Myth Buster: What Is Good Stress And Why You Need It
By Karen Sehgal
As you probably know already, stress can destroy your health. But - as with most problems in life - nature often offers powerful solutions. And stress is no different. Nature gave our bodies a full cadre of ways to reduce stress. And the simplest technique for this is a slightly modified form of something you do all day long anyways...
When you combine this familiar activity with some mindfulness techniques, you transform inhaling and exhaling into meditation. And with meditation techniques, you can transform your chemistry, your mental state, your entire body and, ultimately, your life. Research has shown meditation can reduce the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your bloodstream. And it increases your attention span something that always seems to disappear when you're stressed.
Best of all, you don't have to be a pro to enjoy the rewards of meditation. The two forms of meditation for beginners you're going to learn here are easy to do with a little practice. They can take only about 5 minutes and you can do them anywhere. Everything you consider writing can be told as a story. A great way to catch your reader's attention is to tell a story. Everything you consider writing can be told as a story. They're powerful and simple.
But please before we get started - keep this in mind: The key is to suspend judgment when you're doing this. Don't worry about if you're doing it right. Or if you feel weird or foolish. Or wonder, Am I getting results from this?
While these exercises center around an activity all of us do every second of our lives, it also may be a little different from what you're used to. Simply try it out without expectations or analysis and see what happens after doing it for a while. As Nike says, Just do it!
Meditation For Beginners Technique #1: Breathing 101
This exercise will get you started with meditation. It will help you relax and focus better.
First, get in a comfortable position. I recommend sitting cross-legged on the floor, with a pillow under you to give you a little cushioning and your back up against a wall. Or you can sit in a chair with good back support. You want to be in a position where you can have an upright spine with no pain or discomfort. Let your hands rest in your lap. Uncross them as well. Lengthen your spine and close your eyes.
Start to focus your attention inside you. Shift from awareness of the outside to awareness of what's going on inside of you. Start to pay attention to your breath. Then incorporate these steps:
With each breath in, say "Inhale".
Then with each breath out, say "Exhale".
And then count "1".
So for the first breath you'll say, "Inhale, Exhale 1" and then for the next breath, "Inhale, Exhale 2" and so on.
Here's the trick . . . Notice if your mind starts to drift away from the words "Inhale", "Exhale" or the number. If it starts to focus on anything else, you've got to go back to start. Start again with "Inhale . . . Exhale . . .1".
Be honest, any thought in your head like "Am I doing this right?" and you go back to number 1. Just focus on "Inhale, Exhale" and the number.
Set a timer and do this for 3 minutes.
Remember, don't worry about how you do; just enjoy gaining focus over time. There's no failure, just feedback. Each time you do this, your focus will improve.
This has been the best life skill I've ever developed! It's helped me get through some pretty challenging times. It will dramatically improve your ability to concentrate. And at the same time it will help your body calm down and relax.
Breathing Exercise #2: Gratitude Meditation
There's a simple law at play in the universe: We usually get what we focus on. Unfortunately, most of us focus on and get stressed about what we don't want. For example, we might get fixated on that big bill that's due or how fat we feel.
Our energy gets absorbed in this negative thought and we get pulled down by it. However, if we focus on what we feel good about, it helps us feel better. It shifts our perspective. Going a step further, it helps us get more of this good stuff in our lives. When we train our minds to focus on things we want in our life, consciously and unconsciously we make decisions and behave in ways to meet these desires. The positive energy we create from this meditation energizes us to attain our goals and sustain what we value most in our lives.
That's why this meditation technique is so powerful. It will help you shift your energy to the positive side of things. Hint: It builds on the exercise we just did. So do that one first!
Start by sitting or lying down comfortably.
Close your eyes and allow your awareness to turn inward. Start watching your breath.
Notice your inhales. And notice your exhales. Every time you feel your awareness shifting away from right here, right now and your breath, shift it gently back.
Start to focus on what you have "the simple things“ food, your home, your own bed, your family.
For everyone it will be different, but here are some things to think about being grateful for:
Things you take for granted "your health, your body, your hands, your feet" those selfless servants who take you where you want to go all day long.
People who make you feel great - your best friend. Your family. Your child's pure joy or smile.
Simple pleasures like a sunset or the sand between your toes. Smelling a flower.
Your breath that keeps you alive. Your heart, your organs, your lungs.
What are you grateful for? What makes you feel good? Think about it and then feel it. It's going to start as a list. But start to turn that list into a feeling.
Feel that gratefulness. Allow yourself to feel good. Really feel it. Cherish it.
When your attention starts to shift, just bring it back.
Bring your awareness back to your breath. Notice your breath as it is.
Again, set a timer for 3-5 minutes and focus on this meditation. When you're ready to finish...
Make your breath a little more full and sigh it out your mouth. Like a sigh of relief and contentment.
And gently open your eyes.
I do this when I'm feeling cranky. It helps every time. I'm able to shift my whole mood and energy.
These Meditation Techniques Can Change Your Life
Now, I know you're probably thinking to yourself "The stresses in my life are complicated" finances, marriage, work! How in the world will breathing a few minutes with my eyes closed make a difference?
Like I said, just try it. It won't make the sources of stress go away. But it can give you the equipment to take on life's challenges with more finesse and calm. When you change how you react to the world, the world starts to change around you!
Do these meditations for 21 days straight. Set a timer and do them every morning, before you go to bed, or whenever you can squeeze them in. And it will change your life. I guarantee it will. These meditation techniques for beginners may be simple. But they are also powerful. With them you can open up the door to regaining control in your life and enjoying it to the fullest.
About Karen Sehgal
Karen Sehgal has spent her life dedicated to the study of the mind, body and spirit. She currently owns and teaches Pilates at her Pilates studio, Joy of Movement, located in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, and is also the owner of Joy of Wellness Retreats. She shares her love, joy, and spirituality by teaching Yoga at Harmony Yoga in Redondo Beach, CA. Karen is also an esteemed member of the Sun Chlorella Advisory Board.