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The Art Of Silence: Meditation Techniques

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In today’s fast-paced world, many people are seeking a way to get away from it all and relax. Meditation, which is essentially a method to obtain a level of deep thought and relaxation, is one way to find inner peace and tranquility. Many people think of monks or other spiritual types sitting in crossed-leg position and reaching states of bliss when they think of meditation, but there are many ways to meditate. While there are many ways to reach a meditative state, there really are no right or wrong ways to meditate (this would defeat the purpose), only practice and finding ways that feel right for you.

Meditation is associated with many religions, but one does not need to be associated with any particular religion in order to meditate. You might want to investigate different methods, however, to find a form of meditation that feels most comfortable. One common method includes repeating a sound or word, called a mantra. Other forms of meditation involve focusing on a visual image, such as the flame of a candle or a symbol. Other meditative techniques involve breathing and physical movements, such as yoga or other breathing practices.

No matter what the method, the tools used in meditation are there to help users reach a state of mental relaxation. Many meditation techniques help you clear your mind of the constant thoughts that normally run through the mind. In reducing or eliminating these thoughts, one can reach a state of deep thought that is associated with meditation.

There are two primary approaches to meditation, which are concentrative meditation and mindfulness meditation. In concentrative meditation, the practitioner focuses on breath, an object, or a sound (mantra). In mindfulness meditation, the practitioner sits quietly and “observes” everything in the environment, including thoughts, sounds, smells, and more. In this form of meditation, the practitioner practices not reacting to the environment (both internal and external), which can lead to a greater ability to act in a non-reactive way in daily life. Both forms of meditation are useful, and one is no better than the other is. Personal preference may determine which method you choose, and you can always try both.

Both physical and mental benefits can result from meditation. This can include increased heart health through relaxation, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, and a more youthful feeling. Mental benefits can be an increased sense of well-being, decreased anxiety and depression, and emotional stability. Meditation should not be used as a cure for physical or mental ailments, however, but it can be a powerful supplement. Those with physical or mental health conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before beginning a meditation practice.

Meditation can be quite physical, such as with some types of yoga, or seemingly passive, such as in mindfulness types of mediation. In addition to the types of meditation, there are different stages as well. Generally speaking, in early stages of meditation, the practitioner is more aware of the practice. He or she may have difficulty concentrating on the breath or not reacting to thought. With practice, this moves into a stage where one is much less aware. This is followed by a stage of bliss, which is followed by a very deep sense of self, followed by an ability to reach a stage of deep stillness.

There are many resources available on meditation. Those new to the practice may opt to take part in a class or guide when beginning. Others may prefer to read up on the various options and practice on his or her own. Visit the local library for books and resources or visit a yoga or spiritual center. Meditation can be an enjoyable experience and provide balance to an otherwise hectic life.

Health & Fitness

5 Moves to Target the Lower Abs

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It’s no secret that not all exercises that target the lower abs are created equal; some are more effective than others. For anyone that’s wanting to target the lower abs, it can be very frustrating, to say the least. However, targeting and strengthening the lower abs is possible. The trick is finding the best moves for you to build muscle and flatten or chisel the stomach the way you desire.

Also: Why the Glute Bridge Is Great for After an Abs Workout

Move 1: Rolling Plank
The plank in itself is a great move for the stomach area as a whole. However, this rolling plank works the entire core including the lower abdominal. It will also build strength in the lower back.

Here’s how to do it. Start in a plank position with the body making a straight line from feet to shoulders. Rotate the body to a right side plank and hold for about 10 to 15 seconds. Then repeat on the left side. 10 reps are recommended, 5 on each side.

Move 2: Hanging Leg Raise
Deep muscles are worked during this move as well as the lower back and abdominal area. The only equipment necessary is a chin-up bar. Simply hang from the bar with the feet together and knees bent slightly. Bend the knees and raise the hips at the same time and lift the thighs up to the chest. Pause then lower back to the start position. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps each.

Move 3: Roll Up
The classic roll-up still can’t be beaten when it comes to the best move to build muscle in the lower tummy. Lay flat on your back, arms stretched straight above the head. Slowly bring them straight up, and raise off the floor to touch the toes. Slowly lower back down. Do 3 sets, 10 reps each.

Move 4: Leg Drop
Lift both legs to the ceiling. Make the abdominals tight then lower the legs slowly until they are a few inches above the floor. When the lower back starts lifting you’ve gone too far. Then raise them back up, and repeat. Do 10 reps and 3 sets.

Move 5: Scissors
Lift both legs straight to the ceiling. Lower the right leg until it’s just a bit off the floor, then switch legs. Do the move quickly with no breaks. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps each. For added benefits lift the head and shoulders off the floor.

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The importance of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water

Alkaline for the Body

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I am sure that many of you have been told of the importance of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water. What is not as often mentioned is just how alkaline foods and water work to ensure optimal health.

Also: How can I Stay Motivated when it comes to Home Exercise?

To begin with, the consumption of an alkaline diet regulates the body’s PH factor. The body’s PH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. When the body’s PH is kept at just above 7.0 a variety of bodily functions work more efficiently. The resulting health benefits are both numerous and of great importance.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water is an excellent buffer against cardiovascular disease. Alkaline diets are great for reducing inflammation, the result of this is often the lowering of both cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water lowers the chronic pain effects for a variety of ailments. Another benefit of an alkaline diet’s inflammation lowering qualities is a great reduction in chronic pain symptoms. Alkaline foods and water can provide significant relief for chronic sufferers of chronic back pain, headaches, muscle spasms, and joint pain.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water provides protection of bone density. Alkaline diets provide excellent mineral balance which facilitates bone growth and health. In addition, alkaline diets promote the production of growth hormone and the absorption of Vitamin D which provides further protection for bones.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water reduces the risk of cancer. Alkaline diets provide an abundance of antioxidant protection against cancer. Also, alkaline environments are not conducive to the growth of cancer cells.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water prevents the development of diabetes. The pancreas is a bodily organ provided with the task of regulating the body’s blood sugar. The pancreas is dependent on an alkaline environment to function properly. One study, focusing on the effects of alkaline water on blood sugar, showed that just a month of drinking alkaline water can bring the blood sugar of diabetics to a normal level.

The health benefits of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water cannot be understated. I am sure that after reading just a few of these benefits you will agree that making a conscious effort to incorporate alkaline foods and water into your diet is well worth the effort.

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Health & Fitness

Prevent Muscle Loss During Fasted Cardio with BCAA Supplements

BCAAs to Start Your Day

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Photo by Nicole De Khors

One of the most popular forms of extreme fat loss is fasted cardio. Usually done in the morning, this exercise method consists of working out the body anaerobically on an empty stomach, as opposed to full of calories from prior meals. The benefit of fasted cardio all lies in the specific targeting of fat reserves. More specifically, after eating a large meal, insulin levels are raised within the body. As cortisol levels are very high in the morning, they will target muscle cells with the increase in insulin. However, during a fasted state, those high cortisol levels in the morning can be utilized to target fat reserves as opposed to the muscle as the insulin levels will be greatly diminished during that fasting time. As explained by Men’s Fitness, “if you are fasted, insulin is low and cortisol will then go after body fat reserves”.

Also: Increasing Longevity Through Better Nutrition

For those looking to optimize their fat loss while still maintaining all of their hard-earned muscle, fasted exercise is not the only part of the equation. A healthy amount of Branch Chain Amino Acid’s to start your day will help to maintain all of that muscle that has taken so many dedicated hours in the gym to pack on. BCAA are essentially the very building blocks of muscles themselves. According to Layne Norton, experienced bodybuilder, and Ph.D., “BCAAs not only increase the rate of protein synthesis, but they also increase the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis”. So not only can this aminos help to you to maintain your muscles, it can also provide your muscles with a greater capacity for growth by targeting the actual muscle cells. But within a fasted state in the morning, we are primarily concerned with the rate of protein breakdown that may occur. Lucky for us, BCAA supplements can answer for this too. BCAA’s are also very capable of decreasing the rate at which protein breaks down. As explained again by Dr. Layne Norton, this can be explained by the aminos “decreasing the activity of the components of the protein breakdown pathway”.

In short, starting your days with a BCAA supplement is a great way to ensure that your muscle gains are not lost during fasted exercise. BCAA’s are one of the most well-researched supplements on the market and therefore finding a wealth of knowledge on them is not difficult. A simple search engine will guide you through a host of well documented and researched information. Additionally, these supplements are easy to find at any local supplement store or more simply online.

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