Meditation when stressed

6/27/20248 min read

woman meditating on wooden dock during daytime
woman meditating on wooden dock during daytime

Meditation For Stress Reduction

The modern world is, in many ways, a marvel. Many of the things we take for granted were unknown a generation ago. Our lives have been enriched by the flow of entertainment, information and consumer goods that are at our fingertips. Unfortunately, all of this abundance comes with a price. Many of us can find the pace of modern life too intense. The demands on our time and our attention can be merciless. The hours spent working to afford the things we think we need can be brutal. The work we perform can be soulless and unsatisfying. The end result of all of this is stress.

Stress is such a commonplace part of modern life that feeling stressed has almost become a cliché. If you admit to stress you’ll likely elicit a shrug in response. You’re certainly not going to get much sympathy. When stress is everywhere and everybody is stressed, individual stress becomes a part of the background noise of daily life. The prevailing attitude is that there’s not much that can be done about the situation so the best bet is to simply suck it up and get on with life. Unfortunately, adopting this attitude can be a grave mistake because stress can have serious effects on both physical and mental health

woman in brown knit sweater holding brown ceramic cup
woman in brown knit sweater holding brown ceramic cup

You see, there are two types of stress – acute and long-term. Acute stress occurs when you are confronted with a one-time event that may be potentially life-threatening. Encountering a bear while out hiking in the woods is an example of acute stress. When you first see the bear a number of things happen at once. Your brain begins producing several chemicals. One of these chemicals is called cortisol. Cortisol is a powerful hormone that acts on the emotional centers of the brain’s cortex producing a fear reaction. It also impedes your short-term memory while enhancing your long-term memory. This is why people in life-threatening situations often report that time seemed to stand still or that several seconds seemed like several hours. Your brain also produces adrenaline which acts directly on the heart lungs and major muscle groups. The end result is once you see the bear you immediately become frightened and more alert. Your heart rate and respiration increase, flooding extra oxygen into your system and your major muscle groups become tense. In other words, you are now ready to fight the bear or run away from it. You are in stress, but you are also ready to do what you have to do to survive. Once the threat from the bear has passed, your body stops producing stress inducing chemicals and you return to a normal state.

Long-term stress occurs when the body mistakes everyday non-life threatening events for life-threatening dangerous events. In this case, a demanding boss, a troubled personal relationship or even heavy traffic can become a bear in the woods. Your body floods your system with the same stress inducing chemicals. The problem is that the “danger” from the demanding boss, troubled relationship or heavy traffic doesn’t pass. There is no way to fight or flee from these issues. Instead, you remain on “high alert” day in and day out. Over time, the constant barrage of stress inducing chemicals and the effects they have on your body begin to damage you and wear down your health. At this point, it is stress itself that becomes the real danger. Fortunately, there is a solution to this vicious circle, one that relieves stress and promotes general well-being inside and out. This solution is meditation.

Meditation is an ancient practice the quiets and focuses the mind, bringing about a calm natural state that is the exact opposite of how you feel when stressed. While some people use meditation as a tool of self-enlightenment, others are perfectly happy using it as a simple means to eliminate the negative effects of stress that we are all exposed to. Far from being a demanding practice, mediation is easy to master and can be performed anywhere and in any position that is comfortable. It will lower your blood pressure, relax tense muscles, promote immune system health and generally make you feel better.

The goal of this report is to give you several tips to help you get started on a meditation practice of your own. Use these tips for guidance or as refresher instruction, depending on your previous level of experience with meditation. Remember, there is no one “right” way to meditate. Choose what works best for you. The important part of meditation is the results that you achieve not how achieve those results.

1. Set Aside Time

Meditation, like anything else, requires practice. In order to get optimum results you need to make space in your schedule to meditate. Set aside a specific time each day to meditate. You cannot let the rest of your day, no matter how hectic, interfere with a practice designed to ameliorate the negative effects of that schedule. Your health, happiness and peace of mind are important, so make sure that the time for meditation is important as well.

2. Set Aside a Place

While meditation can be performed anywhere, it often works best if done in a special place. Now, by “special place”, we’re not talking about a temple next to a waterfall surrounded by an ancient forest. Just as you set aside a particular time to meditate, you should also set aside a particular place. This can be anyplace that is quiet, private and comfortable. Any room in your home will do as long as it meets these criteria. Try softening the lighting in the room or using candles for illumination.

3. Set Aside Distractions

The practice of meditation is all about quieting and focusing the mind. In order to effectively quiet the mind you also have to quiet as many potential distractions as possible. This means that you need to leave your phone behind while you meditate. Ditto when it comes to all other personal electronic devices. If you wear a watch, take it off. Turn off any music, as well as the television. If other people you live with know that you are meditating and ask them to respect your need for quiet also.

4. Stretch Before You Begin

The goal of meditation is to eliminate stress and promote a calm, centered existence. You cannot achieve this goal if you actively bring your stress with you into the meditation session. That is why it is so important to do a routine of a couple simple stretches before you begin meditating. One of the symptoms of stress is tight, sore muscles. A few stretches eliminates some of that tightness, as well as relieving the associated pain. Relaxed, pain-free muscles will help you concentrate during meditation by eliminating the distraction of muscle tension.

5. Breathe

The essence of successful meditation is the breath. Slow, regular and deep breaths are essential to emptying the mind. If you are a beginner at meditating you may be surprised to find how much “chatter” goes on in your mind. Thoughts will come and go, each trying to distract you and break your focus. One way to beat back this tide of chattering thoughts is to concentrate on your breathing. Slowly breathe in filling you lungs completely. Hold your breath for a moment and then slowly exhale, again concentrating on the feeling of the breath leaving your body. Repeat this process over and over, focusing only on the sensation of breathing calmly and fully.

6. Don’t Fear Frustration

Meditating is a new experience for you. Therefore, you can expect some setbacks during the learning process. The trick is not to let these setbacks frustrate you. Remember the first time you rode a bike or went ice skating? You probably weren’t very good, looked and felt clumsy and thought you’d never get the hang of it. Well, the first few times you meditate will be exactly the same. The key is to persevere. Each time you meditate you will develop more confidence in your abilities. It may take a few weeks, but if you keep at it you will see measurable progress.

7. Be Willing to Experiment

The most common misconception about meditation is that it is a rigid practice. Many people believe that real meditation can only be accomplished when a person is in a certain position. That position must be held at all time with nary a muscle moved. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that meditation is a very relaxed practice. You need to be able to meditate comfortably, in your own way, in order to be successful. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with positions. It is perfectly all right to meditate while sitting, standing or lying down. In fact, in some traditions, meditation is preformed while walking or doing chores. The goal of mediation is to clear the mind and gain serenity, not develop the ability withstand physical discomfort. Find the meditation position that works best for you and use that position to your further your ability to meditate successfully.

Stress Awareness Checklist

Why Stress is Bad

In order to control stress you have to understand the nature and purpose of stress and what the effects of stress are on the body

The flight or flee reaction is an evolutionary adaption that arose out of the dangers our ancestors faced in the natural world:

o The purpose of the stress caused by the flight or flee reaction is to help us survive

o The chemicals released into the body during the flight and flee reaction, while damaging in the short-term, allow for long-term benefits

o The flight or flee reaction is a serious bodily reaction to what is perceived to be a serious event

A problem arises when the stress from the flight or flee reaction is not brought about by an acute event but by a long term event:

o Acute stress is brought about by a single, one-time, life threatening event

o Long-term stress is brought about by repeating non-life threatening events that can’t be fought or controlled

o Acute stress is “good” stress because it results in a benefit – survival

o Long-term stress is “bad” stress because it results in a detriment – impaired physical and mental health

There is an important difference between pressure and stress:

o Pressure is caused by a unique, performance based situation that can be controlled;

o Stress is caused by a non-unique, non-performance-based situation that cannot be controlled.

Common Causes and Symptoms of Stress

The only real difference between acute stress and long-term stress is the duration of the event causing the stress

Some of the more common causes of acute stress include:

o Noise

o Crowds

o Hunger

o Danger

Long-term stress is more dangerous than acute stress because of its potential to cause serious health problems;

Some of the more common causes of long-term stress include:

o Work pressure

o Relationship problems

o Loneliness

o Financial worries

Long-term stress taxes the entire body and increases the risk for the following:

o Heart disease

o Stroke

o Immune system disorders

o Gastrointestinal disorders

o Sleep disorders

o Death

Some General Tips on Dealing with Stress

In order to effectively deal with stress you have to add enjoyable, stress relieving activities into your everyday routine

Some of the more common stress relieving activities include:

o Listening to music or playing music on an instrument

o Owning and caring for a pet

o Regular and vigorous exercise

Simple Stress Relieving Exercises

Stress relieving exercise are an excellent way to reduce stress on a regular basis

Most stress relieving exercises are easy to learn and simple to perform, including:

o Breathing techniques that send a clear message to the body that the stressor event has passed

o Stretching techniques that reduce muscle tension caused by stress thereby stopping the body’s production of stress inducing hormones.

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