How To Include Meditation In The Paleo Lifestyle


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You may already know quite a bit about The Paleo Diet®—how it encourages us to eat in a way similar to how our non-industrialized ancestors, relying on healthy meats, fish, and eggs; fruits and veggies; nuts and seeds; herbs and spices; and healthy fats and oils. The diet also advocates that you avoid, as much as possible, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners; processed foods; grains and legumes; dairy products; and trans-fats such as vegetable oil, margarine, and shortening.

You may also know about the emphasis on exercise, to keep the body fit and strong. But a Paleo lifestyle includes more than just diet and exercise. It also includes Paleo principles such as getting outside to enjoy and be nourished by the natural world; protecting ourselves from man-made EMFs; unplugging periodically from our Wi-Fi devices; and cultivating healthy human relationships.

To that end, meditation can also be a valuable component of a balanced and healthy Paleo lifestyle.

The Physical, Mental, and Emotional Benefits Of Meditation

Perhaps you have already experienced the beneficial effects of meditation. It’s reassuring to know that Western science has verified the benefits of regular meditation practice. A sampling of the proven benefits of daily practice include:

  • stress relief
  • relaxation
  • enhanced vitality
  • deeper and more nourishing sleep
  • increased mental clarity
  • improved focus and concentration
  • enhanced creativity
  • expanded insight
  • equanimity and compassion

It is quite an impressive list. Another potential benefit of meditation—one that tends to be of special interest to Paleo enthusiasts—is improvements to the digestive system.

The practice of meditation can, in fact, improve digestive efficiency in several ways. First, it can help direct physical effects by helping to resolve digestive problems such as cramps, bloating, and gas.

Second, by clarifying your mind and dissolving mental-emotional tensions, meditation can also help you make better choices in relation to what you eat and when. So, if digestion problems are linked to poor food choices, overeating, or undereating, then meditation can help.

Finally, the most general way that meditation supports our digestive system is via the melting away of anxiety and stress. While all the body’s systems respond negatively to anxiety and tension, the digestive system is particularly sensitive in this regard. Most of us have had the experience of an emotional upset ruining our appetite or giving us a stomachache.

Why does this happen? When your “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system is activated, the “rest and digest” parasympathetic functions are depressed. When your body is preparing to fight or flee, the resources necessary for proper digestion are diverted.

Over time, this can cause all kinds of digestive problems such as acid reflux, ulcers, and inflammation. By calming the mind and body through meditation, unnecessary tensions are replaced by deep relaxation, which tends to improve the functioning of the body’s organ systems, including the capacity to digest our food better.

How to Start Practicing Meditation

There are many kinds of meditation. What they have in common is their experiential nature. This means is that in order to fully understand what meditation is, you need to practice it.

Eventually, partaking in meditation will begin to feel more like simply “being.” Instead of doing meditation, you will realize that meditation is who you are.

To start, adopting a particular technique is useful. One excellent option—and a great place to start for beginners—is to devote 10 or 15 minutes to following your breath: consciously observing the cycles of inhalation and exhalation.

To help you stay on track, you can count the breaths, from one to 10, with each exhalation. Notice your inhalation, then as you exhale, say (out loud or silently to yourself) the word “one.” Then again notice the inhalation, and then as you exhale say the word “two.” Continue like this until you’ve reached “10”—and if you get distracted, begin again at “one.”

Sitting with the spine upright is one excellent posture for meditation practice. However, you can meditate with the body in almost any position. Sometimes, a simple yoga pose is a wonderful opportunity for meditation.

The yoga pose Viparita Karani (legs-up-wall pose), for instance, has deeply therapeutic effects, one of which is to calm the nervous system and help you to sleep better. Five or 10 minutes is all it takes—right before going to bed—to harmonize your body and mind in a way that helps you to fall easily into a deep and nourishing sleep.

 

About The Paleo Diet Team

The Paleo Diet TeamThe Paleo Diet, the world’s healthiest diet, is based upon the fundamental concept that the optimal diet is the one to which we are genetically adapted. The therapeutic effect of The Paleo Diet is supported by both randomized controlled human trials and real-life success stories.

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“1” Comments

  1. “The normal individual is constantly experiencing variations in the level of his consciousness between full alertness and absent-minded reverie… The patient with a chronic anxiety state loses these normal variations of consciousness, so that he remains constantly alert. Thus, these variations in consciousness by atavistic regression may be necessary for the maintenance of normal mental health.”
    “In ordinary health there are continual variations in the level of our mental alertness. For a while we function in a completely rational fashion with our criticism alert to every step in our thinking. Then the intensity of our critical functioning wanes, and our awareness of reasoned logic becomes less acute. The process may go a step further, and we find ourselves quite off guard, in a momentary state of reverie. In such a state our logical abilities are in abeyance… These normal variations in the level of mental functioning can be explained most easily as a temporary slipping back to a more primitive mode of functioning… persons suffering from chronic anxiety do not experience the same fluctuations… They are continually alert and on guard with their critical faculties constantly working at high pressure… these periods of atavistic regression are ..necessary for the homeostatic mechanisms of the mind to function effectively… in this respect we have a clear analogy with our recurrent need for sleep.”

    These quotes are from Dr Ainslie Meares, an eminent psychiatrist and internationally recognised medical hypnotist who transitioned from teaching hypnosis to teaching a simple form of deeply relaxing meditation in the 1950s. After he had formulated his method and had been teaching it for some years he traveled to meet with the traditional experts from many cultures and found that his method needed little adaptation, although, he did become clearer about the need for very slight discomfort when meditating. In addition, the explanation of an old yogi helped him to explain to others that his deeply relaxing meditation after practice would develop the skill of removing the hurt in pain. Or, as the old yogi said “I feel pain but it does not hurt”. In reply to Dr Meares’ asking him what would happen if he stood upon a tack. Dr Meares’ method is the minds own natural form of deep relaxation. Dr Meares’ meditation in super summary:
    1. assume a symmetrical and very slightly uncomfortable position (eg sit on a chair).
    2. relax the body. This takes a while at the start but becomes very simple after practice.
    3. relax the mind, indeed, all of you with an effortless letting go. (relaxation is the opposite of tension, effort and trying). When you have learnt this letting go you will find that it encompasses you and the mind will slow and still. You realise this after you have completed meditation (ie. if you thought my mind stilled then it is not). After you have finished and returned to the normal waking state you will find that you have a sense of calm that with practice will deepen. Nothing super human but something deep and natural that sadly eludes many people today.
    4. Learn to let the calm and ease (the effects of meditation) carry over into daily living ie doing things with less effort as the reduction in anxiety helps you to do more.

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