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The Benefits of Meditation for Stress Relief

Updated on April 2, 2013
Meditation is a self-centering activity you can do most any time or anywhere.
Meditation is a self-centering activity you can do most any time or anywhere. | Source
Experience an inner calmness with the use of meditation.
Experience an inner calmness with the use of meditation. | Source

Meditation for Relaxation and Stress Relief

Our lives are chaotic. We are constantly being bombarded with stimulation in various forms, whether it be at work, at home or even during leisure activities. All of this external stimulation, in addition to how we react to it, serves to cause feelings of anxiety, of being "stressed out."

What better way to relax and relieve tension and stress than to put aside the world around you for some moments of quiet reflection?

Have you ever tried meditation?

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If you've tried meditation, would you suggest it to others for relief of stress?

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What Is Meditation?

Meditation is a state of thoughtless awareness, a way to a relaxed state of mind by putting aside thoughts and feelings and focusing on self, on one's own consciousness. Meditation is a mind-body type of complementary medicine, in the same classification as yoga and tai chi. Meditation is a mental discipline.

"Thoughtless awareness" may sound like an oxymoron, but the term means to develop an awareness of yourself, your consciousness, by filtering out thoughts. Some people are able to quiet their thoughts completely after some practice of meditation techniques, but many more people are able to filter out most of their conscious thoughts after a time.

In order to achieve a feeling of calm, a lessening of anxiety and tension, the most important thoughts to be able to filter are those which have caused your feeling of stress. For example, if your boss has been hounding you to reach a deadline and you feel as if your head may explode, take a few moments to meditate, to filter out the boss's voice, to filter out concerns for the deadline. After even a few minutes of this, in addition to some slow, deep breathing, you may well feel more relaxed and better able to meet your goal when you return to your conscious thoughts.

Explanation of What Meditation Really Is

Busting the Myths About Meditation

Common Meditation Myths
Meditation Facts
You have to dress a certain way
You can dress any way you like. Being able to be comfortable is what is important
You have to sit a certain way
You can sit, lie or assume any position that allows you to be comfortable
Meditation takes a long time
Meditation can provide stress-relieving benefits in short periods of time, say 5 to 10 minute sessions, or a longer session may be used when time allows
You have to take a class to learn to meditate
The main concepts of meditation don't require training from an expert. There are many resources online and in book form that will provide the information you need to be successful.
Meditation is a certain religion
Meditation is not a concept of any one religion, but a method to relieve tension and anxiety. There need be no spiritual overtones to the practice.
Meditation is for hippies or yuppies or nerds or any other particular group
Meditation is a method of achieving calmness that requires no special skills or mindset. It is truly a method for the masses.

Meditation to Relieve Anxiety and Stress

A study conducted by Harvard Medical School and affiliated researchers demonstrated that after an eight-week meditation course, the brains of study participants physically changed. The areas of the brain associated with self-awareness and compassion had grown larger, and the area associated with stress had become smaller.

The importance that portion of the brain associated with stress becoming smaller is important in two ways: The now-smaller portion may mean improved mental and emotional responses to stress in your life and improvement in physical health.

Physical health would improve because with less stress, less anxiety and more calmness in your mind, the autonomic "fight or flight" response will occur less often. This response releases adrenalin that acts on your blood vessels, causing an increase in blood pressure and reduced circulation to your heart. High blood pressure is known as the silent killer; it can result in heart attacks and stroke, even kidney failure.

Slowing down, taking the time to meditate, to filter out conscious thoughts, can produce important, even life-saving benefits, as well as contributing to your peace of mind.

Additional benefits associated with meditation include:

  • Gaining skills for stress management
  • Reducing negative emotions
  • Focusing on the present, staying in the moment
  • Allows development of new perspectives in stress management

How to Meditate Part 1 of 2

Meditation Helps in Overcoming Anxiety

Meditation can be practiced alone or in a group.
Meditation can be practiced alone or in a group. | Source

How to Meditate Part 2 of 2

What Other Benefits Does Meditation Have?

Meditation is an ancient practice, one that predates organized religion, but traditional Western medicine has been slower to approve and use meditation than its eastern counterparts. Western medicine requires scientific proof of not only benefits of a practice, but also any potential harmful effects.

As more research is completed, more traditional health care providers are suggesting the use of meditation to their patients. The research into meditation and its effects on the brain may even lead to improved understanding of such conditions as autism and schizophrenia, as researchers at Yale suggest.

Because our bodies are sets of systems all interlinked, anxiety and other negative emotions can adversely affect other body systems as we see from the correlation with high blood pressure. Other body systems can also be affected by ongoing stress, such as a weakening of our immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to illness and infection, or the gastrointestinal system that may cause your stomach to produce excess acid, or have difficulty properly digesting food, or affect bowel habits.

While meditation is not the only practice that can help you to relieve stress and filter out negative emotions, it is a practice that you can do just about any time and any where, making it a no-cost method of achieving that inner calm you deserve.

Some of the Many Shambhala Meditation Centers Nationwide

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A markerShambhala Meditation Retreat, Red Feather Lakes, CO -
Red Feather Lakes, CO, USA
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Shambhala Mountain Center welcomes all people with inspiration, interest and curiosity about understanding the nature of self and society.

B markerAkron Shambhala Center, 133 Portage Trail, Cuyahoga Falls, OH -
133 Portage Trail, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221, USA
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C markerJuneau Shambhala Center, 174 S. Franklin Street, Juneau, Alaska -
174 South Franklin Street, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
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D markerPhoenix Shambhala Meditation Center, 1202 E, Maryland Avenue, Phoenix, AZ -
1202 East Maryland Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85014, USA
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E markerNew Haven Shambhala Center, 85 Willow Street,, New Haven, Conn -
Shambhala Center of New Haven, 85 Willow Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA
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F markerShambhala Meditation Center of Atlanta, 1447 Church St., Decatur, GA -
1447 Church Street, Decatur, GA 30030, USA
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    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Cyndi10, thank you for the read and comment. At first, it felt counter-intuitive to me to slow down in order to feel less anxious, but once I settled into the practice, understanding of the process and its benefits fell into place.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      Well written information. With so many stressors in our lives, taking a few moments to clear our minds is a must. Good information about meditation for each of us to consider.