Mindfulness Meditation to De-stress.
By Ivana Jelincic
When you accept all your life circumstances just as they are, changes happen internally as well as externally.
There are numerous ways people cope with stress. What do you do – have a glass of wine, shop, eat for comfort or simply try to get away from a stressful environment from time to time? Although a soothing massage will surely be a relaxing experience and spending time “in the cave” may seem like the stress or problem causing it has disappeared but these are only temporary solutions to stress management.
As my colleague, yoga teacher (Rachel) said to the students the other day “You need to feel it to heal it “ – in other words, we need to become aware of the thoughts causing stress on before we can actually heal and move to a different (more positive) plane. This is why mindfulness meditation is a wonderful tool for de-stress. The human tendency has always been to avoid suffering (Sanskrit: Dukkha) and seek pleasure (Sanskrit: Sukha) very often not realizing that this is a utopia due to the fact that life will always be full of both positive and challenging experiences. In essence, things just are but it is our interpretation that gives events a positive or negative “algebraic sign”. Furthermore, I feel this is why a lot of the new age philosophy that encourages only “happy and positive affirmations” can if not understood correctly, cause even more suffering, frustration and stress as on subconscious level one hasn’t dealt with (or become aware of) the very root of their inner pain and problems.
Being Mindful according to the teachings of Buddha is one of the most important faculties to have on the spiritual path and the origins of Mindfulness meditation also trace back to the earlier Hindu scriptures – Upanishads.
How does mindfulness help to reduce stress?
By practicing Mindfulness you actually start to pay close attention to what is happening in the present moment as opposed to digging into you past or jumping into the future (which again are just concepts and not real, the real is now). You are actually empowering yourself as you stop and become aware of each and every thought without judgment. The more you observe you will notice a lot of the thoughts are the same old scripts repeating over and over again. By allowing yourself to fully observe these scripts, feel the sensations they cause in the body and embrace the stressful thoughts as they come and go, in time they will no longer have power over you.
No one says life will ever be perfect but the ability to feel comfort and peace in discomfort is the key to growth. Then it becomes a long-term de-stress solution.
How to do Mindfulness Meditation
- Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor (on a cushion in cross legged position or legs straight if you have knee problems) with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff.
- Try to put aside all thoughts of the past and the future and stay in the present.
- Become aware of your breathing, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.
- Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, don’t ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor.
- As the time comes to a close, sit for a minute or two, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually. Do no more than 20 minutes, ideally early morning on an empty stomach or in the evening.