One of the best ways to focus on stress relief is meditation. Studies show those who meditate have healthier levels of stress, less heart problems and a variety of other health benefits which include:
Increase serotonin levels, influence mood and behavior.
Help with focus & concentration.
Increases feelings of vitality and refreshment.
Increases emotional stability.
Insures the brain ages at slower rate
Improves relationships at home & work
Ability to see the larger picture in a situation
Aides ignoring petty issues
Increases ability to solve complex problems
Allows you to react quicker and more effectively to a stressful event.
Increase your perceptual ability and performance of motor skills.
Decreases mental illness.
Improves sociable behavior.
Makes it easier to fall asleep and helps insomnia.
Reduces restless thinking.
Reduces tendency to worry.
Creates emotional maturity.
As you can see almost every one of the benefits on this list aid in helping stress reduction and this not a fully inclusive list. In this bonus chapter as a thank you for purchasing this stress book you will learn how to do basic mediation to aid you in stress reduction and improving your overall health.
Step 1: Choose a peaceful environment. Meditation needs to be done in a place that is calming and peaceful for you. This is so that you are able to focus only on the task at hand and keep yourself from being mentally bombarded. Mediation should be practiced in a place that will keep you from being interrupted for the duration of your meditation. This could be a period of 5 minutes or a period that is half an hour or more. The space does not need to be large, it could be a walk in closet, office space or you can go outside, the most important thing is that the area must be someplace private for you.
For those new to meditation, it’s especially important to avoid any outside distractions. You will want to turn off your TV, phone or anything noisy that can cause a distraction for you. If you choose to play music choose something that is calm and repetitive with gentle tones, so as not to break your concentration.
Step 2: Please be aware of what you are wearing and wear comfortable clothing for your meditation session. Since one of the key goals of meditation is to calm the mind and block out external factors you need to give yourself the best chance at doing this. It can be hard to clear your mind if you are feeling physically constricted or uncomfortable. Loose clothing is often the best to wear during meditation and taking your shoes off is another key thing to do for any session.
Step #3: You will need to decide on how long (at least in general) that you wish to meditate. If you ask them most experienced mediators will suggest you mediate for a twenty-minute session two times a day, those new to the process can start with as few as five minutes, one time a day.
Do not give up on your selected time frame and do not give up on mediation just because you think that it is not working. It takes time to practice and ensure that you will get successful meditation. Keep with it and keep trying.
Step 4: Is to stretch out. Mediation makes you sit a single place for a set amount of time. Doing meditation posture can bring some tension or tightness in your muscles so it is important to give them a stretch out before you get into position. It only needs to be a few moments of gentle stretching before your meditation. Not only does this loosen up the muscles, but it helps to prepare your mind for mediation as well. Having a process to follow helps bring your mind into the right space.
It is important to stretch out the neck and the shoulders before you meditate. This is important at any time, but especially important if you have been sitting at a desk before you meditate. You should also do the lower back and legs.
Step 5: Is to pick a comfortable sitting position. As we have already mentioned it is important to be comfortable when you meditate. The traditional position for meditation is sitting at ground level /floor in lotus or the partial lotus position. However, if any part of your body like legs or lower back are not very flexible, lotus positions can bow your lower back and keep you from having your torso balanced at the spine. When meditating you will want to pick a posture that will allow you to be balanced and sitting tall with no back bends.
If lotus or half lotus is not for you, you can sit without having your legs crossed. Choose something comfortable such as a cushion, a chair, or a meditation bench. You need to make sure that your pelvis is tilted forward so that your spine can be centered over the pieces in your rear end that are bony. These are the spots which usually take your weight. If that is not comfortable for you, just pick a position that is. It is your meditation.
Traditional placement of hands for meditation is your hands resting in the lap with the palms facing up, placing your left hand underneath your right. You can however, place your hands on top of your knee-caps or have them loosely down, again, it is your meditation so it is your choice.
Step 6: It is time to begin your meditation. Closing your eyes is the best way for a beginner to start the process. Mediation can be done with eyes opened or closed, but closing them will help block out distractions and outside visual stimulation. It keeps you from being able to calm your mind.
Having keeping eyes closed it is now time to keep track of your breathing. This is the core basis for all kinds of meditation and it is the perfect starting place for beginners. Choose a spot above your hips and focus on that spot mentally. Focus on becoming aware of the rise and fall of your stomach as you breathe in and out. Do not try to change your breathing patterns just breath as you normally would. While you are doing this try to focus only on your breathing and nothing else. Don’t think about anything consciously or pass judgment on how you breathe, just focus on that rise and fall.
Mental images can help during this breathing process, try to focus on images such as imagining a coin sitting on the spot above your belly button, rising and falling with each breath. Picture a buoy as it floats along the water, bobbing up and down with the changes of your breathing. You can even imagine a lotus flower as it sits on your belly and uncurling its petals with every intake of breath you take.
If you find your mind wandering do not worry as a beginner, this is bound to happen sometimes. Like anything you have to practice to become better. When you notice your mind wandering you will bring your mind back to focus and work on focusing on yours breathes again.
A final thing to remember for beginners, it that often times repeating a mantra can help to keep you on task. Medication with a mantra is one technique like breathing is and it works, but focusing on a single phrase or sound several times until you manage to silence your mind and enter a very deep meditation.