Stress, which is often viewed as an inevitable part of many people’s daily lives, is one of the main sources of wear-and-tear on the mind and the body.
According to recent research, stress levels have doubled in 4 years which means that stress management has never been more relevant than it is today.
Each of us has probably felt the emotion of stress at some point in our lives, and could immediately identify the cause; fear for the future, work, money worries, family conflicts, to name but a few.
When in a stress response, the mind is full of anxious thoughts and the body filled with stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline. If this emotional state is allowed to continue for long periods of time, both the body and mind can become ill, leading to panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and more serious conditions.
An effective way of overcoming stress is learning to become more relaxed, and meditation is one such approach that has been proven to support the body and mind to unwind, helping to release tension from the body and stress from the mind.
Mary Pearson, founder of the British School of Meditation and author of Meditation; the stress solution (HotHive Books) says that “The very essence of meditation is to do with quietening the mind. We have up to 60,000 thoughts running through our heads every day; our minds crammed full of things to do; work, relationships, worries, the past, the future. We juggle all these thoughts on a daily basis and it is no wonder that we often feel stressed.”
Meditation always sounds as something difficult to learn. But there are some very easy things to keep in mind when starting to meditate. Start to take a 10 – 20 minute break to just try this basic recipe for meditation and see for ourselves how we feel afterwards.
- Find a quiet time and a quiet space each day
- Set a time limit. If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as five or 10 minutes.
- Sit in a comfortable position that you can maintain for 15-20 minutes – for most people this is sitting on a straight backed chair, with both feet placed firmly on the floor or you can sit loosely cross-legged, you can kneel – all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
- Relax into your position
- Begin to focus on an activity or an object, e.g. your breath, a mantra (silently repeating a phrase or word that is calming), etc. Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out.
- Notice when your mind has wandered. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.
- Be kind to your wandering mind, don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.
- Close with kindness. When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
That’s it! That’s the practice. You go away, you come back, and you try to do it as kindly as possible. Don’t stress about your meditation skills. Meditation takes practice. Keep in mind, for instance, that it’s common for your mind to wander during meditation, no matter how long you’ve been practicing meditation. If you’re meditating and your mind wanders, gently return to the object, sensation or movement you’re focusing on.
If you choose to, you can attend special meditation centers or group classes led by trained instructors. But you can also practice meditation easily on your own.
You can also try guided online meditation. Guided meditation is a state of relaxed concentration invoked and led by another party. Guided meditation can be as short as a few minutes or as long as several hours. It’s safe, accessible, and fits easily into your day. And don’t worry about sorting through thousands of YouTube videos and websites to find one to try: we can recommend the following website that did the busy work for you: https://www.verywellmind.com/best-guided-meditations-4843806
You should make meditation your own, suiting your lifestyle and situation, however it feels good and comfortable to you. Some people build meditation into their daily routine. For example, they may start and end each day with meditation. But all you really need is a few minutes of quality time for meditation.
Experiment, and you’ll likely find out what works best for you and what you enjoy doing. Try it yourself and see how meditation can help you to fight your stress levels!
Breath in, breath out, relax…. !!