Why Meditating Should Be a Part of Your Everyday Life
Full confession: Once upon a time, I meditated consistently. As a teenager, my sister had a boyfriend who was a Transcendental Meditation (TM) teacher, so she taught me how to meditate.
I really got passionate about meditation as an adult, attending 10-day retreats where I meditated up to 12—yes, 12—hours a day. I studied Buddhism in college, and meditation remained an integral part of my life.
Meditating before I paddled down the Green River in Utah.
As you probably know too well, real life can interfere with creating time for oneself or even the inclination to meditate, and for me, eventually, it fell by the wayside.
Just thinking about the zillion tasks I juggle every day makes my head spin: managing a functional medicine clinic at a major hospital, seeing patients at my own practice, writing books and attending to tons of other work obligations. I balance these duties with regular exercise, eating healthy and oh yeah, sleeping 8 to 10 hours every night.
So OK, no jury in the world would convict me when I say I don't have time to meditate, right?
At the same time, I've been "prescribing" meditation to patients and readers for decades, so I always felt slightly uncomfortable recommending it when I didn't practice meditation myself.
Among its many benefits, meditation reduces stress. Think of your brain as a computer, simultaneously keeping many windows and programs going.
Meditation helps you close out the unnecessary windows so you can focus on what's essential. When you do less with more, you enjoy life more and perform at a higher level.
I could go on, but as my new friend Emily Fletcher recently reminded me, you don't need studies to substantiate meditation's many benefits.
An incredible Broadway performer in her past life, Emily and I met recently while lecturing at a conference in Greece. She's a bona fide rock star, teaching meditation to some of the world's top players, like those working at Google and the Harvard Business School.
Emily immediately called me out on the "I don't have time to meditate" excuse. In saying that, she said, I was only fooling myself. Even though I felt pretty good, she mentioned that meditation could help me feel better, be better and become happier.
When I returned from Greece, I told Emily I wanted to reactivate my meditation practice. I realized this would require time and commitment, but I remained determined and stuck with it.
Over the past several months, as Emily helped rekindle my meditation fire and gave me a mantra to work with, I experienced a profound, "supercharged" difference. I felt happier, calmer, less anxious and more energized or filled with energy. Before, I felt tired at the end of a long day; now I find I am alert and far more productive.
Experiencing those and other benefits makes prioritizing meditation much easier. We all say "I'm too busy to meditate." Listen, if Oprah has time to meditate—if I have time to meditate—so do you.
At the same time, I understand how finding a compatible practice that works with your crazy schedule can be a challenge. After all, there are lots of meditation methods out there, and you could spend years selecting among them.
Emily and I want to simplify that journey for you, which is why she created Ziva Meditation, the world's first online meditation training.
In only eight days, you'll graduate with a meditation practice you can do anywhere, anytime, to boost productivity, sleep more soundly and even have great sex.
Ziva Meditation helps you access a verifiable state of consciousness different from waking, sleeping or dreaming. In this state, you're actually getting rest that's two to five times deeper than sleep.
Over time, Ziva Meditation makes life brighter and clearer. You start functioning better and enjoying more because your body doesn't have to work so hard to handle the stress. Once you graduate, you will have a practice with a mantra that you can employ every day, culminating in a 15-minute daily practice.
One cool thing that comes with this program: is specific guided visualizations to upgrade sleep, enhance mental clarity, and better manage stress. This can be an incredibly helpful technique for those who travel a lot. As someone who's often on the road and sometimes struggling with things like getting enough sleep or a foggy brain, these visualizations are amazing.
Ultimately, meditation is like any other skill. You've got to make the time and effort, but it gets easier once you make it a daily habit and begin seeing the benefits. Trust me: It changes everything. Recently I meditated on the plane and arrived in the most alert, focused and calm state I've felt in ages. Who needs Starbucks when you feel this good?
I hope I've convinced you to learn more about this revolutionary meditation method. Check it out here and enter the discount code: HEALTH
You'll find a beautiful online global community in which people get support and encouragement. You can even get a $50 discount for your friends and family when they checkout with the code HEALTH.
You'll quickly discover, as I recently did, that once you calm your mind, it is so much easier to make smarter choices about food and exercise. Your relationships get better. Literally everything in your life improves.
If you're curious about learning more before you commit, we have a free online masters class called Stress Less, Accomplish More.
Emily changed my life, and her work can also change yours. I hope you'll join me in incorporating this amazing, simple-to-apply meditation into your life. Trust me when I say it is an absolute game changer.
If you've ever done meditation, did you find it challenging to maintain it amidst everyday life's constant demands? What benefits did you ultimately see from doing it? Share your thoughts below.
Watch our conversation here:
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Watchdog Accuses Trump's NOAA of 'Choosing Extinction' for Right Whales by Hiding Scientific Evidence
By Julia Conley
As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.
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By Beth Ann Mayer
Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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