"Where shall I focus my thoughts right now?"
I set this as a reminder to go off every 3 hours on my phone yesterday. It was such a great reminder! No matter what I was doing at the time, I paused and asked myself this question. It helped me focus more constructively and intentionally. For a bunch of the reminders, I was at work. So, I was pretty focused on my work anyways. But, the reminder brought greater intentionality to my focus. It's a little hard to describe, but it was a subtle internal shift. Each time, it brought me back to the bigger picture of what I was doing in the moment. Each time, I broadened my perspective to consider, "Does this fit in with my priorities and goals?"
I got the idea from an interview I heard of Brendon Burchard on Marie Forleo's podcast. Buchard and Forleo are both amazing entrepreneurs, speakers, coaches, and authors. In the interview, Burchard stated an interesting stat. That the average person watches 4 hours of tv/day. Adding that up, it comes out to 13 years over a person's lifetime spent watching tv! Wow!
Now, you may not be a tv watcher, but it could be youtube or the social media flavor of the day. The point is that we all spend quite a bit of time in "distraction." Now, I'm not talking about rest, spending quality time with loved ones or on self-care. Those are vital activities that allow you to be the best that you can be.
But, I'm talking about true distraction. For me, I'll click on my Insta app, Facebook app, and then the Gmail app on my phone. One right after the other. Even if I just checked it less than an hour ago! I don't even think about it! I do it on auto-pilot when I have a free moment. We all have our thing. Whether it's going down the Youtube rabbit hole, or into the voids of the Internet world.
Setting a reminder to ask yourself this question,"Where shall I focus my thoughts right now?" is so helpful in redirecting your focus and energy onto what really matters most to you. Now, it could be that you ask yourself that question, and you're like,"I shall focus on Instagram!" And, that's totally ok! At least you gave it thought and awareness. Shifting away from doing things just out of habit. Instead, moving into intentional action with awareness.
So, give it a try if it speaks to you! And then, let me know what you find! Any new insights gained from this practice? I'd love to hear all about it! Leave a comment below and let me know!
*Note: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I may receive compensation if you buy something using the link below.
Can mindfulness practice boost your immune system?
I read a research article recently that suggested this link. The study was a literature review that looked at 20 randomized controlled trials. All the trials looked at mindfulness based practices and immune markers in the body.
The results suggested that mindfulness based practices may:
1. Decrease the expression of NF-KB. This is a molecule in your body that's a precursor to the inflammatory response.
2. Decrease C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a molecule that is pretty routine to check for when doctors are looking for signs of inflammation. CRP is high in a lot of common inflammatory processes. Things like infection and flare-ups of inflammatory bowel disease can increase CRP levels.
3. Increase telomerase activity. Telomerase is an "anti-aging" enzyme in your body. Increased activity of telomerase is a good thing.
How amazing is that? Not only can meditation calm your mind, but it can affect your physical body too! These results suggest that mindfulness meditation can boost your immunity. When your immune system is strong, you're less prone to infections and illness.
So, what's mindfulness?
It's being present to the moment without judgement.
How do you practice mindfulness?
There are SO many ways to practice mindfulness! Here are a few examples:
1. Set a timer on your phone to go off 3x/day. When the timer goes off, pause whatever you're doing. Take a breath. And, look around. Take a moment to observe what's going on in the moment. What's going on in your body? Your breath? Your surroundings? Let go of any judgement that comes up in your mind about it. Simply observe.
2. Go for a walk. Thich Nhat Hanh says "walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet." What a beautiful description of mindful walking! When you walk, be aware of each step. Notice how your foot feels as it touches the earth. How is this different if you're walking on the city sidewalks, or suburban gravel trails?
3. Meditate. Meditation helps you practice bringing your awareness back to a focus point. In mindfulness meditation, your focus point is the present moment. The first session on my new guided meditation series is on being present. If you're new to meditation, following a guided meditation like this one is a great place to start!*
So, I'm curious to hear from you! Were you aware of this connection between mindfulness and your immunity? Are you surprised by this finding? Do you already practice mindfulness in your daily life? If not, are you interested in trying it based on this study? Leave a comment below and let me know!
*Use this link for a free 7-day trial of the Simple Habit App. Note: This is an affiliate link, which means I may receive compensation if you buy something using this link.
I'm doing a 2-week gluten-free challenge. I'm halfway through it. As a mid-way treat, I ate a bagel!! Lol. I couldn't resist. But, I'm still doing the challenge and that was the only gluten I've eaten in the past week! My friend, Dr. Aarti Soorya, is hosting the challenge. You might remember her from our Facebook Lives earlier this year? She's a functional medicine doc up in Michigan. And, from the functional medicine perspective, gluten can lead to leaky gut syndrome. That's Dr. Soorya's expertise, and if you're interested, I can invite her to join me on a FB Live about it!
But, for this week's blog, I thought it'd be interesting to talk about the Ayurveda perspective on gluten. Generally, Ayurveda recommends wheat. It can be balancing for Vata (Air) and Pitta (Fire) types. If you have trouble digesting gluten (or any other food product), chances are that:
1) It’s not suitable for your constitution, or
2) You need to strengthen your digestive fire (Agni)
So, what’s the deal with gluten-free diets? As a doctor, I’ve had so many patients report back to me that they feel better after going gluten-free! So, what’s that about?
It has to do with the processing of wheat these days. The processing of wheat is different now than it was 5000 years ago when Ayurveda originated. And so, it’s important that you adapt these ancient principles to your modern lifestyle.
What’s that mean for you?
It means you have to see what works for you! Ayurveda is all about self-awareness. Try something out for 2-3 weeks and notice how your body feels. Ayurveda recognizes that you’re unique. Gluten-free might make you feel great, and make someone else feel weak and sluggish! It’s all about self-exploration and learning what’s right for you.
I’ve honestly never tried to go gluten-free before this challenge. I’m one of those Vata-Pitta types and that’s been my excuse that wheat’s good for me! :-) I'm halfway through the challenge, and so far I've noticed that my digestion feels smoother. I also feel lighter after meals than when I was eating gluten. Will I continue gluten-free after the challenge? Probably not. But, this challenge gave me a greater awareness of how I feel with and without it. It pushed me out of my comfort zone to learn more about gluten and its potential effects. And, it was a fun challenge to find creative recipes and modifications to my regular diet!
So, now I'm curious to hear your experiences with gluten! Have you tried gluten-free? If so, did you notice any differences with or without it? Leave a comment below and let me know!
P.S. Follow me on Insta and Facebook to see what gluten-free meals I've been eating this past week! @sheetalajmanimd
One of the first questions people ask when starting out their yoga practice is, “What type of mat should I buy?” With so many types of yoga mats out there, and so many different styles of yoga, it can be hard to know! I found this great guide that breaks it all down for you. The folks who wrote this guide did a lot of research to help you pick the best mat for your needs. I love that all the mats they tested are eco-friendly and non-toxic. Personally, I plan to invest in the Tranquility Essentials cork mat as my next mat purchase. They say it’s a bit heavier than the other choices, but I like its eco-friendly rating and natural cork material. For studio practice, I’ll stick with my personal favorite that I've used for the past 9 years, the Jade Harmony mat.
Now, this article is cool because it also dives into a bit of the history of yoga mats. The idea of using a yoga mat is a relatively new concept. Ancient yogi’s didn’t use mats at all! They practiced in nature. Over time, people started using cloth rugs to practice on. Yoga practice used to be more about the seated practice, like meditation. Your modern yoga practice involves a lot more movement, poses, and let’s face it, sweat! That’s where these sticky, rubber mats came into play. To help prevent you from slipping and sliding during your practice. The problem is that many of the mats today use toxic chemicals. And, who wants to get all sweaty while doing something good for yourself on a toxic mat? Eek!
That’s where this guide comes in handy. They sent all the mats to a special lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan to test the materials. I’m interested to hear your thoughts after you read this guide. What’s been your favorite yoga mat? How has the info in this guide made you think differently about yoga mats? Leave a comment below and let me know!