Do you feel assailed in some way by the demands and busyness of our fast-paced and information laden lifestyle? Do you feel tired, achy, or as if you want to “stop the world and get off”? Are you more grumpy, irritable, anxious or getting colds and flu more often than you used to?
Often these are symptoms of stress, overload and being out of control. Muscles are tight and tensed into knots; thoughts are constantly on overwhelm, breath is shallow and fast, not to mention the chronic tiredness, insomnia, compromised immune system and a myriad of other niggling ailments that show up.
How do you handle stress?
We all handle stressors differently, and many can cope with what could be considered enormous amounts, and still lead a healthy productive life. Others become very stressed easily and struggle with daily living. This can occur for a number of reasons, but often the way we think and react to external events and the habits we develop around that contribute to our ability to handle stressors.
Personally I found I had a very low stress threshold. Time constraints, extra workloads, a dirty house, crying children, sometimes even having to make dinner at the end of a busy day could tip me into overwhelm and feeling unable to cope. While I could soldier on mostly, my body seemed to be on constant “red alert”, my sleeping patterns were poor, I got sick easily or had bouts of depression. After years of barely coping, I discovered meditation and it changed my life.
Why is meditation so beneficial?
There are now scientific studies that support what I had been feeling personally – regular meditation can actually reverse the physiology of the stressed body:
- Muscles soften and the body relaxes
- Breathing is natural and deep
- The immune system gets stronger
- Digestion improves
- Blood pressure decreases
- The brain balances and thoughts slow
- Concentration improves
- Inner guidance & intuition is more easily accessible.
Best of all, there is a sense of wellbeing, balance and centredness that continues to flow on throughout the day and night.
I am too busy for meditation
I thought this at first myself but really it is easy to find time to incorporate this practise into your routine. Personally, I find meditations of 15 minutes or longer work best for me but it is also possible to do “spot” meditations and still break down the stress cycle.
Try these meditation tips:
- Turn off the TV earlier and meditate for 15 -30 mins before going to bed (supports deeper healthier sleeping patterns)
- Get up 15 minutes earlier to meditate (a great kick-start to the day)
- Take seven slow deep breaths, in and out, at each loo visit or when having a cuppa (keeps focus in the present moment, calms breathing)
- Take a slow deep breath in and sigh on the out-breath. Do this three times when stopped at traffic lights (creates a sense of release and relaxation)
- Just listen – notice all the sounds around and name them (stills the mind)
I have tried meditation and it didn’t really work
Be patient and kind with yourself – we are used to “the quick fix” in our culture. Your body, mind and emotions may take a while to get used to meditation, particularly when very stressed. Your body may want to twitch and jerk a little, your thoughts may speed up or emotions may surface. This is all just a natural release of built up energies and is actually beneficial. Simply allow this to occur without any judgment or resistance and these experiences will gradually reduce and be replaced with a deeper sense of wellbeing.
Also, there are many styles of meditation available – breath, mantras, movement, visualisation and much more. One style may work better than another for you, so be curious and explore with an open mind.
As a meditation coach for about six years, I personally use a combination of guided visualisation and silent time with the breath as a focus, and this seems to work very well for everyone.
Begin meditation now
As you can see, meditation is a simple and safe way to bring a sense of peace and calm into your busy lifestyle. Begin meditation today and discover a happier, healthier way to live.