One of the most important things to understand about nutrition and diet is the role your mind plays in the process. Your mind is your body’s nerve centre and as such performs a range of tasks, from waking you up in the morning, to ensuring that you perform well at work or at home, and even putting you to sleep at night. Therefore it is amply important to have a healthy mind, if you want to have a healthy body.
The relation between healthy mind and healthy body
The mind enables decision making and is responsible for most of the bodily functions, This makes it invaluable and any trigger or stress, that you may encounter and not manage effectively will throw it out of gear. In order to maintain a healthy mind, you need to analyse a stress pattern or behaviour, and train your mind to deal effectively with it. If you fail to do so, your mind will find other ways (not always constructive ones) to deal with the stress.
Notice how you often turn to eating, when you’re faced with troubles or tensions. Some people drink or smoke, and their excuse is always stress. Stress is a slow killer and accumulation of too much stress, makes us fall prey to nasty habits. These habits further inhibit our ability to live full, healthy lives. So you see how stress management is critical? How then do you do this? Mindfulness, or meditation as most people call it is an effective way of doing this.
Mindfulness or meditation: Let’s dispel the myths
We all have a rather lopsided view of mindfulness or meditation. We’ve come to associate it only with yoga, or being an ascetic. But mindfulness and meditation are so much more than JUST sitting under a tree and thinking about nothing. It is about three things, (a) Identifying a stressful pattern (b) Acknowledging its presence and (c) Changing our relationship with the pattern or thought.
Let us examine each of these stages closely.
Identifying a stress pattern:
We are all predisposed to seeing the world in black and white, in absolutes and when something out of these realms comes into our spectrum of consideration, it irritates, stresses and bothers us. The first rule of mindfulness therefore is identification. When someone’s words or actions or a situation is bothering you, you need to make a mental note of it. You need to REALISE that this is the thought, pattern or situation that is frustrating you.
Acknowledging its presence:
Once you’ve identified a problem, you need to acknowledge its presence, which is to say that you shouldn’t ignore it or let it pass. Simply acknowledging the existence of a stressor, can give you the power to do something about it. Remember identifying a stress pattern and NOT acknowledging that it is a problem or an issue will only frustrate you more. This stage is extremely important as it helps you compartmentalise the stressor or stress pattern.
Changing your relationship with the pattern or thought:
This stage is the ACTION stage. Training your mind to change its point of view about the stressful pattern is where meditation comes in. Meditation allows the mind to confront the problem in a calm, rational, non-reactive manner and deal with the problem in the right way.
Meditation isn’t about being the Buddha. It is about finding inner peace. In a life full of pressure and strain, meditation isn’t about running away from it all, it is about constructively doing something about the problem at hand, without letting it wreck our minds.
So how do you meditate?
Meditation for beginners is about repetition. Find a time of day that suits you. Either at the start of a new day, or just before you go to sleep. Make it a pattern, so it becomes a part of your everyday routine. Start with a simple breathing exercise, and keep it short. Here’s a suggestion on how to:
- Sit on a supportive chair, with your feet touching the ground.
- Keep your hands by your side
- Take a deep breath and observe your surroundings
- Acknowledge the sights and sounds around you
- When you’re ready, take a deep breath and gently close our eyes
- Once your eyes are closed, take a moment to let your thoughts flow
- Breathe deeply in and out
- Let yourself relax
- Feel the breath enter and exit your body
- If you seem to be distracted by a thought, let that continue
- Always keep calm and acknowledge every breath you take
- Focus on every section of your body
- Take at least 2-3 minutes to be still and just breathing
- It may help if you have some soft music playing in the background
- Open your eyes in your own time
Once you’ve gotten used to the above pattern, you can increase the frequency of this exercise and the duration. Over time this will become an invaluable way to spend some quality time with yourself and you’ll notice a marked difference in the way you approach your stress. In case you have any queries about health, nutrition and fitness, you’re welcome to hit me up on Facebook or Instagram or leave me a message in the comments section below.