Meditating the stress away

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Ah, yes. Check out that obligatory and serene stock image of a water droplet next to a few sticks of bamboo! The definition of a stress-free environment, amiright?

On a more serious note, meditation is very important to me both for mental clarity and for self-care. Kiddo does it right before bedtime as well. I know lot of people don’t get it or think it’s weird but trust me on this one. It’s a life saver some days.

When the pandemic information first started rolling in and the public began practicing social distancing, I went into full-on state of panic. What if I get it? What happens if I somehow spread it to my daughter? How serious will this be if either one of us gets it? What’s going to happen if x, y, and z occur?

My anxiety was through the roof, but then I remembered that I just needed to breathe and find my moment of calm.

According to Psychology Today, meditation – even for 10 minutes per day – can effectively counter heart disease, chronic pain, improve digestion blood pressure, and decrease anxiety, depression, and repetitive negative thoughts.

How do you do it? Find a comfortable, seated position. (You may fall asleep while laying down, but if you need a nap, too, then you do you I guess.) Now, close your eyes and try to focus on your selected method. You have a variety of options, which can be found below this paragraph. If your mind starts to drift, recognize it, think about how it makes you feel, then let it go, and focus back on your method.

Now, here are some traditional methods:   

  • Focus on the environment around you. What do you hear? What do you smell? How do you feel in the room that you are in? Are you cold? Do you feel comfortable? Focus on each body part and relax your muscles as you go. Keep focusing and exploring your senses while you’re in your moment of silence.
  • Count your breaths. Slowly inhale through odd numbers and exhale through even numbers. You can count as high as you want to or use a repetitive 1-8 pattern. Whichever makes you happiest, do it. There is no wrong way to do this.
  • Focus on an imaginary object like an apple or a bell pepper. Create the image in your mind and try to focus on it as much as possible. What color is it? Is it spinning or bobbing in suspension, or it attached to its tree, plant, or vines? Are there imperfections on the surface of your object? Make your object look as real in your mind as possible.
  • Listen to music. Not into Enya? That’s ok. You don’t have to do that. Pick music to your own personal tastes. What makes you feel calm? Play it at a low volume and focus on the words and rhythm. Ever-y-thiiiinnnggg’s gonna be alright! Thanks, Shawn Mullins. I needed that.
  • Give yourself affirmations. You is smart. You is kind. You is important. Jot down a list of affirmations and things that make you feel good about yourself. Focus on each of those items individually and allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with them. Some people even grab a beaded necklace and click through them with their fingers as they recite each positive thought they have on their list.
  • Imagine yourself in your happy place. Whether it be at the lake, in the mountains, on the beach, or at your favorite store, put yourself there, and allow yourself to feel the positive emotions that come with. What are you shopping for? How does the ocean sound? Are there birds chirping or flying overhead?

If you’d like to try this, but feel like you need more help, there are apps available. I personally use Insight Timer, which is a free app and offers lessons for people on all levels of meditation. It also provides a timer to help you keep track of how long you’ve been focusing, and a community forum for you to ask questions.

Other popular apps include the following:

  • Head Space
  • Calm
  • Aura
  • Breethe
  • Omvana

Some popular books on the topic:

  • Anything written by Pema Chodron
  • Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris, Carlye Adler, and Jeff Warren
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • The Miracle of Mindfulness or Full Catastrophe Living by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Altered Traits by Daniel Goleman

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2 thoughts on “Meditating the stress away

  1. Pingback: Kiddo and the Beautimous Nail Salon - #JonesboroStrong

  2. Lia Thielen

    This article is a source of inspiration for me, it helps me a lot in sleep problems.
    I also used this Rain Sounds to fall asleep easily.
    Thanks, keep it up!

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