Dr Akilah El – Celestial Healing Wellness Center

The Natural Health and Holistic World According to Dr Akilah El

Category Archives: Stress

7 lifestyle behaviors that will help you sleep

Agoodsleep

Most adults suffer from sleep disorders at some point in their life. Sleeping problems are often the product of stress or depression. Other times, they are the result of something much simpler.You can fight insomnia by practicing good lifestyle habits. Getting into a good system will help you sleep soundly and be well rested to take on each day.

Make the room you sleep in a peaceful retreat.
If your bedroom is a place of distraction and chaos, it will be that much more difficult for you to fall asleep. Remove the alarm clock from sight — instead, put it under the bed or in a drawer. Adjust the room temperature for your comfort — for most people that’s between 65°F and 70°F — and make sure you have comfortable pillows and enough blankets. Hang blackout curtains or wear an eye mask if you are easily awakened by light.

Add white noise.
For many people, noise that is steady and not easily identifiable is easier to tune out than the sound of snoring, the rumble of traffic, or the musical stylings of the amateur trumpet player who lives next door. For others, total silence is disturbing. White-noise machines emit a steady whirring or purring sound, similar to the sound of wind rustling through leaves, which provides a welcome distraction for both these problems.

Practice good sleep habits.
Sleeping well is often about establishing the right habits. If your bed has become a place of tension from an extended bout of insomnia, then you have to work that much harder to associate bed with sleep again. First, get a different perspective by making the bedroom less familia — move the furniture around or buy a new set of bedding. Second, stick with a regular schedule of going to bed and waking up so your body will learn to associate certain times of day with a particular part of your sleep rhythm. Third, avoid using the bedroom for anything except sleeping and sex — no reading, no television, and definitely no eating. Finally, don’t let insomnia back into the bedroom. If you are unable to fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up, go to another room, and do something relaxing. Return to bed only when you feel sleepy again.

Wean yourself off naps.
People with insomnia often resort to afternoon naps to catch up on their missed sleep, but that’s a mistake. Napping encourages insomnia because you’ll be less likely to be tired at bedtime if you sleep during the day. It can become a counterproductive habit. Fight the urge; but if you must nap, don’t sleep for more than 20 minutes. After a day or two, your body will learn that the proper time for sleep is when you lie down in bed at the end of a day.

Make a to-do list.
People tend to lie awake in bed angst–ridden over all the things they need to get done. Before you go to bed each night, draft a list of everything you need to do for the next day. Getting it down on paper helps get it out of your mind.

Learn to relax.
You can’t run a crazy life and expect to just unplug your mind when you slip into bed. Sleep requires relaxation of mind and body. Try to take 30 minutes out at the end of each day to unwind: meditate, read, do yoga, take a hot shower or candlelit bath . . . anything that helps you put worries away for the next eight hours.

Exercise regularly, early in the day.
Some scientists believe that regular exercise may be the single best and safest method for improving sleep. Exercise has many wonderful effects on the body, all of which may contribute to better sleep. Exercise forces the body to work harder than usual, which means that we generally need more sleep to recuperate from the physical exertion. Exercise also increases the body’s production of endorphins and other hormones that lead to feelings of calm and well–being. However, time of day matters. Working out at night may energize you, ultimately keeping you awake. If you’re struggling with insomnia, limit vigorous exercise to the morning or afternoon. Calming routines like stretching or yoga poses are fine any time of day.

Here is a list of our links.

9 Powerful Life Lessons From Studying with a Monk

by Robert Piper

When I was 18 years old, I suffered from anxiety and stomach problems. A compassionate physician and practicing Buddhist referred me to a Taoist monk who specialized in meditation and martial arts. I ended up healing myself of anxiety and stomach issues by doing meditation, and went on a great journey of self-discovery.

Here are 9 lessons I learned while studying with a monk:

1. Keep trying until you get it right.

The most important life lesson I learned was trying something three times (maybe even four times) before you stop trying and move on. Also, this monk taught me that, even after multiple tries, you should work on different angles to approach things that are difficult.

If you keep trying, you’ll eventually get where you’re going.

2. The answer to your question is inside of you.

As part of the original monastery training, a monk didn’t answer direct questions from a student unless it was a well thought-out question. A Chinese proverb says, “Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.”

Some forms of Zen Buddhism use a very similar style of training. An old saying (by Taoist monks) goes like this: “In making a four corner table, the teacher shows the student how to make one corner. It’s the student’s job to figure out how to make the other three.”

They did this because they were preparing a student to deal effectively with problems in the real world.

I traveled to South Korea one time, and I found it fascinating how much you have to rely on your intuition when you don’t speak the native language of a country. I remember one instance, I had trouble explaining to the cab driver where my hotel was, and he didn’t speak English. So I had to get out of the cab and ask several people until I could find someone to tell the cab driver in Korean how to get to my hotel.

In life, whenever we try new things, we have to go into new places with only a small amount of information. The real world doesn’t give us all the answers. The greatest teacher is inside of us.

3. Real wisdom in life comes from doing something and failing.

Prior to starting meditation, I used to get upset when I’d try something and fail.

I’ve been in sales since I was sixteen. I remember going to work and getting so angry with myself because I didn’t get a sale. If I ever got rejected, I’d get upset with myself, and I’d want to quit my job. But I just keep failing over and over—until I became good at it.

I remember, when I first started doing meditation, I ran into several problems. For example, at first it was difficult to calm down; but if you stick with it, its gets easier and easier. I tried for only a few minutes, and then every day, I added more time onto my meditation.

When we struggle, we learn about ourselves and what we need to do to become stronger.

4. When you start to do meditation you recognize the egotistical mind.

Everything in the ego’s world is the result of comparing. I compared myself to other salesmen and would blame myself because I wasn’t making as much money as them.

When I started doing meditation, I began to build separation from this egoistical mind, which is consistently making these comparisons. A lot of us try something and get rejected, so we give up. Even worse, we blame ourselves for a long time and get depressed. When I started to do meditation, I began to identify my ego and was able to build separation from it.

That’s what happens when we meditate: We separate from the part of ourselves that dwells on comparisons, and start learning to live a life that isn’t driven by our egos.

5. We must be both compassionate and resilient.

The monk wouldn’t meet with me to train unless I called him a minimum of three times. I hated this part. I used to call and call and he would never answer. But this is how life is. How many times do you have to call or email someone to get something done in the real world? It’s usually several times.

Most of us blame ourselves when we try once to do something and fail. At the time, I hated this part of the training, but now I think it was the most important life lesson.

There’s a Taoist proverb that says, “Cotton on the outside, steel on the inside.”

It reminds us to be compassionate, but not weak.

6. Patience is a virtue.

The monk always made me wait—and I dreaded this.

For example, when I got to his house to train, he’d make me wait for a minimum of a half-hour, sometimes longer. We’d go out to dinner on Friday nights and he’d show up at the restaurant an hour late.

He’d tell me to meet him at a particular restaurant at 7:00. I’d get there and find out that he wasn’t there. So I’d usually be sitting in the restaurant by myself fumbling with my phone, acting like I was texting someone, while worrying about what everyone at the restaurant was thinking about me.

Keep in mind, it’s not like I could call him; I don’t think the guy ever turned his cell phone on. Then he’d show up at about 8:15 and act like nothing happened.

His first question was always, “How’s your mother and father?” (Of course in my head I’m thinking, “What do you mean, ‘How’s my mother and father?’ I just waited here for an hour and fifteen minutes.”)

But after a few years of this, it never bothered me; and not only that, it spread to every area of my life. Because of this training, I can honestly say that I very rarely get upset about anything. I never get agitated anymore when I have to wait in a long line or when someone cuts me off on the highway.

Patience is the gift of inner calm.

7. Detach from your ego.

At first, it’s hard to sit at a restaurant by yourself. You’re constantly worrying, thinking that people probably think you’re a loser because you’re sitting by yourself. But the reality is, you will never be happy if you care about what people think you!

Prior to starting meditation, I’d get upset over just about anything. Now, nothing really bothers me. Recently, I was in the airport and there was a several hour delay on my flight. I just used that time to do meditation. Ten years ago, I would have become extremely upset. An airplane delay would have ruined my day.

When you let go of your ego needs, it’s easier to accept and even benefit from whatever comes at you.

8. In Taoism, they say, “No self, No enemy.”

It’s the enemy within that causes all of our fears, worries, and insecurities. If you come to terms with this enemy within, it will impact every area of your life. It’s the identification with the “self/ego” that causes all of life’s problems.

How many times do we not go for something because of fear? Think about all the fears that we have conjured up in our minds that stop us from being truly happy. If you can conquer the enemy within yourself, you won’t have an enemy outside yourself.

9. Happiness come from within, and also comes from outside.

I learned this from observing the Buddhist Physician I met. He used to do meditation in his office before he would interact with his patients. He was one of the happiest and most compassionate people I’ve ever met.

By creating happiness inside, he was able to increase that emotional state by spreading it to others.

We must cultivate happiness from within, and work to spread it around to everyone we interact with. The monk used say, “Everyone has a purpose or a mission in life.”

We have to find happiness within, and also find our purpose on the outside.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Piper is a meditation instructor & the creator of monkinthecity.com. He studied with a Taoist monk for 9 ½ years & traveled to Asia & Australia in search of other meditation teachers. Robert is currently writing a book on meditation to make it more accessible for stress relief, health & happiness.

 

5 Ways To Clear Your Mind Before Bedtime

By Rob Dobrenski, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

People often assume that bad sleep simply means feeling fatigued the next day. The reality is, that’s just the tip of the iceberg: mood, concentration, work performance, and even learning are all impacted. In short, sleep is the cornerstone of mental health. And while a prescription for Ambien certainly has its place – I took sleep agents myself in graduate school – it is always desirable to implement as many natural strategies as possible when sleep is poor.

Consider these as potential “mind clearing” ideas before you hit the sheets.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

This type of breathing, also known as Belly Breathing, helps to slow your heart rate and induce relaxation. I discussed how to do it before but below is a quick summary:

Lie on your back. Slowly push your stomach outward as you take in air through your nose. Try to keep your chest flat as you picture the incoming air flowing through your body. Slowly count to four as your belly rises and gently push out the air through your mouth as your stomach comes to rest. Note and enjoy this feeling. Repeat for one minute.

While you are doing this, try to visualize your heart rate lowering, the muscles relaxing, your body appreciating the rest it’s receiving. Too often our cognitions revolve around “How much sleep will I get?  Will it be enough?  How much longer before I have to wake up?”  Instead, try to focus on what your body is doing as it begins its recovery from a day of activity.

Create Your To Do List Before Bed

Many people with hectic schedules climb into bed and immediately begin to ruminate on what they need to do tomorrow.  Instead of creating mental checklists under the covers, take ten minutes before you go to bed to write down what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. The keyboard strokes or the pen-on-paper effect can help to clear your mind.

Build Your Worry List

A hallmark symptom of worry is poor sleep. Pair that with a busy schedule and the mind is racing around what is wrong with life and how to get things done. Jot down your worries before bed. Even if there are not solutions at your immediate disposal, this can help. I would recommend doing this an hour or so before bedtime, just in case there is a spike in anxiety as you notice the many things that are troublesome. The trick here, again, is to write it down, and add the following at the end:

I will deal with this tomorrow, during the day. Now is time to prepare for sleep.

You’ll be surprised how, with practice, you can train your mind to temporarily shut down troublesome thoughts.

Mindfulness

This is a very hot topic in psychology right now. Research continues to emerge on the benefits of mindfulness in treating anxiety, panic, and other conditions that impact sleep. There are countless books and internet pages dedicated to mindfulness. I personally recommend “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” by Thich Nath Hanh.

Remember What is Currently Working for You

I mentioned this idea before but it bears repeating: poor sleep leads to frustration which, in turn, pushes us to hyperfocus on what is unsatisfactory in our lives. A list of positives in life can help us keep our thinking balanced. Balanced thinking has a powerful calming effect, which is always useful at lights out.

www.healingpowerhour.com

10 Ways To Deal With Negative or Difficult People

by Lori Deschene

I love her to death, but it’s draining to talk to her.

Every time I call this friend of mine, I know what I’m in for: a half-hour rant about everything that’s difficult, miserable or unfair.

Sometimes she focuses on the people she feels have wronged her and other times she explores the general hopelessness of life. She never calls to see how I’m doing, and she rarely listens to what’s going on in my life for more than a minute before shifting the focus back to herself.

I tell myself I call because I care, but sometimes I wonder if I have ulterior motives–to pump up my ego offering good advice, or even to feel better about my own reality.

I’m no saint, and if there’s one thing I know well, we only do things repeatedly if we believe there’s something in it for us. Even if that something is just to feel needed.

I thought about this the other day when a reader wrote to me with an interesting question: “How do you offer compassion to someone who doesn’t seem to deserve it?”

While I believe everyone deserves compassion, I understand what we meant after reading more. She went on to describe her offensive, sexist, racist boss who emotionally exhausts everyone around him. He sounds a lot more hateful than my friend, who is, sadly, just terribly depressed.

But these people have one thing in common: boundless negative energy that ends up affecting everyone around them.

So today I started thinking about how we interact with negative or difficult people. People who seem chronically critical, belligerent, indignant, angry, or just plain rude.

When someone repeatedly drains everyone around them, how do you maintain a sense of compassion without getting sucked into their doom? And how do you act in a way that doesn’t reinforce their negativity–and maybe even helps them?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Resist the urge to judge or assume.

It’s hard to offer someone compassion when you assume you have them pegged. He’s a jerk. She’s a malcontent. He’s an–insert other choice noun. Even if it seems unlikely someone will wake up one day and act differently we have to remember it is possible.

When you think negative thoughts, it comes out in your body language. Someone prone to negativity may feel all too tempted to mirror that. Try coming at them with the positive mindset you wish they had. Expect the best in them. You never know when you might be pleasantly surprised.

2. Dig deeper, but stay out of the hole.

It’s always easier to offer someone compassion if you try to understand where they’re coming from. But that can’t completely justify bad behavior. If you show negative people you support their choice to behave badly, you give them no real incentive to make a change (which they may actually want deep down).

It may help to repeat this in your head when you deal with them: “I understand your pain. But I’m most helpful if I don’t feed into it.” This might help you approach them with both kindness and firmness so they don’t bring you down with them.

3. Maintain a positive boundary.

Some people might tell you to visualize a bright white light around you to maintain a positive space when other people enter it with negativity. This doesn’t actually work for me because I respond better to ideas in words than visualizations. So I tell myself this, “I can only control the positive space I create around myself.”

Then when I interact with this person, I try to do two things, in this order of importance:

  • Protect the positive space around me. When their negativity is too strong to protect it, I need to walk away.
  • Help them feel more positive, not act more positive–which is more likely to create the desired result.

4. Disarm their negativity, even if just for now.

This goes back to the ideas I mentioned above. I know my depressed friend will rant about life’s injustices as long as I let her. Part of me feels tempted to play amateur psychiatrist–get her talking, and then try to help her reframe situations into a more positive light.

Then I remind myself I can’t change her whole way of being in one phone call. She has to want that. I also can’t listen for hours on end, as I’ve done in the past. But I can listen compassionately for a short while and then help her focus on something positive right now, in this moment. I can ask about her upcoming birthday. I can remind her it’s a beautiful day for a walk. Don’t try to solve or fix them. Just aim to help them now.

5. Temper your emotional response.

Negative people often gravitate toward others who react strongly–people who easily offer compassionate or get outraged, or offended. I suspect this gives them a little light in the darkness of their inner world–a sense that they’re not floating alone in their own anger or sadness.

People remember and learn from what you do more than what you say. If you feed into the situation with emotions, you’ll teach them they can depend on you for a reaction. It’s tough not to react because we’re human, but it’s worth practicing.

Once you’ve offered a compassionate ear for as long as you can, respond as calmly as possible with a simple line of fact. If you’re dealing with a rude or angry person, you may want to change the subject to something unrelated: “Dancing with the Stars is on tonight. Planning to watch it?”

6. Question what you’re getting out of it.

Like I mentioned above, we often get something out of relationships with negative people. Get real honest with yourself: have you fallen into a caretaker role because it makes you feel needed? Have you maintained the relationship so you can gossip about this person in a holier-than-thou way with others? Do you have some sort of stake in keeping the things the way they are?

Questioning yourself helps you change the way you respond–which is really all you can control. You can’t make someone think, feel, or act differently. You can be as kind as possible or as combative as possible, and still not change reality for someone else. All you can control is whatyou think and do–and then do your best to help them without hurting yourself.

7. Remember the numbers.

Research shows that people with negative attitudes have significantly higher rates of stress and disease. Someone’s mental state plays a huge role in their physical health. If someone’s making life difficult for people around them, you can be sure they’re doing worse for themselves.

What a sad reality. That someone has so much pain inside them they have to act out just to feel some sense of relief–even if that relief comes from getting a rise out of people. When you remember how much a difficult person is suffering, it’s easier to stay focused on minimizing negativity, as opposed to defending yourself.

8. Don’t take it personally–but know sometimes it is personal.

Conventional wisdom suggests that you should never take things personally when you deal with a negative person. I think it’s a little more complicated than that. You can’t write off everything someone says about you just because the person is insensitive or tactless. Even an abrasive person may have a valid point. Try to weigh their comments with a willingness to learn.

Accept that you don’t deserve the excessive emotions in someone’s tone, but weigh their ideas with a willingness to learn. Some of the most useful lessons I’ve learned came from people I wished weren’t right.

9. Act instead of just reacting.

Oftentimes we wait until someone gets angry or depressed before we try to buoy their spirits. If you know someone who seems to deal with difficult thoughts or feelings often (as demonstrated in their behavior) don’t wait for a situation to help them create positive feelings.

Give them a compliment for something they did well. Remind them of a moment when they were happy–as in “Remember when you scored that touchdown during the company picnic? That was awesome!” You’re more apt to want to boost them up when they haven’t brought you down. This may help mitigate that later, and also give them a little relief from their pain.

10. Maintain the right relationship based on reality as it is.

With my friend, I’m always wishing she could be more positive. I consistently put myself in situations where I feel bad because I want to help, because I want her to be happy. I’ve recently realized the best I can do is accept her as she is, let her know I believe in her ability to be happy, and then give her space to make the choice.

That means gently bringing our conversation to a close after I’ve made an effort to help. Or cutting short a night out if I’ve done all I can and it’s draining me. Hopefully she’ll want to change some day. Until then, all I can do is love her, while loving myself enough to take care of my needs. Which often means putting them first.

I’ve learned you can’t always saved the world. But you can make the world a better place by working on yourself–by becoming self-aware, tapping into your compassion, and protecting your positive space. You may even help negative people by fostering a sense of peace within yourself that their negativity can’t pierce.

www.healingpowerhour.com

Five Meditation Techniques To Keep You Younger Longer!

by Babs ‘O’Reilly

Since the ancient times, meditation has been used by a lot of people, especially those on the oriental side of the world. According to them, meditation is a good way of freeing the soul.

Thus, meditation is mostly associated to spiritual exercises. However, another good effect of meditation is that it can relax the mind and the body which is good way of maintaining a healthy body.

Moreover, meditation is a good technique to relieve stress. Thus, meditation is being suggested by most stress management experts as an excellent tool for use in coping with life’s daily frustrations and pressures.

However, in the recent years, there are also findings that link meditation to slowing down the process of aging. So, if you want to be healthy and young looking, meditation is one solution.

Here are the steps on how you can add meditation to your arsenal of tools against the aging process.

1. Location – It is better to choose your location first on where you can do your meditation. If you plan to do it in your house, select a place where it is quiet and with calm ambiance. Your room and the guest room can be a good candidate.

2. Schedule – It is important to set aside at least thirty minutes for your meditation. So, if you can schedule it, all the better. And, make sure to stick to your schedule.

3. Relax – Start relaxing yourself by sitting down cross legged on the floor. You can use a blanket or something that may provide comfort to you. If you can’t do that, you can start by sitting on a chair instead.

4. Free Your Mind – Close your eyes and don’t think of anything. Just allow the energy to flow into your mind and your body. Don’t put any expectations. The concept is to allow your mind to be free from anything. So, don’t fantasize or think of your problems or the solution to your worries.

5. Breath – Breath normally. Avoid controlling on how you breathe but you have to focus without controlling it. It is essential in meditation.

Once you have mastered the above mentioned tips, you will not have any difficulties in meditating. But the problem is that mastering meditation is not that easy. So, it is better to not lose hope. With practice you will be able to get it and when you do meditation will be a favorite part of your day.

If you are still having problems, then you may seek a meditation instructor to help you. Moreover, there are classes that can be enrolled in order to master the art of meditation.

So, better inquire with them because the results of meditation are really desirable. You will be very healthy and at the same time, slow down the process of aging.

www.healingpowerhour.com

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