We are thrilled to feature a guest post by Carrie Ingoglia on why incorporating plants and meditation into your life is important.
Maybe you’re constantly running through your to-do list. You feel impatient or frustrated. You have trouble sleeping or digesting. Or maybe you get stuck endlessly scrolling through your social feeds (This morning I went to look up the weather, and 20 minutes went by while I checked Twitter and Instagram. Meanwhile, I totally forgot to look at the weather.)
No matter how stress manifests for you, nature offers a biological antidote that we often forget.
We’re built to respond to the seasons and the natural environment —being close to nature helps us go with the flow. But because our daily lives are often so far removed from the natural world, it’s easy to feel disconnected. Luckily, you don’t have to immerse yourself in bioluminescent pools or spend hours forest bathing to get the positive effects of nature.
WHAT DOES STRESS DO?
When we are stressed, our bodies react by turning on our “fight or flight” response. This is a chemical response that makes our hearts beat faster, our breathing get faster and more shallow, and our digestion slow, redirecting energy to the big muscles of the body so we can run away or stand our ground against the tiger that’s chasing us through the forest.
The problem is, our body doesn’t know the difference between a very real threat from an animal of prey and a message on social media that makes us angry or defensive. It reacts with the same stress response to a tiger or a tweet. And being in a constant state of fight or flight is exhausting and can lead to all sorts of ailments big and small.
The good news is, the stress response has a built-in counter balance. We can reverse the whole thing, and we can do it just by breathing. Becoming aware of your breath has a way of getting us out of our heads and into our bodies. Deep breathing is known to slow the heart rate and helps bring us down from fight or flight.
Our breath and our bodies are our instant connection back to the present moment. By paying attention to that, we can more easily come back down to earth — no matter where we are.
HERE’S WHERE THE PLANTS COME IN
Adding natural elements to our daily lives can help us feel more connected and less stressed out.
It’s no surprise that a hike helps calm us down. Or that gardening can be used as a kind of meditation. In fact, according to Psychology Today, several scientific studies have shown the presence of houseplants has been found to be lower blood pressure, increase focus, and lower anxiety in schools, at work, and even in hospitals. (Learn more about the benefits of indoor plants here.)
Plants help keep us grounded when we’re all up in our heads.
THREE WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS:
- Take three deep breaths.
This one is easy and you can do it anywhere. But it may take some practice. Wherever you are, pause. Sit or stand with your feet planted on the ground and let your spine be long. Breathe in through your nose to the count of three. Then breathe out through your nose to the count of five. Do this three or more times and see how you feel.
- Go for a walk outside.
Even if you’re not in the woods or on the beach, just being outside can help make us feel more connected. If you’re at work, try going for a walk around the block without your phone. Stand on the corner waiting for the bus without checking your email. Spot a little dandelion sprouting through the cracks in the sidewalk. Just be outside.
- Do a guided plant meditation.
Spend some quality time with whatever plants you have around you, whether it’s a big Fiddle Leaf Fig or a tiny succulent. Luckily, you’ve got a guided meditation right here to help start you on you’re way.
Thank you so much, Carrie! Have you ever meditated (and do you have plants around you when you do it)? What else would you add?
PS Carrie is a yoga teacher and the writer + producer of the podcast, Yoga For the Revolution.
PPS Find our plant picks that will purify air while you meditate HERE!