Your Immunity Boost: Meditation!

Benefits Of Meditation

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Meditation is used by many people not only to relax from a busy day but also to tune into their own bodies and minds. Since days have become more stressful, the world has become more crowded and the more that worldly problems have risen, many people are finding comfort, safety and bliss in a few minutes of meditation a day. Meditation can help the user to focus his or her thoughts and block out any distractions in order to experience the pleasure of silence for a moment during the day.

The benefits of meditation can span from relieving migraine headaches to relaxing cramped muscles to a simple moment of pleasure, satisfaction and quiet. Over-stimulation and stress are both problems that many people deal with on a daily basis. These daily stressful situations and the exposure to too many over-stimulating activities can seem to be normal and accepted conditions that everyone takes for granted as standard. Although most people are dealing with these situations on a regular basis, it doesnt mean that these situations do not still put stress and tension on the body and mind. There are many people who may feel stressed and hopeless about their current home or work situation. Most people think that a vacation or a break from their daily lives is the way to relieve this stress. However, a retreat from basic stresses is only a temporary fix from the anxiety in our lives. In order to have the ability to deal with the tensions that life can put on our body and mind, many people are turning to meditation to teach them how to handle their daily lives with ease, patience and a clear mind.

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By creating a moment in the day to connect the mind, body and soul in a calm and hushed manner, many people are finding their stressful days don’t seem as stressful anymore. Meditation can help a person to realize the many options he or she has when dealing with the daily tensions of the workplace or home environment. By possessing the foundations of meditation, the situations that can usually seem impossible to stay calm through, can now seem easy to think through and figure out.

Here are a few meditations to help you manage your stress!

Five-Minute Meditation
You can do this breathing meditation anywhere and at any time. (It’s even safe to do while driving.)

Breathe in: Grace. All grace.
Exhale: You are connected to the world.
Take deep breaths as you say aloud (or to yourself) the words, “Grace. All grace.” This reminds you to take in and accept grace for yourself.

When you exhale, contemplate your connection to the world, in light of the grace you have just accepted

Here’s a one minute meditation, if you don’t have five!
Set a timer for one minute (use your phone) — One minute of meditation can seem like forever. But we can endure almost anything for one minute — a mere 60 seconds.

 Sit or stand comfortably — If sitting, rest your hands on your thighs or in your lap.

Take a deep breath — Blow it out slowly and as completely as you can.

Focus on your breathing — When breathing in, tell yourself, “I’m breathing in.” Breathing out say, “I’m breathing out.”

Label thoughts — Here’s the hard part, but only for one minute. Your attention will wander away from your breath, perhaps instantly. When you notice this, focus it back on your breath. How long you can focus on your breathing is completely irrelevant.

Quit when the timer goes off — Don’t think about it again until the next time.

Repeat 1-2 times per day.

What Meditations do you do on a daily basis?

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Nutrition for Heart Health

Nutrition for Heart Health 

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Oriental medicine (OM) nutrition combines ancient wisdom with modern science. OM nutrition is a holistic approach, which aims to balance all five flavors within most meals with one or two flavors being emphasized for therapeutic purposes. OM nutrition for a hypertension emphasizes bitter flavors, sour flavors and energetically-cooling foods.

OM theory states the bitter flavor benefits the heart in moderation but an excess is harmful as it has a drying effect; for example, coffee is bitter. In moderation coffee acts as vasodilator, increasing circulation but in excess it can raise blood pressure and has a diuretic effect. Modern scientific research has discovered while the human genome has 25 bitter taste receptors 12 of these are expressed in the human heart.

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Foods with bitter flavors include: romaine lettuce, dandelion, arugula, rye. Foods that combine bitter with pungency include: citrus peel, radish, scallion and white pepper. In OM nutrition the pungent flavor can help disperse phlegm (e.g. plaque). Foods that combine bitter with sweet include: asparagus, celery, tomatoes, lettuce, quinoa and papaya. Lemon rind is bitter and sour; vinegar is also bitter and sour.

Bitter flavors have a yin, or cooling effect, clearing heat in the body while encouraging a descent of Qi, which aids in the draining of fluids. For example, celery contains the phytochemical phthalides which relaxes arterial wall tissues to increase blood flow and thereby reduce blood pressure. The fiber, magnesium and potassium in celery also help lower blood pressure and regulate fluid balance. Caution: according to OM, those with a lot of dryness and/or bone disease should moderate their intake of bitter flavor.

A tomato a day keeps the doctor away! The combination of lycopene, vitamin C and E, potassium and folic acid in tomatoes make it a power food for heart health. The bitter flavor of tomatoes come from the seeds; to reap the full benefit of tomatoes eat the seeds too. Heirloom tomatoes in season have the most flavor, find the tastiest tomatoes at your farmer’s market or trying growing your own.

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Summer is the season of the heart according to Chinese medicine, meaning it is the season most likely to bring our hearts out of balance if we are exposed to excess heat, which can then create and/or exacerbate internal heat. During the summer OM nutrition recommends drinking and eating foods that cool the body and heart such as green tea, cucumbers, watermelon and lemon.

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Chrysanthemum tea is a very popular summertime tea in Asia because it is so well known for its cooling properties; it is helpful for headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, chest pain and also fevers. You can add chrysanthemum flowers to your morning green tea and in the evening combine it with chamomile tea for extra cooling benefits!

OM nutrition cautions against overdoing cold foods and drinks. Too much cold inhibits the digestive process. Drinking warm beverages and soups, as well as eating foods with a little pungency (chili pepper, garlic, ginger) causes the body to perspire slightly which naturally cools the body.

For those who happen to have hypertension plus a lot of dryness: dry skin, dry eyes, dry mouth and thirst, constipation and even hormonal deficiencies can benefit from increasing their healthy fat intake. Many nutrients are fat soluble, the body uses cholesterol to make hormones, bile and vitamin D. Healthy fats nourish yin in OM nutrition theory. Some Americans who suffer from hypertension are also thin with an underlying yin deficiency, such as those with the onset of hypertension that coincides with menopausal symptoms. Sources of healthy fats include: nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, flaxseed oil and fish.

Eating beans, peas and grains are high in potassium, magnesium, fiber and are high in choline which is vital in lowering hypertension and boosting fat metabolism. Whole grains are also a good source of niacin and vitamin E and are recommended for healthy arteries, especially those that are slightly bitter such as: rye, quinoa, amaranth and oats.

Try this OM Nutrition Recipe for Heart Health:

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5 Flavors Chickpea Salad for Healthy & Happy Heart

15 oz cooked organic chick peas (1 can)
1/2 c cup cooked quinoa or 1 cup brown rice (warm)
4 stalks celery, minced
6-12 cherry tomatoes, chapped in 1/2 or 1/4
8-12 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
2 TBSP red onion, minced

Toss with dressing made with:
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP lemon juice + a little lemon zest (organic is best)
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp honey or agave
1-2 garlic cloves (minced or pressed)
1/8 tsp Himalayan or Sea salt (or to taste)
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

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Resources
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/04/celery-may-help-bring-your-high-blood-pressure-down/
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/04/celery-may-help-bring-your-high-blood-pressure-down/
Foster, S. R., Blank, K., Hoe, L. E. S., Behrens, M., Meyerhof, W., Peart, J. N., & Thomas, W. G. (2014). Bitter taste receptor agonists elicit G-protein-dependent negative inotropy in the murine heart. The FASEB Journal, 28(10), 4497-4508.
Kastner, Joseph, MD, L.Ac, (2009) Chinese Nutrition Therapy, Thieme, Stuttgart and New York
Pitchford, Paul (2002), Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California
Ried, K., Frank, O. R., Stocks, N. P., Fakler, P., & Sullivan, T. (2008). Effect of garlic on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC cardiovascular disorders, 8(1), 1.
Willcox, J. K., Catignani, G. L., & Lazarus, S. (2003). Tomatoes and Cardiovascular Health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 43(1), 1-18.