So you are interested in meditation but don’t know where to start or are struggling to understand if you are doing it right. Well, firstly I want to congratulate you on being open to a meditation practice! I first began mediating in my early 20’s (in 30 now) so it has been a long road of continuous practice. I will say that in the beginning I found myself trying everything! That is totally okay for you to do the same thing — it is so important for you to find the method that works for you. Here are my 5 tips to get you started and hopefully root you in a practice that makes you want to continue expanding.

Keep it Simple: At first you will be bombarded with practice types and it is totally okay to experience those but one thing I always came back to, was simplicity. When you first begin a practice you are trying to build a foundation so that you can build upon that. If you try to build a roof before you have the 2×4’s up the roof will have no purpose. Build that foundation and then allow yourself to expand on it.

Get comfortable: Do whatever you have to do to get as comfortable as you can without falling asleep. If you want to sit then do that! If you prefer to lay down thats okay too! It can be outside, inside, in the bath tub, or in an infrared sauna. Whatever works for you! One tip I can share here is remove your shoes so you can be as grounded as possible. Energy needs to be able to flow through your entire body including those feet!

Focus on your breath: This goes back too keeping it simple – there are MANY breathing techniques but deep meditative breathing is key here. In and out through your nose. Deep breathing would be in nose, out mouth, but for meditation I have found that nose for both works best. Focusing on your breath is especially important for those thoughts rolling around in your mind. The goal is not to remove all thoughts from your mind and sit there in complete silence. This is especially true when you are starting your practice. Focus on WHAT thoughts are coming into the forefront. Allow all thoughts to come and thank them for making their presence known and let them go. Don’t ignore them and get frustrated with yourself because they will keep coming back until you recognize them. When you hear those thoughts whirling around recognize them and then focus back on your breathing. In the beginning I found counting to be very helping to get myself back to center. When I found my brain going wild I would focus on breath and count 1,2,3,4,5.

Be patient and compassionate with yourself: You are doing better today than you were yesterday – even if you can’t see it right now. You will! Good things take time and give yourself time to see that. Please don’t compare yourself to others and their meditative practice either. It is important to not let comparison rob you of recognizing how amazing you are actually doing!

Write down your experiences: This is great for anyone who struggles with seeing their growth! I would write down how I felt after each meditation and how long I meditated. It is a great tool to look back on and see how far you have come in your practice.

Meditation is a great way to combat anxiety, want to improve mental clarity, increase your self awareness, sleep better, and decrease over all stress. I hope you find this helpful and consider starting your meditation practice. Even just 2 min a day is progress!

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As a holistic health coach who specializes in gut related issues I spend a lot of time researching, reading and listening to experts in the space on this topic. Digestive health based research is also changing and evolving as the data continues to grow. This is amazing news because the more data there is the more we can simplify that into tangible items that you can use on your journey to mastering your gut health.

When I meet with a client and their issues is digestive based there are a range of questions I will ask to better understand exactly what has been going on and how long. A lot of the time people don’t realize they have an issue until it starts showing up for them in a physical manner — upset stomachs, bowel issues, acid reflux, etc. By taking the time to reflect on even the smallest moments that could have culminated into an issue is so important.

If you are having GI issues here are my fool proof ways elevate your digestive well being in a holistic way:

Root Cause

This may sound redundant especially in the world of social media. You have likely heard this a multitude of times but I think its really important to highlight again just in case. While adopting the lifestyle changes I am highlighting next is beneficial, addressing the root cause of digestive issues is vital. Consider consulting with a healthcare professional to investigate underlying factors such as food allergies, infections, or gastrointestinal disorders. Understanding and addressing the root cause will contribute to more effective and sustainable improvements in gut health.

One example I can give you from life experience is actually my husband, he was suffering from extreme acne on his face along with digestive upset. He was never the healthiest eater before we got together but with health and wellness being a focal point in our lives now he was struggling to understand why despite having a balanced diet, moving his body and using proper skincare products he was still suffering. For months I suggested he remove gums (like those found in nut based milks) from his diet. He just would not budge on it. For so long I would suggest the change and he would say “but I just cant give up my creamer.” One day we were driving in the car and he was complaining and I finally gave him an ear full, lovingly lol, telling him he has to make the change. We got home and he threw away his favorite almond milk creamer – low and behold a week later he was acne free and major digestive upset had dissolved. There are still triggers for him but I am telling you this to showcase an example of if you want to fix an issue you have to be willing to remove something even if you love it. That may be the root issue, even if you don’t want to believe it.

Prioritize Fiber-Rich Foods

Including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in your diet is essential. Fiber supports a healthy gut by promoting regular bowel movements and providing a source of nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria. It is a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods that the body cannot fully digest. There are two main types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble.

  1. Soluble Fiber:
    • Function: Dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance.
    • Benefits:
      • Cholesterol Regulation: Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol molecules and removing them from the body.
      • Blood Sugar Control: It slows down the absorption of sugar, helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
      • Weight Management: Soluble fiber can contribute to a feeling of fullness, aiding in weight management by reducing overall calorie intake.
  2. Insoluble Fiber:
    • Function: Does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to the stool.
    • Benefits:
      • Digestive Regularity: Insoluble fiber promotes regular bowel movements by adding bulk to the stool and preventing constipation.
      • Colon Health: It can contribute to a healthy colon by supporting the movement of material through the digestive system.

Why Fiber is Important for Digestive Health:

  1. Promotes Regular Bowel Movements:
    • Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool, preventing constipation and promoting regular bowel movements. This helps maintain a healthy digestive system.
  2. Supports a Healthy Gut Microbiome:
    • Fiber serves as a prebiotic, providing nourishment for beneficial bacteria in the gut. These bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining gut health and supporting the immune system.
  3. Prevents Diverticular Disease:
    • Adequate fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of developing diverticular disease, a condition characterized by the formation of small pouches in the colon.
  4. Manages Weight:
    • High-fiber foods are often nutrient-dense and can contribute to a feeling of fullness. This can be beneficial for weight management by reducing overall calorie intake.
  5. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels:
    • Soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugar, helping to regulate blood sugar levels. This is particularly important for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing diabetes.
  6. Lowers Cholesterol Levels:
    • Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol molecules and helps remove them from the body, contributing to lower blood cholesterol levels.

To incorporate more fiber into your diet, focus on consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Gradually increasing fiber intake and staying well-hydrated can help your digestive system adjust and function optimally. It’s essential to note that a well-rounded diet with a mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber sources is ideal for reaping the full range of benefits for digestive health.

Probiotics and Fermented Foods

Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha into your diet. These foods introduce beneficial bacteria to the gut, supporting a balanced microbial environment.

Function of Probiotics: Probiotics are live microorganisms, primarily beneficial bacteria, that confer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. These microorganisms help maintain a balanced and healthy gut microbiome.

Benefits of Probiotics:

Balancing Gut Microbiota: Probiotics contribute to the balance of the gut microbiota by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting the growth of harmful microorganisms.

Immune System Support: A significant portion of the immune system resides in the gut. Probiotics play a role in supporting immune function and defending against harmful pathogens.

Sources of Probiotics: Probiotics can be obtained from supplements or naturally through fermented foods. Common probiotic strains include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Function of Fermented Foods: Fermented foods undergo a process of lactofermentation, where natural bacteria feed on the sugars and starches in the food, creating lactic acid. This process not only preserves the food but also enhances its nutritional value and introduces beneficial bacteria.

Benefits of Fermented Foods:

Increased Nutrient Bioavailability: Fermentation can increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients, making them easier for the body to absorb.

Improved Digestibility: The fermentation process breaks down certain compounds that may be difficult to digest, making the food more easily digestible.

Sources of Fermented Foods: Fermented foods are diverse and include options such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and kombucha. Including a variety of these foods in your diet ensures exposure to different strains of beneficial bacteria.

Why Probiotics and Fermented Foods are Important for Digestive Health:

  1. Maintains Gut Microbial Balance: Probiotics contribute to a balanced gut microbiome, preventing an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and promoting the growth of beneficial ones.
  2. Supports Digestive Function: Beneficial bacteria in the gut aid in the digestion and absorption of nutrients. They also help break down certain substances that the body may struggle to digest on its own.
  3. Enhances Immune Response: Probiotics play a crucial role in supporting the immune system, which is closely intertwined with the health of the gut. A well-balanced gut microbiome contributes to a robust immune response.
  4. Potential for Mental Health Benefits: There is emerging research suggesting a connection between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. Probiotics may play a role in supporting mental health and well-being.
  5. Prevention of Gastrointestinal Disorders: Regular consumption of probiotics and fermented foods is associated with a reduced risk of certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Incorporating a variety of probiotic-rich foods and fermented options into your diet provides a diverse array of beneficial bacteria, contributing to the overall health and functionality of your digestive system. As with any dietary changes, it’s advisable to introduce these foods gradually, especially if you are not accustomed to them, and consult with a healthcare professional if you have specific health concerns.

Hydration is Key

Ensuring you drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day is crucial. Proper hydration helps maintain the mucosal lining of the intestines and supports the overall digestive process.

Mindful Eating Practices

Adopting mindful eating practices, such as eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly, promotes proper digestion. Being present during meals aids in nutrient absorption and overall digestive well-being.

  1. Chewing and Digestion: Mindful eating involves paying close attention to the act of chewing. Thoroughly chewing food breaks it down into smaller particles, easing the digestive process. This not only supports nutrient absorption in the small intestine but also reduces the strain on the stomach.
  2. Connection to Satiety: Mindful eating encourages an awareness of hunger and fullness cues. By eating slowly and savoring each bite, individuals are more likely to recognize feelings of fullness, preventing overeating and promoting weight management.
  3. Stress Reduction: Eating mindfully involves being present and attentive to the sensory experience of eating. This practice can help alleviate stress, as it shifts focus away from external stressors and fosters a calming connection with food.
  4. Improved Nutrient Absorption: Proper digestion begins in the mouth, where enzymes in saliva start breaking down carbohydrates. Mindful chewing aids in the initial stages of digestion, allowing for better nutrient absorption downstream in the digestive tract.
  5. Enhanced Digestive Enzyme Release: Mindful eating stimulates the release of digestive enzymes. As the senses engage with the food, the body anticipates digestion, leading to the secretion of enzymes that facilitate the breakdown of macronutrients.
  6. Reduction of Gastrointestinal Discomfort: Eating too quickly or while stressed can contribute to gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating and indigestion. Mindful eating reduces the likelihood of swallowing air and minimizes the strain on the digestive system.
  7. Cultivation of Gratitude: Mindful eating encourages a sense of gratitude for the food being consumed. This positive mindset can impact digestion by promoting a relaxed state, allowing the body to more effectively process and assimilate nutrients.
  8. Mind-Body Connection: Being present during meals fosters a strong mind-body connection. This connection is vital for optimal digestion, as it allows the brain to send appropriate signals to the digestive organs, optimizing the release of digestive juices.
  9. Prevention of Emotional Eating: Mindful eating helps individuals distinguish between physical hunger and emotional triggers for eating. This awareness reduces the likelihood of consuming food as a response to stress, boredom, or other non-physical cues.
  10. Promotion of Healthy Food Choices: Mindful eating encourages conscious food choices by emphasizing the importance of savoring and enjoying each bite. This mindfulness can lead to a greater appreciation for nutrient-dense foods, supporting overall health.

Adopting mindful eating practices involves cultivating a more intentional and aware relationship with food. By incorporating these practices into your routine, you can positively impact digestion, promote optimal nutrient absorption, and foster a healthier relationship with the act of eating. Whether practicing alone or with others, the benefits of mindful eating extend beyond the physical act of consuming food, encompassing mental and emotional well-being.

Limit Processed Foods and Sugar

Reduce the intake of highly processed foods and added sugars in your diet. These substances can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and contribute to inflammation in the digestive tract.

Identify Food Sensitivities

Pay attention to how your body reacts to certain foods and identify and eliminate potential triggers, such as gluten or dairy. This can help reduce inflammation and promote healing in the digestive system.

Manage Stress Levels

Incorporate stress-reducing techniques like meditation or deep breathing into your daily routine. Chronic stress can negatively impact digestion, making stress management crucial for gut health.

Regular Exercise

Engage in regular physical activity to support overall health, including digestive function. Exercise helps stimulate bowel movements and contributes to a healthy gut environment.

Adequate Sleep

Prioritize a consistent sleep schedule and aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Sleep is essential for overall well-being, including the repair and maintenance of the digestive system.

Comprehensive Testing

Seeking professional guidance through comprehensive testing is a pivotal step in understanding and optimizing your digestive health. Holistic lifestyle testing, conducted by qualified healthcare professionals, involves a thorough examination of various factors, such as nutrient levels, food sensitivities, hormonal balance, and gut microbiome composition. Holistic testing provides personalized insights into your body’s unique needs and challenges. It can uncover specific dietary and lifestyle factors that may be impacting your digestive system, allowing for targeted interventions.

Professionals can identify underlying issues that might contribute to digestive discomfort, such as nutrient deficiencies, imbalances in gut bacteria, or inflammation. Addressing these root causes is essential for long-term digestive health. Holistic testing goes beyond one-size-fits-all approaches, offering tailored lifestyle recommendations based on your individual results. This may include dietary modifications, stress management techniques, and personalized exercise plans.

Holistic lifestyle testing facilitates the development of a long-term wellness strategy. By addressing the root causes of digestive issues and implementing sustainable lifestyle changes, you can promote enduring digestive health and overall well-being.

Incorporating comprehensive testing into your approach to digestive well-being offers a holistic and individualized perspective. By working with healthcare professionals, you gain valuable insights that guide targeted interventions, ultimately leading to a more resilient and balanced digestive system.

I hope this helps each of you learn more about your digestive health and methods to realign yours! Coaching programs are always available on a customizable basis. Learn more about my coaching packages here! And don’t forget to follow on IG for all the wellness content.

Did you know that dry brushing is actually a 5,000 year old Ayurveda practice that is used to release excess toxins from the lymphatic system? The ancient Egyptians also used dry brushing as a way to exfoliate their skin. Before we get into the benefits of dry brushing and how you can add this into your wellness routine, let’s talk about lymphatic drainage.

If you don’t know your lymphatic system is responsible for keeping your body fluid levels in balance and defends the body against infections. Lymphatic (lim-FAT-ik) vessels, tissues, organs, and glands work together to drain a watery fluid called lymph from throughout the body. You can support this system by staying hydrated, moving your body, eating a balanced diet and lymphatic massage. One of my personal favorite methods is dry brushing because it not only supports your lymphatic system but your skin as well. I also see it as a meditative self-care practice since it allows me to take a moment out for myself once a week to focus on myself. I will typically dry brush in combination to my self tan routine since the brush is amazing at exfoliating and removing your old tan.

So what are the benefits?

Dry brushing helps remove dead skin cells and unclogs pores – leaving skin feeling softer and smoother.

The act of massage is said to help boost circulation and stimulate your lymphatic system.

Your moisturizer will work better because you will have brushed away the outermost dead skin cells.

It helps scrub off old fake tan, so you can speed through the dreaded patchy stage.

Increases circulation

Detoxification through lymphatic release

May help in the digestive process

May give you a boost of energy

May improve the appearance of cellulite

You may be wondering – well how often do I do it and how? I personally find that 1-2 times a week accompanied by a movement routine, staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet is the best schedule for me. There are many guides online on the correct method on doing your dry brushing. I use the guide found in my favorite lymphatic book: Book of Lymph for tips and tricks. I focus on always moving toward my heart and then circular motions on my belly for digestive benefits.

I always follow up my dry brushing with OSEA Undaria Algae Body Oil they also carry a full set that includes an amazing dry brush (the one I have): Full Set. You can also find dry brushes like this one on Amazon for a low-cost option as well as this gorgeous one from The Skinny Confidential.

Are you going to add dry brushing into your routine? Let me know!

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