Reduce Stress with Meditation
“When you’re a kid, you lay in the grass and watch the clouds going over, and you literally don’t have a thought in your mind. It’s purely meditation, and we lose that.” ~ Dick Van Dyke
Meditation is a practice of training your mind. Just as you can train your body through physical exercises, you can train your mind with meditation. What you are trying to do is “empty” your mind. You may think, “Oh, sitting and thinking about nothing? That’s easy.” It’s not as easy as you think.
First, sit or lay down in a relaxed position. Use your breathing exercises to relax your body and calm your mind. Focus on your breath. Notice how your belly rises and falls with each breath. As thoughts creep into your mind, don’t get frustrated, but rather acknowledge the thought, and then let it slip away. When you begin, you will notice that it is quite difficult to “not think”. Try doing this for just a few minutes each day. Some days will be more difficult than others, but each week, add a few more minutes. Before you know it, you may be doing it for twenty minutes.
What is the point? The point is to make your mind calm, focused, and peaceful. The more calm and peaceful your mind is, the happier you will be. The more focused you become, the more productive you will be. Once you are more peaceful, you become more appreciative, compassionate, and kind. Like with breathing exercises, meditation will help you relax, relieve stress, energize yourself, along with other numerous other physical and psychological benefits. Meditation will help change your mind. Studies using an fMRI to scan the brain while people chanted have shown that chanting the word “om” could engage the area of the brain that is associated with inner peace and calmness. You will learn a lot about yourself. You will notice that your thoughts will transform from negative to positive over time.
Take a clean glass and scoop it into a puddle of muddy water. At first, one can observe the sediment swirling around the glass. It is impossible to see through the glass for the thickness of the muck. But given time, once the glass is still and the sediment falls to the bottom of the glass, the water becomes clear. This is an analogy for the mind. Thoughts tumble around like the sediment in the glass and cloudy our minds. If we can still our thoughts, our minds can become clear.
Relaxation may not be the goal of meditation, but it certainly is often the result. When you are relaxed, your body reaps the benefits with lower blood pressure and heart rate, improved circulation, and lower anxiety and stress. On a spiritual level, the ultimate benefit of meditation is freeing the mind from attachments, or enlightenment. Buddhists believe it creates a calmness of the mind and balance.
How to meditate
Meditation can be as simple as sitting with your spine straight or lying down in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, breathing naturally, and focusing your attention on your breath. You can start by just trying to do this for five minutes. See how you do.
There are several tools that you can use during your meditation practice to help you concentrate.
· Candle staring
· Repeating a mantra
Try doing your meditation practice every day, even if it is only for a few minutes. It is also a good idea to pick a certain part of the day to practice so that it is easier to create a routine. It is recommended to practice meditation early in the morning or at dusk, which is the peak of your energies. An early morning session can get your day off to a great start or a dusk session can help you wind down and reflect as your day ends. But there is no right or wrong time. Any time that you can fit it in can be beneficial to you.