What you can do about Stress
Science is linking stressful jobs to health risks, in particular strokes in women. Stress is a catch all word used to describe a reaction to circumstances that takes a toll on your health both psychologically and psychically. In 1975, Herbert Benson a professor of Medicine at Harvard wrote “The Relaxation Response” to refer to a mind/body approach to reduce or relieve stress. While this book was written 15 years ago, stress levels have only gone up. Whether is the daily commute, the rising cost of living or the lack of control cited by the research findings published in the journal of Neurology, Benson’s book is even more timely as most people feel helpless or not in a position to solve the big problems in their lives.
Benson found a correlation between stress and diseases, in particular strokes, one of the things that most stresses people out is change. What Benson suggested as an antidote to stress was of course breathing and meditation which has the capacity to make us more stress hardy and of course to lower one’s blood pressure. Meditation brings on physiological changes in the body that are incredibly healing and beneficial that is different than sleep. Benson called it the “relaxation response.” More importantly the benefits of mediating happen almost instantly. It takes four to five hours to get the same benefit you could get from just a few minutes of meditation.
So why don’t we do it?
1. It takes time.
2. It’s hard to concentrate and let go of our mental chatter.
3. People do not have the right tools to help get into the state easily.
4. People don’t always do what is good and healthy for them.
Having the right tools really makes a difference. These tools include the right breathing exercises that invoke the “relaxation response” and setting aside some time during the day to make this a priority. I have developed a practice that was taught to me that makes this easy for you. I call the practice Meditation Made Easy.
You can download a 10 minute track of Meditation Made Easy here and get started now Click Here to Download
So here are some tips:
Make the Decision to Practice: First make the decision to meditate every day –this is called a “practice” because it is literally practicing “paying attention” being focused and of course “mindful,” and as with everything else, the more you practice a skill, the better it gets. It really is like learning how to ride a bike, or drive a car, or swim; at first you feel awkward, unskilled, very self-conscious, but with practice it becomes automatic. This is what happens with meditation.
Start with short sessions: The practice I developed starts with 5 to 10 minutes in the beginning. Gradually over time it increases to 45 minutes. You can choose to keep it short as the benefits can be found from just a few minutes every day.
Identify the right time for you: It is usually right before you go to bed or when you are first waking up as this is the natural way to ease into the meditative state. I recommend you keep it the same time every day as you are trying to build a habit here.
Find the right position: Sit with your spine straight, wherever you are comfortable, on a chair, or on a pillow on the floor. Close your eyes and focus your attention on the spot in the center of your forehead. I find it helps if the room is dark.
Focus on the breath: Inhale slowly through the nose with the mouth closed if you notice that your attention strays, some thoughts or feelings or sounds just bring it back to the breath. The breathing is your anchor in the field of awareness which is you inner mind. The goal is to have the thoughts drop away and just sit in the stillness. I highly recommend you download and learn the yogic breathing I teach which in and of itself is incredibly healing for the body.
Eventually over time, this practice re-wires the brain to be more positive and have greater stress hardiness. Things just don’t bother you that much.
A few other suggestions: Recent studies have shown that if you focus on how this is beneficial to you and to the world, it generates greater motivation to practice. Finally, after your meditation session, I recommend you journal. Expressive writing is also very healing and beneficial. You could write about the experience or whatever comes to your mind.
I promise this is the best thing you can do to increase your health, well-being and happiness.
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Skyler Madison is a PhD (c) in Jungian and Archetypal Psychology. Her journey began with the founding of a Wellness Center in NY. She created the Nirvana Diet, a diet for the mind and is certified in life coaching, meditation, yoga and hypnotherapy. Skyler has helped thousands of people change unwanted habits and overcome road blocks to living a healthier and happier life.