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Wash away anger and anxiety with meditation
Wash away anger and anxiety with meditation
Feb 15, 2010
In the last newsletter I promised you more detail on how to meditate. As I have stated before, I know of no other method that is as effective as meditation to reduce stress and anxiety. You just have to be willing to make the time commitment, which is 20 minutes twice a day. There are many forms of meditation but they all have certain things in common. They all teach us how to relax. They all break the day to day buildup of stress and they all teach us how to be in the here and now. More detail below. The meditative technique I will teach you today is Transcendental Meditation. I will teach you the basics of it. You can gather much more information on it through the many books that are available on the subject or by visiting one of the national training centers for TM. If you follow the steps below you will successfully meditate the first time you try even though you may feel unsuccessful.
AS I STATED BEFORE, THE PRIMARY BENEFITS OF MEDITATION ARE THREEFOLD.
Relearn the relaxation response - Meditation teaches you to be as relaxed as you were when you were a child before years of stress changed you. Do you remember how that felt?
Break the cycle of stress - If you never take a break from stress it will accumulate. A simple period of relaxation away from stress for a short time once or twice per day can stop the effects of stress from accumulating at all. And the process of meditation actually washes away previously accumulated stress as well. Exercise is great for reducing muscular tension and therefore creating a feeling of well being, but it is not as effective as meditation for reducing and eliminating the effects of accumulated stress in the body. There are actually changes in brain chemistry which take place with meditation which contribute to bringing on a feeling of complete calmness.
Live in the "here and now" - Most mental stress comes from worry. When we are worrying, we are usually in the future, sometimes in the past, but we are never in the present. Meditation disciplines the mind to stay more in the present, which eliminates the majority of mental stress from our lives. When we are in the future and we are worrying, we are worrying because we are uncertain. It is only through certainty that we can escape the stress of worry and it is only in the present that we can be certain. Whether we live in the past, present or future is a choice, but it is a choice made more attainable through the practice of meditation.
HOW TO MEDITATE
The time & place - You want to try to meditate twice per day for about 20 minutes each time for maximum benefit. If you can only find the time to do it once that is fine. Something is better than nothing. But the goal to shoot for is twice per day, usually at the same time of day, as your body will become accustomed to the routine and will ask for the meditation at the same time each day. It is best to choose a certain time of day that will work for you each day. You will tend to be more consistent if you choose a natural break in your day, which will always tend to be open. For instance, if you ride the bus or public transportation to work, this would be an ideal time. People will just think you are sleeping or you can wear sun glasses. Another natural break would be before dinner, after you have gotten home from work. You will have to make a commitment to your meditation time and plan for it otherwise you will fill it with something else. In our busy lives there is always something else waiting to be done. There is always something else waiting to fill our time. TAKE THE TIME TO MEDITATE. Do not meditate for about 1 to 2 hours after a meal as the digestive process will interfere with your ability to relax. The place you choose should be as quiet as possible and a place where you will not be disturbed. Many years ago I used to meditate before lunch. For want of a better place I went into one of the commodes at work, closed the door, sat down and meditated. No one bothered me or even knew I was there. As you get more accustomed to meditation you will be able to effectively meditate even when there is activity and noise around you. Of course, the ideal is a very quiet, serene environment. Turn off the telephone, TV, etc. Eliminate as much noise and distraction as possible. Lock the door. If there are others in your home, hang a "do not disturb" sign on the door.
THE MANTRA AND PROCESS
A mantra is something you say to yourself (not out loud) over and over again. It can be a word, such as "one". It can be a sound with no meaning, such as "shrum" (this works best for me). Or it can be just the sound of your breath, breathing deeply in and out. You want to sit down in a chair. Do not lie down or lean your head against anything. Close your eyes. Relax your body. Deepen your breathing a bit. You then want to start focusing on the sound of the mantra. Remember, do not say the mantra out loud. Simply hear it in your mind. Keep saying it over and over again. This is what will take you into the meditative state. It will be natural for your mind to wander to other things. Not to worry. When you become aware that your mind has wandered away from the mantra, simply go back to it. The more you focus on the mantra, the more you will slowly go into a meditative state. A meditative state is not a trance. You will be completely awake and aware of things going on around you. You will learn to feel very relaxed, almost as though a bomb could go off next to you and it wouldn't affect you. After about twenty minutes you will stop saying the mantra and slowly open your eyes. Don't try to jump right up from a meditation. Give yourself a minute or two to come back from the twilight zone, and then stand up.
That's it. Enjoy. Remember, just make the time and it can change your life.
Lorraine Watson is a licensed therapist in California with extensive experience in the areas of anger management, nonabusive relationship skills and trauma. She is the author of "Expressing Anger Nonviolently". The contents of that book can be viewed on our website at http://www.nonviolenceeducation.citymax.com/amprogram.html