We all feel stress. Life is full of challenges, deadlines, tasks and worries.
Stress – to a certain extent – is necessary. The symptoms of stress: increased heart rate, tightened muscles, higher blood pressure, quicker breathing, and sharper senses – are all requirements for an emergency.
In a stressful situation our nervous system releases a flood of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, preparing you to either fight or run from the danger at hand.
It’s a classic case of our subconscious doing its job properly. Looking after us, as it always has done, by responding in a way that has saved our forefathers from danger for millions of years.
Only now are lives aren’t so dangerous and we find our bodies reacting negatively to relationship problems, work problems, travel problems, and all the other sorts of problems.
So what we need to do is to stop our subconscious causing the reactions to stress.
Now that we have identified the problem, the solution is at hand. We have to re-program our subconscious so that we don’t react to the challenging situations in the same way as we do now – by getting angry, agitated, depressed and anxious.
Meditation’s stress-relieving characteristic is only one of its numerous health-related benefits. People who meditate once a day for 10 minutes or more will report feeling less stress.
As you can see in my introduction to meditation, you should try to focus your concentration on one particular thing and quieten down the thoughts that usually appear and disappear in your mind.
The object of concentration can be your breathing.
This isn’t thinking “my breath is coming in, my breath is coming in, my breath is going out, my breath is going out” – this is being aware of your breathing. Concentrating on the physical sensations in your body that are effected by the breath.
Here are a few examples of sensations you can concentrate on:
- the expansion of the belly during the inbreath
- the contraction of the belly during the outbreath
- the feeling in your nose of the air moving back and forth
- the feeling of your ribcage moving
You could also be concentrating on an area of your body that isn’t effected (or not directly effected) by the breathing, for example, the area 2 or 3 inches below the navel and 2 or 3 inches inside the belly, or the lower dantian – a focal point for chi (or qi) energy.
Whatever area you decide to concentrate on, try to focus on this area constantly whilst being aware of your breathing through it.
This isn’t easy and you will find your concentration waning and your mind wandering within seconds. If this happens, don’t worry, don’t get angry with yourself – just put your concentration back to your breathing.
You may like to count your breaths. Start at number 1 for the inbreath and outbreath; 2 for the next inbreath and outbreath; and then go up to 10 and, when you’re finished on the 10th outbreath, start at number 1 on the inbreath again.
The more you do this, the more your concentration improves and the more relaxed you’ll feel.
It is during this relaxed state that you can start to auto-suggest. Have a string of affirmations up your sleeve ready to run through your mind at this moment. For example:
- I am relaxed
- I am calm
- I am happy
- I am content being right here at this moment
Run these expressions across your mind and return quickly to the meditation, as though nothing had happened!
Continue concentrating on your breathing and enjoy the moments of peace and calm you have created for yourself.
You can do it
Just doing this will lower blood pressure, relax your body and reduce stress levels to a minimum. If this is practice is repeated over a period of time something very amazing will happen.
You will find yourself calmer, fitter and stronger in life than you were before. The self-suggestions will work their way into your subconscious and you will find yourself improving in ways you never thought possible.
So, start today! Go somewhere quiet, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Feel the wave of relaxation pass through you and work to increase the calming feelings.