Stress Relief In 15 Minutes

by Merry Rose - Date: 2006-12-02 - Word Count: 953 Share This!

There is nothing new about meditation. It's been around in one form or another for thousands of years. But in our hustle, bustle world, we have forgotten the value of sitting quietly and letting our minds rest. The benefits of meditation are cumulative and far reaching. A person might set out to learn meditation simply to relieve stress and find, several months later, a calmness that pervades his or her life that she or he never knew was missing - a nice side-effect. Beyond the mental and emotional benefits, there are physical benefits as well.

Chronic stress impairs our body's natural ability to heal itself and can be a factor in many and varied ailments such as hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, depression, chronic pain, heart attacks, backaches, skin disorders, eating disorders, and immune system disorders. It can also be a factor in a wide variety of more minor symptoms such as teeth grinding, irritability, distrust, negative emotions, headaches, indigestion, and fatigue, among others. In fact, almost 80% of all visits to doctors include stress-related issues.

In meditation, the body becomes deeply relaxed, as it is in sleep, but one is awake and alert at the same time. This is called an "alpha" state of consciousness. When you are meditating, your brain is "un-hinged" from conscious thought. It's being given some time off, while you allow a quiet, creative space to predominate.

Meditation is not about "making your mind blank". Instead, it is more of an ebb and flow of quiet mental intensity and relaxation that allows catharsis and healing. Meditation is a process of letting each thought come into your mind and simply, quietly and gently releasing the thought with no attachment of any sort. With the breath as the focal point, the mind and body quiet, providing a mini-vacation from the concerns and problems of daily life. Meditation can give us insights and answers like no amount of "active" thinking can. And, yes, it can heal your body as well.

There are many "experts" on meditation and you can find a ga-zillion methods. Here is an excellent and very simple method that I teach my clients.

The technique is to simply focus on your breath. To get started, sit in a comfortable and relaxed position that you can easily maintain for 15-20 minutes without interruption. Your hands should rest comfortably in your lap, preferably with your palms up - but it's more important that you are comfortable and completely relaxed.

Then close your eyes and begin noticing your breath. Just breathe normally and bring your complete focus to your inhale and exhale. Don't try to do anything with your breath - no counting or anything else like that. Just notice your natural breathing. After you have settled in a bit, you will most likely notice that your mind is going a mile a minute. You will probably have many, many thoughts that will distract you from focusing on your breathing. When that happens (and it definitely will), simply bring your attention back to your breathing, gently releasing the thought. You may also be distracted by a sound in the environment, a mood, a feeling or some sensation in the body. As with the thought, gently bring your attention back to the breath. You may become distracted a hundred times or more in one 15 minute meditation. Try not to get frustrated. Simply keep bringing your attention back to the breath.

Try to remain non-judgmental and release any expectations of the process. Simply do. Being in a result-oriented frame of mind is counter-productive. Each meditation may feel different to you. Don't judge your meditation, good, bad, or otherwise - just keep meditating. I promise, if you stick with it and meditate at least once every day (twice a day is ideal), you will become more able to handle stressful situations, your mood will improve, you will feel more energetic and you will sleep better.

After you have been doing this technique for a while and you've started to feel comfortable with it, you can start doing a "mantra" if you wish. There is nothing mysterious about a mantra. It is just a sound or word(s) that you say silently to yourself on your inhale and exhale. It can be as simple as saying "Om" or "Aah" each time you inhale and each time you exhale, or a combination of both, or you can say "I am" on your inhale and say any quality that you want more of in your life, like "love", peace", "harmony", "abundance", etc. on your exhale - so inhale "I am", exhale "love", inhale "I am", exhale "love", you get the idea.

Sometimes it is helpful and therapeutic to write about your experience of meditation in a journal. Something may come to you during your meditation that you feel is helpful to you, or maybe you'll get an answer to a problem you've been facing. Write down what comes to you. A word of caution: Don't ever try to force getting an answer or having a revelation in your meditation - you will be unsuccessful. Meditation is about being receptive, not "making something happen".

You also might like to try meditating to music. This is a good way to time your meditation without having to keep looking at a watch or setting a timer and it can be very calming. The music should generally be something soothing that doesn't have a strong beat, rhythm or melody that could distract you from focusing on your breath. There are many wonderful meditation CD's available. Experiment with what you like.

More energy, less stress, anger and frustration, more joy, more understanding, more love. These are a few of the benefits you can expect from establishing a regular meditation practice. Here's to creating more peace in your life. Namaste.

Related Tags: stress, brain, body, mind, love, meditation, healing, relaxation, benefit, disease, chronic, mood, breath, mantra

Merry Rose has been passionate about nutrition for over 25 years. As a professional singer and dancer, she noticed that what she ate and drank had a tremendous impact on her level of energy and overall health. Merry went back to school and received her certification (CN) from the National Institute of Nutritional Education. Merry designs personal nutrition programs for a broad range of issues with an emphasis on women's and children's health. She is the consulting nutritionist for the Nike Fitness Academy.

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