Dealing with Stress: Meditation
Meditation is a great and simple
way to deal with life=s stresses. Meditation calms the mind and the
body. It is a state of being all of us can learn and apply to our daily
lives. As a part of a healthy lifestyle meditation can add energy, focus
and enjoyment to our personal experience. With as little as ten minutes
a day, significant improvement in our physical and mental states can
be gained. With a small investment there is a big payback.
The Benefits of Meditation:
There is a growing body of scientific
research indicating that meditation is highly effective in reducing
physical and mental stress. Here are some of the results of over 500
studies on meditation:
- Meditation practice leads to increased strength
of self-concept. With as little as a month of practice meditators
experience an improved sense of self and elevated mood. Their
Actual self is seen as significantly closer to the ideal self
- In a three month study of those practicing Transcendental
Meditation at a Fortune 100 manufacturing firm, practitioners displayed
relaxed physiological functioning, a reduction in anxiety, and reduced
tension on the job.
- Regular meditation practice is an effective technique
for maintaining adequate coping with school, job, and personal stress.
Practitioners have consistently scored higher than non practitioners
in personal coping skills.
- In a study of students, those practicing meditation
showed a significant increase in both math and reading scores.
- Meditators have also scored high in reducing
the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
- Research indicates that meditation decreases
stress, anxiety and depression, and lessens the symptoms of Post-Traumatic
- On a physiological level meditation practitioners
experience a decrease in cortisol (a major stress hormone), normalization
of blood pressure, and improved heart function.
How to Meditate:
There are many effective ways of meditating.
The technique described here is a variation of Herbert Benson's Relaxation
Response. The book by the same name is available in most book stores.
It is a simple but powerful way of gaining greater control of your mind,
body and life.
To perform the meditation, you first need to choose a word or phrase
that is calming to you. It can be a religious term such as God, Jesus
or Shalom or a phrase such as Peace on Earth. It can be a secular term
or phrase, as well. Some people find the words love or peace calming.
The point is that you need to choose something for yourself. Don't pick
something that adds to your tension.
A note of caution: sometimes during meditation,
people experience uncomfortable thoughts or feelings. You can stop the
meditation at any time if you feel the experience is becoming too difficult.
After you have decided on a word or phrase follow
- Sit in a quiet place. Preferable with your spine
straight. Your posture can be the traditional lotus posture or
simply sitting in a chair.
- Bring your attention to your breath. Experience
the in and the out of the breath. Just follow your breathing calmly.
Let yourself relax as you breathe.
- Slowly close your eyes. Breathe naturally. Begin
to recite your special word on each exhalation. Feel yourself relax
as you exhale. Don=t force your breathing!
Just let it come naturally.
- Whenever a thought or sensation comes to you
just go back to the breath and word. Your thoughts will continue to
flow. You may find yourself thinking of going shopping or last weekends
date. You may even fall asleep. Don't be frustrated. Just go back
to the exhalation and recite your word.
- When done, take a deep cleansing breath and slowly
open your eyes. Be gentle with yourself. Don't stand up quickly.
When to Meditate:
There is no best time to meditate. Find
a quiet setting with ample time to complete your session. Most people
choose the early morning or evening to do their meditating. Pick a time
that suites your lifestyle, but be consistent.
How Long to Meditate:
Start with five minutes. Build up the
time slowly until you can do 20 minutes. You might want to try two 20
minute sessions eventually, one in the morning and the other at night.
If you can only do five minutes, don't worry. We all have our comfort
For More Assistance:
If you wish to speak to a counselor about
any personal issues or want to join a group, you can make an appointment
at the Personal Counseling , 0203 James Hall,
951-5363. All sessions are free and confidential.