Meditation is one of the techniques often used for stress management. A person who is riddled with problems often will find it hard to focus, which can lead to more problems if not addressed over time. Meditation techniques help a person achieve a calm state of mind without having to depend on chemicals or drugs that, in some cases, cause nasty side effects or allergic reactions. Every step to meditation is done in the mind.
First and foremost, meditation is not instantaneous. It is almost impossible to attain a calm state of mind in just a matter of minutes, especially if it’s your first go. It is critical that you keep practicing meditation! In the beginning, it just takes 5 minutes a day anyway. Once you have conditioned your mind to achieve that calm state, it gets easier to get there. All it takes is a moment of stillness & an intention, so it will be. Here are four steps for beginners to take in order to start using meditation as a strategy to combat stress.
1. Find your sacred space. Distraction is the most difficult thing for beginners when they start a meditation routine. When you close your eyes, your sense of hearing sharpens. Almost any noise in your surroundings will make it hard for you to concentrate. It is important to start out in a quiet place in your home where noise is non-existent. Close your windows and lock your door. If possible, tell everyone in your home to minimize their noise so that you won’t get distracted. You can also find a safe and quiet place out in nature, the park or your backyard.
2. Position is everything! Try to avoid lying down when practicing meditation. Especially newbies. The aim here is NOT to sleep. Until you get used to it, is likely that you will fall asleep if your mind reaches a relaxed state. That is perfectly ok! But only in the beginning. We do not want this to happen every session. To stop this from happening, you can start your meditation in lotus position or you can find a chair you can sit on. Make sure that your back is straight and your hands are relaxed and resting palm faced up on your thighs. Of course, if you have difficulty sitting due to medical or physical limitations, by all means, lay down! Ultimately, you have to be comfortable in order for this to work.
3. Conscious breathing. A good way to start meditation is to spend the first three to five minutes doing breathwork, also called conscious breathing. Inhaling and exhaling in specific sequences & rhythms. In and out of the nose, in and out of the mouth, in through the nose and out of the mouth. It varies. This helps with calming the mind and it prepares the body to open up the channels of healing. Also, the amount of oxygen your body receives will keep you relaxed. The goal with conscious breathing is that you will be able to do it easily without having to think about it.
4. Letting s**t go. Sorry to be crude! But c’mon! Some of the stuff we hold on to in our minds is crap! Things that we have no use for just taking up space and causing us to function at low levels because we refuse to let it go. Let me tell you how to do that. While you are concentrating on your breathing, you will reach a state where random thoughts will come. These are mostly events of the day, plans made, problems, worries, grocery lists, fears and it can go on & on. It will be hard to ignore these thoughts, SO DON’T! Let them come. Let them present themselves to you. I call this “Thought Expression.” To make this become less of an issue in your sessions, allow them to surface but instantly detach from them. I know! Sounds hard to do! Aaaahhh! But check this out… You know that you have furniture at home. You can see it clearly with your eyes every day. You are not really concentrating on it, though. Focusing on the furniture will usually make you think of the color, what material it is made of, where it is located in your home, when you bought it or what the old furniture it replaced used to look like. Your mind can go off on a tangent! You need to be able to look at these random thoughts in a detached state. You want to see them clearly in your mind but do not “FOCUS” on them. Do not allow the mind to jump to the details of the thought. If it starts to do this, go back to your conscious breathing. In and out. In and out. Then allow the next thought to express itself and repeat the process of detachment. One right after the other, after the other. You might spend the whole session moving from thought to thought to thought. THAT’S OK! THAT’S PROGRESS! Eventually, these random thoughts will stop and you will notice that you are already in that wide open gap in your mind. This is the state you want to achieve during meditation. The “GAP” is this blank space. This deliciously quiet part of your mind. This is the place where solutions, insights, ideas, inspirations & clarity come gracefully and effortlessly. This is a state of peace & calm. Once here, you have successfully applied the basics of meditation. Using this as your stress management strategy will improve your health, mental & emotional well-being.
IMPORTANT: As mentioned before, meditation is not instantaneous. It takes time and dedication. As a meditation facilitator, I still find myself not “in flow” some days. So please do not be discouraged if you find that it is taking you longer than expected to reach your destination. Do not speak against yourself or judge yourself for it. Just commit yourself to the practice and the rest will fall into place.
With LOVE & LIGHT !