Monthly Archives: March 2017

Meditation – How To Combat Stress With Emptiness

Even with all the screen time meditation has enjoyed on the big screen these days, a huge number of people in general are still skeptical about what it can do.

And even today, a huge number of people who meditate still get ridiculed by their peers. Painting them in the picture of gurus sitting on flying carpets.

While all these are just fun and just a little social banter, meditation is really starting to get the respect it deserves in the modern world. And more and more people are starting to believe that the world is not all made up of tangible matter, but also all-connected by intangible forces that science is too young to understand.

The universe exist as one.

The overwhelming odds are that you have attempted to mediate at some point in life even if you have always been a fierce nonbeliever.

You might not be aware of it. But in the past when you have managed to consciously calm your mind, narrow your focus, and block out all the “noise” as if they don’t exist, you are definitely doing something resembling meditation.

How did meditation come about?

Meditation has been in practice for thousands of years. And because we often see them being practiced by kung-fu masters for inner peace, monks for enlightenment, spiritual leaders for zen and metaphysical practitioners for divine intervention, it is somehow inscribed into our minds that it originate from the East.

The accuracy of it’s origin is up to debate.

But as the decades went by, and as more and more Asian culture get exposure in the western world, meditation is slowly getting widespread acceptance. And still growing.

What can meditation do for you?

On the surface, meditation will help you calm your mind and relax you body. This is pretty much enough positives for someone trying to manage the excessive stress modern society has put on our shoulders.

But there is even more substance in it below the surface.

New-age philosophy has put meditation right at the forefront of happiness.

It is now generally acknowledged as one of the corner stones of inner peace, gratification, contentment, consciousness and sub-consciousness, etc. And this is without mentioning various religions that are throwing their weight at it.

With practice, meditation is known to dissipate stress, promote a tenseless mind, relax muscles, that effectively results in you feeling rejuvenated, rested, and reinvigorated.

How difficult is it to meditate?

It might seem like meditating is just sitting down and closing you eyes. But surely you cannot imagine that it is as easy as this.

This is because the work that is done is… in your head.

Most people should have little problem with maintaining a clear mind for a few seconds. But it can astound you to learn that about 98% of people generally cannot focus on “emptiness” for as much as 30 seconds!

This means that the real challenge, the part where almost everybody fails, is sustaining such a mental state of Nothingness for an extended period of time.

  • This can be tough in the modern digitized world where:
  • You get an instant message ever other minute
  • You favorite drama is showing on prime time in 15 minutes
  • The mega annual sale on Amazon kicks-off in 20 minutes
  • etc

However these distractions should not discourage you. Practice makes perfect. You’ll never get to a higher level unless you start with the first step.

If you stick with it, you could soon experience positive results faster than you expect.

Who know… you could be a natural a it.

Preparation

  1. Find a quiet place that you feel comfortable with
  2. Put your mobile devices in silent mode and leave them in another room
  3. Get in a comfortable sitting position (using a chair is optional)
  4. Focus on a though, word, sound, object, or just emptiness
  5. Maintain the focus and embrace it

Start with a few minutes and slowly progress towards as much as 30 minutes. If you are able to do this for 30 minutes, you are ready for more advanced levels of meditation (which is not discussed here).

To double up on your fight against anxiety, incorporate breathing exercises like breath-counting while you meditate.

The mantra method

A mantra is a word that is repeated perpetually. This word can sometimes take the form of a sound. Applying a mantra into meditation helps you focus better and block out distractions.

The mantra method of mediating is made popular by the countless clips in movies and online of Buddhist monks praying or meditating while mumbling their mantras with their lips.

Here how to adopt it.

  1. Find a quiet spot in the house
  2. Sit on either the floor or a chair
  3. Start doing deep breathing exercises while emptying your mind
  4. Without moving, feel your body and identify areas experiencing tension
  5. Focus on breathing and begin repeating or chanting your mantra
  6. Make use of timing and rhythm for smoother execution

I personally find that it works better when the chanting is not done silently in your head. Do it with a soft volume while moving your lips.

Medication cheats

I get it. We all live busy lives centered around work and other commitments. And just when we get home thinking that it’s time to relax, the responsibilities of being a parent might just tip the stress scale into overload.

Granted. You might not be able to set aside 30 minutes each day solely for meditation.

But remember that doing a little of it is better than not at all. You can always squeeze it in somewhere even if it’s not the ideal manner to do it.

  • In the subway
  • On the bus
  • On the cab
  • A minute in the car after you’ve parked
  • In the hair salon
  • A minute at the table after you’ve finished lunch
  • etc

The truth is that there are many ways and opportunities to meditate within each day. If you live a stressful lifestyle, these mini-breaks might just make a huge difference to how well you keep stress in check.

6 Ways To Tackle Your Tendency To Worry

Everybody worries about something at one point or another. It’s just part of being human.

But if worrying gets too frequent and too intense, it can lead to bigger problems in the long run.

Or even worse… worrying becomes an addiction…

In fact, I’ve just reviewed my day and here’s a list of some of the things I had worried about:

  • I’m running out of bananas and might be left with none tomorrow
  • I checked my email late in the afternoon and wondered if there was anything important sitting in my inbox
  • Dinner was not appetizing and I was scared that my stomach might howl for food later at night
  • I had to wait in the for exceptionally long and was afraid that I was going to miss my favorite TV show

While these worries might seem insignificant, I am aware that people facing stress and anxiety conditions could worry about things much much bigger than I did. And they could be logical issues or radical thoughts.

Here are some simple ways to relief stress and distract yourself from worrying too much.

1) Worry another day

As outrageous as it sounds, you have the power to decide to worry another day. Schedule them for another time slot. You have other things to do anyway.

While the very reasons you are worrying could be something serious like financial concerns, do understand that worrying at 4am in the morning is not going to make any difference to your life.

The odds of a solution popping into your mind when your body is craving for sleep is very small compared to in the day when your body is awake and mind alert.

Set aside a time like tomorrow afternoon from 3pm to 4pm to worry about whatever you intend to worry about.

It’s more productive this way. And you don’t suffer from extra stress you can do without.

2) Exaggerate your worries

If you blow up your worries, you could see the funny side of how ridiculous you are being to yourself.

For example, if you are meeting the parents of your girlfriend tomorrow and afraid of giving a bad account of yourself, humor yourself a little.

Maybe they could find you hilarious and obnoxiously lovable. What’s the worst that could happen?

If you think about the worse that could possibly happen, maybe the stuff you are worrying about is not that scary after all.

3) Listen to music and sing along

This is more of a distraction technique.

Music can be like a magic potion for emotions. It can trigger feelings like happiness, loneliness, sadness, etc.

I myself have a song that gets my adrenaline pumping each time I need motivation. And then there is also a song that makes me tear up by reminding me of a past relationship.

Yet I always forget about music therapy whenever I feel down and out. This is even though I know the positive effects the right song can give me.

Identify you most relaxing songs that strike a chord with you. Keep them on your smart phone. And organize them in a playlist and play them whenever you worry.

While this might only be a temporary stop-gap. It might actually be enough to swing your mind towards something else that you have no worries with.

4) Find nature

Mother nature has it all figured out. She gave us the ocean, rain forests, mountains, and puppies to make us feel the goodness of life.

Then we came along and construct skyscrapers and highways to stress ourselves.

Being with nature is one of the best ways to relax and calm down.

Go to a park. Go on a hiking trail. Go watch and listen to the waves at the nearest beach. Or visit the animal shelter to play with cats and dogs. You might even want to adopt one while you are at it.

When tough times find you, you find nature.

5) Aromatherapy

If you have yet to give aromatherapy a try, you are missing out big time!

The scent of essential oils is just… heavenly.

You don’t even need a burner or a diffuser to pamper you nose with these natural oils. Many of them are harmless to the skin. Dab a drop or two on your wrist and you are set.

Be mindful that some oils can harm the skin. So do ask a salesperson before buying a scent you fancy.

Aromatherapy is not limited to essential oils too. You can try things that give out aroma like:

  • Cookies
  • Apples
  • Soap
  • Coffee
  • etc

You won’t know how well your body responds to these scents until you try them.

6) Candles

There is just something about flickering flames that calms the mind. Maybe science will be able to decipher this miraculous connection in the near future.

Line them up in the bathroom while you sink yourself into the bath tub. Or place them strategically in the living room while you listen to relaxing music.

Before you know it, you would have a much clearer mind… and even think about the moment of creation…

Just be mindful of fire hazards when playing with fire. You are an adult after all. And a fire is just going to give you something extra to worry about.