Article by freelance writer Sally Writes
We know that we are living longer than ever, but our aim is to live well; to have a sharp mind, to truly ‘be’ in the present moment, and to hang on to our treasured memories as long as we can. According to data obtained from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, around 3.7 million citizens were aged 65 or over in 2016, with predictions for further growth in numbers of elderly by 2046.
We know that we will be living longer, so it is not surprising that people are making greater efforts than ever before, to boost their mental health and adopt lifestyles that enhance brain function. In this post, we highlight a few natural and holistic methods used to improve brain function.
Omega-3 Fats a Vital Component of the Brain
DHA, an Omega-3 fat, is an essential component of the brain, yet the body itself cannot produce it; it must be obtained from the foods we eat. Sources of Omega-3 include fatty fish such as wild salmon and tuna, liver, and brain.
Omega-3 is vital for brain function because it provides structural support to the cells of the central nervous system. When levels are low, these cells become stiff and inflamed, and cells lose their ability to communicate well.
The Right Balance between Activity and Rest
Extensive studies have shown that exercise has important benefits for cognitive function, particularly in later life. Physical activity raises levels of growth factors like BDNF, which increase resistance to brain injury, improve learning and mental performance, and stimulate the growth and development of nervous tissue in the brain.
Sleep is equally vital; various studies have revealed its importance for concentration, working memory, sustained attention, and reaction times, while long-term sleep deprivation is linked to brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
Sleep also ensures the brain enjoys ‘synaptic plasticity’ (which plays an important role in learning and memory).
Nootropics for Better Brain Function
Nootropics, another word for ‘smart supplements’, comprise everything from Vitamin D to caffeine, choline, specific amino acids such as phosphatidylserine, herbs, and even yamabushitake mushrooms.
These supplements and foods essentially ‘sharpen the brain’, each in their own respective way. In a study published in the journal Aging & Mental Health, for instance, gingko biloba was found to provide nearly equal results for Alzheimer’s disease, as the drug donepezil, while in other studies it has been found to improve perceived sleep quality, regulate stress, and improve cognition.
Bacopa Monnieri, used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine, meanwhile, has been found to improve memory and learning capacity in all age groups, not just the elderly. Fish oil is another popular nootropic, owing to its high Omega-3 content. The full list of supplements and foods is ample, with research showing that each has specific effects on the brain.
Making real improvement to your brain function requires a multifaceted approach in which due importance if given to consuming a healthy diet, exercising regularly and resting well, and adding foods and supplements that have been proven to have powerful benefits for everything from behaviour to cognitive functioning. If you wish to start taking supplements, it is vital to obtain approval from your doctor first, regardless of your age.
What is meditation?
Meditation has been used for centuries all over the world. People that have been practicing meditation for a long time can radiate peace and well-being. Meditation is the best tool available to us to find happiness and peace of mind. Yet, despise it being known, practiced and praised for so long it is still not part of our every day life. Why? Maybe because meditation can be both easy and difficult at the same time.
Why is meditation easy?
It is free! It is not something only available to the richest people in the world, it is available to anyone! Its does not cost any money, nothing, nada!
It is technically easy to do, we just have to sit down and close our eyes. How easy is that!
it does not take too much of our precious time. If we can spare twenty minutes a day that`s already plenty. We can always wake up 20 mn earlier, go to bed 20 mn later, or spend 20 mn less on Facebook or watching TV.
we don`t have to think hard about anything, on the contrary the less we think the better it is!
Why is meditation so difficult?
mainly because we identify with our mind AND THE MIND DOES NOT LIKE MEDITATION!
What the mind says: ‘i don't have time today’
‘i`ll do it later’
‘i`ll start tomorrow’
‘pfff, it`s too hard’
‘i don`t want to’
`’i don`t feel like it’
i rather eat, watch TV or check Facebook again’
Why does the mind say that?
The main aim of meditation is to quiet the mind. A quiet mind = peace. But the mind itself doesn`t want to be quiet! It wants to be active, busy, heard, listen to. It just wants to talk talk talk!!! Meditation can quieten and stop the mind. The mind does not want to disappear so it will do anything to stop YOU from meditating. It will give give you ALL the excuses in the world not to meditate, EVERY TIME you will try to.
YOU are NOT your mind. If you can learn to quieten, stop and control something, it means that THAT THING is not you, it is separate from you.
So why should you meditate?
Do you want to spend the rest of your life listening and being controlled by a voice in your head which is NOT REALLY YOU?
It is like having a TV in our head, switch on all day long on the same channel, with no remote to change channels or turn it off.
Meditation is the remote control.
What could happen if you start practicing meditation?
* you can become in control of your mind
* you can become in control of your thoughts
* if you control your thoughts, you control your emotions
* you will become happier
* you will become more peaceful.
* no more stress, no more worries
* your life will change
Shall I start meditation?
* If you are 100% happy with your life and yourself, you probably don`t need to
* if not, you`ve got nothing to lose, except your mind maybe 😉
We offer regular meditation classes in Byron Bay, NSW, as well as yoga and meditation retreats to teach people how to meditate and implement a regular and easy practice.
Check our services on the website or Contact us if you would like more information on the teaching and retreats.
Article by freelance writer Sally Writes.
Reduce Pain By Up to 90% with Mindfulness Meditation
Pain, like any other emotion, is incredibly subjective. It is information processed by the brain, which can be tackled by focusing your attention in the right way. It is estimated that the most experienced meditators can reduce pain by 90% without medication. This is not just based on anecdotal evidence, but is backed up by a number of scientific studies. The alleviation of suffering can come from living in the moment. Here are the benefits of mindfulness of pain relief and how it works.
Non-Addictive Alternative to Medication
One reason you should be using the power of the mind for pain relief is to avoid potentially addictive medication. Opioid addiction is increasing and health experts are searching for a safe alternative. Meditation might just be the answer.
Brain scans have shown that focusing on the present really does relieve pain, but using different neural pathways to pain killers. Instead of using the body’s natural opioid system, meditation targets a different area of the brain, making it non-addictive. This can be combined with other natural alternative pain remedies.
Primary and Secondary Pain
The evolution of the brain is incredible, but sometimes detrimental to our happiness. Response to pain essentially happens on two levels. There is the initial, primary response, such as the immediate reaction to placing your hand on a hot stove. You will pull your hand away before you have even processed the pain. This is a way the brain can respond to pain rapidly and keep you safe.
Secondary pain is that long lasting, chronic pain. This is manufactured and draws on memories of suffering from the past. Mindful meditation can train your brain not amplify these feelings, essentially turning down suffering. Much pain is caused by stress and anxiety, both of which we know can be managed with mindfulness. This is because brain has a bias towards negative feelings. By closing your eyes, taking deep breaths and thinking positively, you can induce a relaxed state, causing your brain to believe there is no danger and no need to feel pain.
Like any skill, mindfulness must be practiced regularly in order to have an effect. It can be all too easy to reach for a pill for quick relief. However, pain is almost entirely manufactured in the mind. If pain is intense and long lasting, you can naturally relieve it by becoming truly present and paying attention to sensations as they arise.
Article by freelance writer Sally Writes
With the pressures of today’s society, it is very easy to fall out of touch with who we truly are. What with the difficulties of balancing work and personal commitments and harmful messages from the media that make you feel like you are never ‘enough,’ it is easy to lose track of your true feelings in the struggle to keep up. Luckily there are many ways to reconnect with your inner self. Here are a few to consider.
Mindfulness can reduce stress and help you be aware of your own thoughts, emotions and the sensations around you, thus allowing you to connect with your inner-self. Mindfulness is the mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. You can cultivate mindfulness through methods such as mindful eating where you really focus on every sensation of the food rather than wolfing it down while scrolling through Facebook. There are many books on mindfulness as well as free resources on mindfulness practice on the internet. If you feel you need some personal help, search for a mindfulness coach in your local area.
The world is finally learning the power of meditation. Across multiple studies meditation has been shown to improve anxiety and depression. Even mentally healthy people can benefit from using meditation to handle stress and promote well being. A less talked about but equally important benefit is using meditation to reconnect with yourself. By turning off the physical and psychological noise around you, meditation allows you to tune into thoughts that you usually miss and maybe tap into abilities you didn’t know you had.
Whilst these hacks aren’t as effective as a long term change, they can really give you a boost when you are finding it hard to hear your inner voice. Two of the most effective are taking a solo day trip to spend time in nature and turning off your phone to take a social media and communications hiatus for a weekend. Both of these activities are great when you are feeling overwhelmed because they forcibly quiet the background noise and give you breathing space while you recenter yourself.
Self-love is treating yourself with the same kindness you would a dear friend. Recognise and accept your inner needs. Understand you are human and make mistakes. For many people, getting to know and love your inner self is the final piece of the puzzle.
This life can be hard and keeping in touch with your inner self can be a challenge. However, it is work well worth doing. Moreover, these methods are enjoyable and add to your quality of life. Give them a try, you deserve it.
Article By Sally Writes
If you have just returned from a retreat, chances are, you feel more inspired than ever to make yoga a part of your daily life. Practicing yoga in the company of like minded people, under the guiding hand of a qualified teacher hones your technique, introduces you to the powerful benefits of mindfulness, and enables body, mind, and spirit, to awaken to the beauty and power of nature. Yoga is so much more than a pastime, however; it is a lifestyle, one that can bring so many positive effects to your life – including calm, greater strength and flexibility, and an enhanced ability to fight off anxiety. To take the magic of yoga to your own sanctuary at home, follow these handy tips:
Choosing the Right Space for Yoga
Not all spaces are alike when it comes to yoga, but ideally, all should be located in a quiet part of your home and have a nice flat surface, to enhance stability during the performance of asanas.
If possible, your space should enjoy a view to a natural landscape: a garden, water feature, or view of the seaside or mountains. A spot with natural light will also be handy when it comes to performing sun salutations, or for practicing yoga at the end of the day with the beautiful orange sun setting in the background.
Little Details that Create Ambience
There are many small, affordable details that can create the right ambience. These include a Buddha statue, an essential oil diffuser, and candles (which make a magnificent point of focus when practising mindfulness meditation). When selecting these items, try to stick to natural, healthy varieties. To reap the greatest benefits possible from essential oils, for instance, make sure they are therapeutic grade, and select the right oils (citrus for energising, lavender for calming, etc.).
As for candles, rethink those fragrant paraffin varieties that line shop shelves, and opt for 100% natural soy candles instead. Paraffin candles are known to release toxins when they burn, which can interfere with your and your family’s respiratory health. Soy candles are renewable and biodegradable and by purchasing them, you can help support soybean farmers. These natural candles have positive effects on health: they ensure that the air quality in your home is optimal, yet are as fragrant as commercial candles. Top scents for yoga include oakmoss, earth, and blue pine.
Stocking up on the Essentials
Ensure your space is big enough for a little altar (to set the mood), your yoga mat, and a booster pillow, which will help you with some asanas and exercises. If you plan on using this space for entertaining or being with family after your daily practice, invest in a piece of storage furniture that fits in with the rest of the room in term of design. If possible, use wood for flooring and furniture and by all means, fill your room with plants.
You can build a very exciting private yoga space with a tiny budget. Have fun shopping for wind chimes, essential oils, and any statues for your little altar. Remember that your room does not have to be perfect from the word go. Rather, you can slowly turn your small space into the ideal yoga sanctuary, where you can escape from stress and reconnect with your rich inner world.
Happiness is not something we will find outside.
We tend to believe that once we get the ‘thing’ (job, money, partner, fame etc) then we will be finally happy for the rest of our lives.
But what we find out is that when we finally get this ‘thing’ , happiness is only short lived. It doesn’t take long before something else is missing. So we start running again after this new ‘thing’ believing that after that we will be happy. But the same story keeps on repeating itself over and over again, because happiness isn’t in outside “things”.Happiness needs to be found inside ourselves. Happiness is a state of mind not a state of ‘things’. So the search needs to do a u-turn.But once this state of happiness is find then it is there always, no matter what ‘things’ we have or don’t have..
By Guest blogger Sally Writes
Going on a spiritual vacation is one of the best ways to clear the mind, get in touch with one’s inner self, and achieve enlightenment. Every year, thousands of people go on a spiritual or yoga retreat to refresh their minds, with many travelling all the way to New South Wales to learn meditation techniques and reconnect with nature for a better quality of life.
With most people living a fast-paced lifestyle, it seems that the proliferation of mindfulness retreats seem to be timely as more individuals are seeking positive ways to reduce the stress of everyday life. Visiting spiritualist destinations around the world provides many benefits for those in need of spiritual, mental, and physical healing. Moreover, taking a trip to these vacation destinations can contribute to a person’s overall health and happiness as they learn to go on an inner journey and discover deep truths about themselves. Here are all the reasons why you need to go on a spiritual or yoga retreat.
You get ample time for self-care
Most people eschew self-care as they take on the demands of work and family, but taking some time to care for yourself is crucial to avoid burnout and restore your energy. Just having the time to meditate, pray, read, walk, or do nothing at all can do wonders to help you unwind and reflect on what’s truly important.
The Awaken Meditation Retreat in Byron Bay is a fantastic example of a spiritual destination that promotes mindfulness and self-care. The serene vacation spot holds mindfulness and meditation workshops as well as daily yoga lessons to help you quiet your mind, reduce stress, and have inner peace.
You become more mindful
Going on a spiritual or yoga retreat helps you become more aware of how your actions impact the environment and the people around you. As you grow mindful, you focus on the people around you and you find ways to improve yourself every day.
You’ll make healthy choices
Some yoga or spiritual vacation destinations provide healthful food during your stay, so your body becomes well-nourished as you feast on fresh food every day. Most retreats also prohibit unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking, and some even require you to go on a technology detox to get the full benefits of the retreat. By going on this type of vacation, your body and mind get a break from all the pollutants and toxins that you get from your daily environment and lifestyle.
You’ll look and feel better than you ever did before
Doing yoga, meditation, and eating healthy food will make you feel physically and emotionally better. You may find that your muscles don’t ache as they used to, and even your skin glows as your appearance reflects all the tender care that you’re giving your mind and body during your stay.
These are all the reasons why you should opt to go on a spiritual or yoga retreat for your next holiday. You’ll find that taking some time to reflect and care for yourself will give you the priceless gift of peace of mind, health, and happiness.
Next retreat in Byron Bay from the 18th to 23rd of February 2018.
When our physical body get sick, we try to fix it. We can try a western medicine approach: take a few pills and wait for the symptoms to disappear. Or we believe in a more holistic approach when all physical symptoms are a mere reflection of a dis-ease in our mind/ emotion/ body /soul connection. Then, not only are we trying to treat the symptoms but also the causes of the problem. We will also try to keep our body/ mind healthy and in balance to prevent ‘getting sick’ again. All diseases have something to teach us if we dare to look inside ourselves at what is really causing our suffering.
With mental health, the issues are harder to diagnose as we do not have any physical symptoms; we are sick ‘inside’. Again we have the choice of trying to fix the problem with a few pills and while it may help us to feel better and relieved while we are on medication, it often does not remove the problem. Healing the mind/ emotion is a far more complex healing journey than it may appear.
How can meditation help?
I started meditation when I was 23. I didn`t know anything about meditation or know anyone who was practicing it. I`d heard and read about it and strongly felt it could help me. I had never been diagnosed with any mental health issues before as I had never seen or told anyone about how I was feeling ‘inside’. Yet looking back I was far from being ‘as well as I appeared to be’. I grew up very shy and introverted, with very low self-esteem,getting sick a lot, got through my teenage years with ‘low mood’ and ‘dark thoughts’ always running through my head. Maybe I was just feeling lost, maybe I was looking for myself, maybe I was depressed. I was also very anxious, stressed and was experiencing panic attacks on a regular basis. And I also had some mild form of OCD ( how many times did I have to check my pocket to make sure I hadn`t forgotten my keys!!!). But because I was doing very well at school and then at uni and always been told that I was ‘ intelligent’; I didn`t know if what I was experiencing was normal or not. For me it was normal anyway, that is all I knew then. Leaving my country at 22 for a one year holiday in Australia was supposed to be life changing. I hoped it would change me anyway, change how I felt inside. Although, even if I did escape my physical conditions, what I thought made me unhappy, I couldn`t escape myself. Inside it was still the same: a busy, scared, worried, unhappy mind.
I can`t remember the first time I heard about meditation, but I remember the first time I tried to do it. Not much of a success I can tell you. I didn`t stay sitting for long. But for the first time I totally become aware of how BUSY and full of nonsense my thoughts were! And if meditation could help me with that then I would give it a chance. So I started practicing daily , and slowly I started noticing some improvements. First I could manage my thoughts a bit better, then control them, then change them, then stop them altogether . That first moment when I experienced pure emptiness of thought felt incredibly amazing. I was free. Free from any negative thinking that my mind was trying to make me believe in. I was at peace. I was myself. It was just me. Bliss.
I`ve never stopped meditating ever since. Meditation taught me a lot and brought me on a amazing journey full of wonderful experiences. But mainly what mediation did is that it saved me. It saved me from myself, from my own thoughts, my own fears. It does not mean that I don`t experience fear, stress or worries or negative emotions anymore, but they don`t have much power over me. They do not affect me as they used to. I can be aware of them without identifying with them. I can notice them and stop them. Or I can leave them alone while I live my life. But the best of it is that my mind is so much more peaceful! That alone is worth gold!
Meditation changed my life because it changed the inside of me. It changed how I experience and respond to life. Life has still its moments of pain, joy, its problems, its ups and downs. But how I react to them is totally different now. I can now say that I am well, I am at peace, and I am happy.
It has been an amazing journey, trying at times but well worth it. Now I am dedicated to teaching people how to help themselves.
You can check our sessions and workshops if you are interested in learning meditation, I wrote a couple of e-books too and teach meditation retreats. Our next retreat is coming up in February. It would be great to see you there!
Our mind is a powerful tool. Most of the time, we tend to believe what our mind is saying. We hear a voice in our head and we tend to identify with it. Yet whatever is being said isn’t always true. But if we believe all that we hear in our head then our happiness will only depend on our positive thinking. It is great if we are a naturally born optimist but challenging if our mind is wired on fear or self-criticism.
Also our emotions are strongly linked with our thoughts. If our mind tends to worry about something in the future, we then tend to experience fear in the present moment. It does not mean that this worry will actually happen, it may or it may not. But in the meantime we have created stress for ourselves by listening to those thoughts.Whatever the mind is saying, it will create an emotional response in our body.We have a tendency to spend most of our life reacting and responding to our thoughts without questioning. Yet what if it could be different?
We hold the power within ourselves to change our thoughts and even to stop our mind at once.And when we become able to control our mind, we also become in control of how we experience life.The best tool I know that can bring us this new quality of life is the practice of meditation.
With regular practice, we slowly start managing our thoughts. We become more aware and conscious of all the incessant chatter inside our head. And then we can learn how to completely stop it. Of course it takes time but the peace and happiness that result are definitely worth it.
With meditation regular practice is essential. We can learn different techniques and practice the ones that suit us best. We can join a meditation class in our neighbourhood or enrol in a meditation retreat for a quantum leap in our practice!
Here are 7 Reasons why meditation is good for us and we should start today!:
Health: A stress-free body will repair and heal itself quicker than a stress-full body. Meditation is like fresh air, like healthy food, like physical exercise. It keeps our body and mind in perfect shape and condition.
Happiness: If we learn how to control our mind, then we know how to stop our negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. We then have the power to choose happiness over unhappiness.
Freedom: Meditation will free us from the illusion of the past or the future. It keeps us in the present, the only reality.
Power: Meditation empowers us. We become our own master and we discover the power to create our reality.
Peace: A quiet mind. A peaceful mind. Peace. We can be peaceful no matter what our outside circumstances are.
Charisma: It changes our energy. Our light radiates. We attract and empower other people.
Life: We can start living, really living. We become present. We enjoy life here and now.
Here are a few tips for starting a meditation practice:
Daily practice: This is very important. A minimum of twenty minutes at the beginning is good. But if we have time the longer the better!
Discipline: Doing it at the same time every day can help with the discipline.
Will power: Not listening to all the excuses that our mind will try to bring forth to get out of the meditation. We should do it no matter what!
Right place: It is good to find a quiet place for our practice at home or outdoors and it is better to switch off all our mobile and wi-fi devices.
Persistence: Not giving up! Like everything in life, it can take time before we start experiencing results but as always when they come we are glad we persisted!
Basic technique: A good technique to start with is putting all our attention on our breath. Taking long and deep breath-in and breath-out and just watching it. Becoming conscious of the air entering our lungs before escaping again. And every time we notice ourselves caught in the stream of our random thoughts we just have to come back to watching the breath.
Contribution from freelance writer Sally Writes.
3 out of 4 doctor’s visits are due to stress-related ailments and stress is the cause of 60 percent of illnesses and disease. To reduce the number of stressors we experience every day, we need to control our thinking and enter a state of mindfulness. Through this state, we become in control of our mind to change the way these stressors affect us and ultimately cleanse the mind of worries.
One way that we can take back control of our mind is through a spiritual yoga retreat. When we go on these vacations, we get away from the stress that clouds us every day and enter a realm where we can meditate without worry. Next time you're on a retreat, try one of these unique experiences to further purify your mind and enter deep meditation.
Healing massages are conducted by qualified therapists and can cater each experience to your specific need. These messages are available at many retreats and acts as a deep relaxation that relieves the mind of busy thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, and negative darkness. It balances your chakras and as your thoughts are subdued, you gain clearer insight and understanding into your body and soul. Try out one of these healing massages today to release your mind from its prison and focus on your current state of meditation.
Although psychic readings may sound like an extremely odd way to clear your mind, it is actually very beneficial to your stress levels. Psychics provide reassurance and insight into your life that can eliminate negative stressors and help you feel more positive. If you’re having a problem that is irking you and taking control of your mind, a psychic can help you sort out the issue and provide you with a path to alleviate the situation. You can find psychics around your retreat, but be sure that you do your research before contacting a spiritual medium so that you can avoid fake psychics and online scams. Once you finish your session, try some yoga poses and see if it's easier to enter a state of meditation.
Interpret Your Dreams
Although you might be very mindful in your waking hours, your dreams can take a mind of their own. 50 percent of adults experience occasional nightmares and anxiety dreams that can bring our stressors to life. Many people who experience these dreams wake up with a feeling of sadness and depression which eats at their minds all day. If you’re one of these adults, yoga can help to clear the mind and reduce the appearance of some of these nightmares. However, if your dreams don't change, it may be worthwhile to visit a psychologist that specializes in dreams to determine what you can do to clear your dreaming mind.
Sometimes to reduce stress, we must think outside the box. These unique experiences will help you sort out the worries that are troubling your mind, spirit, and soul.