Stress

We are very busy. We value hard work and productivity. We value living a full, healthy and satisfying life, marked by successes and achieving milestones. We strive for advancing our careers, improving our incomes, acquiring high-quality products, and finding and maintaining fulfilling relationships. In short, we often seek: Better, faster, more. 

Why do we seek these things? Because we sincerely believe that acquiring these things will lead us to greater happiness for both ourselves and the people we love. 

Yet the demands on our lives can be so stressful that our noble pursuits can cause distress, decreased performance and even illness. And all of these can have the opposite result for our lives by causing suffering and unhappiness to both us and those we love.

Recent reports highlight the problems associated with excessive stress:

  • Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Over 75% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
  • Stress can cause or exacerbate: headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, anxiety, and other conditions and diseases.
  • Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
  • Half of emotional disorders are due to chronic, untreated stress.

So, what can we do about it? 

We could change our pursuits. Live as monks or nuns out in the desert or in some isolated forest. We could, but that’s not likely for most of us. So, the alternative is to learn how to manage and reduce stress. 

Mindfulness practices trains our minds and bodies to respond to stress inducers in a more productive and healthy manner. These practices, skills and techniques also lead to:

  • Reduction of stress
  • Increase focus, concentration and clarity
  • Freedom from harmful patterns of thought and emotion
  • Increase learning capacity and memory
  • Enhance well-being and peacefulness
  • Improve health and slowed aging
  • Deeper connections with yourself and those around you

All of these results ultimately make you feel better, live a more healthy life and lead to greater happiness. 

Typical 5 or 10 minute session:

  •     Find a comfortable position, sitting in a chair.
  •     Feet firmly on the floor. 
  •     Take your shoes off if you’d like
  •     Back supported by the chair or cushion 
  •     Arms loose, hands palm down on your thighs  
  •     The main thing is that you are comfortable 
  •     Allow your eyes to close 
  •     Notice how your body feels
  •     Notice the weight of your body
  •     Its position
  •     Your legs uncrossed
  •     Your back supported
  •     Feel the sensations of your body
  •     Not changing anything, just noticing yourself
  •     Just as you are
  •     You might be having other thoughts
  •     That is normal and what your mind does
  •     This is fine
  •     Let the thoughts pass through your mind
  •     Becoming mindful is not about emptying your mind
  •     Becoming mindful is about becoming aware
  •     Take three deep breathes, slowly
  •     Now breathe normally
  •     Take normal breathes 
  •     If your breath is shallow
  •     Give a gentile smile to your breath
  •     If your breath is deep and slow
  •     Smile at it, too
  •     When you breath in, know you are breathing in
  •     Say, “breathing in” with your in breath
  •     And say, “breathing out,” with your out breath
  •     Stay here for a moment
  •     Aware of your breath
  •     When thoughts come, smile
  •     Breathing in, I know I am breathing in
  •     Breathing out, I know I am breathing out
  •     Notice the rhythmic rise and fall of your chest
  •     Notice your stomach
  •     Allow your stomach to soften
  •     Let your focus expand
  •     Let your shoulder drop
  •     Soften your jaw
  •     Become aware of your legs
  •     Noticing sensations of relaxation
  •     A thought drifts by
  •     Come back to your breathe 
  •     Breathing in, I know I am breathing in
  •     Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out
  •     Expand your awareness to your body
  •     From the top of your head
  •     To the tips of your feet
  •     When you are ready
  •     Move your toes and fingers

That's it. You are done. You should be pleased with yourself! You are becoming more mindful. More aware.