Meditation Techniques: Relax the Body to Free the Mind

Meditation is a good way to relieve stress, balance the spirit, and find peace of mind. Some studies even say that meditation has certain health benefits. Mastering meditation techniques certainly isn’t easy, but once learned meditation can always be repeated.

Sometimes, it may seem that even deep physicial relaxation doesn’t always free the mind. For most, relaxing the body isn’t the difficult part of meditation. It’s relaxing the mind that’s the hard part – and this is where certain meditation techniques come in. Understanding meditation may help with mastering relaxation techniques. To meditate is to quiet the conscious mind and let the subconscious lead. This sounds simple in theory, but meditating isn’t always easy.

If relaxing is a problem, try some relaxation techniques like deep and slow breathing. Counting breaths may help with relaxation, or even just counting backwards from one hundred. It’s a good idea to stretch the muscles for a few minutes, then sit or recline comfortably and just let the body go limp. Pre-stretching often makes this limp, relaxed feeling easier to get into. Sometimes, it seems hard to keep still, as the world is a very fast place. Stillness and quiet are the cornerstones of true meditation. Gentle music, or other noises that won’t be distracting, are perfectly okay. Meditation is about the individual’s own personal comfort.

Deep relaxation means letting the mind relax, too. When trying to meditate, don’t try to balance a checkbook or pen the grocery list mentally. Though it should be simple, the hardest meditation technique is learning how to just stop thinking. Just stop thinking. When serious about meditating, it’s best to relax in a comfortable and quiet location. Deep, relaxed breathing and the absence of conscious thought is the goal of meditation. Getting there is the hard part. If counting does not help, try to focus your mind on a single image. A candle flame, a tree, a flower blossom, even just a ball of light – hold this picture in your mind’s eye, and then change it. Add wind, change the color, but deviate the image only slightly. Focus on this until it’s very solidly in your mental vision and you can change the picture with ease, and then focus on nothing at all for a time.

Some meditate just to relax, and lying quietly without thought is a wonderful way to achieve this goal. For more serious meditating, certain techniques may be used to achieve different goals. Some may use meditation as a way to deal with problems, and some to find spiritual guides. Whatever meditation is used for, mastering the basic techniques of total mind and body relaxation is the starting point.


Your Wellness Yogi

The Importance of Concentration in Meditation Practice

Why do we find it difficult to concentrate during meditation and what can we do to improve our ability to focus?

Concentration is said to be the key to meditation. Whether we are meditating on a candle, a mantra, a verse or our breathing, the most important aspect is to focus our mind on the object of our meditation.

Why is concentration so important?

In all walks of life, concentration is a great strength. Students who are able to concentrate on their studies without being distracted by the TV or by other members of their family are more like to succeed in their exams than those who can’t do this. Likewise, those who achieve success in the business world will often speak of devotedly applying themselves to their goal and not allowing other distractions to get in their way. This may be a very worldly form of concentration, but the principle is the same – concentration is the key to success. During meditation, concentration is needed in order for us to be able to bring the mind to rest; it is this rest that brings about the peace which so many of us long for in today’s society. Swami Paramananda, author of Concentration and Meditation (Eighth Edition, Vedanta Centre Publishers 1996) states it unequivocally:

“Meditation is inseparable from concentration. When the mind has gained its full strength through singleness, it naturally becomes meditative”.

Why is it hard to concentrate?

Although we talk about modern life being busier than ever, a restless, agitated mind has been a human problem for a very long time. In the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Geeta, (Faber & Faber 1982) estimated to be written 5,000 years ago, Arjuna presses the Lord Sri Krishna for advice on how to rest his “fickle and turbulent, obstinate and strong” mind. Krishna acknowledges his difficulty:

“Doubtless, O Mighty One! The mind is fickle and exceedingly difficulty to restrain, but O son of Kunti! with practice and renunciation it can be done”.

Our minds are very active – they’re used to making plans, forming opinions, commenting on what’s going on and generally chattering away. It’s not surprising, therefore, that when we sit down to meditate we find that it’s not so easy to stop all this chatter and attend to our intended focus. We’ve been allowing our minds to wander without any form of control for years – or decades – and unless we’re very fortunate, they’re not going to just fall calm and quiet just because we sit quietly and sound a mantra.

What do we do when we find it difficult to concentrate?

The ability to concentrate is an innate faculty, not only of humans, but of every living creature. Take a look at a cat who stops still for a couple of seconds before pouncing on a mouse. It’s true that our minds can be very scattered, but we’ll usually find that there are certain activities that we do attend to with a good degree of attention – reading a book, playing a musical instrument – even watching a football match requires concentration! There are steps we can take, however, if we wish to strengthen our ability to focus during meditation:

  • The most important point is not to criticize yourself when you notice your mind has abandoned its intended focus and wandered off. This criticism is just another activity and another distraction! Just leave the intruding thought alone and return your attention to the meditation. The mind can go off like this several times during a meditation session, but don’t get disheartened – just keep re-focusing the mind and this will gradually train it to attend more fully.
  • Notice how you conduct everyday activities. If you tend to be “scatty” or disorganized by nature, try to get into the habit of seeing a job or an activity through to its completion. Whether it’s washing the dishes, filing paperwork or tidying out the garage, leave things in an ordered state. This may seem to have little relevance to a spiritual practice like meditation, but it does help strengthen the mind and resolve.
  • Try to keep the habit regular and the circumstances propitious. Have a special place for meditation and stick to it; try to meditate every day for the required time – usually 20 or 30 minutes (sometimes twice a day). Unplug the telephone and ask your family not to disturb you – this is your spiritual development and all the family will benefit from it.

The above steps will enhance your ability to concentrate and subsequently help your meditation.


Your Wellness Yogi

Eating Organic: Go Green and Get Lean

Consumption of whole organic foods is a growing trend. It should come as no surprise especially with the constant focus both on our nations health and global warming.

There are lots of reasons you should choose to buy organic foods.

It’s predicted that organic foods will eventually cost a lot less then conventionally grown foods. The reason is due to the cost of fertilizers and pesticides that non-organic farmers use.

Eating organic foods means improving your overall health. The first and most obvious reason is because you’re no longer ingesting chemicals. There is no way to accurately measure how many pesticides,herbicides, and hormones we digest on a day to day basis. An average piece of produce can be sprayed over 50 times before it’s harvested and shipped to the supermarket shelf. It also may get additional chemical treatments to increase its shelf life. Then we take it home, rinse it off, and eat it. We then fool ourselves into believing that we took in adequate nutrition. In reality what nutrition was left will be used to detoxify our bodies of what we just ingested.

A new study just revealed that the better percentage of the human population is under-nourished. Woman take the lead in that category at a whopping 93%, that’s a pretty scary number. Especially when so many woman are taking on the role of both a professional and a mother. It takes a large amount of energy to juggle both. It’s dangerous to your health when your body is not nourished enough to fuel you with the energy you need to properly manage stress.

Another study even discovered that woman who eat diets high in processed and chemically treated foods greatly increased their chances of having a miscarriage.

There are a number of other health benefits to eating organic foods. Eating organic foods can help you to better manage your weight. When your body gets the proper amount of nutrients that it needs it no longer goes into defense mode. The less chemicals you ingest the less toxins in your body. When you have less toxins you have a great deal more energy, thus increasing your activities. Also your immune system is no longer under constant attack. This makes it easier to fight of colds, infections, and be less susceptible to other diseases of the immune system.

If you haven’t heard the term “go green!”, you might be living in a cave. When you “go green” it means you’re doing what you can to eliminate global warming. Eating organic is one of the many contributions you can make to help stop global warming. Many non-organic farmers use nitrogen based fertilizers. Nitrogen based fertilizers contribute nitrous oxide, a green house gas. Green hose gases effect climate, thus increasing the effects of global warming.

When you eat organic you will feel better all around. Not just physically, but emotionally too. You’ll feel good because your doing something good for your body and for your planet.


Your Wellness Yogi

Metta Meditation: 5 Benefits and Tips for Beginners

Metta Meditation – Insight Meditation: Learn How to Meditate for Loving Kindness and Compassion

Metta Meditation: 5 Benefits and Tips for Beginners

Metta meditation is one of the most popular vipassana techniques. This insight meditation is for bringing peace and tranquility into one’s own heart and sending loving kindness, along with compassion to others.

How to Begin a Metta Meditation

While sitting comfortably with a straight posture, begin to take slow, deep breaths while keeping the eyes closed. Once feeling relaxed, focus the mind on feelings about health, well being, and happiness. Take these feelings and turn them into a positive feeling of loving kindness or friendliness. With an open heart, begin thinking kindly of yourself.

Now, in the mind say, “May I be happy,” while envisioning being happy. Remember, in order to truly love others, one must first love themselves. Continue to bask in this positive, loving environment for as long as desired until ready to end the meditation.

Sending Loving Kindness to Others

Once comfortable with sending loving kindness to yourself, it’s time to start sending it out to others. Metta can be sent to friends, teachers, or relatives, along with neutral people and even enemies. When getting ready to send loving kindness, first envision the group of people it’s being sent to in the mind’s eye, then begin to send them metta.

When choosing neutral people, pick a group of people in which no emotions are attached. In order to build skill in sending metta, it’s best not to send to enemies until skilled at sending to familiar people and neutral people. When sending loving kindness, a couple of ideas of what to mentally say are, “May these people be happy,” or “May these people live with peace and joy.”


Metta and Universal Connectedness

One might first wonder why should a person should send loving kindness to their enemies. Try to envision everyone being a part of a universal connectedness or a collective unconscious, as Carl Jung referred to it. In other words, in sending kindness to an enemy, it’s also sending kindness to yourself. The more kindness a person feels, the more compassion they can feel towards others.

The vipassana technique known as metta meditation is a form of insight meditation that allows a person to further open their heart to not only accept loving kindness, but, to send it to others as well. When practiced over time, true love and compassion are achieved which projects positive energy to the collective unconscious that is said to be shared by all people.


Your Wellness Yogi

DNA Paternity Testing – RFLPs: Restriction Fragment Analysis of a Genome

What Is a Paternity Test?

Before we were able to analyze DNA, blood tests were used to assess paternity. However, blood testing is limited, in that it can only rule out a possible father, not prove paternal identity.

Today, genetic technology is used, and DNA paternity testing makes it possible to, with a very high degree of certainty, determine the identity of a child’s biological father.

The Genetic Code

Everyone, except identical twins, has a unique set of genetic instructions made of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA is a nucleic acid made of smaller molecules called nucleotide monomers, and each nucleotide is made of the same general ingredients:

  • a pentose sugar
  • one or more phosphate groups
  • a cyclic nitrogenous base

The specific nitrogenous base is what makes one nucleotide differ from another, and nucleotides of DNA each contain one of four possible nitrogenous bases:

  • Adenine (A)
  • Cytosine (C)
  • Guanine (G)
  • Thymine (T)

These four bases, particularly the combination in which they exist in along the DNA molecule, form the ‘genetic code’.

Restriction Fragment Analysis

Also called DNA fingerprinting, this type of genetic testing compares segments of DNA termed restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs). By using special restriction enzymes, the DNA molecule is cut at base sequences, also known as recognition sequences or restriction sites.

There are many different kinds of restriction enzymes. Each type will only cut the DNA when it encounters a specific combination of bases; A, G, T, and C. Different restriction enzymes cut DNA at different places—each has a unique sequence it recognizes. For example, the restriction enzyme named EcoRI cuts DNA when it encounters the sequence GAATTC and will cut only at that sequence, no other.

Gel Electrophoresis

After being cut up, the restriction fragments of each genome (mother, father and baby’s) are separated, according to length, using a technique called gel electrophoresis. Since people who are closely related have similar DNA, the DNA of more closely related individuals will show more similar length fragments of DNA.

Gel electrophoresis enables the lab technician to see which DNA fragments of the mother are shared by the child and, more importantly, if some of the child’s DNA fragments are the same size as fragments found in the supposed father’s DNA sample.


Your Wellness Yogi

How to sleep properly?

Stop running around, give some time to your health too! You have every right to give some space to yourself and your mind. Well, if you don’t look after your health, then who will look after your loved ones? To enjoy your holidays with all energy and enthusiasm, you must sleep well and take good rest. Give yourself the gift of sleep!

Sleep Facts: It is said that a person should sleep for 9 hours (approximately), as it is optimal. An average adult person sleeps for 8 hours. Lack of sleep increases the risk of mortality. Researchers have suggested that a person should maintain 8-9 hours of sleep. Sufficient sleep increases alertness, solves memory problems, and reduces risks of accidents. It is clear that sufficient sleep is necessary for better health.

Guide to get a comfortable sleep:

People learn things but they fail to apply in their lives. There are some people who follow everything that is beneficial for their health. You must get a good and comfortable sleep in order to maintain your energy levels high, your spirit at peak. Boost your energy levels!

1) Before Sleeping: Going to hit the bed? Well, now follow some things that would help you for sure. Before going to sleep. Wash your face gently. Look in the mirror and smile. Now time to concentrate on your footsteps. Gently, feel the distance between your body and bed. Go to bed, and lie down.

2) Right Posture: Lie straight, remove all thoughts from your mind. How? Well, it is easy. When you close your eyes, you see ‘blackness’ or ‘designs’, right? Focus on them, think nothing. No negative, no positive. Blank! Make your body light-weighted.

3) Breathing: Concentrate on your breathing pattern. Inhale and exhale at least 5 times. When you inhale, think that you are taking every positive energy available in this world, and while exhaling, think that you are throwing every negative energy that ruled you whole day.

4) Flashback: This helps in sharpening your memory. Think every possible thing you can remember for the particular day. Try to think the moment you got up from sleep and what you did whole day till you came sleep. Try to remember all the good things that happened in your day. And, do not forget to SMILE when you get good thoughts!

5) Music: Not sleepy? Turn on the music. Music plays an important role in life. Some therapists use music as a part of their therapy. It is because it calms one’s nerves in many ways. Music helps people maintain their physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual levels. It plays a vital role in sleep too. When you turn on the music, make sure of your environment, your bedroom’s setting, etc. Preferably, before sleeping, listen to soft music or gentle trance. You can also go for ‘Country Classics’. However, it depends on your choice.

Lack of sleep may result in severe headache or migraine, and other health problems. So? Avoid all the negativities, don’t think much about tomorrow’s holiday or vacation. Grab a glass of water, drink, and hit the bed. Goodnight and sweet dreams!


Your Wellness Yogi

How to Use a Sleeping Pill Properly

Sleeping pills are prescribed commonly these days. Ambien, Lunesta and a variety of other medications are supposed to help us get the sleep we need. Unfortunately, not everyone who needs these medicines takes them. Even worse, perhaps, is that many folks who take these prescribed insomnia remedies, don’t take them correctly. Learn how to here.

Sleeping pills are prescribed commonly these days. Ambien, Lunesta and a variety of other medications are supposed to help us get the sleep we need. Unfortunately, not everyone who needs these medicines takes them. Even worse, perhaps, is that many folks who take these prescribed insomnia remedies, don’t take them correctly. As a result, they’re not getting the help they so desperately need.

The new batch of pills including the aforementioned Ambien and Lunesta as well as Rozerem and Sonata are relatively safe and not addictive, compared to the older meds such as Halcion. These medications are also supposed to help you get and stay asleep while waking refreshed, not groggy.

That’s obviously good news for those who use the medications.

However, what is the best way to take the medication for your optimal benefit? Remember – sleep medications are not meant as a long-term solution. They are meant as a temporary aid to help you improve your sleep and prevent the serious side effects that a lack of sleep can cause.

Some advice to follow includes:

1) The first time you take the medication, make sure that you take a low dose and are at home.

2) Take the medication as prescribed. Too much is not a good thing.

3) Ask your doctor to prescribe the newer medications to avoid addiction issues.

4) Combine the medication with therapy so that you can work through the things that are keeping you from sleeping in the first place.

5) Do not take the medication every night. Twice a week is good; five times a week is the maximum.

6) Swallow the pill as you getting ready to go to sleep, preferably right before you lay down. This will help you get to sleep and stay there.

Sleeping pills can be a wonderful way to help your body rest and repair itself. You don’t want to over-use them or take the wrong ones.


Your Wellness Yogi

How To Get A Good Night's Sleep, Naturally

High-quality, uninterrupted sleep is an integral factor in how you feel as you go about your day.  Even so, many (if not most) Americans are not getting the rest they need on a nightly basis.  Those who suffer from insufficient or poor-quality sleep frequently find themselves looking to drugstore shelves for a solution.

Stemulite is one of the latest dietary supplements available that can help the body relax and enter a deep state of sleep with ease.  If you’re having trouble hitting the pillow each night, natural dietary supplements such as Stemulite can promote a good night’s rest.

The Process of Healthy Sleep

Ensuring a good night’s rest is good for both your body and mind; sleep is a restorative process, and helps with muscle and tissue repair overnight.  Stress from the day is eliminated as the body repairs itself and creates healthy cells and muscle fibers to accommodate for any trauma or changes.

Getting quality sleep helps to:

Improve skintone and leave you with a fresh, youthful complexion

Keep you alert and energetic during the day

Boost your metabolism and curb your cravings

Increase the chances of weight loss

Give you the energy and adaptability you need to handle stress

Improve mental and athletic performance

Simply make you feel better

If you are finding yourself unable to achieve the deep, restful sleep you need in order to wake up feeling refreshed, there are several factors that could be causing this, from the firmness of your mattress to what you ate before going to bed.  Sometimes, though, there are no obvious solutions. If you’ve tried everything, it may be time to try an all-natural sleep aid such as Stemulite, which is designed to make deep, rejuvenating sleep easier to achieve.

Helpful Hints for Better Sleep

Studies show that melatonin, a naturally-occurring hormone that helps the body repair itself and encourages REM sleep, can help restore the cells overnight.  If your body is not producing enough melatonin on a regular basis, the result is often poor quality sleep and symptoms of insomnia – lethargy, foggy thinking, chronic fatigue, poor memory and reduced athletic performance.  A few ways to improve the quality of the sleep cycle and increase melatonin production include:

Clearing clutter from your bedroom to encourage relaxation

Sleeping in a quiet room, without too much light

Cutting down on the consumption of caffeine

Using a body pillow to improve your sleep posture

Making sure you are not taking medication that may disrupt sleep

Taking dietary supplements such as Stemulite that increase melatonin production and promote natural relaxation

Though there are many sleeps aids available over-the-counter, it is prudent to be cautious and aware of any side effects that may occur.  One should also avoid becoming dependent on poor-quality supplements, as this can end up negatively affecting sleep.  With that said, though, there is no question that all-natural supplements such as Stemulite can offer invaluable assistance in solving sleep issues, so that you can wake up feeling rested and tackle the day’s activities with renewed energy and vigor.


Your Wellness Yogi

Buffalo Mindfulness Community sponsors new group, plans retreat – Buffalo alternative medicine

Buffalo, NY Spiritual Retreat Events | Eventbrite

The Buffalo Mindfulness Community now has a sister group, Buffalo Mindfulness North. The first meeting of the group will take place Thursday, October 28 at Saint Andrew’s Church. St. Andrew’s is located at 3017 Main Street, near Lisbon in University Heights.

The doors will open at 7:00 PM. Meditation will begin at 7:30. Two rounds of sitting and walking meditation will be followed by either an audio Dharma talk or another round of sitting. The group ends at 9:00. Buffalo Mindfulness North replaces the Wednesday evening Daemen College meeting. Daemen will continue to host the Sunday meeting of the Awakening Community at Rosary Hall.

Friday, November 19, will begin a retreat. The Friday evening talk will begin at 7:30 PM, and the Saturday events will begin at 9:30 AM and end at 5:30 PM. The guest is Shinzen, who will speak about “Unity and Diversity within the Buddhist Practice Traditions.”

There is no cost for the program, and a vegetarian lunch will be provided. Donations are welcomed.


Your Wellness Yogi

How to Get a Better Night of Sleep

Before I had kids I had some great habits and routines. I ate properly, woke up at 4:30 every morning, exercised hard and often, accomplished so much in my work life that my income soared, and still had plenty of time for fun and relaxation. Somewhere along the road I lost it all.  But I know how to get it back.

The road along which I “lost it” is a little path you might have heard of called PARENTHOOD. All my schedules and routines were immediately crushed by the needs of the little people I adopted who were neither aware of my house rules, nor did they care. I slept, ate, cleaned house, and socialized when they allowed it.  I lost my business. I lost my mind and I gained weight.

It has taken five years to get my children and family healthy, happy, and adjusted. I guess I just expected my healthy habits and fit body to return as well. It didn’t.

Now I knew that what was missing was my good habits, routines and scheduling and I tried to recapture all that but I kept getting sabatoged by exhaustion.  I attributed it to stress, to lack of exercise, to staying up too late, etc. But then I remembered my old sleep strategy!  And my life has changed.

The strategy is based on planning your sleep around your body’s natural sleep cycles. Remember when we learned in school about REM (rapid eye movement) and the different phases of sleep? The body sleeps in 90 minutes cycles which are broken down into different phases. For our purposes here we can explain those cycles into 3 phases as follows.

*65 minutes of normal, non REM sleep.

*20 minutes of REM sleep, the very deepest sleep, when dreams occur.

*5 more minutes of of non REM sleep.

That 90 minute cycle is followed by a brief period of almost consciousness as your body prepares for the next 90 minute cycle.  You are very easily disturbed at this point and easily awakened. If you plan your wake up call for this moment in your sleep “limbo” you will have the most energetic, refreshing, productive day possible.

It is easy to do.You still want to shoot for 8 hours of sleep.  6 is really the bare minimum and 12 is too much. Keeping those parameters in mind, along with what time you must get up in the morning to be on time at work or school or wherever your day takes you, count backwards in 90 minute increments to find your optimum bed time.

For example. I like to get up at 4:30.  Sounds crazy right?  But it gives me 2 hours to workout, tidy up the house and simply enjoy some quiet before the kids get up for school. So from 4:30 I count backward in 90 minute increments… 4:30 to 3:00, (1.5 hours, definitely not enough sleep) 3:00 to 1:30 (3 hours, no way!) 1:30 to 12:00 (5.5 hours is still not enough), 12 to 10:30 (7 hours is pretty good. I can handle that if it was a late night of homework with the kids or I rented a good movie) 10:30 to 9:00. (8.5 hours of sleep! Perfect!).  So my routine is to be asleep by 9 but I know that if I don’t make it until 10:30 I am in good shape too.  By the same token, if I am out very late and don’t get home until the wee hours I would tweek my wake up time to accomodate that 90 minute cycle even if it means 30 minutes less of sleep. Because I know that extra 30 minutes is not going to be as beneficial to me respecting my body’s natural sleep patterns.

I discovered this 90 minute sleep cycle strategy when I was 24 from an amazing and new age-ish co-worker who went on to enrich my life for years with her unconventional wisdom. I used the strategy until I was 35 and went into new mom “just-trying-to-survive” mode. While using the sleep strategy I never had to use an alarm clock, regardless of what time I went to bed.  After years without using the strategy I didn’t even hear my alarm clock and I woke up sick and groggy every day despite how early I went to bed.

I don’t know what made me remember the strategy, but I am so glad I did.  I suppose it was from finally getting my adopted children settled and coming out of a few years of intensity and challenge. The 90 minute sleep rule changed my life once before and I am enjoying watching it transform my life once again.


Your Wellness Yogi