This week has been really hard for me. There’s been a lot going on.
And let me tell you, the irony of me writing about SLEEP has crossed my mind. It’s been really hard to take my own advice. I’ve been going to bed much later than my usual bedtime and my husband is travelling so I’ve been waking up earlier than usual to get everyone ready for school.
Of course, I’m having protein with my meals to help me make melatonin. I’m exercising and focusing on eating plenty of dark, leafy greens & rainbow veggies to power me with the sun’s energy & keep me pooping. And needless to say, I am also avoiding coffee like the plague. But sometimes – nutrition isn’t enough.
Sometimes – even when you’re eating the best you can, the stress levels climb and you get into bed feeling like you just can’t stop your mind from racing, worrying & doing.
And before you know it, it’s past midnight and you’re still tossing and turning – and getting increasingly worried about how tired you’re going to be when the alarm goes off.
What do you do then?
What do you do when you’ve had less than six hours of sleep and you need to be productive and on the ball for your job, your family and for yourself?
Most people turn to coffee but if you’ve reading my blog for a while, you may have read that coffee is probably one of the worst drinks for your adrenals – which are your master stress glands. Other people turn to supplements & superfoods for this purpose: B-complex, spirulina, energy bars, matcha powder, ginseng….the list goes on and on.
But I have to say — NOTHING works better than a 15 minute meditation.
Now – I know some of you might be thinking: “Meditation sounds good in the theory but it’s not for me. I’ve tried to meditate but I can’t do it consistently so what’s the point?”
I hear you. I spent decades being sceptical. Trying it a few times out of desperation but just ending up frustrated because I couldn’t shut my mind off. But, I have found two forms of meditation that really help to re-energise me and connect to that place inside me that is confident, lucid and strong.
TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION (www.tm.org)
“Transcendental meditation is an effortless technique for recharging your mind and body — and creating a brighter, more positive state of mind.”
That’s taken straight from their website and frankly, I couldn’t have said it better myself. That is exactly what it is and what it does. You practice it sitting down with your eyes closed, which I find really convenient as it’s something I can even do even in the car between consults or meetings.
TM was founded by Mararishi Mahesh Yogi and the organisation has teaching centres around the world. I did my course here in Hong Kong. The idea is that you get a personal one-word mantra which is unique to you and assists you in opening the door to a meditative state.
Sounds far out? The US Military doesn’t think so. They use this technique with their soldiers, marines and veterans to help them cope with post-traumatic stress. TM is hard core and it’s backed by science.
There are hundreds of published research studies on the TM technique, which document its effectiveness in:
- activating the parasympathetic nervous system and therefore increasing digestion power;
- balancing the nervous system & hormonal levels;
- increasing work efficiency across measures such as leadership abilities, job satisfaction & professional relationships;
- improving school performance in children, increased ability to focus on school work & a reduction in aggressive behaviour;
- lowering blood pressure & the risk of heart disease;
- improving our mind and body’s ability to cope with stress and anxiety;
- improving brain function, cardiovascular health, and more.
I’m not sure it’s made me smarter. But I can tell you what it has done:
- The other day, I didn’t get my 8hrs and I had two consults with an hour break in between, followed by another meeting. After my first consult, I felt drained. But a quick, 15-minute meditation centred me & connected me to a place of calm and peace. I felt totally re-energised and on-the-ball for the rest of the day.
- It has made me more confident in following my instincts – and we all know how important listening to our gut is;
- It’s considerably strengthened my ability to cope with stressful situations because I can connect to that place inside me that is lucid and strong.
I love TM and can definitely say hand on heart that it has brought me joy and the invaluable gift of just “being” in the moment & in the stillness.
Yoga nidra literally means “sleep with full awareness”. Your body goes to sleep whilst your mind is fully aware . It has its origin in an ancient meditation tantric practice called nyasa. You don’t have to take a yoga class to do it, nor do you have to be in a particular yoga pose to practice this form of meditation.
Yoga nidra is a guided meditation and it is done lying down, palms facing up and eyes closed. Practitioners claim that it:
- improves the quality of sleep & helps with insomnia;
- alleviates stress, depressions & anxiety;
- increases mental sharpness & improves concentration & memory;
- helps to manage migraine, ulcers, digestive disorders, and even asthma.
I personally find Yoga Nidra works amazingly to quiet the mental noise that sometimes can be very overwhelming at the end of the day.
This is my absolute favourite Yoga Nidra Guided Meditation. I really connect with the woman’s voice. It’s sensuous and steady and it lulls me into a peaceful state.
Sometimes, nutrition isn’t enough. Sometimes, we need to connect with our inner voice and say to the noise, “hey! I hear you and I won’t forget about you but I’m just going to take a bit of time so that I can listen to you more clearly later.”
Meditation is an incredibly effective tool for helping you achieve mental strength & clarity on those days when you don’t get your eight hours. And in my experience, it’s much better time spent than waiting in line at the Starbucks.
Cristina Tahoces is a holistic nutritionist and owner of Thrive Nutrition Practice. Please join her Facebook group “Thrive Nutrition Practice” for daily articles, recipes, promotions on professional grade supplements and upcoming workshops.
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