By: Kelli Pitrone, Registered Dietitian & Vivante Health Nutrition Team Manager
Meditation is a concept that’s often talked about but, for many, difficult to do. There isn’t a hard and fast definition of what meditation is, and it can mean many things to many people, which is precisely why it can be a challenge. According to Yoga International, meditations is:
“a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state.”
In other words, meditation is the act of stepping outside the normal state of things by consciously slowing down the mind and noticing our thoughts.
With our stressful, bustling lives our minds are constantly racing. Incorporating a daily meditation practice can teach us to regulate our thoughts and consciously make an effort to relax and de-stress.
Meditation and Digestion
This practice is vital to our overall mental and physical health, specifically our digestive health. Digestion is proven to be intricately interlaced with the health of our mind. They are connected in ways that are beyond our comprehension. The enteric nervous system, often called the second brain, is a mesh of neurons that controls the digestive tract. While the enteric nervous system can work solo without the input of the central nervous system (aka, the spinal cord and brain), the two networks are closely interconnected and play off one another all the time.
On a personal note, I used to be a total skeptic. I didn’t see how taking care of my mind could possibly help my digestive issues. After about the millionth healthcare visit, I left my doctor’s office upset because she had written me a prescription for massage and yoga—massage and yoga?! I remember thinking, What a huge waste of my time!
As it turns out, I was so wrong. I cooled down and reluctantly took my doctor’s advice. I slowly began to incorporate relaxation techniques into my life, and I can now say… it has made an enormous difference, so much so that meditation is now part of my daily routine.
So, how does one actually meditate? Here are some getting-started suggestions, or “steps” for you methodical types:
- Choose a comfy space. Meditation is the quieting of the mind, so it helps to begin in a space that feels good to you and offers few distractions. Think optimal lighting, temperature, and sound.
- Find a comfy position. Maybe cross-legged, in a chair, or possibly lying on your back.
- Close your eyes or pick a focal point. Bringing your eyes to a close or focusing on a single point will help prevent your eyes from darting around, stimulating more thoughts.
- Focus on your breath. Tapping into your breath can help with focus and relaxation. Work on lengthening your breath as you inhale and and exhale. It helps to imagine anything that’s hanging heavy on your mind or not serving you well leaving the body with each exhalation.
- Repeat a word or mantra. Choosing a word or saying to repeat in your mind can help with concentration. For example, if I feel the need to put more effort into my relationships with loved ones, I’ll repeat love over and over in my head. If I’m working to reduce rigidity in my life, I’ll repeat the word flexibility.
- Be grateful. Another favorite technique is to bring to mind something I’m grateful for and repeat that image or word as my mantra.
- Emit positivity. There will be times when there just isn’t a word that’s jumping out as a good mantra. There’s nothing wrong with that! When this happens, focus on sending positive energy outward to those who could use it. Imagine your feelings of positivity extending out from your body and being received by others.
There’s really no specific amount of time that you need to stay in meditation. It might be a bit challenging right off the bat, so try it once and time yourself. It may be only 30 seconds at first, and if so, that’s an excellent place to start! Just take your starting point and work up to 5-10 minutes per day.
Best of luck on your meditation journey! Taking the time to de-stress and calm your mind is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your gut. Please reach out to the Vivante Care Team with questions or comments. We’re here for our members 24/7!
About Vivante Health
Vivante Health is an innovative digital healthcare company reinventing the way chronic conditions are managed. Our mission is to fill the unmet needs of people living with chronic conditions that are invisible, neglected, or stigmatized, starting with digestive disease. Our health management ecosystem, GIThrive™, empowers people—through brilliant technology and advanced science—to spend less time worrying about their digestive condition and more time living life.
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