MEDITATION – HOW TO STRESS LESS
Meditation – How to Stress Less
First, a disclaimer: I am not a guru of enlightenment. I cannot speak in that super-cool cryptic language that yogis speak in. You know the people I’m talking about.
The ones that always have the right quote up their sleeve, but with just enough mystery that it leaves you scratching your head a bit.
Some examples are: what you think you become, peace comes from within, rule your mind, and my personal fave, do or do not, there is no try (Yoda 1980).
I am also not a regular participant in the fine art of meditation.
Instead, what I am is a personal trainer who loves constant change and movement, but recognizes that I have monkey brain (a mind that jumps from thought to thought like a monkey jumps from tree to tree), and I need to learn how to be still and slow down these monkey thoughts.
Stillness – the ultimate quest.
I am not alone in my quest to stillness either. In the last forty years, meditation has entered the mainstream big time, with the practice exploding worldwide in the last five years. (Just Google “meditation.” At time of writing I got 135,000,000 hits.)
Why is meditation so popular? Well, probably because it’s so damn good for you emotionally, spiritually and physically, little grasshopper.
Study after study has concluded that regular meditation can:
- Reduce stress – which in turn reduces inflammation and disease in the body.
- Help promote a healthier life – I call it the domino effect. Once you start doing one good thing for yourself, other pieces of the wellness pie start to fall into place too.
- Slow down aging – researchers at Harvard University have shown that meditators have more brain cells and longer telomeres (the caps on our chromosomes that are indicative to biological age).
- Increase our happiness.
- Help with focus.
- Beat anxiety and depression.
So, how can you find stillness in this fast-paced world?
I asked a yogi I know why people have such a hard time with sitting still. She replied back that she feels people today have a problem with stillness and quietness because we have been hardwired by society to fill every gap in our day.
We’re always rushing to the next appointment, person, place this questions e, and/or experience.
Her sentiments were then reiterated from every other expert as I researched for this article.
No more rushing.
Apparently all this rushing around and haste to do things and get things done makes us lose sight of the moment that we are presently in. We never fully, or even slightly for some of us, appreciate what is happening right now. This disconnection with the moment leads to discontent, which eventually leads to unhappiness and anger.
Not cool for a healthy, happy life.The good news is, with a little practice, we can all learn to be still and present. Click To Tweet
The good news is, with a little practice, we can all learn to be still and present. Training yourself to meditate is exactly like training for a sporting event. You have to train on a regular basis, adding small increments of load weekly, and slowly you will start to increase your strength and endurance.
In other words, start with 30 seconds of meditation a day and add a minute each week. Soon enough you will be able to build your meditation muscle and quiet your monkey brain.
There are some tips that I have learned along the way from the more enlightened crowd that I sometimes I hang out with.
4 Tips to finding stillness in today’s fast-paced world.
First, relax your body. Find somewhere quiet to sit and adjust your posture so that you are comfortable. While one thinks of lying down to relax, mediation isn’t about snoozing or power naps. So, sit and sit tall. (I like to sit on a pillow, cross-legged against a wall.)
Second, breathe. The awesome news is if you can breathe, you can meditate. Focus on taking deep breaths all the way into the belly, and then slowly exhaling all the air out of the lungs. Keep your mind on this breathing pattern. If it wanders, and it will have already a few hundred times by now, just go back to focusing on your breathing again.
Third, chant. After focusing on the breath, start repeating a word or a phrase, either internally or out loud. Make it powerful and make it one that connects and resonates with you.
And finally, if all else fails, try technology to help you relax. I know, it seems counter-intuitive to what you are trying to achieve, but this is the 21st century. Some apps that are rated excellent by both spiritualists and computer nerds are: Breathe2Releax, Buddhify, Meditation: Mindfulness Made Easy, Mindfulness Meditation from Mental Workout and my personal fave (and that I use every week) Headspace.