Meditation for Beginners – 3 Ways to Start

meditation for beginners - 3 ways

Beginning to meditate can be daunting to some people. It sounds all so easy – just sit and quiet your mind. But if you are anything like me, learning to calm that crazy monkey mind is tougher than it sounds. It’s why so many quit trying to meditate so quickly. Their practice ends before it begins. Which almost happened to me too. So if you need a little extra help meditating, why not try a different method? Here are 3 ways to meditate that I’ve seen or experienced working for beginners or just people who have a lot on their minds.

Guided Meditation

meditation for beginners - guidedA guided meditation, uses visual mental imagery. By focusing on a relaxing scene, you give your brain something to keep it from wandering while also calming your thoughts.

To do a guided meditation, we actually like to use youTube. There are some great resources on there. One we particularly like is The Honest Guys. My daughter listens to a guided meditation by them to help her fall asleep at night. Boho Beautiful also has some great meditations I like to listen to.

If you have listened to a few guided meditations you may have figured out what works for you. In that case, you can always guide your own meditation.

Even if you haven’t, you can picture a scene that relaxes you. Perhaps you are on the beach at twilight, hanging on a hammock between two palm trees. You can close your eyes and listen to the waves peacefully crashing into shore. Or maybe you are camping in your favorite campground. Your sleeping bag is warm and cuddly around you. Close your eyes and listen to the crickets chirping. Think of whatever scene most relaxes you. I try to choose nature scenery. And then experience all of your senses using your mind’s eye. See it. What does it sounds like? Smell like? How does the  breeze feel? Can you almost taste the sea air on your tongue?

Walking Meditation

Ymeditation for beginners - walkinges, you can actually meditate while you walk. If you are new to meditation, this can be a good method because walking can be so peaceful and relaxing.

Find a quiet, calming location. Or somewhere you feel comfortable.

You can experiment with your focus.

Ffocus on the natural rhythms your body creates when walking – your breath or your footfall.

Or  use a focus word, such as “courage,” “dream,” or “create.” Say the word, out loud or in your head, with the rhythm of your feet.

Meditative Coloring

meditation for beginners - coloringColoring books are all the rage right now.

When you are coloring, your are completely focused on the task at hand. It helps keep you in the present moments and  let go of the other distractions.

It’s a great way to practice focus and mindfulness, if you have a hard time reeling it in.

 

Do you meditate? What method do you use?

 

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Purple Carrot Meal Delivery Review with Pictures

Operating in what I call crisis mode for so long, we were relying on quick food from pseudo-fast food places for way too long.

Crisis mode is when your life gets so busy that you are barely able to check your e-mail or planner an hour before you think you have to be there. It’s when life feels like it’s moving at breakneck speed (while at the same time moving not at all) and it’s all you can do to keep up. I was remembering four hour play rehearsals half an hour before we had to be there. With no time to prepare snacks, we’d run out of the house hoping to pick something up on the way. In the mad rush, we’d realize that we also forgot water bottles and have to pick water up too.

Every single event in our lives was like that. I wouldn’t have time to plan, time to shop, time to prepare eveything. Food was always a last minute thought.

Finally I found Purple Carrot online. They send a box of food in perfect proportions for the recipes they include. It will come each week and you can check the upcoming recipes online. If you don’t like what’s on the menu you can skip the week. It is saving our meals and, surely, our health.

If you are grasping at straws to keep dinner time healthy, affordable, and timely, I would highly suggest trying a meal delivery service like Purple Carrot. There, of course, are pros and cons to everything. Check out the pros and cons below.

This is my referral link. Click here to try it for $25 off of your first order!

proscons-pros

  • It makes eating healthy so easy and relatively inexpensive. Everything arrives at your door in the right proportions and is ready to go. I easily pay the same amount for a meal or two out.
  • Time. The meals so far have taken about half an hour or so. In all honestly, running out and grabbing something “because it’s quick” takes just as much time as it does to make one of these meals. Plus this way the kids are home doing their homework, getting ready for the next event, or spending time in the kitchen helping you. It is pretty exciting for them to get to bring a package in and examine the contents.
  • Introduction to new foods and flavors. I had honestly never cooked fennel before. Not for any specific reason. It has just never happened. I don’t know why. But now I’ve used it in not one but two recipes! The second time I was cutting it and my daughter walked into the kitchen. She suddenly stopped, sniffed, and said “don’t tell me…fennel!?” Then she told me she knew that’s what it was because it smells like licorice. I sniffed it and thought for a second. “Huh you’re right! It sure does,” I agreed. It’s cool that we both have had new experiences with a vegetable that we hadn’t previously had. And by the way – fennel is delicious!
  • Convenience. Not having to plan three of our meals is amazing! It leaves shopping so much easier. I just have to make sure we get breakfast and lunch foods. I try to plan something new from a cookbook or that I saw online for one of the meals. I plan one of our staple family favorites – which is great because at this rate we don’t get tired of them too quickly. For the other two meals, we might order in or throw on some veggie burgers to eat during Family Fun Night and the other I figure out from what I have in my pantry and freezer. It suddenly feels so much easier.
  • These awesome recipe cards and the fail proof recipes on them. These recipes seem so fancy and intricate, but they seem almost impossible to ruin. Because, trust me, if there was a way to mess them up I probably would’ve found it by now.
  • Easy to check the next week’s menu and skip it if you don’t want what’s being served. I love that you can login and check out what’s being served. The pictures are so pretty and the meals, thus far, have been really exciting. I can’t wait for next week’s order!
  • Guaranteed fresh plants in your diet weekly. Including more fresh vegetables in your diet has all sorts of benefits to your health, to the environment, and to the animals. Just something to think about.
  • Deliciousness!!! These meals are so good. They taste professionally made and are so well thought out. I have loved every meal so far. It is so delicious and I still feel good when I’m finished eating it – not all sluggish and gross like when we grab food on the go.

proscons-cons

  • There are only two plan options: 2 servings of 3 meals a week or 4 servings of 2 meals a week. I was slightly frustrated at first because the meal I really wanted was only offered on the 3 meal a week plan – so I went ahead and signed up for the 2 serving plan, but it worked out in my favor anyways because 2 servings works out perfectly for me and my 2 kids. It would be great if you could pick which two of the three you get.
  • Some of the meals we have had in our first two weeks have been pretty spicy, which may or may not be a con to you. My kids are not fond of spicy foods so I just learned to taste the sauces I make if there is an ingredient I am not familiar with.
  • Plastic. And lots of it.

Here are the meals we have had in the first two weeks of our subscription:

Week 1

purple-carrot-wk-1-3
“Chicken” salad wraps.                                                                              This was such a big hit with the kids. It was so good. If I was going to buy fake meat again, I would definitely look for this type. This was also our first fennel experience!

purple-carrot-wk-1-2
Mushroom Miso Hot Pot.                                                                                                                                      This was so good. I was surprised at how professional it tasted. It came out exactly like                                                      something I would order at an Asian restaurant.

purple-carrot-wk1-1
Corn Chowder!                                                                                                                                                This was really good. I was a little apprehensive because I’ve had a corn based soup before – not my favorite. But this was so so good! The texture was perfect and the taste was amazing. I added the chips and hummus myself. Just to give the kids something a little more.
Week 2

purple-carrot-2-1
Cauliflower Steak with Pumpkin Pasta                                                         I was so excited for this meal! And it definitely lived up to expectations. I added the salad on the side to round it out and kind of stretch it because I knew the kids would gobble it up too!

purple-carrot-2-2
Sweet and Sour Noodles                                                                                                                               This was my second experience with fennel! I loved this meal with the fennel, edamame, and pineapple. It was amazing and the kids were excited. It was a good thing I tried the sauce before adding it though. There was an ingredient in the sauce that I wasn’t familiar with fun…but tres spicy! If I had put it on the pasta, the kids would never have eaten it. I made my own sauce for it. Regardless, loved it.

purple-carrot-wk-2-3b
Trick-or-Treat Tacos                                                                                                                                            I think that^^ was the first dish name I actually got right. Anyways, I saw the word tacos and saw red lentils. I thought oh okay, I make red lentil tacos all the time. But these were not your run of the mill lentil taco. The lentil were mixed with tomato paste and smashed, the tacos were filled with brussel sprouts, pickled red onions, and vegan sour cream. They were so good! And this was my first time pickling onions. I have to say, they turned out well and I can see myself doing this for a number of other recipes when I get back to experimenting and playing in the kitchen.
If you would are having trouble finding time to plan, to cook, or to enjoy healthy meals with your family, I would recommend giving a service like Purple Carrot a try. Here is my referral link so you can get $25 off your first order!

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October Favorites

Things have finally started to settle down and the kids and I are slowly beginning to settle back into our home. I have to realize that it is not going to immediately be how I want it to be because it took many months for it to unravel to the extent that it did. But I love love love systems. And the more I get in place to make family life and healthy living easy, the more I can concentrate on the important things in life (like making the kids laugh, building a strong familial foundation, doing homework, and pursuing our passions).

All in all it has been a fairly good month. And things are getting better all the time. I have come across a few really great things in October that have helped make our lives easier and just more fun and enjoyable.

  1. Purple Carrot

There were so many times when we were half living in our house, half in my parents’ house that I hadn’t planned anything for dinner, hadn’t purchased certain foods because there was too much wrapping, or just didn’t have the time to prepare what I did plan. Then we would end up grabbing food from somewhere and it inevitably ended up being less healthy, less eco-friendly, and more expensive.  When we settled back at our place, I thought all the sudden I would have all the time in the world to cook, clean, write, send out resumes, fold laundry, etc etc. But I soon found that it just didn’t work like that. I takes time to re-create routines and systems. I realized that it was time to automate healthy meals – at least a little bit. So I decided to look into some meal delivery services.

Enter Purple Carrot.

I was so excited when I found Purple Carrot, a vegan meal delivery service. You can sign up for 2 servings of 3 meals a week or 4 servings of 2 meals a week. I signed up for the former because the kids don’t always eat that much or aren’t always into completely new flavors. The food is delivered to your door along with easy to read recipes. The kids and I have been cooking together and are really enjoying the whole experience.  So far every meal has been amazing! We are finding it a great way to try new recipes, new foods, and new menu ideas.

I’m trying not to make this post too long so I will do a whole review post coming up soon. So look forward to that!

If you are considering something like this to make meal planning easy, I definitely reccomend Purple Carrot. Click here to sign up through my referal link and get $25 off your first order.

2. Lunchbots – The Perfect Lunch Box Containers

 

I got the containers with the three compartments. I would like to also get the ones with two sections as another option.

When I received them, I was a little surprised at the size. They were smaller than I pictured in my head. But that worked out in my favor. Because I was able to fit other things in their lunch bags (like these awesome little containers from U Konserve) or a bag of veggie straws.

The separate compartments make planning lunches easy. I can think about what to put in each section and come up with a plan, as opposed to my old way of seeing what tupperware is clean that I could fit things into and then cram them into a lunch bag any which way! I plan something for each compartment and then throw in two more snacks (maybe a chia bar from my September Favorites list and some fruit in those U Konserve containers.)

I also love that they are stainless steel. They are easy to clean and plastic free!

3. Book: How Not to Die by Michael Greger M.D.

I may be a bit bias, but I love this book! It is chock full of scientifically researched information on plant based living. It is presented in a way that acknowledges the intelligence of the readers while still providing adequate explanations. The studies it references cover contamination issues with meat, long term health consequences of nutritional choices, and so much more.  It’s kind of preaching to the choir as I already am about 90% plant based, but it truly solidified many of my positions and stances.

I highly recommend it as a resource on healthy living and nutrition and a really fun book to read or listen to if you enjoy that kind of thing or are ready to learn more about why you should start adding more and more veggies to your diet, replacing some of the meat and animal products. I am listening to it on Audible right now, but am considering purchasing a paper copy of it because it feels like the type of book I want to be able to mark and underline.
Click here to check it out and read the Amazon reviews.

4. Kids (Anyone) Book: Penguin Problems by Jory John

I wasn’t really planning on sharing kids’ books on this blog, but when I read this, I realized it was just so right up my alley. It was recently donated to my son’s school library. One of the librarians told me I should look at it. She thought it was something I would like. I read it and wondered how, even though we’ve known each other for a couple years now, she knew me just so well.

Penguin has lots of problems. He has lots of complaints. But he comes across a walrus who has a very different view on the world and helps the penguin change his perspective to a positive one – just a little.
It’s such a sweet story. I think anyone can get a little smile from reading it.
Click here to see it on Amazon and read other reviews.

 

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. The products are of no extra cost to you, but should you make a purchase I would receive a small percentage that will support Balancing Bananas and continue to make this site better*

 

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Take Care of Yourself, Caregiver

Trust me, I know how it is. My life revolves around taking care of everyone but myself. I am a single mom with two kids – an 11 year old actress and a 6 year old athlete. My keep-the-family-together mother just passed away a few weeks ago and my father has spinal muscular atrophy, dementia, and recently had a stroke that left him unable to weight bear. I’ve also adopted my parents’ blind dog.

I am desperately trying to keep track of all of the rehearsals, practices, and games, while still being present for whenever my father needs me. On one occasion, I went upstairs to put my pajamas on at 9/9:30 and realized I had never changed out of my pajamas from the night before! Or all too often, it gets to dinner time and I realize I forgot to feed myself all day!  

But we’ve all heard it time and time again, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first. Yeah, yeah, blah blah. But it’s true, as Lisa Nichols put it in her book Abundance Now I just read “you have to pour into yourself before you can pour into others.” I picture someone with a pitcher and people around with glasses. If the guy didn’t pour the juice into his pitcher first, there would nothing to pour into the glasses.

But it’s hard to make sure we take care of ourselves sometimes, so here are a few little tips I’ve picked up along the way:

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September Favorites

I’m so late. I typed this up weeks ago, but am just now getting around to posting it. It’s like mid-October but here’s my September (errrrrr…… and October?) Favorites! Fall itself is my favorite season and I’m definitely looking forward to this one! I just know it’s going to be great! I recently found a few gems I’m loving that I’m so super excited to share with you.

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About Me

Hi! I’m Valerie.

I am a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and Health Coach with certifications in meditation, and stress management, and brain health.

I am also a single mom with 2 kids, a 24 hour caregiver for my father, and a passionate healthy living advocate. We have a blind bouvier, an adopted bearded dragon, and two birds. I love yoga, reading, hiking, writing, spending time with my kiddos, and just having massive amounts of fun.file_000

Ever since I was little I was interested in finding new methods of healthy living. I remember hiding in the library after school reading books on yoga and when we got internet access on our first computer I would sneak on it to look up aromatherapy. I felt there had to be another way.

When I got to university, I chose to major in therapeutic recreation. I got my bachelor’s of science and my first taste of a holistic view of health. It was stressed over and over that in order to have a full return to health, we need to focus on not only on the physical aspects of health, but also the cognitive, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the individual.

Once I had kids I realized just how easy it is to forgo healthy living principles in the name of convenience. Around the same time my father began to exhibit symptoms of dementia which led me to a focus on brain health as well as cardiovascular health. Thus began my interest in stress management, yoga, meditation because of all of their benefits.  I eventually became his primary caregiver,(after his diseases have progressed, he had a stroke, and cardiac diagnoses).  My interest in healthy living heightened because I was determined to learn about and mitigate the risk of lifestyle factors.

When you have a blind, one child having trouble getting dressed for school, one who needs a permission slip signed last minutes, and a father screaming that he needs a diaper change, it becomes too easy to fall back on fast food or frustration. So my focus then turned to how I can make all of the healthy living techniques and practices easy and accessible for my new whirlwind crazy life. We should all be able to live healthy lives without adding MORE stress or guilt to our lives. Healthy living can and should be a no-brainer. I wanted to spread the message so I decided to then pursue my certification as a health coach.

My mission is now to spread the message that healthy living can be easy and accessible to EVERYone no matter what their lifestyle. I want to help the world live healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives.

 

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