Perhaps the most well-known reason for introducing cannabis into a daily regime is to reduce stress and anxiety. Cannabinoids' role in alleviating stress and anxiety stems from their interaction with certain receptors that influence serotonin.
Low levels of serotonin in the brain can cause anxiety. Medications that target serotonin levels - known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - work to increase the level of serotonin in the brain by blocking reabsorption of the neurotransmitter. This, in turn, can alleviate stress and anxiety and boost a person's mood.
CBD and THC can mimic the work that SSRIs do to make serotonin more readily available, thereby helping to relieve stress and anxiety and help patients feel better. The cannabinoids do this by enhancing 5-HT1A transmission and may affect serotonin faster than medications.
Promote Healthier Skin
CBD's anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties are particularly useful when trying to improve the look and feel of the skin. More specifically, it can help alleviate certain skin conditions, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
Studies have found that CBD and THC serve as effective agents in the function of sebaceous glands, which secretes "sebum," an oily substance which can clog pores and cause acne flare-ups. Dilation of CBD topicals can minimize the secretion of sebum and therefore help keep the skin free and clear of breakouts.
Different Ways to Incorporate CBD Into Everyday Life
There are various ways that CBD can be used and implemented into your daily regime, depending on your comfort level. Here are a few formats that CBD is available in:
Edibles. CBD can be quickly and easily added to beverages and foods and ingested orally. Whether you add the product yourself and create your own recipes or purchase edibles that are already infused with CBD, edibles are an easy and convenient way to add CBD to your daily regimen.
Tinctures. Another simple way to consume CBD is to use tinctures that can be taken sublingually, meaning under the tongue. The great things about tinctures is that they provide CBD in a concentrated form that bypasses the digestive system and takes effect more quickly once it is absorbed through the mucous membrane under the tongue.
Topicals. Individuals who are looking to alleviate specific pain points may find topicals more convenient, as they can be applied and rubbed onto the exact areas where the pain is being experienced. Topicals are also useful for those who wish to apply them to the skin as a means to boost skin health and combat acne.
Vapes. To quickly take the edge off and alleviate stress or anxiety, vapes tend to work quite well. Consuming CBD in this manner also takes effect rather quickly because the CBD does not have to be digested before it starts working.
Capsules. An easy way to take CBD is in capsule format. That said, exact dosing might be a bit more difficult.
CBD continues to show great promise in the world of health and wellness. With so many different applications - including promoting better sleep, improving skin health, alleviating anxiety, and combating pain - CBD certainly has a bona fide place in this sphere. And with a variety of different modes of application and consumption, CBD can be implemented according to each individual user's comfort level.
This article originally appeared on myfoli.com
In Sanskrit, Alternate Nostril Breathing is called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, which translates to “subtle energy clearing breathing technique”, and it has many benefits. Alternate Nostril Breathing helps calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and bring a feeling of relaxation to the entire body. It also relaxes the mind in preparation for meditation, which can be helpful for those struggling to settle down before meditating. When performed for just a few minutes, Alternate Nostril Breathing can instantly reduce stress and fatigue, and is a quick and efficient practice to do before high-stress situations such as job interviews and public speaking engagements.
How To Do Alternate Nostril Breathing
3 Things to Remember
By Amanda Turner
As the seasons change, it is easy to become overwhelmed and feel as though you are forced to passively accept the challenges that come your way. When that overwhelming feeling sets in, you may have reached a state of imbalance that seems impossible to get out of. Fortunately, balancing your life does not have to be a mystery. Here is how to create a balanced life in a season of chaos and stress:
Ayurveda, the ancient, sister-science of yoga, offers us countless recommendations for how to live a healthy, balanced life. The preventative care that this system of health encourages works to prevent overwhelm and instead keep you grounded and at ease for the long-term. A few general recommendations include creating routine and giving yourself time for self-care on a regular basis.
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to incorporate gentle exercise into your schedule. Yoga, swimming, even a walk in the park with your dog can be excellent ways to get active in a non-competitive environment. If possible, consider exercising with a friend or family member, so you can enjoy quality time together while creating space from the challenges of your day-to-day.
Another important factor in balance is ensuring you eat good food and get enough sleep. These are two of the most basic needs that often get brushed aside when life gets hectic. Instead of resorting to take-out and staying up well past midnight, give yourself the gift of a mindful meal at home and a solid night of slumber.
When life feels out of control, the last thing you want to worry about are home repairs. Make sure your home is not on your to-do list by keeping up with home maintenance and scheduling any repairs that need to be completed. When your home is running smoothly, your life will feel easier.
If you have a growing--or endless--to do list, it’s possible that the weight of these requirements is contributing to your daily stress in a very negative way. Instead of constantly worrying about all of the things that need to be done, set clear intentions each day for two to three tasks that must be completed. This will help you focus on what is a true priority, and relax about all the rest.
Finally, check in to see where your focus is primarily resting. If you are working more than feels comfortable, give yourself more free time. On the other hand, if you have been putting off more work than you should, get yourself back into a consistent routine. Setting clear boundaries for your work/life balance will ensure that you stay aligned to your goals, without going overboard, in one direction or another.
When you’re in the thick of stress and chaos, creating a balanced life can feel impossible.
However, it’s never too late to incorporate a few of the above tips. As you integrate these
changes into your life, notice how formerly frustrating situations can seem less intense and your life can feel more at ease.
A preventative approach to maintaining the body assists in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for years to come. Maintenance-wise, our car requires regular tune-ups and yearly maintenance. Why don’t we tune up our bodies?
In addition to regular check-ups with a physician, Ayurveda emphasizes a holistic, self-care approach to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Ayurveda’s emphasis on preventative healing measures are decidedly effective and teach ways for practitioners to deal with issues before they begin.
According to Ayurveda, there are six stages of ill health. They begin with imbalance and gradually increase to disease. Like weeding, Ayurveda emphasizes clearing the flower bed before the weeds take over.
The preventative Ayurvedic approach is built on four pillars: food, lifestyle, rejuvenators & supplements.
When a person is in poor health, they are in need of a different approach that is meant to address imbalances with holistic healing practices and balancing supplements. Skilled practitioners of Ayurveda use pulse assessment to determine which specific supplements, food and lifestyle practices will restore balance.
Balance through Ayurveda improves a person’s health, energy, and youthful vitality.
The four keys to a healthy lifestyle:
Whether you are a vata, pitta or kapha person, the most important element for maintaining balance is following the diet that suits your constitution. A healthy person who knows his natural constitution will be able to follow a diet best suited for maintaining balance. A person in poor health can learn what sort of dietary changes will help restore balance.
What we eat goes to our stomach, which is like the root of our system. Like a tree, which derives its nutrients and energy from its root system, humans derive their nutrients and energy from what is put into the stomach. From our stomach, our entire body is nourished. As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” Finding the right diet, based on our constitution, is the first and most important step in attaining a healthy lifestyle.
Idli (see photo) is such a nutritious meal because it is actually a complete protein and the fermenting process involved in preparation stimulates digestion.
Finding a recommended lifestyle routine is vital to maintaining balance and correcting disparity. After food, lifestyle comes as the most important way to stay in balance. A healthy lifestyle includes:
• A routine of health
• Waking and sleeping at regular times
• Going out for regular exercise, according to your constitution
• Self-massage with suitable oils
• Centering yourself with a few minutes of stillness and meditation
• Light yoga
Chyawanprash (see photo) is one such rejuvenator used in Ayurveda, especially during the colder seasons.
Rejuvenators, rasayana, are a variety of ancient supplements that promote the rejuvenation of the body and the maintenance of a young, vital, dynamic and energetic self. Rejuvenators work to make the body feel young and refreshed. Rejuvenators are not simply food, they are powerful solutions to problems that ail many of us — solutions to whatever upsets balance and health. Concerning the many factors that upset balance and health, there are equally as many rejuvenators to combat these problems.
4. NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS
There are many traditional Ayurvedic herbal supplements that are used in a variety of ways. They include spices in our food and herbs that promote detoxification of the body. Choosing the right herbal supplements is a matter of understanding both one’s constitution and one’s imbalance. Whether in need of detoxification or wanting to combat stress, lethargy, or poor digestion, Ayurveda has numerous herbal supplements to help promote longevity and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Now you’re set knowing the four key tools of Ayurveda. These tools can be used with a knowledge of your nature to make choices that lead to greater balance and health.
One of our members, Jeeta, is a Trained Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant, who is always bringing in treats she cooks from home for the teachers to enjoy. Her cooking can be described as aromatic and frankly, just made with love. Here is one of her ayurvedic inspired recipes we asked her to share.