Let’s talk about Meditation For Stress. It’s easy to see when someone you know is stressed out, but it’s not always so easy to acknowledge it within yourself. More recent advances in science and medicine show the negative effects of stress on the body. Stress has a role to play in headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. Many of these are the most common complaints I get from my patients.
Click here if you want to know more about the physical effects of stress.
We have observed how stress affects the body, but it is important to remember that stress comes from the mind. If you are struggling with personal issues like relationship drama, tension at work, family conflict, financial hardship, or even just handling holdidays, stress is bound to appear.
Since stress comes from our minds, people throughout history have come up with methods to calm the mind and reduce stress. One of the most popular and ancient methods to do so is meditation. Meditation is found in many traditions across the globe, but the positive effects on the body are well documented. Practicing meditation consistently even has a positive impact on the body when you are not meditating.
You can read about the positive effects of meditation from the Harvard Gazette here
So if meditation for stress works, how do I do it?
Contrary to the way that you may think about it, meditation is not just an action, it is more so a state of mind. There are many different methods and techniques of meditating, but they all aim at helping you achieve a specific, more relaxed, state of mind. In our everyday life, we focus on the external world around us. In meditation, we turn our attention inward, and experience what it feels like simply to be a living, breathing, human being. We objectively observe the sensations in our body and mind, rather than reacting emotionally to any specific feeling. Putting ourselves in this state of mind allows the body to relax, restoring health and reducing stress.
One of the most common reasons that people are resistant to meditation is that they find they cannot easily quiet their mind. Meditation is not something you should need to force, simply allowing yourself to relax, breathe, and observe your own thoughts and feelings is enough to have positive mental and physical effects.
You can read about meditation and stress from the Mayo Clinic here. It is a great article that outlines the benefits and common techniques for meditation.
Any technique that allows you to relax and achieve the meditative state of mind is meditation. Traditionally, meditation involves sitting in a cross legged position on the ground or straight backed in a chair. Often times, meditators like to use spiritual concepts like chakras and energy to get in the zone. But this is not the only way to achieve a meditative state of mind! Some people achieve this state of mind through dancing, through talking a nice walk, or just sitting in a place where they feel at peace.
Beginner’s tips for stress reducing meditation
It is the state of mind produced through meditative practice that creates a stress reducing health benefit in the human body. It can be difficult for many to attempt to quiet their mind and create the meditative state of mind. Thinking about the following tips can make it much easier to meditate for stress.
- Try meditating before you get too stressed. We all know what it is like to realize that we are really stressed out (clenching your jaw, being irritable with the kids, not sleeping, etc.). But when it comes to stress, not letting things get that far is even better. Before those stress hormones kick in, take a few minutes to breathe deeply, force your muscles to relax, consciously get into a meditative state of mind. This can be a quick stop-gap that can keep your day on track.
- Have a regular mediation routine that works for you. If you plan ahead and commit to a time and place, you are way more likely to actually do it. Take the decision making process out of meditation. The when, how and where can become a stress in itself if you have to think about this every day. If it becomes comfortable and routine, it will be a pleasurable habit. Eventually, you will start to understand when you need to meditate based on how you are feeling, rather than on a schedule.
- Minimize distracting stimuli Make it easier on yourself in the beginning by choosing your meditation locations carefully. If you are easily distracted by sights, sounds, smells, and other stimuli in your environment, this is especially important If you can’t escape from other people, let them know that you looking for some peace and quiet so you can think. People will understand.
- Find a quiet spot that has meaning for you. The most at ease you feel when meditating, the more productive your meditation will be. Find a special place that you have a connection to, and wouldn’t mind spending a few quiet minutes in now and again.
- But, you can meditate anywhere. You may not be in your ideal, peaceful corner the next time stress builds. That’s OK. You can escape to the restroom or even just breathe deeply in the middle of a meeting or at the grocery store. The state of mind of mediation produces the beneficial effect, and so training your mind to enter this state is possible anywhere, anytime.
You have nothing to lose but your stress
Starting to meditate can be a daunting task. It’s natural to ask “where do I start?” Like many things in life, there is no right or wrong answer to this. Try just a few minutes and day and let it become natural over time. You can start where you feel comfortable, and the more you practice getting in the meditative state of mind, the easier it is to maintain it, and the better you will feel both mentally and physically.
As always, best wishes for a healthy, happy, life,