Tag Archives: anxiety

The Power of Meditation

The Power of Meditation - Amanda Naturally
(c) tiverylucky

A year and a half ago I was coming into the final stretch for wedding planning. With 5 months to go, the pressure was on. I was starting to get stressed and I had promised myself I wouldn’t get stressed over what was supposed to be a fun, happy and exciting day. I had been working on my own, and with my naturopath, for a long time to manage my stress response. I had dialled in my nutrition for the most part, determined which supplements helped me, and modified my fitness routine to make sure I wasn’t over-taxing my body. But it just didn’t seem to be enough. I was still getting inappropriately stressed out. For example, I would be on the subway heading to my parents for dinner and there would be a delay. This was totally out of my control and fairly common for the transit system, not to mention being 10 minutes late for a casual dinner is not a big deal, especially if there is good reason! I mean heck, some people are always 10-15 minutes late! But I could feel myself getting worked up over it and no amount of self-coaching could stop that response. Ugh it was so annoying! I could see what was happening and couldn’t stop it. 

It was probably the 3rd or 4th time my naturopath recommended meditation that I started taking it seriously. I was reading more and more reports of CEOs, successful entrepreneurs and mentors of mine who swore by meditation. Not only has it been shown to reduce stress and boost productivity, but it has significant health benefits as well. A reduction in anxiety, blood pressure and pain have all been documented. It can literally improve your health at any and all levels! I know it seems absurd, that 10 minutes of quiet time and deep breathing can change your life, so let’s break it down and learn why.

Have you ever been so scared, stressed, anxious, upset or angry that something changes physically in your body? Maybe you get a nervous stomach before an exam and can’t eat. Maybe you flush red or start to sweat if you’re stressed. In situations when someone is severely frightened, they actually lose control over their bowels and/or bladder. I bet if you really think about it, you can recognize a time when an emotion triggered a physical response in your body. When I was in university I would always get eczema on my knuckles and canker sores in my mouth during exams. It was like clockwork! I also used to get so nervous about certain situations that I wouldn’t be able to eat, or I would have to run to the bathroom – seriously! What’s going on?

Thoughts trigger or our emotions. Emotions trigger a hormonal response. Hormones affect change on every cell in the body.

Therefore the thoughts that you have will impact the health of your body, by way of of the endocrine system. Think being stressed out is safe and just something we have to learn to deal with? Think again. Stress can and will damage your body. Where that damage occurs differs from person to person, but it can cause leaky gut, fatigue, increased rate of infection, elevated blood pressure, weight gain or loss and hormonal imbalances. Everything from fatty liver disease and low libido to low thyroid hormone, osteoporosis and infertility. This is serious. It doesn’t matter how on point your nutrition is, or how perfect your exercise routine is – if your stress is high and poorly managed, you will not be able to optimize your health.

This is where the power of meditation comes in. Many people think meditation is about relaxation, but that’s not exactly the case. Meditation is a tool to increase awareness within ourselves. It is a practice that allows us to quiet the monkey chatter in our brain. You know what I’m talking about! No? Ok, do this right now – try to wipe your brain completely and not think about anything for 1 minute…how long did you last? About 7 seconds? Right – monkey chatter! Over time, the more you meditate, the better you get at quieting that unnecessary brain talk and then the magic happens. Without that brain chatter, you truly get to know yourself – how you’re feeling, what emotions are dominant in that moment, and how you perceive the world. You learn to control your mind’s response to situations. Actually, control isn’t the right word… you are able to acknowledge that your mind is responding a certain way and decide if that’s actually how you want to move forward. It’s incredibly empowering. The more you do it, the better you get at it too! 

I started April 1st, 2013 and meditated every single morning for 80 days straight. It made a profound impact on my stress levels during wedding prep. Other than a few blips here and there, it was smooth sailing. And while I did it for very specific outcome (stress-free wedding planning and day), it was one of the missing pieces of my health recovery program. Now if ever I wake up feeling anxious (for example if I overindulged the night before) meditating can totally turn the day around for me. If I start to get worked up about something, I don’t even have to full on meditate anymore. I can acknowledge the thoughts that are flying about my mind and choose to gently push them aside and think clearly and critically about the situation. And when something does happen that is epically stressful, I can handle it without it destroying my life for a few days. Like I said – profound. I meditate almost every work day morning (but I’m not perfect!) and any acute situations where I’m feeling added stress, or needing clarity.

So how do I meditate? Well it took me a while to figure out what worked for me, since it’s a very personal experience. So I thought I would share what I do, to help out someone who may be looking for a way to meditate that’s not all ohming and candles (although that’s awesome for some people!). 

The Power of Meditation - Amanda Naturally
(c) koko-tewan


Amanda’s Personal Recipe for Meditation 

My alarm goes off in the morning.

I wake up, use the bathroom and get a glass of water with lemon and a pinch of sea salt.

I sit down with a meditation CD and set it to 10 or 15 minutes from the end.

I write down 4 words that are going to set the tone for my day. Some examples include:

grateful, focused, happy, calm

strong, confident, encouraging, compassionate

I close my eyes, press play on the music and start reciting my words in my head, in time with my breath:

As I breath in: grateful, focused

Breathe out: happy, calm

After a couple of rounds, I lengthen the phrase:

As I breath in: grateful and focused

Breathe out: happy and calm

I lengthen again when I feel like I can breathe in for even longer:

As I breath in: I’m grateful and focused

Breathe out: I’m happy and calm

I keep lengthening the sentence until I end up at:

As I breath in: I am grateful and I am focused

Breathe out: I am happy and I am calm

By this point my breathing is going at a deep, steady, rhythmic pace that energizes every cell in my body. 

When the music finishes, I finish my last repetition, or sometimes repeat it once more if it’s feeling particularly good. Then I open my eyes, get up slowly but surely, and start the day full of positive energy.



The Power of Meditation - Amanda Naturally
(c) Master isolated images

Falling asleep – meditate sitting up in a firm chair, or cross legged on the ground, instead of lying down

Can’t quiet mind – that’s okay! Acknowledge the thoughts that come in and gently push them away. Some days have more brain chatter than others. There’s no way to “win” at meditation. It’s always a practice.

Can’t remember your mantra – make it really simple (“happy, grateful, happy, grateful”) or count in for 2, out for 2 and slowly increase the number.



Deepak Chopra’s Guided Meditation

Meditation and Mindfulness Apps

An Ancestral Approach to Meditation

Meditation Music

10 Minute Guided Meditation to Ease Anxiety, Worry and Urgency

The Power of Meditation - Amanda Naturally
(c) Chaiwat

So tell me, do you maintain a meditation practice? If so, what does your routine look like? What benefits have you noticed? 

Always Do the Best Job You Can

I recently was engaged in a conversation where I was informed that vegetarianism is what will feed the world, and while I was making a better choice by choosing ethically raised meat, I was sacrificing the environment for trying to achieve optimal health. And boy did that get me thinking. (UPDATE I wish I had this article then: Letter to a Vegetarian Nation). I do not claim to know everything about nutrition, in fact anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely LOVE to learn, and continue to do so on a daily basis. I spend hours every day (non-paid since I’m self-employed) reading and studying every piece of information I can, trying to be as unbiased as possible (which I’ll admit, can sometimes be challenging), to make the best choices I can. I also try to take science and knowledge out of textbook scenarios and apply them to my small life/community, my country and the world in its entirety.

Why do I do that? Because that is how I was raised.

We had 2 rules in my family growing up:

  1. Family comes first.
  2. Always do the best job you can.

There were never any asterisks on those rules, they simply were, as they are. Honest, grounded, foundational rules. They provided the framework on which every one of my achievements was built. I nailed job interviews. Got solid grades (not perfect, but the best I could) which opened up doors. Prioritized my family and my (now) husband’s family, who in turn support us through thick and thin and without which, we would not be where we are today.

Always do the best job you can.

This is the biggest lesson I try to impart on my clients. Doing the best you can, with the resources you have available, with the knowledge you have right now. And when you know more and have more? Then do a bit better. It’s easy to get caught up in what my Coaching Teacher called “shoulding” yourself. You know, “I should do this…”, “I should be doing that…”. If we all stopped “shoulding” ourselves and simply started making the best choices we can, right now, the world would be an even more incredible place.

Optimizing Your Health = Sacrificing the Earth?

On the same train of thought, I began thinking about the definition of “optimizing health” and whether striving for that was inherently incompatible with being respectful to the earth and in turn, human kind. For a split second, I started questioning some choices I have made, but instantly shook myself out of that because when I look back to where I started, at the beginning of my personal health journey, I believe with every cell in my body that I am doing the best I can for myself, my family, my environment and my fellow humans. I tried very hard to be vegetarian – oh I wanted to be one so bad. I even started getting repulsed by meat, even though I had always enjoyed it growing up, because I wanted to be a vegetarian. I felt guilty eating meat because I was told it was destroying the environment. I was scared because I was told it would give me heart disease and cancer. And something else happened.

My body fell apart.

Very few people other than my husband truly know what I used to go through. More days than not I was levelled by a migraine by 4:30pm. Nauseated, in tears, writhing on the couch in pain. Nothing worked – alcohol, caffeine, NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, acupuncture, heat, ice…nothing. Digestive pain so excruciating it would wake me up in the middle of the night, I could barely stumble to the bathroom. Nothing would happen, but lying on the cold floor for about an hour was the only way I could tolerate the pain. Destructive self-talk that resulted in a sad relationship with my body and food. Crippling anxiety that threatened my relationships with friends, family and my amazing partner. Anxiety that threatened my relationship with myself and the incredible world I am so lucky enough to be a part of.

Over the course of 5 years, with the support of my incredible partner and family, I slowly recovered my health and found incredible joy and empowerment in the fact that predominantly through food, I was able to literally change who I was. Change what had come to define who I was. Change the path I was down, which was sure to end up in a very bad place.

What were the biggest changes I made?

Here are the foods I eliminated, in order. And not because any dietary philosophy told me to, or a book suggested it. But because over the course of 5+ years, I was an experiment of 1 and I could not ignore the results.

Dairy – which was causing epic digestive pain

Gluten – total body inflammation, puffy joints, not fitting in my clothes

Legumes – debilitating migraines, even in the smallest amounts (ie. rooibos tea, guar gum)

Whole grains – while I can still tolerate them in small amounts, anything more than a few bites results in damage to my digestive tract caused by constipation that lasts for 3-4 days (sorry if that’s TMI)

Corn and alcohol – again, in small amounts these are fine, but both trigger anxiety if I overdo it. Even a few glasses of wine will cause me to wake up the next morning with the weight of the world on my chest.

As you can see, with the exception of nuts and seeds, these foods make up all plant-based protein sources. The foods I was so desperately trying to eat for the sake of my own body and the environment, were slowly but surely breaking me and preventing me from being a contributing member of society.

I unintentionally stumbled into the paleo lifestyle out of necessity. And while many people condemn this lifestyle (and yes, I mean lifestyle, not just diet) for being a way to ease their conscience when eating meat, that could not be further from the truth in my case. When I look back to where I’ve come from, oh my goodness I am proud. I am so healthy, almost migraine-free, free from digestive pain, and my anxiety, while it still likes to rear its ugly head from time to time, hasn’t been in control of my life for a good while now. And that self-talk that was so destructive? It was kicked to the curb about 8 months after making the decision to jump in 100% into a lifestyle that makes me the best version of me possible. And now what is that allowing me to do?

Contribute to my community, help other people and make even better choices.

I had the confidence to become an entrepreneur.

I have the sympathy, empathy and experience to gain the trust of others to allow me to guide them to their own recovery.

I now have the financial ability to purchase ethically raised food to take better care of the environment.

I am able to spend time, creating free content for clients, friends, family and strangers, to help them be better versions of themselves, so they can be better contributors to society.

By living my truth, I am able to change lives.


All because I did the best job I could, with the resources I had at the time, which continued to grow as I continued to learn. So yes, I will continue to eat ethically raised meat, because aside from the fact that it is nutritionally complete (ie. no supplements are needed) it allows me to make a difference in the world.

And my promise to the world, is to continue to do the best I can, to take care of this incredible planet we get to call home and to continue to help change lives to allow other people to do the same thing.

Copyright 2014 Amanda Naturally | Design by The Nectar Collective