Increasingly there are new reports about the effects of stress on our mind / body health and how the regular practice of meditation can significantly reduce the negative effects of stress. Often I hear from clients that they feel they are ‘losing their minds’ or that they find it impossible to switch off due to a constant barrage of thoughts. Many people like the idea of meditation and it’s benefits but feel they could never do it as they couldn’t clear their mind of thoughts. However, once you can breathe, you can meditate. It’s that simple.
The reports also showed the link between stress and acceleration of the ageing process.
We will never fully eliminate stress, and a certain amount can be good to get us up in the morning and keep us motivated. However, we can control our reaction to stress. Our bodies and minds react to stress by shifting out of balance, creating physical challenges and emotional turbulence. In time we can find ourselves in toxic relationships – with others and ourselves and non nourishing patterns of eating, sleeping and digestion.
Remember, stress is not the external pressure – workload, divorce, death of a loved one, moving house – these are stressors. It is your response to stressors that forms stress. It takes practice to learn how to shift our reactions but here are some guide lines to help you bring about positive change
Identify your internal stressors. Remember, someone or something may ‘push your buttons’ but they are your buttons. Take responsibility for your emotions and reactions. Identify where the emotion manifests in your physical body, often it is in the solar plexus, heart or throat areas. Breathe into the area by taking a few deep breaths and release the emotion / tension. Notice how empowering the process can be when you take responsibility for your emotions.
Be aware of your internal dialog – The power of thought: Quite often when we are stressed or anxious we have gotten into a cycle of negative self talk. When you notice your self talk as being negative say, Cancel! Cancel! And reframe the thought into a positive one. It takes practice, especially if we have slipped into a pattern of negative thought for some time. Our thoughts become our reality so pay attention to where your thoughts are taking you. We have approximately sixty thousand thoughts a day – 80% of which are negative.
Daily affirmations are a great way of boosting self esteem. An example could be –
“I love and appreciate myself just as I am; I release all fear.”
Or if ageing is your main area of concern you could use the affirmation:
“Every day in every way, I am increasing my mental and physical capacity.”
Repeat as a mantra before you go to sleep at night and when you wake up in the morning. You could also look yourself in the eye by using a mirror and repeat. I have found this method highly effective.
By simply taking take out to sit and simple ‘be’ counteracts the effects of stress. Meditation is a tool for rediscovering the body’s own inner intelligence. It’s not about forcing the mind to be quiet, it’s finding the silence that’s already there and making it a part of your life. Silence is the birthplace of happiness, creativity and infinite possibilities. From this field of pure potentiality we get our bursts of inspiration, our most intuitive thoughts, and our deepest sense of connection to the Universe. Practicing meditation on a daily basis allows you to weave silence and stillness into your mind and body to create a life of greater compassion and fulfillment. Simply sitting quietly, with your eyes closed and placing your awareness on the movement of your breath for five to ten minutes a day is a form of meditation which can reap huge benefits.
Breathe. Become aware of your breathing throughout the day. If you find yourself in a tense or stressful situation, consciously take some deep slow abdominal breaths through your nose and notice how your entire body relaxes. When you are feeling pressure and are straining to circulate the life force throughout your body. Be conscious of your breath and your awareness will stay centred in the midst of turbulence. By the very fact we are breathing, we are in constant interaction with our environment by taking care of our environment we are taking care of ourselves.
Smile. Enlightenment means lightening up – don’t take yourself too seriously. Have a laugh and enjoy life’s paradoxes. A belly laugh enhances immunity!
The information contained is extracted from Perfect Health Ireland stress management programmes, including The Chopra Centre’s Perfect Health, and Primordial Sound Meditation certified workshops. For details of the full programmes and one day workshops go to www.perfecthealth.ie