How meditation can reduce stress
I can’t tell you how many people say they can’t meditate, that they’ve tried and tried but they just can’t get their mind to be quiet or they can’t sit that long.
If this sounds familiar, I’d like you to try a little exercise:
- Sit comfortably
- Take a nice deep breath; observe the breath going in through your nose then notice your lungs filling
- Hold the breath at the top for just a moment
- Exhale slowly
- Hold it at the bottom for just a moment
- Repeat steps 2-5 two more times
You just meditated: it can truly be that simple. There are many thoughts on how meditation is “supposed” to be. Sit in lotus position with your hands in a mudra. Or sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Back straight. Don’t think…I don’t know about you, but even after years of meditating, my feet still fall asleep if I can get my legs in lotus. Sitting up makes my backache, and yes, I still catch myself making grocery and to-do lists from time to time. I need back support, whether it is the floor, the back of the couch, or a wall. Do I go too deep sometimes and fall asleep? Upon occasion, but it is usually much needed. I am a firm believer in getting comfortable and doing what you need to do for you.
Find the type of meditation that works best for you as there are several different types.
These are just a few and they go by different names:
- Mindfulness Meditation – focusing on the breath or an object, observe your thoughts as they pass through your mind. Maybe there is a clock in the room with a noisy second hand, so observe the pattern of the clicks. Just be in the moment – observing.
- Focused Meditation – here you focus your attention using your senses. Observe the breath, count mala beads, listen to music or a sound journey, notice the flicker of a candle, smell diffusing essential oils…it all works.
- Guided Meditation – another person describes a scene such as the beach or through the woods, for example. These can be done in person or using a recording.
- Mantra Meditation – this is about focusing on a word or phrase. These can be Sanskrit words like Om, prayers, even just a sound. The most powerful mantra I have found is the three little words: “I love you.” Plain, easy, and simple, but it carries a huge vibration and energy with it.
- Body Scan – this encourages meditators to pay attention to different parts of the body. It may be done to scan for stress or tension or just to observe areas of the body.
- Movement Meditation – this is exactly what it sounds like. You move your body during this meditation. This can include walking (just be mindful if you are crossing streets), hiking, dancing, gardening, qigong, or yoga for those who have a hard time sitting for a long period of time
,In the last case, this is a great one to try.
Try different techniques. Find those that work best for you (it can be more than one. Try one or a combination. I like to say a mantra while doing the dishes or a craft. Take a hike through the woods and listen to the birds chirping, or watch the sunlight play
in through the trees, taking note of the sensations in your body. The combinations are endless. No matter where you are or what you are doing, just remember to breathe.