“The mind has exactly the same power as hands; not merely to grasp the world, but to change it.”
Stress disrupts the mind-body relation. Our body releases stress hormones in response to the different stresses we face. The hormones released affects us physically and emotionally which is why prolonged stress weakens immune system and make us hyper sensitive. Meditation is perhaps the best way to re-establish the mind-body connection. Alex Michaud, LPC says “Don’t be mindful just to relax, be mindful to experience the life you’re actually living.
Types of Meditation
Meditation is a great exercise that can be practiced as often as you wish, for any time duration you choose. Anytime between 5 minutes to 40 minutes can benefit in normalizing thoughts. Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC said “Mindfulness meditation practices are effective interventions.”
There are a number of meditation exercises that aid stress reduction. It includes
- Tai Chi.
Benefits of Meditation
- It helps to recognize the negative automatic thoughts (NATs) related to stress.
- Helps you explore your body and develop a connection with yourself.
- Helps you focus on the coping mechanisms that you may take up.
- Prevents the physical problems associated with stress (heart disease, hypertension).
The 4 ingredients of meditation
The key areas to be considered before exploring meditation are
- To find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.
- To focus your mind and drive all negative thoughts away.
- The third ingredient is your breathing. Take deep and slow breaths thereby bringing your body and mind to a relaxed state.
- The fourth is your surroundings. Make sure to meditate in a place free from noise or bright lights.
- Breathing Regulation: Start with your breathing — control the time for inhaling and exhaling air. As you continue to breathe, bring attention to each part of your body starting from toes all the way up. Notice how your muscles relax and you become calm.
- Stretch out: Stretching is a great way to start the day. Do it at regular intervals and mind your posture while you stretch. Sit or lie with your back straight. Raise your head and stretch your arms as you push your chest forward. Repeat the stretch and practice it as often as you wish during the day.
- Deep Breathing: This improves your ability to visualize and use mental images while meditating regularly. Breathe in and out through your nose very slowly, control the breath at a count of around 10 (count 4 to inhale and 6 to exhale). Repeat the process for 5-10 minutes or you can stretch the duration if you feel soothed.
- Centering: Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Sit straight and start taking deep breaths. Allow your mind to wander and relax. Notice how your hand moves up and down with the movement of your abdomen and chest. When both hands have lifted with inhale, hold your breath for a count of one and exhale slowly counting 5. Once relaxed, begin focusing on individual areas of your body and create an overall sense of relaxation and well being. You can start from head and continue till the toes or the reverse.
- Visual imagery: Once you are relaxed, try to focus your attention on a single object. It may be something around you, or you can close your eyes and imagine it. Try to choose small things — a small mark on the wall, a particular face in a picture or try visualizing them in your mind. Look at the object and try to focus all your attention into it. Take full control of your mind and notice the thoughts that distract you. Practice this process as often as you can. Once you master the art of focusing your attention, it becomes easy to combat the negative thoughts and beat stress.
Stress management is a combination of the different activities that you may choose to follow. Combine your stress management plan with a healthy diet, exercise and fitness schedules and the correct coping mechanisms. Jodi Spencer, LPC says “Try downloading the Calm app and doing a guided meditation. You might actually enjoy it!”
It is your choice. So make it today.