Meditation for Stress Reduction
How to Meditate to Reduce Stress
It was not long ago that I found myself in a therapist's chair, stressed, tired, deprived of sleep and asking, “How can I slow this train called my mind down?” Like many people, I work a high stress job and am required to balance both home and work life with an expected degree of sanity. If you have ever felt this way you might possibly be just as surprised as I was when the doctor looked me square in the eyes, glasses dropped and said, “Have you ever considered using meditation?” Here I was falling to pieces and all she could suggest was some hippie, dippy breathing until you pass out meditating? However, the truth was that I was so desperate and out of ideas that I sank in the couch deeper and said, “Why, no. I never much considered that.”
That was over a year ago and it was the beginning of what I now believed would have been my first and hopefully last mental breakdown. If you are feeling:
· Overwhelmed, wondering “How am I going to get all this done?”
· Tired, desperately wanting to sleep peacefully but unable to unwind entirely at night
· Hopeless, with no real satisfied feeling that your life will change
The unlikely answer to your problem may include meditation.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice that involves quieting the mind through contemplation, deep breathing, and/or deliberate awareness. It is an exercise that has been used for thousands of years, in every major religion and on nearly every continent. If you are anything like myself you have probably heard the word many times but may have never sought to understand it any deeper than by name and general definition.
How does meditation relieve stress?
Meditation slows down your heart rate and breathing, causing you to take in more oxygen.
Slows down and quiets the mind, causing you to think more clearly. Studies have even shown that meditating can help aid in detaching from addictions including smoking, alcohol, and food.
Mediation can cause you to have a deeper awareness and expression of your feelings.
For those seeking enlightenment and/or a closer more intimate relationship with their God, Higher Power, or Higher-Self, meditation is an accepted passage to deeper consciousness.
Walking meditation: Involves walking at a slowed to normal pace, focusing on each movement as you go.
Zazen Meditation: Traditionally a sitting mediation, this involves concentration on the breath leading to an empting of one’s mind.
Spiritual Meditation: Focuses on developing awareness to one’s spiritual core.
Body Scan Meditation: Done alone, this meditation causes you to connect to your physical body in order to concentrate your mind.
Mindfulness Meditation: Can help open your mind to your true feelings and why you are feeling them.
Loving Kindness Meditation (Simple mantra meditation): Uses a repeated phrase which encourages kindness to self and others.
Guided Meditation: Uses a teacher or guide (can be taped) to move you through the different phases of a meditation session. Helpful for beginning meditators.
Matching Your Personality to Your Meditation
Type of Meditation to Try
Zazen or Body Scan Meditation
Religious or Spiritual
Loving Kindness Meditation
Books/CDs to Help You Get Started
How to start meditating today:
1. Choose a form of meditation that interests you: Meditation may sound like something that can bore you half to sleep. Finding the type of meditation that suits you may be the key that unlocks your enjoyment to this healthy practice.
2. Pick a location: Find a comfortable, peaceful area to meditate. Any place in your house or even outdoors will do as long as you can have some uninterrupted space.
3. Choose a position: Depending on the type of meditation you are using, sitting in a chair, on a pillow or on the ground are appropriate. The key to finding your best position to start is finding one you can stay in comfortably for the duration of your meditation.
4. Decide on a realistic routine: Meditation is most effective when practiced consistently versus a few random times. Find a routine that work best for you. Morning, noon or night, there is no wrong time to meditate as long as you can do this routinely. Choose a time you can concentrate without falling asleep. Also, consider you eating times. It is best to meditate at least one hour after eating for best alertness.
5. Get quiet and focus on your breathing: Close your eyes gently and begin taking full breathes, concentrating as each breath goes in and out of your lungs. After 3-5 breathes your body and mind should begin to relax.
6. Be patient: Meditation takes practices because it is not easy or natural for our busy minds to stop and slow down. As your mind wanders, and it will, place your focus back on your breath to return to your meditative state.
7. Find fellowship: Finding others that are seeking what you are seeking is a component to any new activity becoming routine and beneficial. Whether an online community or in person, contact with others that meditate can help you stay focuses and encouraged.
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