(de)Stress: How To Meditate For A Sound Mind, Sound Body

I spent a long time really questioning the importance and effectiveness of meditation.  To me, it seemed like a waste of my time.  For 15 plus years, I would read repeatedly that mediation was soothing and boosted health and was “essential” for a sound mind-body connection. But, what I couldn’t truly understand was how I could boost my health by just sitting cross-legged for said amount of time, chanting “Om,” and “clearing” my mind.  Clearing my mind?  These people had to be crazy!  I didn’t feel that fitting even 5 or 10 minutes of meditation time into my already hectic schedule was worth the hassle and, honestly, I didn’t think that I could “clear my mind” even if my life depended on it.  My mind would wonder through my to-do list and then it would jump to some world problem (or my world problem) that I had to solve and then..wait..what the heck was that sound..I better go check it out…

But, it wasn’t until I got to periods in my life where the stress was overwhelming and the clouds seemed a little darker and I couldn’t really handle every little bout of drama thrown my way.  That was when I realized that my mind, and body, were overloaded and at maximum capacity.  Something had to give or I was going to give and that would not be a pleasant outcome.  So, as everything in life seems to present itself at the exact right time, I began to recall the concept of meditation and it began to present itself to me again.  From everything that I read and learned on my journey, I knew that stress increased the risk of depression, anxiety, mood swings, weight gain, skin conditions, heart disease, etc, etc, etc.  I found myself battling many of these symptoms and I wasn’t putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I remember thinking to myself, “OK, Tansy, you are a healthy, fit, intelligent, young, kick-ass woman.  You need to get your act together.”  And then….I had my “ah-hah” moment.  Maybe this meditation thing might work if I made it a priority and really gave it a try.  So I did. That was October 2013 and I have been mediating regularly ever since. This is what I found:

If I would meditate for just 5-10 minutes most days a week (some longer and more concentrated and focused, depending on my state of mind at that time), I began to notice, just to name a few…

  • Improved skin and a healthy glow
  • Weight loss around my mid-section because that is where I hold most of my weight gain
  • A better handle on negative situations and drama
  • Mental clarity for better problem solving
  • Increased positivity
  • Lessened mood swings
  • Fewer food cravings for unhealthy fats and sugars
  • Fewer muscle aches and pains
  • Improved sense of self and self-confidence that I never thought existed within me
  • An unbelievably amazing , solid “Om” chant and seated cross-legged flexibility

Now, looking back, I see and FEEL the difference and I have been converted to a believer.  I also learned that meditation comes in so many shapes and sizes that anyone can find the right fit for him or her.  For me, I choose a few, such as Chakra meditation, visualizations, and breathing techniques.  All of these I teach and inspire within my client trainings and coaching sessions.  But, there are so many varieties. Let’s see if we can find a fit for you!

Simple ways to get you destressed with meditation

  1. Breathe deep and make it come from the belly.  Inhale and let your belly (diaphragm) expand (push out) and exhale while allowing your belly to sink inwards towards the spine.  Feel the difference.  Deep chest breathing feels stressful.  Belly breathing feels relaxing..like you can catch your breath.
  2. Close your eyes and listen to all the sounds around you.  Really listen.  Focus on whatever comes into your awareness and listen to how it changes and how the sounds can soothe you.  Hint, hint…you can even do this sitting at your desk when you just need a break away from the stress of the work day!
  3. Practice gratitude and positive thoughts.  First thing in the morning and/or when you are feeling washed out and negative, think of all the amazing and beautiful things that make up your life.  You may have a stressful job, but at least you have a job and you are making money to live and able to buy the necessities of life.  Upset that you may not have a new car?  At least you have a car to get you where you want to go and you have money to fill it with gas and take it to the garage regularly to allow it to run.  Look for that silver-lining in every area of your life.  I found myself praising and feeling deep thankfulness that I have soap to clean myself and running clean water to shower in the morning.  It’s the little things in life that are most precious.
  4. Be present and in the moment.  Really “feel” an object when you pick it up and really “look” at everything that catches your eye.  Your mind races, your heart rate increases, and your emotions start to surge. When you take a moment to slow down, and notice your present state, you are better able to put things into perspective. Big issues become more manageable instead of escalating out of control.
  5. Use affirmations.  Keep your mind fresh with positive thoughts by creating a few simple affirmations to repeat throughout the day. Try repeating, “Peace is all around me,” or “I am calm, happy, and focused,” the next time you feel yourself becoming stressed.
  6. Focus on your body and relaxing every muscle within you.  Try a body scan by starting from bottom to top and allow each body part to be released of tension until you get to your mind.  At that time, sit in silence and just “be” or focus on the sounds around you, or perform a simple affirmation or chant.  If thoughts fly into your awareness, recognize them and then let them go.
  7. Find that activity that connects you to a higher place. What do I mean by this?  Movement is very meditative for many people, including myself. And it is enhanced when we place ourselves in a meditative environment.  Focusing deeply on an activity that feels nurturing and natural to our own personal movements, can bring great inner peace.  Try hiking in the woods, gardening, rock climbing, dancing, running, tai chi, martial arts, or any activity that connects you.

For more in depth learning and insight into the world of meditation, check out helpguide.org

 

ACTION STEP:

Take action now! Go grab your calender and schedule in regular (daily, if you dare) meditation time.  Start with 5-10 minutes of practice and, in the beginning, focus on trying various techniques and meditation practices until you find the one that just feels natural.  You will know when it is right for you! Focus on how the meditation makes you feel and, to get full benefit, keep a meditation journal so that you can track your progress.

Comment below and tell me if you have ever had experience with meditation and, if you have, what kind.  If this is all new to you, I want to hear it!  Tell me how you will incorporate meditation and tell me how you progress.

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One thought on “(de)Stress: How To Meditate For A Sound Mind, Sound Body

  1. Really a great article I liked how you focused on breathing that is the key the natural breath is very life giving and healing.

    Like

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