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meditation to reduce stress
Walking meditation can be just as profound and enlightening as sitting meditation. It helps bring strong awareness to the body and to physical sensations around you. We are not talking about a difficult walk or hike, but simply a walking space that gives you peace and quiet to be mindful and meditate. As has been discussed a few ties now, there are different methods or techniques to meditate. Choosing the one or maybe more methods, that keep you consistently practicing is key. Here is what I mean by walking meditation:
Choose a small, flat path on which to walk back and forth, preferably no more than 10 paces in each direction. I prefer to be outside, as you get the physical sensations from the sun, the wind, the sounds of nature. But if indoors is all you can find, it is just fine.
Before you start moving, stand still for a few moments and consciously bring your attention into your body. Breathe. Notice the sensations of your feet on the ground, the clothes on your body, and the sun and the wind on your skin.
Now, begin walking as slowly as you can while still feeling natural. Keep your attention within the body. When the attention drifts to outside sights or thoughts, which it will, gently bring it back to the movement in the lower half of your body – the soles of your feet on the ground, the bending and extending of the knee and the curl of your toes. For me I add the rhythm of my steps, rhythm of my pace with my breathing.
The simple act or exercise of stepping from foot to foot naturally creates a meditative state. I find a rhythm in my walk, which helps bring that calming state sooner. This state calms the mind and cultivates sharper awareness. Walking meditation can be a fantastic way to bring mindful attention to every part of the day. As I have previously discussed, you can meditate and be mindful in all that you do – from walking, to work, to cooking, or doing the dishes.
Here are five meditation techniques for a beginner or in regular experienced practice:
- Sit or lie in a relaxed position
- Breathe regularly. You breathe in deep enough to get enough oxygen, this will relax you. When you breathe out, you relax your muscles so that your lungs are well emptied, but do not strain to release the air.
- Stop thinking about everyday problems or matters. Clear your mind.
- Concentrate your thoughts on something like a sound, a repetitive word or mantra, or a feeling or concept that you are experiencing or longing for. All of your attention needs to be placed on the object that you have chosen.
- While in that state of concentration, if foreign thoughts try to creep in, you need to stop the thought, and go back to focusing on the object of your meditation.
Those five meditation techniques are the basics of meditation. There are varying techniques based on the degree of concentration and how you handle those foreign thoughts. Some suggest the practice should be to meditate so intensely that no foreign thoughts are allowed to enter at all. Another practice is to allow the concentration is more relaxed so that foreign thoughts enter your session more easily. When you discover or realize the foreign thought has entered, you simply stop, and go back to the intended or pure meditation in a relaxed manner. It helps you refocus and be aware in your meditation.
I think I might start a new blog fad for myself…introducing Monday Mantra! I’m feeling that some positive affirmations are needed to get the week going in the right direction. Think positive, be positive, have a positive attitude.
Are you one who dreads a Monday, or loves it?
Monday signals the start of a new week. Monday signals the start of new beginnings, new opportunities, new chances to live. We need to see each day as a reminder of how amazing life is and how lucky we are to be alive facing a new week. You can embrace the many opportunities that each day brings. Each day is a chance to improve your life or the life of another.
Think back on today and determine the good things you did to make your day special and how may you have affected that of another. Do you wish you could or would have done some things differently? Well don’t worry, there is tomorrow and another chance to make the day what you want; To live in the moment and be present. Express gratitude for the day. Be aware of the beauty of nature that surrounds you, and enjoy the sounds that sing to you. The smallest things can make a great day. Those great days make the worst days feel a million miles away. Be you, be happy.
Hope you had a wonderful Monday!
I have been researching for options on treating anxiety naturally, and I came back with three common suggestions: eat, meditate and exercise. So what could that refer to in each of those categories? Let us explore that.
Think of a time you felt anxious. Was it a sleepless night spent worrying about an issue? Was it a time when you slipped and fell? Either of those can place your body into a brief state of anxiety, which goes away shortly after the event. This is short term anxiety. However for millions of people, that anxiety can be long term. This sometimes disabling disorder, is known as General Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
How can we reduce the amount of anxiety felt or interrupting our lives? Doctors can prescribe medication and recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy. In a time where some medications can be over prescribed or over used, searching for alternatives is important. You can make a few lifestyle changes, diet, meditation, and exercise, scientifically proven procedures, which allow you to treat anxiety for yourself. I think that these lifestyle changes along with cognitive-behavioral therapy, will give you the greatest relief from anxiety.
Eat a healthy diet. Studies have shown that those who eat a diet high in processed, fast food that include sugary sweets, junk food, caffeine and beer, are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Those who eat a more healthy diet of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, meat and fish, tend to experience less depression and anxiety. I have read that adding foods such as nuts, poultry, oats, and some dairy, increase the serotonin levels in the brain. Each of these foods contains tryptophan, which helps the body produce serotonin. According to Wikipedia.com, “Biochemically derived from tryptophan, serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), blood platelets, and the central nervous system (CNS) of animals, including humans. It is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.” So it only makes sense to eat foods that will naturally help you feel better, right?
Meditate regularly. People who worry a lot have increased reactivity in the brain, that makes regulating emotions, such as fear, a little harder. According to a study conducted by Stanford University, practicing mindfulness can physically reduce neurons in the fear-triggering part of the brain. As an anxious person, you might feel it is hard to sit still and meditate. Many thoughts race through the mind, and that can make the anxiety seem overwhelming. Mindfulness teaches you how to work with the various stressful situations. It takes practice, and that’s why making it a regular habit, results in the best results. It won’t change your anxious feelings over night, but each time you sit and focus on your breathe and calm your body, you are teaching yourself how to self-regulate. When you are placed in a stressful situation, you will be mindful of how your body is reacting and focus on calming those reactive triggers. Meditation works, it just takes regular practice.
Regular exercise can reduce anxiety. I read once that bad anxiety needs good treatment. What could be better than exercise, coupled with meditation and a healthy diet? Just like the healthy diet, studies show that exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration. Exercise enhances the brains overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
Stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, making the rest of the body feel the impact as well. If your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins, the chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. Increasing endorphins improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
As we can see, research indicates that you may eat, meditate and exercise your way to a calmer, more relaxed life.
Days can become hectic, life’s struggles build up, and there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all that you need? Does this sound like you? Did you know that meditation could be a remedy to the anxiety you may feel? However, could you feel too stressed to meditate? It’s a common excuse and truth. Let’s explore…
Meditation can be one of the greatest ways to reduce stress. It can reset your nervous system, calming your mind which then leads to you being able to manage thoughts, emotions and thought patterns more effectively. Meditation causes the relaxation response in your body to kick in.
Meditation can help with chronic inflammation, borderline high blood pressure, PTSD and it can lower the stress causing hormone, cortisol. But when these issues are activated, the last thing you may be able to do is sit still. Just thinking about sitting still to meditate, may make you anxious! So could there be a minimum amount of meditation that can be done, but still get the stress reducing benefits? I’m not sure that has been determined, however a few studies have been done that reinforce how meditation reduces stress.
For instance, one study has shown that doing an 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction session, can activate the brain increasing memory, sense of self, empathy and reduce stress. Does the thought of an 8 week session add to your stress, does it seem like too much time? Well you’re in luck, another study states that meditating just 25 minutes a day for three consecutive days can be effective in reducing stress. You can get results with any amount of meditation you can handle…thats what I hear!
The first step in meditation is to be present in the moment, to be present in the stress you feel. Take a deep breathe and practice meditation for as long as you can. Be gentle with yourself and don’t get upset if you fall short of your expectations. I fell that the more you try, even in small doses, you will feel the benefits, which will encourage longer sessions. Be disciplined, and be careful to not confuse the compassion you might feel for your overwhelming stress, as an excuse to not meditate. Remember, self discipline is key. Namaste.