Stress is something we all deal with. While we know exists, we are often largely unaware of how it affects our lives and our bodies. Research continues to point out the negatives of stress on our bodies and the immense impact it has on our level of mental, emotional and physical health.
On a personal level, we become short tempered with our partners, our children and friends and co-workers due to an ever increasing "edginess" inside of us. While our awareness of stress, and its ability to hamper our otherwise sunny dispositions is obvious, what to do about it has not been effectively addressed. What has largely been missing is a daily approach to managing stress on an individual level. In recent years we have seen many health-care professionals begin to support practices of biofeedback, yoga and regular exercise to reduce stress in people’s lives. But, I am encouraging you to take a look at another option.
A few years ago, during some "reconstructing" of my life, I began a practice of meditation. This craft takes many forms and disciplines and has seen a recent explosion in this country, especially among women, due to author Elizabeth Gilbert’s story in Eat, Pray, Love. While an ashram in India isn’t in the cards for most of us, the same tranquility can be found in the sanctuary of a small space in your own home. Meditation is simply a practice of quieting the mind and releasing the stresses of our body and endless chattering of our conscious mind.
As a Therapeutic Coach®, I use various techniques to help my clients accomplish this feat in a manner that is comfortable and realistic for their lives. Many assume that meditation must be an event that seeks to remove us from our physical form, and catapult us out into the universe for relief from our human condition. While that is one approach, it’s not the only one. Simply relaxing 10-15 minutes in a quiet space, undisturbed by the comings and goings of daily life – to focus on our breath, to experience an awareness of our bodies from the inside – can be all that we need to relieve the burdens of stress in our lives and renew our sense of ourselves. This allows us to engage with others in a more relaxed and accepting way.
When we are at peace within ourselves, our energy body extends that outward, and like-minded others are attracted to us. We create lives that are more harmonious and, accordingly, manageable. Now, I’ll never suggest that meditation will remove all stress or its effects on us, and in us, completely, but simply finding the stillness within for a few moments a day can help us develop clarity to see the stresses in our lives from a higher vantage point. Accordingly, we can work with them from a standpoint of constructive behavior, instead of behavior based on being over-stressed and reactionary.
Meditation can provide a way to welcome an inner beauty and calm into our lives, while creating the environment for many positive health-related benefits. Research shows that meditation can lower blood pressure, reduce symptoms of depression and reverse heart disease, as well as increase our level of happiness and productivity. It has been found to express healing after surgery and decrease the side effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients.
It is said that life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react to it. In the truth of this statement, it becomes crucial for us to cultivate behaviors that move us towards a sense of contentment and groundedness that come from a balanced inner self, while leaving behind the flailing of fear and turbulence as though we’re being chased by a pack of hungry wolves.
There are many ways to help us deal with stress in our daily lives and, let’s face it, stress in some form is a part of life for all of us. As we welcome in this New Year, the benefits of meditation can become peaceful escorts through the ever changing and sometimes challenging moments of daily living.
Now…where’s my zafu?