Self-Care for Meditators

Photo of monks (above) by Daniel Marchal on Unsplash

Meditation is one of the best ways to feel de-stressed because it allows you to focus all of your thoughts on your current position and find your center and balance, keeping all the negativity and frustration at bay. However, even with all the mental benefits that meditation offers, it can still cause many problems for your physical health. According to a report, even some Buddhist monks have been known to face health issues such as obesity due to an imbalanced diet. While meditation is highly beneficial for mental health, meditators must take care of the other side of the coin and be mindful of their overall well-being if they are to ensure fewer distractions from their practice. 

Reduce sugar intake

Sugary sweets and sodas are just some of the offerings Buddhist monks receive every day, which is exactly what triggered a struggle with obesity for a hefty percentage of them. Our food contains high levels of sugar in general,  so you should pay a lot of attention to what you’re consuming. Aside from causing tooth decay, weight gain, and obesity, sugar also prevents inner peace. Therefore, to make your meditation effective and work on your physical and mental health, be sure you cut back on soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, cereal, cakes,  and chocolate. Don’t try to completely avoid sugar, just be sure you eat it in moderation and if your body doesn’t crave it, don’t eat it out of habit. 

Consider fasting and avoid meat

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Intermittent fasting can promote weight loss, change our relationship with food, help us eat less throughout the week, make us feel lighter and more energized, and it cleans out toxins from the body. Aside from all of the physical benefits, fasting also has a very positive impact on the meditation practice because it relaxes the mind. Considering meditation is a practice that improves our spiritual calmness and promotes mental wellbeing, consuming meat from an animal that’s been brutally murdered to offer us the food wouldn’t really be all that positive on our spirt. All the fear and pain that animals felt before they were dead is transferred through the meat directly to you, which is why you should seriously rethink your food choices and opt for a meat-free diet along with intermittent fasting. 

Incorporate exercises into your routine

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Focusing your mind on a particular object, activity or thought to reach a Zen-like state of mind is all meditation is about, but in order to get the best of both worlds and balance your body’s needs while maximizing physical stamina, you should consider working out more. Meditation concerns sitting down and if you add that to your sedentary lifestyle, your body won’t be very grateful. Therefore, get your comfortable gym wear and hit the treadmill, do more aerobics-related exercises and work on building your muscles. Meditation can also be very beneficial if you want to increase muscle build, so hit the bench after working on your deep breaths and you’ll maximize both your workouts and your inner peace. 

Choose poses other than lotus when doing yoga

While meditation is amazing for your spirit and mental health, it can be detrimental to your knees. Sitting cross-legged in lotus or half-lotus position will eventually take a toll on your knees. That’s why if you’re already experiencing knee problems or would like to avoid future pain, think about alternative meditation poses. One of the options is sitting on a chair with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent 90 degrees. This will allow your back and your knees to feel much lighter and more comfortable. Put your hands on your thighs or fold them in your lap. Allow your shoulders to relax and keep your head aligned over your spine. Modified kneeling is another option, where you’ll sit on your heels with your knees bent. To avoid putting too much pressure on your knees, place a cushion or cushions either between your heels and bottom or only under your bottom. 

Eat food that gives you energy

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According to Ayurvedic tradition, tamas, rajas,  and sattva are three groups of food commonly known as gunas, and every food group is responsible for certain actions in our body. Tamasic foods, which include alcohol, canned, processed and deep-fried foods, very spicy food and blue cheese lower our consciousness and make us moody, negative and dull-minded. Since these foods are empty of energy, it would be best to avoid them. Rajasic foods promote activity, increase restlessness, anxiety, and impulsiveness. Coffee, spicy foods, soft drinks, sugar, red meat, some fruits, onions, garlic,  and eggs are the perfect examples of rajastic foods. While they’re not particularly bad, you should still limit the intake of them because they do not aid meditation. Sattwic foods are energizing, and increase our sense of peace. Therefore, stick mainly to fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Final thoughts

Meditation will improve your way of life but only if you pay attention to other aspects of your well-being. Be sure you eat well and mix strenuous workouts with meditation and yoga in order to get the best of both worlds.