Reducing stress through meditation
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Following on from my last blog about the benefits of meditation when it comes to stress management, I thought I'd provide 12 steps to help you get started with the meditation habit.
- Assuming you already have a full diary, avoid the ‘all or nothing approach.’ Start with 3-5 minutes daily and develop the’ medi-habit’
- Stick with it - habits can take time to form
- Pick a time and place where you are unlikely to be disturbed
- Turn off the phone(s), computer, tv, etc.
- Don’t expect to be able to ‘empty your mind’ straight away. This can take years & is not necessary to obtain health benefits.
- Try different places in which to meditate until you find your preferred spot
- That said, do vary your location and time occasionally in order to develop the ‘meditate on a washing line’ (i.e. anywhere) ability.
- Settle into a comfortable position and just remain there allowing yourself to give your attention to whatever you have chosen as your focus (see next point)
- Try different methods such chanting (repeating a word or phrase over and over), focusing on breathing, body-scanning, focusing on an object, e.g. burning candle or listening to gentle sounds or music. Guided meditations (where someone talks you through the process can be useful for those new to meditation.
- If you find your mind wandering from the intended focus, don't worry, just return to it. The aim is to relax and allow your thoughts to drift here and there and eventually slow their pace.
- If you find meditation raises your anxiety levels, it may be because you are trying to hard to 'empty your mind,' or not think things. Remember that it may take years of practice to be able to consistently do this. I can't and I still find 5 minutes every morning great for preparing myself for the day ahead.
- If you find, after some time that it just isn't working for you, then consider some more active forms of mindfulness such as Tai Chi, Walking or combining it with exercise such as swimming.
I'll be looking at mindfulness in due course too, since, again this is proving to have great benefits in terms of stress reduction and aiding conditions such as depression and anxiety.
You might find the resources on the 'How To' page helpful, in particular the short relaxations there.
Keep an eye out for the next blog.
Motivational Speaker on resilience and men's mental health.
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