By: Marlene Affeld
With the frantic pace and incessant demands of a busy life, many people feel stressed, feeling there is simply not enough time in a day to get everything done they feel they need to accomplish. Stress and fatigue contribute to making us feel frustrated, impatient and irritable. Stress can even impact our health.
We have all heard the advice to slow down and quiet our minds, but we get so busy we fail to take the time to stop and meditate. Yet, meditation gives us more time by making our minds calm and focused.
Meditation helps us understand our minds by learning how to transform negative to positive, sad to joyful, and chaos to calm. Through meditation, we can overcome negative “mind chatter” and cultivate constructive thoughts. Think of meditation as a workout for your brain that improves your ability to focus. Improved focus means improved performance.
Dr. Deepak Chopra, one of the world’s leading experts on meditation, explains the benefits of calming the mind, stating, “In meditation, we get into this space, so we find infinite possibilities, infinite correlation, infinite creativity, infinite imagination, and infinite power of intention. That’s what meditation is really about.”
Find a comfortable sitting position with you feet flat on the floor. If you prefer, you can lie down. It doesn’t matter what position you are in; the point is to be comfortable.
In an article, How to do Meditation and Yoga to Reduce Stress, adapted from Engs, R.C. Alcohol, and Other Drugs: Self-Responsibility, Tichenor Publishing Company, Bloomington, IN, 1987, the author notes, “Most societies have developed methods to passively induce altered states and the relaxation response. For example, in most religions, prayer and/or meditation is common. It is often done rhythmically and repeatedly and, when carried out for a long period, a relaxed or altered state is often reached.
This repeated form of prayer and meditation is common in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Roman Catholicism. Some other forms of passively induced altered states, besides meditation, are systematic relaxation, self-hypnosis, yoga, and biofeedback. Most of these alternatives, besides being used for tension and stress reduction, can also be used for alleviating insomnia. When using them for sleep, do them lying down. When you use them for stress reduction, sit comfortably in a chair.”
Close your eyes to help you focus on the inner workings of the body. Now take several deep breaths, slowing inhaling, then exhaling, while observing the sensations of your body.
Remain aware of your breathing. If “mind chatter” or random negative thoughts run through your mind, don’t push them aside or dwell on them. Rather, just acknowledge the thought as a mote of harmless dust floating on the wind. Accepting your worries without responding to them emotionally removes their power. If a negative or sad though persists, make a mental note of it, dismiss the thought and return to your meditation. Continue to breathe deeply, inhaling for a count of four, exhaling to a count of six.
Deep breathing is integral to meditation. By paying attention to our breath, we stay focused in the moment. During the day, most of us take short, shallow breaths that deprive our bodies of oxygen. Just a few minutes of deep breathing can rejuvenate and refresh. Relax and connect with the gentle rise and fall of your chest. Visualize each breath you take in as white, healing mist. Visualize each exhale as riding the body of a vile, black smoke.
Relax and Rest
Removing your concentration from your breathing, just rest for a few moments as you center your thoughts on how relaxed your muscles feel and the steadiness of your heartbeat. Remind yourself that this is “your time” and for the moment, there is nothing you have to do but focus on “you”.
An Attitude Of Gratitude
Adopt “An attitude of gratitude” by focusing your thoughts on something you are grateful for, such as family, friends, or the beauty of the day. No matter how sad or sorry your scenario, you have many things to for which to be grateful. Give thanks.
A Fresh Perspective
Open your eyes, stand up, stretch, and go about the rest of your day with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.