Can meditation help with stress?
The short answer is YES.
10 benefits of meditation
- Reduces effects of stress
- Calms the mind
- Helps to focus the mind to be more productive
- Improves brain function
- Lowers blood pressure
- Relaxes the nervous system
- Improves the function of the nervous system
- Lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol
- Leads to healthier habits
- Assists spiritual growth
The benefits of meditation are backed by extensive scientific research over thousands of years, dating back to the study and teachings of the ancient Yogis in the Himalayas and continues to be researched today.
How to begin meditation
Meditation is about bringing stillness to your mind, this will then flow onto your life and eventually radiate out to those around you. We can’t change others, we can only change our own perspectives, one small step at a time. When we begin to feel calmer inside, the energy we project outward changes and we begin to notice that this has a ripple affect on others.
You don’t need any special equipment to get started, just a quiet place and 5 or 10 minutes, where you can be uninterrupted. If you can’t find this amount of time, even 2 minutes is a good way to start cultivating a beneficial lifelong habit.
Find a place which is quiet, soft lighting is ideal and some fresh air if possible. Sit comfortably either in a chair, on the floor or on a cushion. Sitting with a straight spine, close the eyes and relax the body, starting at the head and working your way down to the feet. Relaxing each part of your body.
The goal in meditation is to bring your attention inwards, letting go of what is going on around you, for a time. The best way to slow down the endless thoughts in the mind is to focus on the flow of your breath. Without trying to change it, observe the quality of your breath without judgement. Meditation is nothing more than giving the mind something to focus on.
Counting the breath is a simple technique – count from 1 – 5 and 5 -1 with each inhale and exhale. Or you may like to focus on the feeling of the breath going in and out of your nostrils. Focus the attention on the point just below the tip of the nose, the Nasagra point (in Sanskrit). Feel the flow of air at this point.
Alternatively you may like to adopt a focused gaze. Perhaps a candle flame, or a a picture you find beautiful, or visualise a serene setting in your mind. Developing a concentrated intention with your gaze is known as Dristi.
Meditation is the practice of the fifth limb of yoga, pratyahara which means sense withdrawal, as well as the sixth limb dharana relating to concentration.
Meditation is concentration, without force and without judgement. There is no right or wrong way. Learn to witness the thinking process, but do not identify with the thoughts, become the observer of your mind. This will give you access to the unconscious mind.
As you integrate this simple practice into your days, you will begin to notice the subtle changes. As you acquire the habit of witnessing the thought patterns, you directly experience the thoughts as an observer and come to know the true nature of your own mind.
Want to know more about meditation and stress?
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