Meditation is an excellent way to relieve stress. Deepak Chopra said, “Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there, buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” In other words, meditation allows you to turn off your stress-generator, your mind. Once this becomes a daily habit, you will develop the ability to carry that peaceful mental “quietness” with you outside of the meditation more and more easily. Eventually, over time, daily meditation becomes a welcome part of your lifestyle, providing much needed stress relief.
First, it is important to note that stress causes very real physical reactions in your body. Some stress-related physical responses include tension, strokes, inability to concentrate, increased blood pressure and pulse, headaches, weakened immune system, and irritability. Some of the scientifically-proven ways that meditation can lower stress include: reduced fear of dying, reduced anxiety and nervousness, less production of the stress hormone Cortisol. Meditators often report simply looking and feeling calmer and more energized. Medical insurance companies have studied meditation’s effects and found that meditators were 87% less likely to be hospitalized for heart problems and 55% less likely to be hospitalized with cancer.
Stress is generally brought on by a never-ending stream of thoughts running through the mind, whether it’s your schedule, your errands, or the future with which you’re preoccupied. Meditation’s main goal is to turn off that recurring voice in the head, in order to experience calmness and stillness—even if you only buy yourself a few peaceful minutes in the beginning. Think about it this way, taking an afternoon power nap is rejuvenating to the body and mind. Meditation takes that same state of mental relaxation to a deeper level. Coming out of a meditation, you’ll have a renewed sense of peace and tranquility, in other words, stress relief.
If you’ve never meditated before, don’t stress out! Oh no, another thing to put on the “to do” list? No! Go to Amazon.com and simply download a guided meditation track for $.99. It only takes 2 minutes from start to finish if you have an existing Amazon account. You might try “Guided Meditations for Stress Relief” by Bodhipaksa, “20 Minute Guided Meditation for Releasing Stress” by Guided Meditation, or “Indigo Dreams: Adult Relaxation – Guided Meditation, Relaxation Techniques Decrease Anxiety, Stress, and Anger” by Lori Lite. You’ll simply find a quiet, comfortable place to sit up straight without distractions as you listen to the guided meditations for stress relief. A voice will tell you how to breathe, how to position yourself, and how to clear your mind. You might also join a meditation group if you know of one that’s readily available and convenient. Much like exercising with a supportive group, being a part of a meditation group can help you stick with it and get more benefit for your time investment.
Meditation can be a very effective weapon for stress relief. It’s free, has no ill side effects, and can be done any time and anywhere without special equipment. Give it a try and see for yourself!