Today’s Stress And Meditation As A Stress Relief Tool
Stress has been called the “Health Epidemic of the 21st Century” by the World Health Organization at a cost of over $300 billion in the US alone…a year…mind boggling yes?
Countless studies in recent times have shown meditation is a very effective stress management tool for beginners to meditation.
How you ask?
By reprogramming the brain meditators build a resistance to stress and the ability to manage stress with daily meditation practice.
Through practicing meditation daily you train your mind to be clear, open and less responsive and reactive thus allowing you to better cope with life’s stressors, in other words to better deal with the challenges of everyday living in the hectic world of 2020.
Technological change is accelerating, as is the speed at which new inventions are adopted. Life as we know it today will change in the future just as past advancements have changed our perspective on things. We will all need to change to keep in step with these changes, we humans are evolving at a rapid pace for the better or worse.
Thus, YOU need to arm yourself with better tools to cope with these modern challenges and the pace at which life demands us to function…TODAY!
Meditation aligns your mind, body and soul a complementary medicine. Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation for the body, a tranquil mind and a connection to higher energy source.
Why Should You Be Concerned About Stress And Is Meditation Your Savior
Scientific studies of Indian yoga masters demonstrate that meditation can, in fact, slow the heart rate, lower the blood pressure, reduce the breathing rate, diminish the body’s oxygen consumption, reduce blood adrenaline levels, and change skin temperature.
Stress has a different meaning for different people under different conditions. The first and most generic definition of stress was that proposed by Hans Selye: “Stress is the nonspecific response of the body to any demand.”
Some statistics that will blow your mind…
1/ Stress is a factor in 75 percent of all illnesses and diseases that people suffer from today.
2/ The association between stress and disease is a colossal 85 percent;
3/ Conservatively, 80 percent of cancers are due to lifestyle and not genetics;
4/ A staggering 98 percent of diseases are related to lifestyle choices;
5/ Approximately 75–90 percent of all visits to your local doctor, hospital, physician are for stress-related problems; and
6/ 75 to 98 percent of mental and physical illness comes from your thoughts, the way you think day in and day out;
Many people consider stress is something that happens to them, an event such as a harm or encouragement. Whereas others think stress is what happens to our bodies, psyche and our behavior in response to an event
When something happens to you, good, bad or indifferent your first reaction is a “reflex action” and you begin assessing the situation mentally through your thoughts. You make assumptions, if you perceive the situation as life threatening, you begin to decide whether you need to deal with it with whatever skills and strategies you have at your disposal.
If you allow the demands of the situation to overpower and overwhelm your coping mechanisms then life becomes stressful and you proceed automatically to react in the classic “stress response”.
If the opposite occurs and you believe you can cope with the demands of the situation or view it as a challenge positively to grow and learn from with the skills and strategies you have acquired through life’s experiences then you won’t see the situation as negatively stressful at all.
It’s amazing how simply the way you conceive situations and your mindset at the time determines your reactions and emotions which in turn impacts on your health and well-being.
Responding to situations and events or to others in an adverse or negative way and your health and happiness suffers accordingly. When you truly understand yourselves and your ability to determine your actions and reactions to stress-provoking situations, you can learn to cope with stress in a more effective manner.
During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the babbling mind that may be negatively influencing and preoccupying your mind with utter garbage and causing stress. This process results in enhanced and heightened physical and emotional well-being.
Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation, awareness and a tranquil mind that lives in the moment shedding past conflicts and preoccupation with thoughts of the future that may never eventuate.
Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health.
What Is Stress? A Beginners Guide
Stress is an individual’s response to a disturbing factor in the environment and the consequence of such reaction. Thus, stress involves an interaction between you and the environment you find yourself in during the situation.
Stress may be understood as a state of tension experienced by individuals facing extraordinary demands, constraints or opportunities that can lead to imbalances physically and mentally. A build of tension and blockages.
But not all stress is negatively harmful. Stress can also be a source of inspiration and motivation for doing and succeed beyond your perceived limits.
It is universally accepted that stress consists of three different types of interpretations, they are…
1/ The stimulus – an environmental situation, usually a threat, that affects the body’s chemical disposition in complex ways and normally referred to as a “stressors” which can result in serious health issues.
2/ Stress is a bodily reaction to stressors resulting in the malfunction and/or the breakdown of the body’s systems and organs leading to life threatening illnesses and a breakdown of resistance to foreign diseases.
3/ The interaction of environmental stressors and the bodily reaction to the stressors creating tension and blockages that feeds the dysfunctional behavior, leading to complex mental and physical issues.
Stress is part of life, nothing can separate you or anyone else from that matter from the modern day stresses of living life, however, stress can be managed but it can’t, I repeat it can’t be completely absolved or eliminated…it just can’t be done.
So you need to learn how to live with it and make it work for you and not against you and that’s where practicing meditation daily, consistently for the duration of your life can help
Is it a BIG ask…for the rest of your life
You bet, most certainly but life isn’t getting any easier either…yes?
We have established that stress is often viewed as an inevitable part of your daily life and is one of the main sources of aging of the mind and of the body.
Stress is firmly rooted in a basic survival instinct more commonly known as the ‘fight or flight’ response.
This response triggers chemicals inside the body and the brain that are responsible for helping us manage threatening situations – Most people are familiar with the physical symptoms of stress such as sweaty palms, butterflies in the belly or a racing heart.
However, in many cases, people experience what is known as ongoing low-grade stress that does not produce immediate symptoms.
The chemicals produced by the person’s body are the same, but the negative effects appear on a cellular level.
Again, we all experience certain moments that are the cause of pessimism, discouragement or sadness.
Normally, even though these moments are unpleasant, they only last for a short period of time if they are viewed over a lifespan.
Stress can also cause negative effects on your moods such as…
i/ Lack of focus or motivation;
iv/ Anger; and
Stress comes in three stages…stress at stage one is very normal. This is your alert state that keeps you focused and conscious and is the state you are in when we are thinking in alignment with the universe.
Stress at stage two and stage three, however, is where your mind and body’s response to harmful, negative and deadly thinking, this is normal stress gone very wrong. Even a little bit of these negative levels of stress from a little bit of negative thinking has significant ramifications for both your mental and physical health.
At one time or another, most people experience stress. Though stress has been used to describe a wide variety of negative emotions and reactions that go with threatening or challenging situations. However, not all stress reactions are negative. A certain amount of stress is actually necessary for survival.
A stressful reaction spends a great deal of energy helping you prepare your body to confront a threatening or challenging situation. During these times you tend to expend a great amount of effort and energy in order to deal with the situation.
Both the sympathetic/adrenal and pituitary/adrenal systems become activated in response to stress. The sympathetic system is a fast-acting system that allows us to respond to the immediate demands of the situation by activating and increasing arousal. The pituitary/adrenal system is slower-acting and prolongs the aroused state. However, while a certain amount of stress is necessary for survival; prolonged stress can affect health adversely (Bernard & Krupat, 1994).
Stress is an individual’s response to a disturbing factor in the environment and consequence of such reaction. Stress involves interaction of the person and environment.
How you deal with stress depends on…
1/ your perception of the event;
2/ your past experience;
3/ the presence or absence of social support; and
4/ your reaction to the stressful situation.
(Don Hellriegel, et. al., 2001)
Positive And Negative Stress
Stress can manifest itself in both a positive way and a negative way. Stress is said to be positive when situation offers an opportunity to one to gain something.
It is negative when stress is associated with…
i/ Heart Disease;
iii/ Drug Abuse;
iv/ Child Abuse;
v/ Being a Victim (bullying);
vi/ Marital Breakdowns; and
vii/ Other Social, Physical, Organizational and Emotional Problems.
Stress is linked with restraints and needs. Restraints stops you from doing what you want and desire. Needs is the loss of something you desire. Restraints and needs creates expectations that turn to stress when you are restricted or the expectations are not realized.
Mix in uncertainty of outcome and importance of outcome…results orientated expectations and you create a minefield where potential stress becomes actual stress.
But understand that stress isn’t simply anxiety or nervous tension. Stress doesn’t need to always be destructive, stress can form whilst you are inactive as much as when you are burnt out and rundown. You cannot avoid stress altogether and stress is the body’s response/coping sensor though your body’s ability is limited to respond to stressors.
Meditation The Secret Key To Unlocking The Deadly Stress Epidemic
You can practice daily meditation wherever you are whether you’re a beginner to meditation, out for a walk, riding the bus, on your office chair or even in the midst of a difficult lecture. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years to help deepen one’s understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. Today, meditation is in the Western world is used for relaxation and stress reduction.
Meditation is looked upon as the link between body and mind a complementary medicine. Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of “scattered” thoughts that may be influencing your mind and causing stress. The ritual of daily meditation process results in enhanced physical and emotional well-being
Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Meditation can instill an air of confidence, calm and invincibility as well as cure or assist certain medical ailments.
When you meditate, you eliminate the overwhelm and tension that builds up every day and contributes to your stress. The emotional benefits of meditation include:
a/ Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations;
b/ Attaining and perfecting skills to manage your stress;
c/ Increasing self-awareness;
d/ Focusing on the moment; and
e/ Eliminating negative thoughts and emotions.
Meditation can assist a medical condition, especially one that is stress related. A growing knowledge of scientific research supports the health benefits of meditation for…
2/ anxiety disorders;
4/ binge eating;
8/ heart disease;
9/ high blood pressure;
11/ sleep problems;
12/ substance abuse; and
13/ amongst other things.
Changing The Structure Of Your Brain With Meditation For Beginners
iIf you want to reduce your level of stress and anxiety imaging studies have shown that the regular practice of meditation can change how the brain works.
When you engage in a behavior over and over again, it creates structural changes in your brain in a process known as neuroplasticity. You can detect these changes through MRI brain scans.
Sara Lazar, PhD, is an investigator in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital who is using brain imaging technology to measure the effects of meditation on brain structure. To learn more about her work, please visit her laboratory website.
“Our research team recruited participants who had no previous meditation experience and put them into an MRI scanner to get baseline readings of their brains.
One group participated in an eight-week meditation based stress reduction program where they were asked to spend 40 minutes each day practicing mindfulness exercises. We then compared them to another group of people who had signed up for the same class, but were willing to wait a few months to start the meditation program.”
“When we scanned both groups eight weeks later, we found that the participants in the meditation program had developed more gray matter in both the hippocampus, an area important for learning, memory and emotion regulation, and the tempo-parietal junction, an area important for perspective-taking, empathy and compassion.”
“The meditation participants also had a reduction in the amount of gray matter in the amygdala—the part of the body associated with the fight or flight response.”
“The results of these scans helped to confirm the reductions in stress and improvements in well being that the participants reported after participating in the mediation program.”
“It wasn’t just that they were telling us they felt better, or that they were experiencing the placebo effect. There was an actual neurobiological reason why they were feeling less stress.”
How Meditation Can Help Reduce Stress
As you explore your ability to focus on the present moment non-judgmentally you enhance your ability for self-awareness. You heighten your awareness of your sense of feeling, your awareness of your thoughts and your emotions.
With this heightened awareness you can detect the signs of stress early and respond accordingly to rectify the problem with proper strategies before it becomes chronic and cancerous.
According to openground.com
“Research indicates that practicing these skills (meditation) reduces stress reactivity, increases focus and concentration and so helps with managing major life changes and transitions. It gives us more mental clarity and perspective on our problems so we can make better choices.”
Meditation is the focusing your attention on one thing and blacking out all other scattered thoughts. Thus, you can relieve your stress through meditation, by focusing on only one thing, eliminating any possibility of dwelling, or worrying about or be focused on anything else, such as what’s causing the stress.
This type of targeted focusing is also helpful in getting clarity of mind as well as prioritizing what thoughts to preoccupy your mind gaining insight into persistent patterns of thinking that need adjusting and tweaking for the better.
Daily meditation practice enables you to stay attached to the moment, letting go of the unwanted past and relieving you of unreal expectations of the future.
All too often we become wrapped up in thoughts, worries and concerns about the future, or replay the past by going over how things should have been, what could have been or what we should do opposed to just doing.
By spending so much of your time in the future or the past, you lose far too many of the precious moments in front of you right now. You lose yourself in the mind’s babbler which steers you away from your desires wasting time worrying about things that never ever eventuate.
Scattered thoughts creates confusion, it frustrates you and it makes you angry and in most cases it keeps you angry for years on end which in the bigger scheme of things and life has little to no bearing on who and what you are…today…yes?
In the process you end up spending less time focused on the things that are truly meaningful in your life right now, today…yes?
In 1968, Dr. Herbert Benson conducted detailed research at Harvard, finding that consistent daily practice of meditation predictably produced the following outcomes:
i/ Decreased heart and breathing rates
ii/ 20% decrease in oxygen consumption
iii/ Decrease in blood lactate levels, which normally rise with stress and fatigue
iv/ Fourfold increase in skin resistance to electrical current, a sign of relaxation
v/ Pronounced increase in alpha brain waves, yet another sign of relaxation.
Benson’s research indicated that these results were obtainable by most anyone as long as four factors were present:
a/ A relatively quiet environment
b/ Something specific to focus on: one’s breath, a mantra or phrase repeated over and over, silently counting, fixing one’s gaze on an object
c/ A comfortable position – most often sitting (though meditation can also be done lying down)
d/ A passive, or non-striving, and non-judgmental attitude, allowing the person to let go of thoughts as they enter the mind, and repeatedly returning to the object of focus.
The above was compiled by craighospital.org
The Benefits Of Practicing Meditation Daily
Physiological benefits to meditation include a general slowing down of the body’s functions, systems and operations helping in the reduction of stress and fatigue.
But the benefits of stress reduction go far beyond simply feeling more relaxed and more focused, and have been shown to have a possibly profound effect on the body and its health as well.
By decreasing heart and respiration rates, lowering oxygen consumption and blood lactate levels, and decreasing other physiological results of stress, meditation can assist you in achieving better overall health.
Thus, learning how to meditate for stress relief is a vital skill you can use on a day to day basis to improve your mental and physical health.
Meditation offers a sense of balance, peace and calm that benefits a person’s overall health and well-being.
The benefits of daily meditation practice includes but not limited to…
1/ Decreasing negative emotions;
3/ Increasing self-awareness;
4/ Building the necessary skills to manage your stress; and
5/ Gaining new types of perspective for stressful situations.
We’re learning more every day about the connection between the mind and body. Meditation harnesses the power of the mind to make healthy changes in the body. One of the first benefits of meditation is relaxation and comfort. This can be measured by traditional medical means, including blood pressure, heart rate, and a decrease in stress and anxiety-related symptoms, such as headaches and muscle tension.
But for the sake of staying on topic the major benefits of meditation for stress relief include reducing physical discomfort, putting things into perspective to make better decisions and coping with difficult situations.
Confusion demands attention, it seeks attention and that’s why confusion leads to frustration and then anger. This eventually leads to high levels of stress. With daily meditation you can subdue the noise and use the quietness of your mind to let go, to separate yourself from the confusion and seek clarity of mind…to eliminate the confusion.
To use all your energy to reach out to the universe for the answers you seek. Allowing the answers to come to you as easily as you rid yourself of the confusion, the frustrations and the angers of life.
Confusion often causes physical stress, a common side effect of anxiety. As you meditate, breathe deeply in and visualize filling your entire body with good energy, then breathe slowly out visualizing the release tension flowing out of your body.
Meditation techniques can be used to create an attitude of acceptance. No matter what happens, you can give yourself permission to be loved wholly and totally.
Use meditation to visualize yourself flowing above the conflict, the tension, the confusion, the frustration and the anger where you have a much deeper and wider inner perspective.
“By naming and recognizing the many faces of anger, we can stay present with it as it arises, keeping the heart open, breathing, watching emotions come up and pass through. Meditation is the best way to do this, as it creates the space to step back from the passion, breathe, and objectively see what is at the root of the feeling.”
The Meditation Stress Relationship
Stress often totally consumes your very being, it takes over your life and it begins to control you. Meditation stems from a place of quietness, it withdraws you from the negative influences and the disruptive banter or mind’s chatter. A place where you are allowed to check your emotions honestly and safely inwardly.
When you meditate for stress relief your awareness is stronger than the tension that engulfs you.
During meditation avoid trying to make sense of your confusion, your frustrations your anger the source of your stress for now it’s irrelevant. Just focus on your breathe and observe the built up tension you’re feeling.
Meditation relieves the stress and gives you clarity of mind and perspective yet meditation will not eliminate the causes of your tensions. After you meditate you need to take action to resolve the issues at the root cause.
1/ Visualization during meditation is a useful tool to define your tension, understand it and let it go. Choose a tangible object to represent your stress. Imagine picking it up, then putting it down.
2/ Before you can let the tension go, you may need to first understand why you so desperately want to cling onto it. If you can’t understand it, let it go anyway.
3/ Tension tends to be a bad habit. To break habits, you need to address the habitual patterns that created the habit in the first place.
4 / As you meditate, visualize a path through a forest, down a mountain, along the beach, into a city – wherever you are comfortable – and allow your mind to lead you to the answers.
5/ Quietness is hard to achieve for many people. Don’t give up – you will do better with practice.
6/ Simply practice letting go of thoughts as they come to you, then returning to the focus of your meditation, whether it’s your breath, a flame, or a mantra.
7/ Focus on specific physical ailments to realize the greatest effect of meditation for health.
8/ Visualize the parts of your body involved in your physical stress; imagine muscles relaxing, joints loosening and organs working better.
9/ Breathe healing energy into those areas of pain and discomfort.
Stress can be caused by forcing life to happen against its natural flow. The harder we push, the more we want something or someone, the more difficult life seems and the higher our stress, anxiety and panic levels rise. All the while our tolerance levels deplete and drop. It’s better to let go and let things happen naturally. Meditation brings stress relief by simply focusing on goals on paths and allowing them to unfold.
So stop focusing on your effort to achieve something and instead simply create a vision of what you desire, then focus on that as you meditate.
When you map out your goal, visualize it and wait to see what happens, instead of thinking about what you must do to force things to happen.
Give yourself permission to let problems and stressful feelings flow away naturally and observe them from an outsider’s perspective looking in spending your time and efforts mentally reinforcing the positives instead.
Meditation helps you incorporate the benefits of simplicity eliminating complications and the confusion and frustrations that come with it. Allowing you not only to desire simplicity in life but make it a real part of your life. An immediate result of making a decision to focus on simplicity is stress relief, because you instantly have fewer problems you need to deal with.
Lose the excess baggage you carry around…keep life simple, don’t over think things or over complicate the simple things in life.
Focusing just on stressful issues can lead to missing other opportunities that can lead to bigger and better things in life. The harder you try, the harder everything becomes and the more stressed out you feel. The key to clarity of mind is to slow down and think positively about the bigger picture. As you meditate on the bigger picture, you begin to see how things fall into place like a jigsaw puzzle and place in the world.
The result is inner peace and stress relief.
When meditating choose a mental picture that represents the complete situation you are facing; this image helps your mind retain its focus on the big picture, instead of getting lost in details.
Allow your subconscious to work on the situation without your participation; you will be surprised how much can be solved when you let fears work themselves out.
After your meditation session focus your mind more directly on any solutions or thoughts or an “ah-ha” moment and write it down and take action on it.
Stress arises as you fight with your thoughts. The harder you think, the higher the stress levels. Especially with negative or fearful thoughts, the energy you give them can leave you flat and depleted. They carry a tremendous weight that will eventually wear you down no matter how resilient you are.
The secret is to choose something else to focus your attention on. Acknowledge them but don’t give them more than the energy, time and effort they deserve.
Stress causes your body to tighten and tense up, stress causes your breath to quicken, and your arteries to narrow. Nothing in your body functions at it optimize when you’re experiencing stress.
The more rundown you are mentally and physically the greater the hold stress has on you. Meditation for stress reduction breaks this vicious cycle by creating a state of mind in which the body naturally and easily lets go of all the tensions and anxieties blocking your ability to relax.
“Don’t treat yourself so gingerly; you can let go of stuff. Sometimes it takes three breaths instead of two to do it, but you can do it. Be a little tougher and don’t cling to stuff. People go around carrying everybody’s stuff all of the time. I just pick it up and put it down. Pick it up and put it down.”
How To Meditate To Relieve Stress
Meditation is nothing more than putting your mind at ease by controlling the focus of your attention. Meditating is a skill that can be learned by anyone, no matter your religious or spiritual point of view.
You can practice a simple form of meditation by following these breath-related steps:
- Wear comfortable loose-fitting clothing and sit in a chair on the floor in a comfortable position. Cross your legs in a comfortable way.
- Mentally scan your body for tension. If you notice any tension, imagine it draining away and being replaced by relaxation.
- Begin to breathe slowly through your nostrils, from your abdomen. You may want to imagine a balloon inflating and deflating just beneath your belly button as you breathe. Count silently each time you inhale. On the first inhale, count one; then exhale slowly. Then on the next inhale, count two and so on until you have reached ten. If you become distracted, simply return to counting. After you have finished counting to ten, add a word like one or calm or amen as you exhale.
- Keep the focus on your breathing, attending to each in-breath and each out-breath for their full duration, as if you were riding the waves of your own breathing. Whenever you become aware that your mind has wandered away from your breathing, notice what it was that took you away and then gently bring your attention back to your belly and the feeling of the breath coming in and out.
- Become aware of your thoughts and feelings at these moments, but observe them without judging them or yourself. At the same time be aware of any changes in the way you are seeing things and feeling about yourself.
- Continue the exercise for about 15 minutes. Sit or lie quietly for a few minutes before you return to other activities.