Friday, October 30, 2015

How Meditation Has Helped Me Deal With Stress

I love the trees this time of year!  Look at that color!  This is in our neighborhood, on a walk with Miss E. :)
Hello friends! 

If you've been reading my posts regularly (first of all thank you!), you probably have sensed a theme.  I focus a lot on taking care of yourself, stress relief, breathing, meditation, etc. because everyone has had one time or another filled with lots of stress (and some of us have more than others!).  Learning how to deal with negative stressors is definitely a life skill that we can all benefit from both mentally and physically.  Life is too short to let stress bring you down!!

Why did I get started with meditation?

I've always been a fairly laid back person, easy going, etc.  But in my mind, things always weren't (aren't!) that way. I'm just like most people who have moments of anxiety, negative thoughts, feelings of unworthiness, or fears.  

One of my greatest fears is public speaking.  One on one, I'm fine, but put me in front of a group of people and my body does weird things - stomach upset, shakiness, heart beating so rapidly and hard others can probably see it through my shirt!   

Oh course, in my old job there were many times when I had to do presentations, a few times in front of groups as large as 300!  Yikes, was I freaked out!  Now I would always tell myself, it's going to be fine, you know your stuff, just go out and have fun... but my body would betray me and still make me feel like I was going to pass out.  Not fun. Not fun at all.

So how did I get through it? I mean, it was a part of my job and expected for my role, so I couldn't just not do it (don't get me wrong, there were definitely days when I wanted to pawn it off on coworkers). Meditation and deep breathing helped me to get it done without puking, which was usually my goal! Ha!

Practicing meditation regularly has helped me learn to recenter, stay focused, feel more balanced, and if nothing else to
BREATHE!  When you're nervous or anxious, do you ever notice how your breathing becomes short and shallow? Well, that's the time for you to take a deep breath, hold it for a few counts, let it out slowly, and repeat.  

Here are just some of the reasons why meditation is good for you:

Other ways that meditation can benefit you: increased focus, better memory, more creativity and compassion for others, increased cognitive function, and again, most importantly I think, reduced stress and anxiety.  All great things!

Meditation Resources

If you're new to meditation, there are a ton of resources out there for you.  Here are a couple I've tried or would recommend:

1GiantMind App (Link)1GiantMind is great for beginners as it's an app that teaches you to meditate in 12 steps.  The 12 step course includes:
  • Learn to meditate in 12 easy steps and experience the benefits of feeling less stressed and more energized.
  • Each step takes 15 minutes and builds upon the previous step
  • Enjoy the support of video tutorials, a journal and set a reminder tools
  • Unlock exclusive content as you progress
  • Learn more about meditation with the FAQ library
Oprah and Deepak Chopra periodically do a FREE 21-day meditation challenge, and aren't you lucky, they are starting a new one on this Monday, Nov 2.  I HIGHLY recommend you check it out.  Again, it's FREE, takes about 20 minutes each day, and it's a great introduction to a regular meditation practice.  The flow of each daily session is similar: Oprah does an introduction, then Deepak talks for a little bit about the topic for the day, followed by some time for meditation.  Click here for a sample and to register. 

If neither of those work for you, I googled Free Meditation Resources, and a bunch of stuff popped up - this post being one of them: Free Guided Meditation Resources.  Note: I haven't checked these all out, so I can't vouch for the quality of the content.

I know for some people, meditation seems overwhelming.  "I can't just sit there for 5 minutes doing nothing!" or "My brain moves at 100 miles a minute and you want me to think of nothing?  That's not going to happen!"  Here's the deal - it's normal for you to have a lot of thoughts, even during meditation.  The goal is to take a step back, not get caught up in those thoughts or try to control them, but just observe without judgement.  And if all else fails, focus on your breathing - in and out, in and out, slow and smooth.  Trust me, give it a shot and let me know how you feel.  What do you have to lose??  I think you'll come out of it feeling much more relaxed and at peace, ready to take on whatever the day has in store for you!

Have you ever tried meditation, and if so, what are the benefits you've seen from it?  Let me know if you're participating in the Oprah/Deepak challenge next week - I will be!  Please share in the comments. 

Have a great week! :)

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