Does Meditation Reduce Stress? | Shifting Into The Calm Zone
It’s always stressful to think of a good opening to a blog post. Sometimes I just write my thoughts like this to clear my mind. Other times, I turn to meditation, for a beautiful opening and also a few other problems.
It seems that two of my previous post that touches on mindfulness meditation has received a better response on social media. But does meditation reduce stress, or is it just a modern hype that popularizes this ancient mind-calming technique?
I normally get pretty tensed after a cup of coffee or tea in this case. (After crossing the magical age of 30, I became sensitive to caffeine). I just had one and in this state, I got an increased heartbeat and my thoughts would go all over the places. On a bad day, I would be depressed until the caffeine is out of my system.
Or I could try relaxing my mind.
By Doing This 4 Steps
Here’s what I want you to do
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe normally and mentally count every single breath.
- Stop at 20 counts.
- Open your eyes.
Do you feel the thoughts in your mind slowing down, towards the end of the counts? Do you feel the tendency for your mind to stray off to other subjects? Are you feeling more relaxed when you open your eyes?
Mindfulness practice has been a growing trend among therapist. If you really want to know what is mindfulness, check out this article here on SpiralRevolutions.
I’m not too good in giving definitions. But what you just did with the breath counting is mindfulness itself. You are living in the present. You are not thinking about other thoughts like “Are My Problems Going To Disappear After Meditating?”
But Is this meditation? Well, with such short and simple instruction, I would say this is rather a mind relaxation technique. ( although there is a similar form of meditation).
I can count that you are still with me if you are reading this very line. ( some people do get drowsy in meditation, especially after a heavy meal).
Has Stress Been Denying You A Good Night Of Sleep?
I think each of us has our own stress threshold. I would call it mental capacity. It’s about how much stress you can take until you have a nervous breakdown or shrink into denial.
I must say I cope pretty well with work and business challenges. But when it comes to relationships or parenting, I get stressed up easily. What’s your dominant stressor? Stress when exceeding its healthy limit could wreak havoc in your life, giving you physical and mental health problems.
Insomnia is one often associated with stress.
Do you sometimes close your eyes hoping for sleep to come, only to have your mind actively rehashing your daily problems and your worries for tomorrow? Or do you woke up a few times during midnight, and felt like you’ve never rested in the morning?
Not all insomnia or sleep problems is due to stress, but unmanaged stress could lead to insomnia, according to this article in sleepfoundation.org.
Mindfulness Meditation Can Reduce Stress…BUT
But you have to do it the right way and with constant practice. You can’t expect to learn meditation today and expect your life to be less stressful tomorrow.
If you asked me when would your stress be reduced? I will ask you to look at it in a different way. Change your perspective. Think meditation like a lifestyle. Or a process. It’s just like working out in a gym.
Do you build muscles immediately after a few days of workout? Does your stamina increases after a few session on the treadmill? And maybe the most important question is what happened to your health after you stopped working out?
Same applies to meditation. You are building your brain muscles here. Your focus, willpower, and your ability to be present and free from distractive thoughts. Don’t expect overnight results. In fact, the expectation itself could have prevented you from meditation progress.
Dr. Alice G. Walton, whose post featured in Forbes, said: “If there’s one mental practice that’s stood the test of time – and rigorous laboratory tests – it’s meditation“. If you are interested in further references by other experts, do check out her article.
Into The Calm Zone Of Mindfulness
I want to draw you back to the simple exercise of breathing just now. I will try to give you a good analogy of how mindfulness meditation or practice will reduce your stress.
When you focus on counting your breath, your mind is on the counting alone. You do not think about, “Should I breathe harder?“, “Am I doing this right?“, “Is my breathing normal?” or “What would people think when they see me doing this?”
You are in what I call your ‘Calm Zone“. The state of living and existing in the present moment.
Imagine your mind as a glass of water. In its normal state, you will have ripples. When it’s agitated, the ripples become waves. Only by stilling it, you are able to have peace and find great strength in your mind.
You are stressed when you think about your past (which you cannot change) or your problems (which you have yet to find a solution). At this state, you are either existing in the past or the future.
But your solution does not exist in the past or future, it exists in the present. In the here and now. I think it makes sense if I suggest bringing your wandering mind to the present when you are overwhelmed by problems?
Does it surprise you that people who always overcome their problems and became successful are those who take action? Because taking action is all about living in the present moment.
Let Mindfulness Be Your Lifestyle
People who don’t understand mindfulness meditation often give excuses like “But I have no time to meditate“, “I’m too old/young to do this mindfulness thing” or “I can’t find a good meditation guru”.
Having said that, I admit it’s hard to find a good meditation guru in urban cities. Sometimes you travel for 45 minutes to a meditation class that is so crowded. Especially in places when meditation session are held after working hours.
It’s hard to meditate when your physical body is already so tired after a long day of work plus the long drive to get to the class. (It may turn out to be a “sleepitation” instead).
But with internet and technology at our fingertips, we start our mindfulness meditation practice with online resources. There are good ones available, but I’ll leave that to your judgment.
In my last post, I suggested about checking out Master Your Mind, a meditation course for beginner spanning over 5 weeks. It’s a paid program (USD59), with lifelong access and money back guarantee.
But because I have seen positive reactions from readers on mindfulness meditation, I have created a beginner’s guide : Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple which you can download for FREE when you SUBSCRIBE for our updates.
What are your thoughts of mindfulness meditation? Have you ever tried meditation before? Does it reduce your stress? Share your thoughts in the comment section.