Meditation For Stress Management
By Ray Goslin
This article is about using meditation for stress, and how it can make a significant improvement to your life overall. First we need to define what stress does to us.
When we’re under stress, our subconscious mind perceives some sort of danger going on, because the systems are being overloaded, you’re not coping with things in your work life or things in your personal life. You feel this tension in the body.
Your subconscious perceives danger, either real or perceived. When it’s perceived danger, this is what creates anxiety. Real danger we certainly need to deal with that in a real manner. What happens is your subconscious mind sets off the fight and flight response.
During this fight and flight response chemicals start coursing through the body. They’re cortisol. We’ve got adrenal fluid. Lactic acid starts building up. That’s the tension you feel in the muscles, what causes pain and stiffness in the muscles with that lactic acid. Cortisol is there to suppress pain. The adrenal fluid is there to get moving.
If we look at it in a more primitive state, back long before our time, if we were confronted with some sort of danger a wild animal or whatever, and we needed to either fight or run away. These chemicals served us well. After we go through the event, these chemicals disperse because we don’t want these chemicals in our systems because cortisol suppresses the immune system and adrenal fluid wears out your joints.
What do we do in modern life? We can’t run away from what’s going on. We can’t start fighting people. This is where meditation has the same effect as going through the event. Because what it does when you start relaxing in the mind, deep relaxation in the mind through meditation, because we’re spending too much time in our analytical mind over time. It can only implement what it has there to implement. It just gets overloaded. When you sit and meditate, you start, and you bring the left and right hemispheres together, your conscious mind and your unconscious mind. Your unconscious mind is the creative part of you.
It brings the two hemispheres together. It induces the relaxation response. During the relaxation response, the two minds of conscious and unconscious can meld into one. The unconscious mind, which is your creative mind has better resources for you. It can transfer these resources over into the conscious mind so that it has better tools, more things to implement to better cope.
What this does, it creates a more flexible mind. Instead of the line being straight between your ideal life and the stress, it actually creates a flexible mind. It puts more distance between these two points. It pushes stress further into the background.
How do we achieve this? The conscious mind is analytical, it’s has that chattering mind that just wants to get on with things.
Trying to force our way through it is not the answer. The best way to do this is with a single point of focus. Two of the most common things that are used in meditation are either to focus on your breathing, or focus on a phrase or a mantra as they call it. If you just keep repeating the words, “Calm and relaxed.” The chattering mind can’t be bothered with all this mundane process. It allows you go into a deeper state of relaxation. As you go into this relaxed state, all these chemicals that we don’t need any more that suppress our immune system, wear out our joints, just start to dissolve away.
Lactic acid reduces, and the muscles start to relax, and ease back into a state where they just function better. Now what you’re going to notice as you just sit in a quiet space, close your eyes and relax as you focus on the breathing becomes slower and deeper. Deep diaphragmatic breathing. Because, you know, when you’re stressed or if you feel anxious, you feel that short, tight breathing in the chest. We need deep diaphragmatic breathing. What happens as you’re trying to focus on this one thing, the chattering mind will put thoughts… it will bring thoughts back to you. You won’t even notice it at first. Then all of the sudden, you’ll realize that you’ve drifted away from your single point of focus.
You worry about it, you just bring yourself back to your point of focus. As you do this on a daily basis, you train your mind to let it know that it can relax. It knows how to relax to better cope with things. As you do this each day, those thoughts will just dissolve away and bother you less. You are going to notice subtle, but also very profound changes start happening. What are the things we’re going to expect?
Here’s what you can expect when you start meditating regularly. You bring about whole-brain function. You’re conscious and unconscious mind working together to give you better resources. A better tool box, if you like. When you’re sitting in a state of meditation, it induces deep relaxation, while being wide awake and alert. You have alpha brainwaves and delta brainwaves acting at the same time. Your alpha brainwaves are when you’re wide awake and alert. Your delta brainwaves are when you’re in a deep sleep. These two brainwaves working together is what induces this deep, peaceful state. Everybody’s had this feeling naturally, when you go into a daydream.
Daydreaming is like an involuntary form of meditation, if you like. You’re highly alert, but feeling so relaxed. It’s because you’re in the moment. It’s what’s known as what they call “being”. You’re being in the moment with that one thing, that one point of focus. Your breathing on those relaxing words that you say. Also you’re going to increase your oxygen consumption. It becomes more efficient because all the systems start slowing down. Your breathing becomes slower and deeper. When you breathe slow and deep down into the diaphragm, it also has a massaging effect on the organs, which also helps to reduce stress symptoms.
It’s going to lower your anxiety levels. Get rid of tension in the body because of the reduction of lactic acid. All the muscles can return to normal. Then you can relax because you’re breathing slowly and deeply. It will also have the effect of normalizing your blood pressure. Because, just remember, this is affecting all the systems in the body. It’s also going to give you a more positive outlook on life.
You’re going to notice an increase in your energy levels. Mental alertness increases so you’re able to cope for longer periods of time. You’re actually going to become more value to yourself and everyone else in your life.
You think and act more creatively because you’ve got whole-brain functioning. Your unconscious mind, that creative part of you, is able to transfer those more creative aspects of you into your conscious mind. You’re going to notice improved sleep.
The effects remain subtle, but very profound. You will be more tolerant, have a greater capacity to cope. What this overall effect is, tt allow you to turn problems into solutions
Make it a part of your life every day. Start with ten minutes. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and relax. Breathe and focus on those words, Calm and relaxed, repeat them over and over. Your mind then associates those words and deep breathing with being relaxed.
When you’re relaxed, stress can exist. When you’re stressed, relaxation can’t exist. Because they don’t belong in the same place.
Start meditating today.
Copyright 2015 Ray Goslin