I’m sure you have heard that if you feel weighed down by your stress that you should just take a breather, unwind, and perhaps even meditate. Does meditation really help relieve your stress levels? Let me share my experiences and thoughts with you, and you can then decide whether it’s good to use meditation for stress or not.
Before I fully understood meditation and what it was really used for, I had many misconceived ideas and opinions about it. One of the first thoughts that would come to my mind was that of a monk, and closely following, was that it was connected with certain religions. Some other thoughts I also had was that you had to completely clear your mind and go into some kind of trance (which I thought was a bit freaky). I thought meditation was a very difficult thing to do, because you need to completely quiet your mind. I thought that when you are meditating, you would feel some special kind of energy (like a magic energy source).
As time went by, I gradually learned a bit more.
Perhaps you have had similar thoughts or opinions, or there might be some other things about meditation that confuses you, so let me break it down for you.
What it’s not:
Meditation is not about turning off your thoughts, or forcing yourself to become someone you aren’t. It’s not about ignoring your feelings or your stress. Meditation doesn’t necessarily make you a different, or even, a better person.
It is not some kind of hippy practice, as many people also tend to think. Whereas some religions do practice meditation, it doesn’t mean that it is solely for the religious folk or for monks.
You also don’t need to burn all kinds of incense, or do various hand or body gestures during meditation. You don’t even necessarily have to sit on the floor with your legs crossed.
What it is:
Meditation is a way of training and exploring your mind with different techniques, just as you would train your body with physical exercise. It helps you strengthen awareness of your mind, body, your surroundings or environment, and emotions. Meditation is a step to acknowledge, understand and enhance your perspectives and sense of being, and embraces your inner-being with your higher-self (whatever that may mean to you).
During meditation, instead of blocking your thoughts or feelings, you rather learn to observe them without any judgment – simply letting them be. Through observing and acknowledging these thoughts or emotions, you come to understand them better, which leads to handling them better in everyday life.
You tend to feel a sense of calm and serenity when you meditate, which allows the body and mind to recharge on a completely different level as opposed to sleep. It helps you find what truly resonates and aligns with your inner-most self. This happens on a completely different level to our conscious mind, so in essence it allows you to be more creative and more productive.
Different techniques in meditation trains your mind in different ways in order to reach awareness and to train your attention. This is why it is a good practice for relieving stress.
You can put your own meaning into what meditation means/does for you, whether it be to connect with your higher-self, with the universe, God, nature, other people, your mind or your body. In essence meditation allows you to be present and grounded, it allows you to embrace the here and now, which we so often forget in our hectic schedules.
Who is meditation for?
Meditation has no age, gender, race, religious or lifestyle restrictions. There may be some practices that are solely for religious purposes, but a basic meditation practice can be applied by anyone.
It is also particularly helpful for those who have stress, anxiety, depression, and phobias. If you are struggling to cope with life’s little or big pressures, then meditation is for you.
A personal journey of meditation
So, what got me into meditation? Like I said before, I had some unease towards meditation at first, it just didn’t sit right with me. However, as time passed by, something inside me realized more and more that I needed to give it a go. And as I learned more about it, I came to understand and see the benefits that it could have in my life.
The very first time that I was physically exposed to meditation was after I had a major break down. I had suffered from anxiety and depression, and had many episodes of anxiety attacks. Finally, it got too much to handle and I was in and out of hospital. I finally decided, with guidance from my loved ones, that I needed to get help and treatment.
At the treatment facility, I was involved in a 4-week program, and it was during this time that I was introduced to meditation. During my time at the facility we didn’t do a lot of meditation (it was more mindfulness), but this is how I started to see that the practice could help me relieve stress and anxiety.
When I left the facility, I tried for several months to do some kind of meditation by using various apps, and I even tried it by myself as well. But I still did not fully understand how to go about it, and what it really was.
It was only until I found a meditation program by Emily Fletcher called “Ziva” that it all became clear to me. I had finally found something that aligned with me and that helped me really understand what meditation is, and how beneficial it can be. Emily takes you through the steps of starting meditation, and her program is specifically designed for people who tend to stress a lot.
I am so thankful for this program because it has not only helped me to manage my stress and anxiety levels, but it has helped me become even more productive and creative. This is now a daily practice that I carry out, and will continue to carry with me for my days to come. It has made me happier, healthier, more focused, and just brighter in general.
Utilizing meditation to reduce stress levels
Stress can be a very big burden to carry (especially when it starts to evolve into chronic stress). Everyone goes through stress, it is a natural reaction to life. Your brain cannot help but induce this because it tries to protect you. But if we do not manage our stress levels it can heighten our state of worry and lead to anxiety which becomes unhealthy for us.
Using meditation is a way to relieve these stress levels, and manage them effectively. This specific style of meditation (Ziva) can help you stress less. I am not saying that the meditation takes your stress away completely, nor am I saying that it’s an easy process to go through. The guidance that Emily gives and the mentoring she provides, helps you to easily understand meditation and its benefits, and guides you to practicing it on your own. There may be times that past stress, anxiety and trauma may resurface, but once you face these during the meditation, it leaves you for good. Emily guides you through this process as well, so it makes it easier to understand, accept, confront and overcome.
She also has the book “Stress Less, Accomplish More” which is a really helpful read to go through while starting your meditation practice, or if you just want to learn more.
Is meditation worth trying?
It is your choice whether to give meditation a go or not, whether you see the benefits or not. I will say one thing though, after having so much skepticism around meditation, I do not regret, even for a second, starting this practice. It has completely transformed the way I live my day-to-day life. Meditation is a non-negotiable practice for me now, and the positive results in my life have been great.
Take a few minutes to yourself, if you feel that you want to stress less, or be able to cope with life’s challenges, then meditation is definitely worth trying.
If you have any further questions about meditation, or about my experience in overcoming anxiety and depression, please let me know below. I would be happy to share my insight and journey with you.