Meditation, am I doing it right?

I used to ask myself this question all the time when I first started practicing meditation. Am I doing it right? With all the latest research pointing us to use meditation as another tool to living a healthier, happier life, I thought it would be helpful to give my readers a long overdue post and dedicate it to the practice of meditation.

Defining the actual act of meditation can be difficult as there are many traditions and countless ways to practice. It is a heightened state of awareness that requires you to be fully present in the moment without judging what is in that moment.

Generally meditation consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on your breath, a word or a mantra. However, anything we do throughout the day can be an act of meditation, walking, standing, even washing dishes. The key is to be focused on the present.

Many who are new to meditation will ask, “How do I know if I am doing it right?”. The short answer is “If you feel better at the end, you are doing it right.” It is natural for there to be internal chatter and this isn’t a sign that you are doing something wrong. Acknowledge the thoughts and chatter and then let them go.

Most people who are drawn to meditation are seeking ways to reduce stress and quiet the mind. It is a very effective stress reducer.

The 4 most important elements in meditation practice are a quiet location with as few distractions as possible, a comfortable position whether walking, sitting, or lying down, focusing your attention, and an open mind.

Meditation may be used as a compliment to traditional medicine (not a replacement of) for various health related issues:

  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Emotional issues related to chronic illness
  • Overall health and well being

Meditation teaches us to focus attention and be mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations and too observe all these in a nonjudgmental way. The result is a mental calmness and physical relaxation.

Be here now!

This Weeks Reader Word: Stress

This weeks reader word comes courtesy of Bev. She requested a post written about stress. It took me some time to decide how I would approach this subject. So many times when we hear the word stress it brings up a host of negativity. How do you give stress a positive spin? I’m going to give it my best shot. You can let me know how I do.

If you were to ask people what the one thing is they could do without in their lives, many would respond–stress. Maybe we should first define stress and it’s effects on the body. Did you know there are two very different types of stress? Eustress is the type of stress that brings positive change in life. Distress is the type of stress that brings negative results.

How do you know the difference between the two? There are some simple characteristics that are easily recognizable.

The most common characteristics for eustress:

  • motivates you toward a positive result
  • energizing
  • short-term
  • a feeling of an adrenaline rush

The most common characteristics for distress:

  • constant worry and anxiety
  • painful and unpleasant
  • causes physical symptoms
  • sucks the energy and life out of you

Now that we have more clarity about stress lets talk about what I do when I feel stressed. Stress can be something that sneaks up on you and before you know it you are exhausted. It has happened to me, it happens to the best of us!

One thing I do to keep stress at bay is daily meditation. The simple practice of focusing on my breath provides a wealth of health benefits. I enjoy a sense of calm and relaxation. You can find many useful online resources if you don’t understand the process for meditation. I enjoy the seasonal free meditation series that Deepak Chopra conducts online. The Spring session just started recently.

If I find myself stressed about something, I stop what I’m doing and bring my thoughts back to the moment. I ask myself, what is the worst possible outcome in this stressful situation. It is very rare that the worst possible thing that can happen, will.

Everyone has heard that laughter is the best medicine. This is so true. The next time you are feeling stressed: find the funniest movie you can and watch it, watch some stand-up comedy, laugh with a friend, set up a Skype Laughter session with me, find anything that makes you laugh. It will help to melt away the stress. Studies have shown that laughter floods our body with feel good hormones. Check out what Mayo Clinic has to say about Laughter and Stress.

There are so many effective ways to deal with the stress in your life. Many more that I use in my own life. I would be here all day trying to list them all. The most important thing to remember is that stress doesn’t have to take over your life, you can use stress to improve your life.

What do you do to handle the stress in your life? Smile through adversity.