The Key to Slowing Down in a Fast-Paced World

Meditation for Stress and Anxiety | Cluff CounselingWe are busy people leading crazy lives. Our days are full of dishes to wash, mounds of laundry to fold, incessantly buzzing phones, and people demanding our attention. Some days it may even get to the point that we wonder if we can actually squeeze everything in. How do you reconcile your hectic reality with the need for concentration, sharpness, and quality work?

Life pulls us a million directions and we end up feeling frazzled and distracted. Giving our minds and bodies a little break from the rigors of daily life can refresh, reinvigorate, and help us feel ready to tackle all our responsibilities to the best of our abilities. Some people choose exercise, others choose a nap, cooking, going on a drive, or doing absolutely nothing as a “time out” before going back to their duties. Regardless of whether you have an existing outlet or not, I wish to recommend an effective alternative: meditation.

WHAT IS MEDITATION?

Meditation is often portrayed as something that fit girls in yoga pants do in grassy fields. But before you think it is too indie or “hippy” for you, may I remind you that there are many interpretations for meditation. That is what makes it so great! There is no right or wrong way or place to meditate because it is personal… whatever your body needs. The purpose of meditation is to make an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. It is often used to focus, calm, or clear the mind, dispel negativity, and ease health concerns (such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety).  Meditation has a calming effect and directs awareness inward until pure awareness is achieved, which is described by Michael Phelan as “being awake inside without being aware of anything except awareness itself.”

WHY MEDITATE?

Life’s hectic pace and demands make most of us feel stressed, over-worked, and that there is not enough time in the day to accomplish everything. Our stress and tiredness make us unhappy, impatient and frustrated…and can even affect our overall health. You may think you do not have one second to spare meditating, but I am here to tell you that meditation actually gives you more time by making your mind calmer and more focused.

HOW DO I MEDITATE?

While there are many ways to practice meditation–some more in line with Buddhist tradition– here is a basic summary for anyone anywhere on the journey of meditation:

  • Step 1: Sit in a comfortable position. You could be on a couch, on a cushion, on the floor, on the grass, seated criss-crossed, with your legs in front of you…whatever is comfortable for you.
  • Step 2: Ensure good posture. The back should be straightened but not tense. This enables a clear mind and it allows the subtle energy winds to flow freely.
  • Step 3: Relax your body. Mentally enumerate your body parts individually; relax your eyes, mouth, cheeks, tongue, eyebrows, arms, shoulders, legs, feet, fingers and all body parts. This is to release negative energy.
  • Step 4: Breathe. Once in a comfortable and relaxed seated position, pay attention to the thoughts and distractions that are running through your mind. Focus on having even breaths. As you exhale, imagine that you are breathing away all disturbing thoughts and distractions.  As you inhale, imagine that you are breathing in clarity and light. Maintain this visualization until your mind has become peaceful and alert.

WHERE DO I MEDITATE?

You can literally meditate anywhere, at any time. If you find yourself stressed in the middle of the day, excuse yourself for a few minutes to do breathing exercises in your car, in the bathroom, a closet, outside–anywhere! Stop, Breathe and Think is a great meditation resource I highly recommend; download the app and it will remind you to stop what you are doing, check in with how you are feeling, and practice mindfulness in the middle of your busy day.

HOW LONG DO I MEDITATE?

As mentioned in the how-to section, you focus on meditation and breathing until your mind has become peaceful and alert. Some days it may take twenty minutes, other it may take under ten. The key is listening to your body and mind and doing what you need. You will notice a difference even if you are only able to take two minutes to focus on your breathing.

Do not let the stresses of life bog you down. Maintain a sharp, focused mind by giving yourself a few minutes each day to unwind and reset. Meditation is an excellent way to do this since it doesn’t require extra tools, takes minimal time, and can be practiced anywhere. Through meditation, we create an inner clarity that enables us to better control our thoughts and actions. If you would like additional assistance understanding, practicing, or incorporating meditation into your daily life, please contact me today.

Resources:
Wikipedia, “Meditation”
how-to-meditate.org
Stop, Breathe and Think