A by-product of 21st century living, stress impacts your health, your emotions and your relationships. One effective way of releasing stress is meditation. As a tool for wellness, meditation need not be approached as a religious practice. Rather, it is an exercise that calms your body by giving your mind a break from the endless chatter that fills it.
Meditation can help any stress-related condition. According to the March 2005 issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter, meditation can reduce high blood pressure, anxiety, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress syndrome and overall visits to health care providers
“The relaxation response [from meditation] helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves,” adds Herbert Benson, MD, founder of the Mind/Body Institute at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Take a Walk
A first step to meditation can be a simple walk outdoors. Instead of letting the mind run away with its constant thoughts about where you have to be this afternoon or how you’re going to solve that challenge at work, consciously concentrate on the natural world around you. Study the tree branches, the way the leaves flutter in the breeze; gaze at the clouds, listen for the bird calls, or study the reflection of the sky in a puddle.

Watch a Flame
For the beginner, a candle meditation may be a good way to start. Light a candle in a darkened room. Concentrate on the dancing flame for 30 or 40 seconds. Then, close your eyes and see the flame in your mind’s eye. When thoughts interrupt or your lose the image, open your eyes and concentrate on the flame again. Repeat this process for 10 to 20 minutes.

Say the Words
Another way to quiet your mind is by silently repeating a mantra, or phrase. You might choose words that reflect your gratitude for something in your life. Whenever you feel another thought intrude, repeat the phrase again. At first, because this is new territory for your brain, you may find your brain chattering more than ever. As you use this tool more often, the chatter will lessen and you will be able to slow and quiet your thoughts.

Head to Toe
When your racing thoughts won’t let you sleep at night, treat yourself to an easy guided imagery meditation. Lay down, close your eyes and visualize a soft, warm beam of white light. Imagine the light shining on your forehead, feel the light expand and warm your whole face and head. Then slowly move the light down to the neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Continue visualizing the light touching, warming, softening and relaxing each separate body part, in order, till you get to each of your ten toes. You may find you’ve nodded off the sleep before you get to the end of the meditation.

As the Mayo Clinic reports, “Meditation takes many forms, but the goal of all of them is to focus your attention. Meditation is a mind-body process. When focused, the mind is calmed and the body can relax, creating a sense of well-being. The mind’s health influences the body’s health.”

Login to Favorite