So often, clients say as they progress through their health coaching program that they thought I would be telling them as their health coach to do more cardio and eat more kale. Although those conversations do come up, we work together to do so much more than revamp someone’s diet and figure out what types of movement and exercise bring them joy! A lot of sessions usually are influenced by the amount and type of stress a client is feeling. Stress impacts so many things – sleep, movement, cravings, hormones, brain waves, etc. When we are under stress, the best way to help our body get to better healing is to create time and space for rest and relaxation. Meditation and mindfulness are two practices that often go hand-in-hand and are perfect to help counteract stress. Mindfulness is all about appreciating and living in the moment, while meditation lets you focus on one singular thing and relax your mind and body. Put them together and you have an excellent self-care practice for the Spring.
What is Meditation?
First, let’s go over what each of these practices is, beginning with meditation. When you meditate, you are trying to reach a state of calm. Instead of thinking about all the things worrying you or stressing you out, you are trying to think about nothing at all. In some cases, you will focus on just one thing. You want to clear your mind, relax your body, and really just let everything else float away. This does take a lot of practice, so the more you do it, the easier it will be for you.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is very similar, but you are not actually in a meditation, unless you are combining them. With mindfulness, you want to always stay in the present. Instead of worrying about the past or thinking about the future, you only think about and appreciate what is happening right now. This is often used for people with anxiety, depression, or who are trying to stick to mindful eating. It is another thing that takes practice but is well worth it in the end.
How to Start This Practice
If you haven’t figured it out by now, you will definitely be able to combine these into one practice called mindfulness meditation! You are going to relax, clear your mind, and just focus on your present state. This often begins with sitting in a comfortable, quiet place, and just breathing for a few minutes. The deep breathing is going to relax your body and help you to let go of all those worries and concerns going around in your head.
Just focus on your breathing and nothing else, before you start with the mindfulness practice. Once you are fully relaxed, think about the present moment, and what is happening right now. Experience your current feelings and emotions, but nothing in the past or future. This is very important to mindfulness and living only in the present.
You can do this in short bursts of time, or even while journaling as you relax and just try to focus on now. It is okay to experience some negative emotions, but focus on releasing them after accepting them, then moving on.
CHALLENGE: If you are new to this practice or haven’t done it in a while, set aside 5 minutes a few times a week (write them in your calendar) and use an app or timer to guide you as you begin mindfulness meditation. I love the free Insight Timer app (https://insighttimer.com/) to choose the length of time I have for meditation and there are so many options to choose from!