The world is moving faster and faster with the advent of new pursuits and new technology. It seems that most of us are trying to capture all experiences of life as quickly as possible. We start with growing up, school, job, marriage, babies and working all our lives until we literally drop dead!
We may be progressing in areas such as science and medicine but humanity is also progressing in awareness and consciousness of the spiritual world around it.
Out of this came the embrace of ancient spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, Eastern medical practices such as ayurveda and acupuncture. There are even practices where we can learn to control the mind without sole reliance on pharmaceuticals. This is called mindfulness or being mindful.
Mindfulness or living in the present may be an Eastern concept but it has been utilized by many all over the world. What is mindfulness? If you know Buddhism or picked up a guide for stress relief like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, you may have heard this frequently.
Essentially, mindfulness is the practise of literally living in the present and the now. It means you are not thinking about the past or the future happenings in your life. Many of the fears we have come from what is going to happen to us in the future and our negative thoughts arise from what has happened to us in the past. Unfortunately, all of us hold some belief that we are the product of our experiences. We forget that we are consciousness moving though the world.
With this basic knowledge, we can be mindful about what our mind is telling us about ourselves. Be mindful that we are our thoughts. Be mindful that we are an awareness and be mindful of how we react to certain situations. This will save us much pain and suffering associated with situations and people around us. This will also help lessen some strong reactions we are capable of.
In recent years, psychotherapists have used meditation techniques to help patients with depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, OCD, anxiety disorders and relationship conflicts. The Harvard Medical School’s Health Guide states that research studies have found that meditation and mindfulness can lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, alleviate gastrointestinal problems and even treat heart disease.
We will go through some techniques and you can try them to see what the results are like. These techniques are to be used as part of your everyday ritual in dealing with home and work. Please remember that all mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation and meditation need not be in a sitting position.
Meditation Techniques for stress relief
Basic mindful meditation
Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing. You may pick a chant or mantra such as the “Om Mani Padme Hum” which is the Jewel in the Lotus mantra. Use any other personal or religious mantras you may have. Thoughts will come as you meditate but allow it and try to return the focus to your breathing and mantra.
Notice what is happening to your body. There will be subtle sensations like itching and tingling while you are being mindful but let them pass without judgement. Notice your each part of body your step by step from toe to head.
This is hard as many sensory inputs will be happening while you are focusing. A sound may disturb you from outside or an ant might be crawling up your arms. Be aware of your sight, smell, sound and touch. Acknowledge the input and let them go without dwelling on them.
This may be the hardest thing to control in all of us as emotions take us through in each of our experiences. Allow your emotions to be present but without judgement to them. Acknowledge, and name your emotions such as “joy”, “anger”, “sadness” but let them go.
We live our lives daily in many “urges”. This can be food, smoking, drinking and behaviours. Acknowledge the craving without acting upon it. Notice how your body feels when you get the craving. Instead of wishing for the craving to go away believe it will subside eventually.
An informal way of practising mindfulness and staying in the present is focusing on full participation of our daily tasks. Proceed with the tasks slowly and with full deliberation whether you are in the shower, cooking or attending to your child. Go with the flow of things but engage fully into all the sensory aspects. Notice each sound, sight, touch and savour every sensation you are engaging in.
Whatever thought arises in your present moment, accept them. This involves being kind and forgiving to yourself but gently redirect any negative thoughts and repeat the process. When you miss a meditation or being mindful, just try again and don’t give up.
We wish you peace and happiness.