Why Use Meditation Techniques?
In a stressful world, it’s easy to get caught up in some form of anxiety, be it over your everyday trip-ups, your job, your bills, or a combination of these. When you add spouses, children, events and errands to the list, you’ll often find little room left for focus on yourself, unless, of course, that time is specifically set aside for yourself.
During one of these rare occasions, one of the most powerful means in which you can get in touch with your inner peace, clarity, and contentment is through the power of meditation.
Stress. We all have it and it only seems to get worse with age. It surrounds you at home, at work, during your commute, before you get up to do a presentation in the office, as you prepare dinner, and even once your head hits the pillow each night. Luckily, the influx of anxiety you might experience is also accompanied by notable ways in which you can work to lessen it.
Almost all of the best proven methods for dealing with stress revolve around removing ourselves, mentally or physically, from an anxious situation and re-centring ourselves elsewhere. From meditation, to mindfulness, to tangible stress relief items upon which we can rely, there are numerous means of achieving relaxation even in the midst of your busy, stressful life.
What Is The Power Of Meditation?
Meditation is capable of sending you into a deep state of tranquillity and relaxation. Your attention becomes focused and previously cluttered thoughts are relieved. The results from this process include increased physical strength, improved mental clarity, and emotional well-being. When we can see these aspects of our lives improving, especially so suddenly, calmness prevails.
When meditating, your focus on your breathing becomes so intent, that your nervous system has no choice but to become calmed. Your immune system is naturally boosted and your alertness levels increase. Yogis, or those who practice yoga, have used breath control for centuries to improve vitality and promote concentration.
More on the actual brain science behind meditation later, but, when you are meditating, parietal lobe activity in the brain subsides. This portion of the brain is responsible for funnelling our senses so, when this process occurs, the lobe has no choice but to send sensory data deeper into the brain and slow other signals. It also has the power to reduce the incoming quantity of information to a slow trickle. Meditation has also been proven to increase focus and reduce pain.
Anxiety and stress are often the gateway to more serious situations such as depression. Meditation can impact your reaction to negative associations and insecurities. You can think of meditation as a form of strength training for your brain. In the same way that you might train with weights in a gym to be able to lift things with more efficiency in the future, meditation trains the brain to better react to negativity moving forward. By encouraging sustained focus, it motivates the brain to return to positive vibes when negative energy intrudes.
On a more scientific level, there are two areas of your brain that work together in an effort to cause depression. The mPFC zone is where you process your self-worth. It contains anxiety over the future, it dwells on situations from the past, and it contains all of the stress you may feel in relation to your everyday life.
The second centre is known as the amygdala, or centre for fear. It houses your “fight or flight” tendency. When the mPFC zone gets ramped up from stress and anxiety, the amygdala releases cortisol in heightened amounts in response to perceived danger. Ironically, the threat here is literally only your own thoughts. So, you truly become your own worst enemy. Fortunately, research has shown that meditation has the capability to interrupt this connection, which largely explains the alleviation of stress and anxiety as a result of meditation.
Meditation And Your Mindset
There are several zones to the brain. We are using just a few of them on a daily basis, while many other areas go unexplored, or we don’t experience them much, other than when we’re asleep. Ironically, it is the untapped areas that are responsible for our utmost peace, clarity, intuition, and increased spirituality. Fortunately, we have the power to tap into these zones with just a bit of practice and consistency.
There are several brain waves that you can tap into by meditating effectively:
Gamma State. This is where you actively learn and retain information.
Beta State. More of an auto-pilot, this state of mind is used most often throughout the day and is where you may practice analysis, categorizing, planning, etc.
Alpha State. This is a slower, more euphoric state associated with positive feelings. You may experience the alpha state of mind following a trip through nature, some time in the gym, a sexual encounter, etc.
Theta State. Likely to be perceived as a drowsier state, this is where meditation truly begins. Theta state is where we migrate from a planning, analytical, literal, worrisome mind to a heightened state of awareness and spirituality. Here, our intuition deepens and our imagination is amplified.
Delta state. Best reached by Tibetan monks in their meditative states, this is the highest, most alert state we can reach through meditation. For most of us, it is unintentionally reached during a deep sleep.
You can either meditate yourself in silence or use an audio guide to help you navigate the waves mentioned above. Your best opportunity for transition from the Beta state to the Alpha state is to focus on your breathing since slowing this will naturally slow the information being processed by that parietal lobe.
Find a comfortable place to sit and relax your spine while sitting tall. To reduce fidgeting and promote peace and stillness, place your hands intentionally on your lap. Keep your eyes closed to reduce distractions. Remain focused on your controlled breathing. Once the information slows and you have eliminated the influx of cluttered information that's typically racing through your mind, you are ready to guide yourself into the next state.
If struggling to get started on your own, mindset coaches are often trained to encourage self-care and healthy tactics. Seeking one can be extremely beneficial for your well-being.
How To Best Deal With Stress?
Intentionally sitting somewhere quiet, alone, and losing yourself in reflection is one of the most relaxing ways to alleviate stress. There are entire guides and audio books dedicated to navigating you to the ultimate time-out for stress and anxiety. Using one of these can truly maximise your experience, but you can meditate on your own in silence as well. Truly making the time to meditate is the entire missing puzzle piece for most of us. It’s that intentional, quiet time when you are able to achieve clarity that makes all the difference.
In most faiths, there is a general consensus that there is a being far greater than you could ever imagine. Often, you may feel like you bear the weight of the world on your shoulders, which translates to stress. The belief that we can offer this suffering up to a being that is better equipped to evaluate and guide you through it is often alleviation enough.
It’s no secret that exercising and burning calories results in the brain’s release of endorphins. Similar to what’s experienced when you eat something tasty, endorphins indicate pleasure, sending positive vibes and satisfaction through your veins.
Exercise is also typically performed in that same clear, mental time-out session shared with meditation.This is why you may experience your grandest ideas mid-jog.
If only there were some ideal way to combine meditation with exercise. Fortunately, there is. Yoga has long been the go-to for stress and anxiety relief for centuries. The mind-body practice is composed of physical poses, meditation, and relaxed breathing. It has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and lower your heart rate.
You are responsible for the vibes you are putting out into the world. Karma is real to the effect that you get what you give and what goes around comes around. If you think you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail. If you put positive vibes out into the universe, you will see success.
Sometimes stress is rooted in your attitude. You get so caught up in what you need to get done next that you forget how you are showing up in the moment. How are you facing today’s challenges? What sort of attitude are you giving to those you encounter? What could you do differently to reduce stress in your current situation?
Perhaps it’s the peaceful sound of Earth’s natural soundtrack, the absence of the hustle and bustle, the sun poking through the trees just enough to kiss your skin ever so slightly. Perhaps, it's a combination of all of these, but research suggests that getting out into nature is one of the best ways to relieve stress and anxiety.
When all else fails, take a break. When attempting to escape your surroundings and cluttered thoughts, not much more works better than physically going as far as possible away from your norm. The same goes for your routine. Nothing shakes your schedule up better than an all-inclusive tropical getaway or a secluded cabin in the middle of the snowy woods. Time away from your routine allows you to re-centre and focus on your actual priorities.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of having far too much on your plate and never knowing when to say “no”. If you're finding yourself unable to juggle what lies before you, speak up. When someone asks you to take on more, decline. Own your worth.
Self-care is pivotal to relieving stress and anxiety, and, fortunately, there are a plethora of health and wellness outlets that exist to ensure you receive such. From manicures, to pedicures, to a head-to-toe hot stone massage, enjoying time to yourself - where you are the centre of attention, and you're simply allowing time to focus on yourself is a great means of alleviating anxiety. From the soft music soundtrack, to the mental break, to the offer of some champagne, feeling your absolute best is the goal.
Speak Out About Your Stress And Anxieties
Seek Friends & Family
They say that the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. Your friends and family tend to know you best, and they’re most likely to provide a shoulder to lean on in more stressful times.
Family and friends are the most ideal set of ears for a vent session, and the most helpful of them will also provide you with the best advice to move forward. Schedule a night outside of your typical routine and hit the town with the people who want to listen the most.
When you feel most alone in your stress and as if no one cares or will listen to your concerns, seek a life coach or health coach.
Conveniently, in our digital era, most of these professionals are now available online for your ease. They are educated and trained to ensure that they can help you resolve your struggles, both internally and externally.
Life will continue to happen even once your anxiety is temporarily resolved, so remember to keep a positive mindset going. Put those vibes out into the universe and it has no choice but to deliver the same sort of vibes back. If for some reason it should not, thank goodness for mindset coaches and the options such as those referenced above to get you through difficult times.
Meditation And Mental Health
Meditation provides us with an unparalleled level of alone time that you truly cannot get anywhere else. It eliminates any and every distraction, every concerned friend, every gym partner, every spouse, every child’s question, and it leaves simply YOU.
You can sit alone on the couch and watch a movie, get a massage, or go shopping on your own, but none of these options will compare to the peace you will experience when meditating. As your brain processes, slow distractions are eliminated, and a heightened level of awareness is achieved. So much so, that you may find yourself discovering your deepest passions and forgetting those negative thoughts.