22 Mar Soothe Stress 3: Meditation
Your mind’s job is to produce thoughts and it does this constantly. Meditation seeks to quiet the mind, to give the mind a rest from its constant chatter… yes, everyone knows, there’s a lot going on up there! The aim of meditation is to release all thoughts and enter the mind into a quiet state of consciousness. When you can quiet the mind, stress is reduced – you don’t have all those worrisome thoughts spinning around. To achieve a quiet mind, people who meditate try to focus all of their attention on one area – such as on their breathing or a simple mantra (a thought such as “Ommmm” or “soft belly” or even “in” when you inhale and “out” when you exhale).
If you want to try meditating, set a timer for ten minutes to begin. As you get more experienced with meditation, you may not need to use a timer, but many people feel it’s useful to set a timer so that they can focus on their mantra, rather than worrying about how much time has passed. Ten minutes is a good place to start but really, if you think you can only do five, start there… the best meditation is the one that you actually do, so if five gets you going, that’s great!
When you are ready, sit comfortably either cross-legged on the floor or in a supportive chair. You can try meditating lying down but many people fall asleep, which is not the same as meditating! Close your eyes. Focus on your breathing and simply allow your mind to go quiet, only focusing on your mantra or your breathing. It is fine to observe the thoughts that enter your mind, but the goal is simply to allow them to occur without judgment while seeking to maintain your focus on your breathing or mantra.
Your mind can be like a puppy you are trying to teach to sit. You may focus on your mantra for a few breaths and then your mind may wander away, like a puppy wandering off. Just as you would bring the puppy back to sit, bring your mind back to its mantra. Sure enough your “puppy” mind will wander off again forgetting its job to “sit” still, but that’s okay and perfectly natural. Just bring your mind back to its mantra over and over again.
Some practitioners have spent months and months to achieve a desired state of a quiet mind. Meditation is not easy for some – the mind’s will (desire) to produce thoughts and judgments is strong, especially in the teen mind! Patience, forgiveness and the right practice will help;-)
DID YOU KNOW? Benefits of meditation include (but are not limited to): decreased anxiety, decreased test anxiety, decreased depression, improved attention, improved social skills and improved self-control. (http://www.edutopia.org/stw-student-stress-meditation-schools-research).
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