Quick 5-Minute Meditation for Dispelling Depression, Anxiety, and Fear

In our modern day world where high stress is the norm, our brains have not yet learned to differentiate a real threat from a perceived threat, so any stress kicks the brain into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode. The results? Symptoms that mirror or include anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. This can be devastating and debilitating to deal with, but there are a lot of coping skills that can help us retrain our brains and bodies to react differently.

Meditation is a great tool to use that can be done anywhere by anyone. Studies have shown many benefits, including: decreased blood pressure; increased oxygen to the cells; slowed activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear; and a shift in brain waves from the stress prone right frontal cortex into the calmer left frontal cortex. This literal shift in brain wave activity accounts for the shift in mood that meditators experience.

One of the easiest meditations to do is a Kundalini yoga meditation I call “555”, which usespranayama, or controlled breathing. This meditation can be done in as little as a minute, but anywhere from five to ten minutes is ideal.

  1. Find a comfortable position for you. Straighten your spine.
  2. Place your palms upward.
  3. Gently release your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
  4. Inhale for a 5 count.
  5. Hold your breath for a 5 count.
  6. Exhale for a 5 count.
  7. Repeat.
  8. As you are doing this, you are also invited to do a body scan from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Notice any areas that are holding tension and breathe into these areas.

As we practice our meditation and breathing, our mind may wander. We may lose focus or lose count. That’s okay. Just bring it back to the breath.

April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW is a writer, speaker, and integrative practitioner who brings a unique voice to the field of health and wellness by combining traditional evidence-based techniques with ancient practices such as yoga and newer findings in contemplative sciences. She has been recognized as a part of “Generation Inspiration” and is also named as one of 20 Young Champions for Women by the White Ribbon Alliance and WIE Symposium, presented by Donna Karan and Arianna Huffington. You can follow April on Facebook or Twitter. Visit http://www.beingandwellness.com to learn about services she offers, including Reiki & coaching, or http://www.verbalvandalism.com to check out her latest written works.

February 28th Radio Show-Raising Beautiful Children

On today’s show we are talking about raising beautiful children.

If you have been a frequent listener to the show you know when I say beauty I’m not talking about making sure your kids are in the latest fashions or have perfect haircuts….I’m talking about raising them to be positive people with a strong and balanced sense of self-esteem.  The kind of people that will help us create and foster true beauty in our world.

As a mom, a step-mom, and at one time was a single mom and  know that while we may need work to put a roof over our heads or provide food, our most important job in life is parenting our kids.

Join me and my guests, Dr. Wendy Walsh, Jan Horn, and Sandi Schartz.  Together we will share some valuable tools parents can use to help balance and reduce stress in their own lives and in turn empower their children to create their own beautiful lives.

Tune in live by logging onto www.hayhouseradio.com on Monday February 28th at 9am Pacific Time/12noon Eastern Standard Time.  If you missed the show, you can listen to the show in the archive section.

Some info on my guests:

Dr. Wendy Walsh is a journalist, a psychologist, and a mother.  You may have seen her on TV as she is a contributor to CNN, The CBS Early Show, The Today Show, Lifetime, and many more. www.drwendywalsh.com

Jan Horn is the Executive Director/Founder of Blooming Place for Kids.  Jan and her staff are deeply committed to improving the lives of neglected and abused children by giving them hope for their own future through programs developed to build leadership skills, self-confidence, good moral character and values.

Blooming Place for Kids’ residential camp promotes positive values and encourages teamwork, sharing and individual growth.

A PLACE TO DREAM . . . to GROW . . . . . and just be a KID!!!  www.bloomingplaceforkids.org

Sandi Schwartz is an educator, author, radio show host, and inspirational speaker with over 40 years of experience in the field of child development, Sandi combines the best of traditional wisdom with a depth of spiritual awareness, delivering a powerful message for parents. Her most distinguished honor was from the Governor of New York State for leadership and courage in her work with children and families in the aftermath of 9/11.

Sandi’s Leading Edge programs for parents and educators have received international acclaim.  She consults with parents in many countries and her weekly radio show, Leading Edge Parenting, is heard around the world.

For More Information About Leading Edge Parenting or to contact Sandi for consulting, speaking, or to receive her free daily love nuggets, go to www.sanditeaches.com

How not to see RED on Black Friday

One of the busiest and most exciting shopping days of the year is just around the corner. Along with that day comes the rallying cry of, “Charge it!” and a whole lot of stress. Some of it is self-imposed and some of it is the retail industry knowing just how to get us amped up. The ads for Black Friday are starting earlier and seem to get more exciting every year. The sales even start earlier too! Midnight? You’ve barely cleaned the kitchen or come out of your turkey coma with enough clarity to drive the car and you’re expected to have your shopping head on?! And how many “sales of the century” can there be? Sure we just changed over to a new one but at least give us a couple years to forget about the last one and for gosh sakes pace yourself.

Whatever it is that makes our individual eyes light up, they always seem to find something to start us down the path of mass retail hypnosis. Like zombies we march to the malls with glazed eyes and the mantra of “must shop” only to snap from bliss to stress the moment we pull into the parking lot. From fighting for a parking spot, to getting in to a tug-of-war over the last sale item on the shelf, to finding the perfect gifts for everyone on our lists, we seem to find ways to make our blood boil.

A lot of the stress we feel is self-imposed and can be avoided. The keys to surviving possibly the best shopping day of the year are preparedness and perspective blended with a few of my favorite things~

  1. You can start mapping out what you want to accomplish by making a gift list and charting the sales you want to hit well in advance. This is not the best time to be swimming through manic crowds of pre-dawn discount shoppers looking for gift ideas. Plus, it’s not only a great way to get more done in a short period of time but can also help with budgeting. If you know what you want and get what’s on your list it could cut down on impulse buying. While we all want to take extra special care in getting the right presents, but excessive spending around the holidays is another place we put pressure on ourselves.
  2. You can even use that gift list to route your buying journey to have a nice flow so you’re not bouncing from store to store feeling confused and anxious.
  3. Get a ride to the stores or take a taxi to cut down the stress of finding a place to park. You can also use the fact that you have a designated driver as an opportunity to have a little a pre-party. Speaking of parties, get a shopping buddy.
  4. Remember, if we don’t get everything done we still have over 3 weeks to work on it. If we do cross most everyone off our list we can rest easy and stay out of the frenzy that is sure to build throughout December. We can go back to stressing over what to wear to the company party.

If all else fails and you want to cash in all the great deals and have the fun of shopping without ever leaving the house. Have your shopping buddies over to buy online. You can party hearty and when you shop til you drop you can drop on your own comfy couch.

Baby It’s Cold and Flu Outside

It’s getting colder across the country and that usually signals the start of the season between fall and winter, cold and flu. I’m sure if there’s one thing we can all agree on, there is never a good time to be sick. At the first sign of a sniffle the number one thought that comes to mind is, “Oh not now!” If you’re like most people you have a million things going on; job, family, and heaven forbid a hobby or two. The last thing you need is to be down for the count and fall a couple days behind when you’re living day to day to begin with.

You feel that you are doing everything in your power to avoid catching colds but nothing seems to work. We are all told that if we eat right, take our vitamins, and have a tube of anti-bacterial hand goo in every possible place we have a better chance at avoiding catching the dreaded cold and flu. Somewhere in the back of our minds, if we have kids, we even consider putting them in a plastic bubble during the school year.

It’s inevitable though, you touch the handle of the grocery cart and touch your face or get on a plane two rows over from the hacking, wheezing guy in seat 12C and the virus is on its way in to your system. The interesting thing is this, I’ll bet very few of you have been privy to this factoid; stressing out about the potential of catching those dreaded germs is as bad for you as the germs themselves!

Research shows that stress hormones lower your immune system’s ability to fight back invading bacteria and viruses. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (1991), supported the hypothesis that the more stress you are under the greater the likelihood of catching a cold. I know right, first you have to worry about viruses and bacteria, now you have to worry about catching a hypothesis!

So what can you do to boost your immune system? While you may not be able to create a total immunity, the best immune system defense is a good offense. The first step to conquering any problem is to identify it. Figure out what is causing you the most stress and nip it in the bud. If there is something at work or a friend or relative that is causing your blood to boil write it down and set up boundaries to distance yourself from the problem.

Practice relaxation techniques. Work through your stress throughout the day and as it happens. Go for a walk, journal your frustrations, take a yoga/meditation class, or talk openly with a friend about what is bothering you. Blowing off some steam will not only have a calming effect on you overall but will help you get some much needed sleep. After all, isn’t that one of the first things they tell you to do when you get sick? Try doing that before you are forced to do it by Dr. Nyquil.

Eat right and exercise. Well duh? But seriously, why do we always wait until it’s too late to take good care of ourselves? Eat a wide variety of foods including fruits and veggies so that you are getting natures multi-vitamin. Also, exercising will help blow off a lot of that stress that may have you down to begin with. Do you have a crabby boss? Try a nice kick-boxing class. You’ll fight off your demons and your colds at the same time.

Finally, take a healthy dose of PMA. What aisle do you find that in you ask? That’s sold inside you. It’s Positive Mental Attitude. A 1990 study by Lin & Peterson showed a direct connection between an upbeat outlook and a strong immune system. Write down your negative feelings and then take a look at how you can turn them into positives. There is always a way. It just takes a little effort to see the good in everything. As for seeing the bad, that zaps the energy right out of you. Apparently when you’re head is held high it’s harder for the germs to get in!

Overall it seems that not stressing out before or after you start to get sick is the key to staying healthy and recovering faster. Don’t let your head drama work its way in to your nose and chest this flu season.