So you want a fast and simple way to reduce stress?! We’ll get to that. First comes FIRST!
You surely heard of meditation. Meditation brings inner peace and wipes away the stresses of our daily lives. It’s easy, convenient, and affordable therapy for stress relief. Anyone can perform meditation and it doesn’t require any specific equipment. Understanding the benefits of this therapeutic remedy and learning the practice itself, you can get the best out of this effective stress reliever whenever you need it.
Stress level can range from mild to moderate to severe. Detecting the early signs of stress helps you prevent further risks and health complications. If the troubles of your life make you feel anxious, tense and worried, don’t disregard these signs. Take a break and spend a few minutes in meditation, it will restore your inner peace and calm your emotions.
It is so convenient that you can meditate anytime, anywhere. You can practice meditation when you’re riding the bus, out for a walk in the park, before a business meeting, or waiting at the doctor’s office.
The practice of meditation dates back over thousands of years ago. It was initially intended to strengthen the perception of the spiritual and mystical energies of life. Today, medication is typically practiced for stress reduction and relaxation.
Medication is regarded as a form of holistic integral medicine due to its ability to create a deep state of relaxation and a peaceful mind.
Stress can also be contributed to information overload building up in our minds brought about by the problems of everyday living. In the course of meditation, you concentrate your thought and get rid of the stream of disorganized thoughts that are swarming in your mind and causing stress. This therapy may develop improved emotional well-being and physical health.
Benefits of meditation
One of the benefits of meditation includes the enhancement of emotional well-being and overall health by providing you a sense of tranquility, balance and inner peace.
The emotional benefits of meditation include:
• Learning a new mindset on the occurrence of stressful events;
• Improving ability to cope with stress;
• Giving deeper sense of self-awareness;
• Focusing on the reality of a present situation;
• Eliminating negative thoughts and emotions.
These benefits linger even long after the meditation session ends by bringing you more calmness through the day.
Studies also show that regular practice of meditation may treat certain medical conditions which are associated with stress and may cause severe health problems. These results suggest that meditation may assist people in managing stress-related symptoms of illness such as:
• Heart disease
• Anxiety disorders
• Insomnia or other sleep problems
• Body pain
• High blood pressure
Take note that meditation may be used in conjunction with your traditional medical treatment and should not be used to replace your prescribed medical treatments. If you have any of the conditions stated earlier, talk to your doctor first if it’s safe to practice meditation. In rare cases, meditation can complicate the symptoms related to some physical and mental health conditions.
Types of meditation
There are several types of meditation that administer the same objective of attaining inner peace and a relaxed state of well-being. These relaxation techniques include:
• Guided meditation
Also known as visualization or guided imagery, this type of meditation helps you calm your troubled mind by allowing you to create or visualize mental images of situations or places you find relaxing. You will be guided by a teacher or a guide throughout this process and you will be asked to utilize as many senses as possible such as sight, hear, smell, and touch.
• Mantra meditation
During mantra meditation, you are able to prevent disturbing thoughts and emotions by silently repeating a calming phrase, word or thought.
• Mindfulness meditation
This meditation gives you an increased consciousness and recognition of present reality in life. During the treatment, your mind concentrates on your current experiences such as your breathing flow. This method will let you discover your feelings and thoughts and letting them pass without judgments which results to a broader conscious awareness.
• Qi gong
Qi gong (pronounced as “chee-gung”) is a traditional Chinese medical practice that incorporates meditation, physical movement, relaxation, and breathing drills to maintain harmony and restore stability.
• Tai chi
Tai chi (pronounced as “tie-chee”) is a Chinese martial arts style generally practiced by executing self-paced series of movements and poses in a very slow and graceful way with deep breathing exercises.
• Transcendental meditation.
This simple and natural meditation technique works the same way as mantra meditation. In transcendental meditation, the repetition of mantra is not concentrated on the mind but as a medium upon which the focus gently rests. This supports the mind and body to soothe into a more relaxed mode, allowing your mind to reach a deeper state of inner peace without the effort of concentration.
In yoga, you incorporate a series of physical stretching and regulated breathing workouts to develop a calmer mind and a more flexible body. During yoga sessions, your body moves through poses that demand concentration and balance, this encourages you to focus on the moment and disregard your troubling busy day.
Elements of meditation
One of the advantages of meditation in comparison with other stress-reducing therapies is that it doesn’t require any expensive equipment. All you need are the determination to combat your stress and anxiety, and the different features you need to include in your meditation. These elements may differ depending on the type of meditation you are practicing or the instructions from your teacher. The most common elements or features of medication include:
• Focused attention
Meditation requires focusing your concentration that helps you stay away from distracting and troubling thoughts and emotions that can cause stress and anxiety. Attention can be focused on relaxing things such as an image, a mantra, or even breathing.
• Relaxed breathing
By using the diaphragm muscles in doing deep and even-paced breathing, the lungs expand taking in more oxygen. This helps you breathe more efficiently by reducing the use of neck, shoulder, and upper chest muscles while breathing.
• A quiet setting
It is more suitable to practice meditation in a peaceful and quiet place with less distraction preferably away from televisions, radios or phones. As you get more used to meditation, you will be able to practice it almost anywhere whether you’re in a long line at the grocery store or you’re stuck in the middle of a traffic jam.
• A comfortable position
Find your most comfortable position and get the most out of your meditation, whether you are lying down, sitting, walking, other activities or positions.
Different ways to practice meditation
You can choose to practice meditation on group classes facilitated by trained teachers, attend special meditation centers, or just simply on your own. The best way of meditation depends on what you feel most comfortable and convenient for you.
Some people allocate an hour of meditation into their everyday routine. All you actually need is a few minutes of your spare time to help your mind and body steer away from stress.
Here are some helpful yet different ways to practice meditation on your own, everywhere you like, anytime you choose:
~ Deep breathing
Since breathing is a natural function, this wouldn’t be a problem for even beginners to practice deep breathing. Aim your concentration on your breathing, feel and listen as you inhale and exhale through your nose while breathing slowly and deeply. When your attention starts to drift away, return your attention to your breathing.
~ Body scanning
Focus your attention on different parts of your body and raise awareness of your body’s different sensations such as warmth, relaxation, tension or pain. Use breathing exercises and visualize breathing heat to breathe in relaxation and breathe out tension from the various parts of your body.
~ Mantra repetition
Assign your personal mantra and silently repeat the words or phrase over and over again. You can form your mantra based on your belief or religion. Religious mantras such as the Jesus Prayer in the Christian belief or the mantra of Buddhism, Hinduism, or other Eastern doctrine can be adapted to your meditation.
~ Walk and meditate
The combination of meditating and walking provides a healthy and efficient way to reduce stress. Take a stroll on a serene forest or even on a busy city sidewalk while slowing down the pace of your walking, focusing on the movements of your feet and legs. As you move your legs and feet on the ground, silently repeat action words such as moving and lifting the feet.
~ Engage in prayer
In most faith traditions, prayer not only connects physical being and spirituality, it is also a great way to release repressed emotions and troubles. A sincere and heartfelt prayer results to a lighter and calmer mind, body and spirit.
~ Read and reflect
Reading poems or sacred texts has been claimed beneficial for stressed people who have taken a few moments to reflect on their meaning after reading. You can also write your reflections in a journal by listening to sacred music or spoken words you find inspiring.
~ Focus your attention to love and gratitude
Concentrate on a sacred being or object, compassion and feelings of love, and gratitude into your mind. Use your imagination and visualize on the representations of the object.
Improving your meditation skills…
Don’t increase your stress by judging your medication skills. Remember, practice makes perfect meditation.
It’s normal to experience distractions during meditation. Don’t lose hope if this happens, calm your mind and redirect your attention to the calming sensation, object or movement that you’re previously focusing on.
You can try all the different types of meditation to discover which works best for you. There is no right way or wrong way in meditation; you only need to adapt the techniques that tailor to your needs. In the end, these different types of meditation all share the same goal: reduce your stress and give you a sense of overall well-being.