Stress is a natural part of life and you are likely going to be grappling with it on a constant basis. Its effects can be insidious; it produces negative changes in the body that lead to disease. It puts us in a negative state of mind that sabotages our efforts to make choices that support our health rather than detract from it—a perfect example is the tendency to stuff ourselves with junk food to suppress our negative emotions. If we cannot eliminate it, the best we can do is find ways to deal with it more effectively, and ideally, we will accomplish this without the use of potentially addicting and harmful medications. Meditation has been the ultimate self-improvement tool for me and I would like to discuss how it can help you too.
Meditating regularly is probably the most effective stress reliever but many may dismiss it because of its simplicity. You may wonder how something like sitting quietly helps you deal with life better and this is understandable since we always feel like we need to be ‘’ doing’’ something to address our problems; technically you are doing something, you are meditating.
Much of our stress in life comes not from what is happening in our lives but how we are reacting to it—we cannot always control what life throws at us, but we can always exert at least some degree of control (we are only human after all), over how we respond. Meditation helps strengthen that space in our minds that allows us to reflect and absorb what is happening rather than blindly react in our habitual ways. Meditation helps us realize the fleeting nature of our emotions and when uncomfortable ones arise, we can sit with them better.
Our thoughts are running on autopilot so much of the time that we do not even know what is going on with ourselves. Meditation allows us to witness all of this almost like a third party and the insights you will gain into your behaviors, stress triggers, how you currently deal with them, how you can better deal with them and how you can work on responding instead of reacting will provide a goldmine of information to help you improve your life.
When it comes to begin a meditation routine, you will probably falter a lot in the beginning and possibly throughout your life. I have been doing it for years and I still have times when I resistant to sit or I cut a session short. So, be forgiving of yourself and do not expect to become the Buddha a week in. If it is uncomfortable sitting without back support, feel free to sit in a chair but make sure you are always sitting up straight. You may find setting aside a specific place to meditate may help get you in sitting mode once you enter that area.
There are going to be times you are going to want to jump out of your skin; you will feel like your thoughts are racing but you will come soon to realize that this is the natural pace of your mind—you just never noticed it before because you were moving just as quickly on the outside.
Try to accept whatever is happening at the moment. While over time, you will more frequently experience bliss-like states and greater relaxation, you will have some sessions that just feel awful. Your mind will race the whole time and it may not feel like meditation at all, just a feeling of sitting still and thinking. You will feel like you are not making progress, but that is not the case so remember that. Start off with shorter sessions to acclimate yourself to sitting and work up to longer sessions. I find sitting for at least 20 minutes is best for me, but do whatever works for you. I believe meditation can change your life like no other technique and the best part is, it will not cost you a dime. Start today.