Especially if you’re a man.
For centuries, Zen masters have used stories and koans, or paradoxical riddles, to help students realize their true nature. These stories are often puzzling and may seem nonsensical, but ponder them yourself and you might emerge wiser and more self-aware. Here are seven of our favorite Zen stories.
Breathing Meditation for Ayurveda Wellness and Energy. See this simple beginning one minute ayurveda breath meditation for wellness & energy. Free ayurveda remedies & ayurvedic information from Dr. John Douillard.
Saturday, August 08, 2015 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Prior to about 20 years ago, it was believed that the human brain was incapable of producing new brain cells after reaching maturity. But scientists now widely accept the fact that the human brain canundergo neurogenesis, in which new neurons are born, even into adulthood, and that this process can be helped along through certain dietary and lifestyle changes.
Two specific regions of the brain, the subventricular zone and the hippocampus, both show evidence of neurogenesis post-maturity. The latter region is responsible for learning and memory, and when it’s not functioning as it should, neurodegenerative conditions like depression, anxiety and Parkinson’s can ensue. But you can help reduce your risk while simultaneously promoting adult-stage brain cell formation by following these five steps:
1) Exercise. It might sound cliche, but the single most effective way to promote neurogenesis in your brain is to exercise regularly. Getting your heart pumping and your blood flowing by running, biking, or swimming is a great way to increase levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and glial cell line-derived trophic factor (GDNF), two key growth factors that promote neurogenesis.
The endorphins released through cardiovascular exercise also help minimize levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, while increasing levels of the hormone testosterone, which like BDNF and GDNF helps promote neurogenesis. These exercise-induced hormones and growth factors are especially critical as a person ages, since they act as anti-aging, cognition-boosting nutrients.
2) Meditation. The scientific benefits of meditation are well-established, and you don’t necessarily have to be religious to derive benefits from it. A growing body of evidence suggests that meditation can help increase the gray matter density of various regions of the brain, including the hippocampus.
By helping individuals to focus more on the now rather than the past and future, meditation clears the mind and helps balance brain chemicals, including those that regulate neurogenesis. At least one study determined that meditation helps activate certain integrative functions in the brain, promoting both short- and long-term neural changes.
Night meditation can also help up-regulate the body’s production of melatonin, a sleep hormone directly linked to neurogenesis. Amishi Jha from the University of Miami recommends “mindfulness-based mind-fitness training,” a method that involves focusing on a specific object, such as a particular body sensation, in order to improve brain structure and function, and ultimately one’s intelligence.
3) Diet. Eating right might seem obvious, but many people still don’t know what this means. Your brain is made up of about 60 percent fat, which necessitates that fat plays an important role in everyday nutrition. But many people still view fat as bad, seeking to avoid it in favor of fat-free or low-fat food options packed with chemical sweeteners and other artificial flavor additives.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an important fat to consume regularly for improved brain health, as are healthy saturated fats like coconut and palm oil. Docosahexaenoic acid in particular is a critical fat component that, as it pertains to neurogenesis, is absolutely necessary forthe brain to manufacture new brain cells.
4) Sleep, sunlight and sex. It doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves, but sleep is critical for healthy brain function. Sleep deprivation, it turns out, reduces hippocampal neurogenesis, throwing hormone balance out of whack and cluttering the brain. A recent study published in the journal Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences found that sleep disruptions exceeding 24 hours inhibit cell proliferation, and in some cases neurogenesis.
Natural exposure to sunlight is another factor in neurogenesis, as vitamin D, which is produced when unblocked skin is exposed to the sun’s rays, increases levels of both serotonin (a brain neurotransmitter) and GDNF expression in the brain. Optimal exposure to beneficial ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun ranges between 10 and 15 minutes during the summer months.
And then there’s sex, which helps reduce stress while boosting levels of certain “feel-good” transmitters in the brain. A 2010 study published in the journal PLoS ONE found that sex helps minimize both anxiety and corticosterone levels while promoting adult neurogenesis and stimulating the growth of dendritic spines and architecture in the hippocampus.
5) Psilocybin and cannabis. Various psychoactive compounds, including those found in “magic” mushrooms (psilocybin) and cannabis (THC and CBD), have also been shown to aid in the development of new brain cells. Psilocybin, it turns out, both increases hippocampal neurogenesis and increases the ability of the brain to “unlearn” certain negative fear responses, hence why sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often report benefits from supplementing with psilocybin.
And cannabis, which is increasingly legal throughout the U.S., possesses compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) that match with receptors in the brains to reduce anxiety and promote neurogenesis. High Existence has published a more thorough listing of beneficial psychoactive compounds that can aid in promoting brain cell growth, which you can access here: highexistence.com
Sources for this article include:
MARCH 25, 2015 5:53 AM EDT
Ayurveda, the 5000-year-old Indian science of natural medicine, is as much a lifestyle guidance on an individual’s well-being as it is a powerful system of medicine that delivers long-lasting results by addressing the fundamental, root causes of disease.
Within Ayurveda, the relationship between humans and their environment is considered sacred, and maintaining that balance is foundational to our well-being since everything in the universe is believed to consist of five basic elements: Ether (space), Water, Fire, Earth and Air.
They manifest themselves within the human constitution in three basic doshas: Vata (Ether and Air), Pitta (Fire and Water) and Kapha (Earth and Water). Understanding your dosha helps guide you in lifestyle choices, as well as in diagnosing the causes of imbalance within your body.
Simply put, ailments (from stress to acne to stomach aches) originate when there’s an imbalance. All Ayuvedic treatments work by bringing these principles back into balance. Before we get started, it’s important that you determine your Ayurverdic skin type:
- Vata skin tends to be dry, darker and with a tendency for roughness. Cool to the touch and often thin, this type of skin is especially likely to experience excessive dryness, flakiness and even eczema in times of stress.
- Pitta skin is typically soft, oily, fair to pale with a warm complexion. Medium thick, this type of skin is more prone to rashes, acne and sores when experiencing an imbalance.
- Kapha skin is thick, oily, typically very light and cool to the touch. Kapha skin tends to show enlarged pores, blackheads and water retention in times of imbalance.
Armed with this understanding, let’s start to explore Ayurvedic rituals that work to deliver beauty. Here are three areas of life where listening to your dosha and taking action to correct any imbalances is crucial to the quality of your skin:
Food and water form the core of nourishment for your skin, so eat well and eat for your type. It seems rather obvious, but Ayurveda recommends that you eat by acknowledging the body’s natural triggers of hunger or thirst.
How much you consume at a time is also important. Ayurveda suggests that your stomach be filled a third each with food, water and air at mealtime, with an emphasis on fresh foods. The guiding thought here is that incompatible foods create toxins, which in turn create the imbalance in your basic doshas.
The best foods to correct imbalances in your dosha:
- Vata: Avoid dried fruits, apples, melons, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, beef and peas. Eat avocados, sweet fruits, cherries and oranges.
- Pitta: Avoid tomatoes, garlic, sour fruits, bananas, peanuts and spicy foods. Eat prouts, green salads, sunflower seeds, mangos, pears, plums and mushrooms.
- Kapha: Avoid coconut, dates, pineapples and dairy products. Eat dried fruits, pomegranate, cranberries and basmati rice.
2. Lifestyle & Exercise
Lifestyle habits and exercise have a huge impact on the health and vitality of your skin. Overarching lifestyle guidance within Ayurveda includes waking before sunrise and going to sleep before 10PM; eating breakfast before 8AM, lunch before noon and dinner before sunset.
Activity and exercise is beneficial across the board for the skin (and for eliminating the toxins that cause skin ailments).
The best yoga asanas to correct imbalances in your dosha:
- Vata: head stands, backward bends, plows, cobra, locust and lotus poses
- Pitta: shoulder stands, half wheel, hidden lotus and fish poses
- Kapha: boat, lion, palm tree, half wheel and spinal twist poses
3. Skin Care
Now that we’ve taken care of how to eat and move, let’s focus on how to actually treat your skin depending on your dosha.
Vata: This skin type dries quickly and is especially vulnerable to shifts in weather. Vata skin must be protected from harsh heat and cold, and pampered to retain its natural oils and moisture. Avoid hot water baths and showers (they can dry your skin out), be sure to use pH-balanced soaps and drink lots of water for hydration from the inside out.
You may also want to steam your skin with mint leaves and water to open your pores and increase circulation. Try gently massaging aloe vera onto your skin when you need extra moisture. Antioxidant-rich avocado is also great for vata skin as it’s full of fatty acids and vitamins.
Pitta: This skin is very susceptible to rashes, so it needs to be treated gently. Cleansing with rose water, exfoliating with a sugar scrub and moisturizing with coconut oil are all great options.
Kapha: This skin type is usually oily and prone to acne, so it’s important to avoid dairy in your diet. In terms of skin care, exfoliating with a sea salt and honey scrub is a good option, as is adding turmeric to your regimen.
BY ANNIE YATES
MARCH 15, 2015 5:35 AM EDT
So much modern skin care comes from a bottle or jar, and advertisements make health and beauty look complicated, leading us to believe that we need a chemicals and secret formulas to remain attractive and young.
But there’s a lot more to skin and nail care than anti-wrinkle creams and miracle serums — it’s important to consider not only what we put in and on our bodies, but also how our thoughts and emotions affect the way we look.
Sure, we all like simple solutions to fix problems, quite often ignoring the cause. For example, stress isn’t just a mental state. It takes a toll on our appearance, with our skin becoming dry and pale, and the tension in our muscles can make our faces appear lined and wrinkled. To compound this, we often neglect ourselves when we feel stressed and rundown, leading to a less-than-ideal diet. We indulge in sugar, caffeine and alcohol, all of which can affect skin cell hydration and make our skin look dull and dry.
Together with a good diet and exercise, regular meditation is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, and give ourselves time to breathe and gain perspective. Try introducing meditation to your beauty regimen with this simple daily practice that easily fits into your schedule.
As with all natural beauty, I always encourage people to be realistic when it comes to results. Nothing pure and natural is a quick fix — there are no miracle creams or meditations with dramatic results. Rather, that improvements will be seen over time as your wellbeing improves.
Before you start …
- Make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothing. Anything tight and restrictive may draw attention from the moment.
- Choose a comfortable seat. I recommend sitting upright in a comfortable chair with your back supported. When I’m feeling under the weather, I sometimes choose to lie flat on my back.
- I often like to perform alternate nostril breathing a few minutes before starting my meditation.
A Simple Meditation For Natural Beauty
Close your eyes and mouth, breathing normally or taking a few deep breaths through your nose. Bring your awareness to your breath and focus on inhaling and exhaling. Try to take you mind away from your thoughts and focus on your breathing. In and out.As thoughts pop into your head, acknowledge them, then brush them aside. This will continue to happen, but it’s important that you quickly shift your focus back to the meditation. This gets easier the more you practice.Aim to practice this mediation every day for 10-15 minutes. It may be useful to meditate more often during times of stress.The benefits of regular simple mediation …
- Lowers blood pressure
- Decreased anxiety and stress levels
- Increased happiness and energy levels
- Improved immune system
- Better sleep
… and these in turn will have numerous beauty benefits!