Meditation Guide

What is meditation?

Meditation is a continuous process of training your mind to concentrate on your thoughts. Originally, the word “meditate” means to think deeply about something for a long time. Meditation is also referred to as dhyana in Sanskrit. It is commonly used in Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism as a spiritual practice for hundreds of years as a way to calm the mind. As per Wikipedia, Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear, calm and stable state.

Meditation is a mental exercise for providing relaxation, concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, calmness and awareness. We think a lot and most of our thoughts are negative and these thoughts can affect our mental state of mind. Thinking too much can make us feel crappy sometimes. So, any kind of mindfulness activity can keep you out from your thoughts about the past or the future and you can easily live your life in the present moment.

We’re more stressed and under more pressure than ever before. Meditation is a powerful natural antidote to stress. It can help us cope with the pressures of everyday life. Generally, the purpose of meditation is to raise personal and spiritual growth, in addition to calming the mind. Meditation gives us access to the mind’s inner wealth. So, we don’t need to depend on the external world for fulfillment and well-being.

Types of meditation

There are many types of meditation and I have analyzed the most common practices to help you get started.

Focused Meditation

Are you just a beginner to meditation or want to improve your focusing skills? Try to learn focused meditation. It is also described as attention meditation techniques. In this type, an individual focuses on one particular object during the entire meditation session. There are many things we can choose to focus or concentrate on for this meditation-like focusing on the breathing, object, flickering flame, flowers, sound, visualization or sensation.

You can select anything that activates your sense. For example, if you choose a flickering flame, sit in a comfortable position in front of it and try to pay attention to its different colors or the smells or the sounds. You want to think as deeply as possible about the flame, being fully present in the moment.

The most common forms of focused meditation include Chakra meditation, Kundalini meditation and Zen meditation. It can be challenging for beginners. So, if your mind begins to wander, redirect your thoughts back to the present. If you are doing it regularly, it will help you to strengthen your sense of focus.

Researcher has found that it can:

  • Improve memory and focusing skill
  • Increase inner peace and serenity
  • Achieve self-awareness

Spiritual Meditation

Are you looking for spiritual growth and need absolute silence? Then, you can consider spiritual meditation as the best option. In this type, it will allow you to see inside yourself at a deeper level and begin to experience pure consciousness. It involves pure silence or some spoken words or phrases or a prayer. This meditation can help you establish a deeper connection with the divine or god and make you realize the eternal truth of the universe. In Buddhism and Taoism, meditation is more focused on self-awareness and self-actualization. It will make your life more meaningful.

This meditation technique, which has become extremely popular in Eastern religions, such as Hinduism, Daoism and Buddhism. It can be practiced at home, your preferred place of worship or in nature. Begin by sitting in a comfortable position, remain quiet, close your eyes, listen to the silence around you and recite a prayer or a phrase slowly. It is the best way to develop a strong sense of awareness.

Researcher has found that it can:

  • Increase spirituality
  • Increase self-awareness
  • Discover life purpose
  • Increase positive energy

Movement Meditation

Are you more action-oriented or can’t sit still? Try to consider movement meditation. Movement meditation is not your usual meditation where you sit still and focus on your breath. Instead, with a mindful and slow pace, you are moving through different positions. It is an active kind of meditation in which we combine mindfulness with physical activity. During the day, when you are feeling restless or disturbed, movement meditation can help you to gain a sense of mind-body awareness.

It is a good choice for those who have difficulty staying still for long periods and for those who are action-oriented. Because it allows you to get moving while still focusing on an object of awareness. Yoga is the most well-known form of movement meditation. But you can also try Tai chi, Qigong, Rhythmic exercises, walking, dancing or other gentle motion. In each situation, the movement of your body is the object of meditation.

Researcher has found that it can:

  • Release physical tension
  • Stimulate blood circulation
  • Deep muscle relaxation
  • Increase in concentration

Mindfulness Meditation

Do you prefer to practice alone or don’t have access to a meditation teacher? Mindfulness meditation might be useful to you. Mindfulness meditation originates from Buddhist teachings and is the most common technique of meditation in the West. It is a basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing. Instead of dwelling on the past or thinking about the future, it encourages awareness of a person’s existing surroundings.

Mindfulness meditation is something that people can do almost anywhere, including while you are walking, talking, doing household chores or waiting in line at the shop. It means you are 100 % involved in the task you are doing, not concerned about any distractions. Initially, many people may struggle with this method. That’s why beginners start their practice with formal mindfulness meditation.

For the formal practice, sit on a cushion on the floor, with a straight and unsupported back. Pay close attention to the movement of your breath. Breath is the best-known focus of mindfulness meditation. When you are breathing, notice the sensation of the breath as it comes and goes. It can be as little as 10 minutes each day. Sometimes your mind will get distracted from the present moment. Whenever it happens, recognize it and bring the attention back to the breathing.

Researcher has found that it can:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Get better sleep
  • Improve health and well being

Transcendental Meditation

Are you looking for a more structured form of meditation or are very serious about doing a meditation practice? You can consider transcendental meditation. It is a popular type of meditation with over 5 million practitioners around the world in which we have to focus on a specific mantra or phrase by reciting it silently. For beginners, the mantra acts as the object of awareness, just like breathing is the object of awareness for mindfulness meditation. A mantra can be as simple as saying “Om” or a phrase like “All is well”. You can get the best result by doing it two times, twice a day.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a great teacher from India who introduced the TM technique to the entire world. The goal of transcendental meditation is to transcend above your current state of being. It allows the mind to experience pure consciousness easily, effortlessly and enjoyably.

Researcher has found that it can:

  • Improve overall well-being.
  • Calmness throughout the day

Benefits of Meditation

The psychological benefits of meditation are:

  • Increase concentration
  • Increase productivity
  • Increase mental strength and focus
  • Reduce stress & anxiety
  • Reduce negative thoughts
  • Promote emotional health and well being
  • Enhance self awareness
  • Increase happiness

Along with many psychological benefits, a number of physical benefits are also available such as:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Slowing of the aging process
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Straighten immune system
  • Reduce the risk of heart attack

How to meditate-mindful

Choose a quiet and peaceful environment

It should be practiced in a calm and peaceful environment. Try to find a place where you will not be interrupted for the duration of your meditation. You need not be worried about the place. You can do it in the corner of the room or even in your office or in nature as long as it’s somewhere private.

Set a time limit

If you are just a beginner, you can meditate for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes every day. You can start with even less. When you get comfortable with the practice, you keep increasing your time. You can also keep alarm during meditation. So, your mind won’t be worrying about time. As experts suggest, the quality of meditation is more important than the length.

Pick a time

You should decide on a particular time of the day, like waking up in the morning or in the evening. Researcher shows that it’s very easy to adopt any new habit when we do it every day at the “same time”, “the same place”. For many people, the morning is often considered to be the best time to meditate because the mind is quiet and refreshed. Try to stick to it if you have decided the time.

Sit in a comfortable position

It is very important that you sit in a comfortable position while meditating. You can sit on a cushion, chair or meditation bench with or without crossing your legs. Any seated position is fine as long as you’re comfortable. Relax your shoulders and keep your back straight, so that your head and neck are in line with your spine. Meditation can be performed with the eyes open or closed. However, as a beginner, I would recommend meditating with eyes closed to avoid visual distraction and use earplugs to avoid surrounding noise. This is one of the most common meditation postures.

Focus on your breath

Breathing is considered to be the most powerful and insightful of all meditation techniques. You should just breathe normally and try to keep your attention on breathing. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out. Don’t judge or criticize yourself over the content of the thoughts that come during meditation. Be kind to your wandering mind and bring your attention back to breathing.

Hope this will provide you enough guidelines to learn meditation techniques. Did you try any of them? Please feel free to share your experience.

Thank you so much for your kind support.

Nirali.



25 Natural Foods to Boost Your Immune System

As the number of coronavirus cases is increasing rapidly day by day, it has become necessary to take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of infection. One of the most important ways you can protect your body from infection is by boosting your immune system. Immune system is made up of different organs, cells and proteins that work together to protect your body from viruses, bacteria and foreign bodies that cause infection or disease. Considering the current situation of COVID-19, there is a particular public interest to boost immunity.

Healthy lifestyle plays an important role in strengthening your immune system. If you are looking for ways to prevent illness like Viral, Flu & Bacterial infection, you should focus on your daily intake of food. Sometimes, the natural way is the best way to get perfect results. Many people are not aware of how significantly our diet can help to boost our immunity. Studies have shown that some fruits and vegetables are rich in Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants which can reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body. This is why eating the right food is essential for your health.

Everyone should plan their meals to include these 25 natural foods to boost their immune system and fight against infection and viruses.
Start with the following immune boosting foods:

1. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are sweet and sour due to the combination of sugar and citric acid in them. Citrus fruit is associated with the production of white blood cells which are the key factor to fight infections. These are the best source of vitamin C, an antioxidant and immune-supportive nutrient. Our body does not produce or store vitamin C, so we need a small daily intake to be safe.
Here are some popular varieties of citrus fruits: oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, kiwi, guava, strawberries and tangerine
How to have it:
You can make classic fruit chaat with a mix of fruits, nuts, lemon and rock salt.
You can also take homemade fresh juice by adding mint leaves, basil leaves or a pinch of ginger.

2. Papaya

It is an incredibly healthy fruit for preventing such illnesses as ear infection, cold and flu. It’s loaded with various nutrients which are needed for the proper function of a healthy immune system. These fruits are also famous because of their vibrant color and sweet taste. Papaya contains protein-digesting enzymes including papain and chymopapain which can help lower inflammation and fight disease.
How to have it:
You can simply cut a papaya in half, remove the seeds with a teaspoon and enjoy.
It can be added to salads, smoothies and other dishes.

3. Watermelon

Watermelon is an immune boosting fruit. It contains only 46 calories per bowl but it is high in vitamin A, vitamin C and many other nutrients. The watermelon is a cheery red color due to lycopene, an antioxidant. It’s a powerful antioxidant to have anti-inflammatory properties.
How to have it:
Watermelon slices are the most common way to enjoy this fruit.
Make a fruit salad with watermelon and sprinkle lemon juice, rock salt and black pepper powder.

4. Blueberries

Blueberries are sweet, low in calories and incredibly good for your health. Blueberries are a power house of antioxidants especially anthocyanin which gives blueberries both their blue color and many health benefits. In addition, blueberries are rich sources of vitamin C, copper and iron which all are helpful to boost your immune system. It is said that blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity among all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables.
How to have it:
Adding blueberries to your smoothie or your favorite oatmeal is a convenient way to eat.

5. Gooseberry

Gooseberry is also known as Amla. Gooseberry is an excellent source of vitamin C and beta carotene. It has eight times more vitamin C than orange. It has many health benefits like boosting your immunity, metabolism and prevents several bacterial infections and diseases.
How to have it:-
You can take it in the form of fresh juice, powdered form or can be added in pickles, jams, dips or spread.
Drinking two teaspoons of amla juice with one teaspoon of honey can be a great for instant relief from cold or cough.
Amla is readily available as Chyawanprash, Amla juice, Amla candy and Amla murabba.

6. Apple


Apple is one of the most popular fruits in the world. There is a saying,”An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Apple is enriched with powerful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and healthy fibers. Apple contains quercetin and pectin- a type of flavonoids that will help to boost your immune system and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Peeling the skin removes much of the fiber and the majority of flavonoids. So, it’s better to eat without peeling them.
How to have it:
Cut the apple, sprinkle the chaat masala and be ready to eat.
Sliced apples can be added in any salad as they have a great sweet taste and pair well with cheeses.

7. Garlic


It is one of the most widely used spices that adds extra flavors to the food. It is also known as immunity boosting superstar. It has a significant antibiotic property to treat bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections for the thousand years. It contains a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin which is helpful to boost your immune system.
How to have it:
Taking 2-3 cloves of raw or cooked garlic a day will help to cure the cold and also build your immunity. Simply take your garlic cloves and smash them a little and use it in your authentic Indian style recipes.

8. Ginger


Ginger is one of the most widely used natural foods consumed as a spice and medicine for treating Sore throat, Joint Pain, Flu, Cold and many more illnesses. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that have antioxidant properties which is helpful to boost your immunity.
How to have it:
Ginger can be used fresh, dried or as a powdered form.
Add some grated ginger in boiling water for at least 10 minutes, add some lemon juice and honey in it and enjoy your detox tea.

9. Broccoli


It is a dark green leafy vegetable. It is a super charge of vitamins and minerals which includes vitamin A, C and E along with other antioxidants and fiber. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a chemical compound which is helpful to prevent diseases associated with inflammation. It is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table.
How to have it:
Eat broccoli raw to get the most nutrients. If you like to cook broccoli, steam it for about 5 minutes.
Try adding broccoli into any other salad recipe you like.

10. Red Bell pepper


Red bell pepper adds flavor, color, and crunch to many dishes with low calories. They are one of the most nutrient-rich foods, loaded with vitamins and minerals. Red Bell Pepper contains twice as much vitamin C as compared to citrus food. These are also rich sources of beta carotene which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision.
How to have it:
Add them to soups, sandwiches, wraps, salad and Italian dishes.

11. Spinach


It is a leafy green vegetable. These are rich sources of vitamin C, beta carotene and many other antioxidants which increases infection fighting ability of your immune system. Spinach is one of the best veggies that you must include in your daily diet and enjoy a variety of nutritional benefits.
How to have it:
Spinach smoothie, spinach soup, spinach dal are the easiest and healthiest option you can try.

12. Sweet Potato


Sweet potatoes are sweet, starchy root vegetables. They come in a variety of colors including- white, purple or yellow. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibers. One sweet potato gives you 400% of vitamin A which is essential for our general immune system as well as good vision. The purple-fleshed sweet potato contains anthocyanins which makes the vegetables an essential dietary source for the prevention of inflammation in the body.
How to have it:
They can be enjoyed with or without skin and can be baked, boiled, roasted, fried or steamed.

13. Carrot


Carrots are loaded with a lot of minerals, fibers, vitamins C and vitamin K. Carrot contains high levels of beta-carotene which acts as an antioxidant that protects the body from harmful bacteria, inflammation and viruses. This vegetable is said to be perfect as it is very cheap and easily available in our market.
How to have it:
Carrot can be eaten raw, boiled, fried, or steamed.
Add carrot juice to your daily diet to strengthen your immune system.

14. Mushrooms


Mushrooms are fat-free, low-sodium, low-calorie, and cholesterol-free. It can add great flavor and texture to any side dish. Fresh mushrooms are a healthy addition to your plate. They’re packed with fibers, vitamins, and minerals. They also contain a powerful antioxidant called selenium, that is very effective in protecting your body from any free radicals and helps to strengthen the immune system.
How to have it:
Add them to soups, sandwiches, wraps, casseroles, and Italian dishes.

15. Tomato


A fruit that’s often treated as a vegetable.Tomatoes are loaded with a substance called lycopene. It gives them their bright red color and many other health benefits. Tomato is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C. These two components help the body to get rid of harmful free radicals in our blood.
How to have it:
Fresh tomato juice, flavored with some rock salt, is a refreshing way to begin the day when it comes to boost your immunity.
There are plenty of ways to add tomatoes to your diet as wrap, sandwich, Indian curries, salad, pasta, soap, the salad being the most common option.

16. Almonds


Almonds are highly nutritious and rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which are key factors to fighting off cold, cough and sickness that ultimately promotes a healthy life. Almonds are the world’s best sources of vitamin E which works as an antioxidant and prevents inflammation.
How to have it:
Eating raw almond is good but soaked almond gives you more health benefit as it removes the harmful chemicals naturally present in the nuts.

17. Eggs


Eggs are a low-calorie food that keeps you fuller for longer. They are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. They are also rich sources of selenium, vitamin B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Eating two eggs a day can greatly help fight off infections and keep the body healthy.
How to have it:
Eggs can be added to many dishes and prepared in numerous ways, including boiling, poaching, frying, scrambling but boiled eggs have shown to be the healthiest methods of preparing eggs.
Omelets can also be a nutritious way to eat eggs by adding more veggies in that fluffy mixture.

18. Yogurt


A bowl of fresh, creamy and homemade yogurt is another great addition into your diet that can stimulate your immune system. Yogurt is full of calcium, vitamin D, protein and healthy gut bacteria. The live bacteria (probiotics) present in yogurt works on building your immunity and lower your chances of various illnesses and infection.
Study shows that eating a 7-ounce dose of yogurt (about 200 grams) is just as effective in boosting immunity as having medicines instead.
How to have it:
Yogurt Bowls make a great breakfast or snack by adding pieces of fresh fruits,nuts, seeds and additional toppings as you like.

19. Green Tea


Green tea is the most recommended beverage by nutrition experts which is absolutely delicious to taste. It is very helpful for losing weight and one of the best sources for fighting off a cold. Green tea contains a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant which will help to enhance your immune system. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which increases the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.
How to have it:
Have a cup of green tea every day by adding honey.

20. Ashwagandha


Ashwagandha is a powerful herb that has been used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine. The herb is also called Indian ginseng or winter cherry. Ashwagandha has many beneficial compounds such as flavonoids and antioxidants which can help to boost your immune system. Moreover, it also reduces the level of a stress hormone known as cortisol that relieves stress effectively.
How to have it:
Ashwagandha can be taken in the form of powder or tablet or syrup.
Ashwagandha is commonly available as a churna that can be mixed with warm water and honey.

21. Giloy

Giloy is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used in Indian medicine for ages. It is well known for purifying the blood and boosts your immunity. Giloy contains antioxidant properties which fight free-radicals, keep your cells healthy and get rid from diseases. Giloy can also help people who have chronic fever as it is antipyretic in nature.
How to have it:
Take 2-3 teaspoons of Giloy syrup, add some water and drink it on an empty stomach in the morning once a day to fight against viruses.
You can take Giloy in the form of Giloy syrup or Giloy capsule.

22. Turmeric


It is a key ingredient in Indian curries and has been used for centuries as a traditional herbal remedy for sore throat, cough, and cold. It contains a powerful chemical compound called curcumin which gives turmeric its vibrant orange-yellow color. Curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin also has beneficial effects for patients of arthritis, allergies, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.
How to have it:
The best way to have it in hot milk with crushed almonds.
Add 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in lukewarm water. Have it every day in the morning.

23. Sunflower Seeds


Sunflower seeds are an extremely healthy snack. They are full of nutrients, including phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins B-6. They are rich sources of vitamin E that helps your body fight off infection.
How to have it:
Add them to a salad, trail mix, or sprinkle over roasted veggies.

24. Raw honey


Raw honey is a natural immunity booster. It is the best remedy to cure a sore throat since ancient times. Raw honey can be used as a substitute of sugar. Raw honey has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that protect the body against bacteria and also boost your immunity.
How to have it:
Mix one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of lemon juice in warm water, and drink it regularly in the early morning for better immunity as well as weight loss. Honey can also be consumed with herbal tea and apple cider vinegar.

25. Dark Chocolates


Dark chocolates are semi-sweet with a slightly bitter flavor because of its high cocoa and less sugar composition. It is made from the seeds of cocoa trees.Dark chocolate is extremely helpful in fighting off a cold. The cocoa in dark chocolate contains antioxidants called flavonoids that can reduce inflammation and help regulate your immune response. Chocolate with a 60 percent or higher cocoa content is packed with full of nutrients and antioxidants.
You can take approximately 1 to 2 ounces or 30-60g as per expert guidelines.

Now you have understood the best immunity boosting food, let’s discuss a recipe for kadha that will also help you with the process here. Try having it once a day on an empty stomach.
Ingredients:
5-6 fresh basil leaves, ½ tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp ajwain, 1 tsp cinnamon powder, 1 tsp black pepper powder, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp rock salt, 1 tsp lemon juice
Add all ingredients in 300-400 ml water and boil it for 15 minutes on medium heat. Pour it in a cup, squeeze a lemon juice and enjoy.

Along with healthy and varied diet, you should also follow these measures:

  • Exercises
  • Proper Sleep
  • Don’t do stress
  • Avoid drinking
  • Try to avoid infection by washing your hand frequently and disinfect areas.

Hopefully, with these tips, you will be able to boost your immune system. Please feel free to share your experience. Have you tried any one of the above? Please share it in the comment section.

Thank you so much for your kind support.

Nirali.