Managing Stress Through Meditation

Woman sat on beach in early morning facing calm sea mediating
Image credit: photo by Mor Shani on Unsplash.

Did you know that New Yorkers, and by extension, Long Islanders, are the second most stressed-out inhabitants of the U.S.? The least affordable housing and the highest population density, along with some extreme work hours, make us all a little bit edgier than most of our compatriots. Doesn't just reading that introduction sound stressful?

Another Way That Can Lead You To A Less Stressed, More Focused, More joyful Life

You might have already heard of it: meditation. It’s not just for Indian gurus anymore! Many high profile people, including Ophrah, Russell Simmons, Congressman Tim Ryan, and Ray Dalio (CEO of Bridgewater Associates, largest hedge fund in the world) use it to help them balance the craziness of their days.

Why?

  • Because meditation is like strength training for the brain.
  • With time and practice, meditation helps distinguish which thoughts are important and those that are less so.
  • Furthermore, meditation helps throughout the rest of the day, allowing us to have our emotional needs met while staying on-purpose and resisting sabotage.

Sounds great, right? In a separate article, we discussed some easy ways to make meditation a habit. In this article, we’re going to go a little bit deeper and talk about various meditation practices.

About Active Meditation And Contemplative, Observational Meditation

There are many different methods to meditating. We can divide them into:

  • Active meditation: that seek to change the breath, the thoughts, or the flow, and ...
  • Contemplative or observational mediation: that simply notice thoughts and allow them to be.

For those of us just starting out, I’ll highlight just a few of them and give a brief exercise.

  1. For all of these, find a comfortable, quiet space.
  2. Sit in a position that is comfortable for you (as long as your back is comfortably upright), and ...
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Meditate.
  5. Come out of the meditation slowly and with gratitude.
  6. Know that this time is your gift to yourself.

Popular Contemplative Meditation Methods

Let's explore several types of meditation below.

Mindfulness:

Is one of the most popular forms of meditation. In mindfulness, we simply sit and notice our thoughts, allowing each one to pass in and out, like clouds drifting across a clear blue sky.

If you’d like to try mindfulness meditation, start with five minutes, and give yourself permission to let go of each thought during that time. Simply notice a thought, and then release it.

Transcendental Or Mantra Meditation

Though not technically the same, both of these techniques involve repeating a word or phrase like “Om”, or “love”, or even a slightly longer phrase like “The universe guides me and protects me”.

To try this kind of meditation, choose a phrase or word that speaks to you, and then simply repeat it within your mind. When it feels right, you can let go of the word or phrase and simply bask in the sweet silence.

Zazen Meditation

Zazen is the Zen Buddhist tradition of meditation, and the most austere of the traditions. It begins with perhaps a Zen Koan, a phrase that should allow the mind to let go. It can be a little difficult for beginners, but is worth noting.

To try Zazen meditation, choose one of these, and follow the overall meditation instructions. Posture is especially important here.

Some Popular Active Meditation Methods

Below, we'll briefly explore two types of beneficial meditation approaches.

Creative Or Visualization Meditation

These method can be especially helpful for beginners. A good start is with an audio version, for obvious reasons.

Technically, guided meditations can be any type of meditation, however most are visualizations.

For example, they help you to imagine that you are in a green meadow, totally at peace, and this allows your body to truly relax. Wayne Dyer has some great ones, but there are literally thousands to choose from on I-Tunes or Amazon.

Heart-Centered Meditations

Brings warm energy to the heart center. This is especially helpful for emotional or mental healing, allowing more love into your life, and letting go of negative feelings towards others.

To experience this:

  1. Try bringing both hands in a prayer-like position to your heart.
  2. Focus on a warm, red, light on each breath inhalation.
  3. On your breathing exhalation, send this light throughout your body, and then out into the world, allowing it to heal others, too.
  4. After a few moments of this practice, or whatever feels right, rest with both hands over your heart.

Experiencing Meditation With Nassau Guidance & Counseling

Now that we’ve talked about some different techniques, I’ll let you in on a secret. Here it is:

  • The only real secret to meditation is that you have to practice it.

It can’t truly be understood by reading about the topic, imagined, or even discussed. It can only be experienced. To start meditating, you must actually meditate.

Also, there is no right or wrong to meditation. Whatever happens in meditation simply is.

Knowing all of this, we can also offer ourselves, Nassau Guidance & Counseling, as a resource.

We are experienced in meditation practices ourselves, and moreover, know how to help with making it a habit. A trained therapist can help further the work done during meditation, as well as work on the thoughts and needs that arise throughout the day.

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Would Meditation Help?

There are many ways to meditate. I've listed a few types below, as well as an exercise for each.