Does meditation work as a way to reduce stress? It sure does! Sitting calmly in a single position, focusing on a single point, letting thoughts flow by and stepping outside of our worries and concerns will obviously have a positive effect on our state of mind.
If you’re looking to meditate with the specific purpose of reducing the level of stress in your life, here are a few things you can do:
- Start with five to ten deep breaths. The level of oxygen you have flowing to your brain will have a real impact on your stress levels. By slowing our breath down at the beginning of the meditation, we’ll immediately bring ourselves down to a deeper level of calm.
- Just notice the breath. Try to focus all of your attention on the sensation of air going in and out through your nose. Don’t make yourself breath, just let the air flow in and out naturally
- Just notice your thoughts. Inevitably, you’ll start to drift off into feelings of guilt over the past and anxiousness over the future. When you catch yourself doing this, just notice that you’ve done it and go back to the breath. Don’t berate yourself for meditating “wrong”, as this itself generates feelings of anxiousness. Simply let your attention go back to the breath.
- Don’t push emotions away. If you’re especially stressed about something, thoughts will continue to come up around it during your meditation. Don’t deny to yourself that you’re having these thoughts. Instead, focus on your bodily feelings at the time of stress. Where do you feel this discomfort, nervousness, or anxiety? Without words, simply observe this sensation. You might begin to see that the things you have been so concerned about are not such a big deal after all.
- Have a positive outlook. Your internal attitude of life has a real affect on the way you perceive reality. If you see the world as a greedy, angry place, you’re going to have the belief that you’re correct. If you view the world as compassionate, kind of forgiving, you’ll find evidence for this everywhere you look.
Remember that these aren’t loopy alternative treatments that real doctors think are crazy. The benefits of meditation are real, and cause actual physical changes to your brain. In the recent book “How God Changes Your Brain”, these changes are clearly shown to be real and scientifically sound.
Meditation in some form or another has been used across the world in hundreds of different cultures as a way to reduce stress, quiet the mind and understand reality. Whichever form of meditation you decide to use, stress reduction will be a natural side effect of this practice.
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