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Stress and Holidays - We Can Help!

By Robin McCullen-Fish

Tis the season for all of the fun holiday things - and also all of the not-so-fun holiday stress!

Let’s talk about meditation and the benefits we can experience in our life with this truly life-changing habit. To be honest with you, it was a long time before I started to fit meditation into my daily routine. Like many others, I found it very difficult to do when first starting, which was over 15 years ago. I tried it for a while and gave up because I didn’t feel I was able to let go of thoughts that kept racing through my head, distracting me from the purpose. The purpose, I thought, was to manage the stress in my life. I soon realized that it can do much more than that. It has taken me all this time to get to a place where I can

meditate and experience all the healing aspects that it can offer if given the chance. Taking our mind to a place where we can let go of everything and go outside of ourselves. Taking our attention off our outer environment, away from time, away from all the distractions in our lives. Learning how to do this takes practice and like with anything, without practice, we cannot improve. So why do we expect that in one, two or even twenty tries

at meditation we are going to be champions? We aren't!


For me the benefit is to reach a level of relaxation, where I can release the anxiety and worry of all the stressors in my life. Granted some days are worse than others and having this tool to manage my stress has made all the difference. Meditation

bridges the connection between your mind and your body, making it a useful tool for bettering your health. Here are 10 reasons to meditate and find your mind-body connection for a healthier lifestyle.

1. Meditation Eases Anxiety and Depression- Research suggests that mindfulness practices can be beneficial in reducing anxiety and other mood disorders. Engaging in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy with mindfulness practices has been shown to reduce cytokines, which are inflammatory stress chemicals that can lead to depression.

2. Meditation Bolsters Self-Confidence- Mindfulness meditation has the power to help us connect to our true selves, raising self-awareness, confidence, and self-inquiry.

3. Meditation Reduces Stress- Reviews of multiple studies have shown the power of meditation to reduce stress and lessen the effects of chronic stress on the entire body. Reducing stress can also lessen reactivity to stressful situations.

4. Meditation Reduces Inflammation-Stress can also lead to neurogenic inflammation, which has been linked to physical diseases like arthritis, colitis, bladder inflammation, and asthma. (The same cytokines that are linked to depression can cause this neurogenic inflammation.)

5. Meditation Improves Sleep-By quieting the mind, meditation can be a relaxing and restorative practice, allowing people with chronic insomnia, meditation can improve sleep quality, particularly when they consistently engage in mindfulness-based therapy specifically designed for insomnia.

6. Meditation Improves Brain Health-Meditation is a valuable tool in the prevention of Alzheimers disease, as well as improving both memory loss and attention span in general. Other research shows the impact of meditation on the gray matter portion of the brain, which is responsible for receiving information and regulating outgoing information.

7. Meditation Can Help Curb Addiction-The mind-body connection that meditation offers can even help people suffering from addiction. Over the past decade of research, mindfulness-based treatments appear to reduce substance abuse by helping people self-regulate and break harmful habits, as well as create new reward-seeking behaviors to replace

destructive ones.

8. Meditation Eases Pain-A consistent meditation practice enables people to be aware of sensations throughout the body. This includes framing pain as a sensation that can be managed rather than something that is happening to them. Mindfulness meditation has

been found to significantly reduce (chronic) pain by impacting multiple chemical and physiological aspects of the brain.

9. Meditation Controls Food Cravings-Meditation has also been used in treating binge eating and emotional eating with research showing that mindful eating can lead to more control over food cravings. In one study, participants underwent specific mindfulness-eating training, which helped them learn to better tap into their fullness and hunger cues, as well as, tune into emotional triggers for eating.

10. Meditation Decreases Blood Pressure-While more clinical research is needed, there have been promising results in the link between engaging in meditation or mindfulness-based stress reduction strategies and lowering blood pressure. Meditation can relax the nerve signals that contribute to blood vessel tension and the “fight or flight” response.


1. MINDFULLNESS MEDITATION-Mindfulness meditation from Buddhist teaching is the most popular and researched form of meditation in the West. In mindfulness meditation, you pay attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind. You don’t judge the thoughts or become involved in them, you simply observe and take notes of any patterns. This practice combines concentration with awareness. Observing your breath, bodily sensations, thoughts, or feelings. This is good when you don’t have a teacher and is

easily practiced alone.

2. SPIRITUAL MEDITATION-This meditation is used in nearly every religion and spiritual traditions. Spiritual meditation focuses on developing a deep understanding of spiritual/religious meaning and connection with a higher power. It can be practiced at home or a place of worship. This practice is beneficial for those seeking spiritual growth and a deeper understanding and connection to a higher power or spiritual force.

3. FOCUSED MEDITATION-Focused meditation involves concentration using any of the five senses. You can focus on something internal, like your breath, or something external to help focus your attention. Listening to a gong, counting mala beads, staring at a candle flame, counting your breaths, moon gazing. Although simple in theory this method may be difficult for beginners to hold their focus for longer than a few minutes at first. If your mind wanders just bring it back to practice and refocus. This practice is ideal if your goal is to sharpen your focus and attention.

4. MOVEMENT MEDITATION-Many people think of yoga as a movement meditation there are many other forms of this practice. Walking, gardening, gi gong, tia chi and other gentle forms of movement. This is an active form of meditation where movement guides you to a deeper connection to your body and the present moment. This is good if you find peace in action and want to develop body awareness.

5. MANTRA MEDITATION-Mantra meditation is prominent in many teachings, including Hindu and Buddhist traditions. This type of meditation uses a repetitive sound to clear the mind. It can be a word, phrase or sound, one of the most common being “om”. Your mantra can be spoken loudly or quietly. After chanting for some time you become in tune and alert with your environment. This is great for people who don’t like silence and enjoy repetition.

6. TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION-Transcendental meditation (TM) is a type of meditation that’s been the subject of numerous studies in the scientific community. TM was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and refers to a specific practice designed to quiet the mind and induce a state of calm and peace. It involves the use of mantra and is best taught by a certified TM practitioner. This practice is for those who want an accessible approach to the depth that meditation offers.

7. PROGRESSIVE MEDITATION-Also known as body scan meditation, progressive relaxation is a practice aimed at reducing tension in the body and promoting relaxation. This usually involves a slow tightening and relaxing one muscle group at a time throughout the body. This form of meditation is often used to relieve stress and unwind before bedtime.

8. LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION-This meditation is used to strengthen feelings of compassion, kindness, and acceptance toward oneself and others. Because this meditation is intended to promote compassion and kindness, it may be ideal for those holding feelings of anger or resentment.

9. VISUALIZATION MEDITATION-This is a technique focused on enhancing feelings of relaxation, peace and calmness by visualizing positive scenes, images or figures. This practice involves imagining a scene vividly and using all five senses to add as much detail as possible. Another form is imagining yourself succeeding in specific goals, which is intended to increase focus and motivation. Many people use this form to boost their mood, reduce stress and promote inner peace.


The easiest way to begin is to sit quietly and concentrate on your breath, your normal breath, feeling it go in through your nose and out through your mouth. Sometimes counting to four while inhaling, holding for two and exhaling on four. Focusing on the breath and the counting makes it easier to get into the present and to allow the body and mind to relax and begin to restore. The more you practice whichever form is best for you the easier it becomes and before you know it, it’s a habit, a healthy lifestyle change to serve

your mind body connection.

Meditation has many proven benefits, whether your goal is to reduce stress or find a deeper spiritual connection or enlightenment, there is a meditation practice for you. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with the different types and figure out what works best for you. Also, be kind to yourself and realize it may involve some trial and error. I promise you, if you can give it a chance, you will soon experience all the benefits it has to offer. I know the impact it has made for me, offering peace, clarity and a real sense of self. I hope you find the same… Happy meditating! And Happy Holidays!

****Arundel Kids Exclusive Discount: You can try reiki too! Mention Arundel Kids and receive 10% off a reiki session with Robin! Feel free to share with your friends and they can receive 10% off too! Click here to book today! Reiki makes a FANTASTIC holiday gift too!



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