Reducing your Stress using Meditation – Simon Altman BHSc (acu)

Stress is something that impacts everyone at different levels.  We all have stresses in our lives and have personal ways to deal with stress.  Within the Chinese Medicine framework stress falls primarily under the Liver organ.

The Liver is responsible for making sure everything in the body flows smoothly without interruption.  When we have excess emotions or stress the Liver takes this on and it has an impact on our body in numerous ways.  People can get headaches or migraines, muscle cramps, dry eyes or blurry vision, it can impact how well we sleep, our hormone levels, blood pressure and can sometimes result in anxiety or depression in more severe cases.

Some people deal with stress through going to the gym, doing Yoga or a moving meditation like Tai Chi or Qi Gong.  Others have their own individual way to handle stress, it could be a glass of wine at the end of the day, or simply relaxing and watching a movie.  Another great way to deal with stress is through meditation.

People have been meditating for thousands of years and exploring the wide range of benefits daily meditation can have on your health.  Science is just catching up using solid research to prove the excellent health effects meditation has on the human body.  The simplest forms of meditation involve closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing for a short time.

Some of the benefits that have been discovered through regular meditation include:
•    Enhancing awareness and decreasing mental chatter.
•    Increasing focus and helping you stay on task.
•    Reducing stress, anxiety and worry.
•    Regulating your hormones and lowering blood pressure.
•    Improving your sleep and helping with immunity.
•    Improving breathing, circulation and energy levels.

Young girl meditating in the park

Don’t have time to meditate?   Find meditation too hard?  Here are some easy things you can do to encourage mindfulness and meditative practices.  Just remember that there isn’t one correct way to meditate.  A fantastic start could be something as simple as soon as you come home from work go for a walk around the block, to a nearby park or along the beach.  Whatever you have around you, take your pets along if that suits, it really does not matter as long as you start a regular practice.  As you walk try and clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing.  Forget about your day, enjoy your surroundings and simply focus on your breathing and observe your environment.

The introduction of smart phones has made learning to meditate easier than ever.  There are some fantastic app’s out there specifically for meditation.  Some recommended apps include the free “Smiling Mind” and “Insight Timer” or the subscription based “Headspace” app.

Smiling Mind is a non-profit organisation that has a goal to make mindfulness meditation accessible to everyone.  It includes specific programs catering for most developmental stages including ages 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, 16-18 and Adult.  It also includes specific meditations for workplaces, classrooms sport and short bite sized meditations.

Insight timer includes a meditation timer for people that meditate on their own and also thousands of totally free community based meditations. With the range of meditations within the app supplied by the Insight meditation community you are sure to find a meditation style and voice that suits.  This could take some time to find what is right for you, but for a free app it has amazing possibilities that allow you to simply plug in some headphones and listen to a short meditation.

Headspace is a paid subscription app specifically designed for mindfulness meditation.  It has a monthly subscription fee, but as with any paid app you are also getting quality meditations.  You can choose the length of time you have, listen to the meditation and off you go.  Headspace is particularly good for people with limited time as there are plenty of short 10-minute mindfulness meditations to keep you going.

When you start your meditation practice you only need a few minutes a day put aside to meditate.  As you get better you can increase this time.  Anywhere you can use your phone and can spare 10 minutes will allow you to run one of these applications, choose a short meditation, close your eyes, listen and simply focus on your breathing.  You know you won’t go too long and you can start with short meditations.  This is perfect for that quick lunch break meditation session if you are having a stressful day.  With time once you have surpassed the more guided mediations you can set a timer and continue with your own practices or begin to explore more advanced practices.

Even simple practices will help if you go to the Gym, decide to start Yoga or Tai Chi.  The important thing is to start straight away, find a short amount of time and experience the benefits meditations can offer.  Don’t wait or procrastinate for that perfect class, situation or guru.  If you have an eagerness to explore meditation start straight away!

It is easier to create a new habit if you do the activity at the same time each day and preferably in the same spot.  You might need to be flexible sometimes.  Doing it for 10 minutes when you get up in the morning is a great way to super charge your day.  Don’t worry too much about background noise at first, but some people prefer to find a quite space to practice meditation.

The main thing to remember is that regular meditation is like working a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it will become.  Try and practice some form of mindfulness each day as with daily practice you will begin to notice how your stress levels reduce along with the many other health benefits and positive changes that begin to manifest throughout your day.

Simon Altman is available for consult at Mornington Chinese Medicine on Monday, Friday and Saturday. For an appointment please call 59736886

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