Q: How Do You Start A Meditation Program
A: It can be daunting to know how to help your teen begin a meditation program. Start with a simple two to five minutes of meditation. Here are some steps to follow:
- Have your teen close their eyes or softly gaze at their lap or straight ahead and pay attention to their breathing.
- The goal is to pull your teen out of their own head where the worrisome thoughts are and drop into her body. Have your teen simply pay attention to each breath as it comes and goes.
- Ask your teen to notice how their body is feeling and breathe through it. Let your teen know that if they are anxious, its just a feeling and it will pass.
- Encourage your teen to separate themselves from their emotions. Tell your child to pay attention to their chest and abdomen, how they contract and expand. Ask them to pay attention to how their breath feels on their nostrils, breathing in and out.
- Ask your teen to breathe without judgment and without trying to change the rhythm of their breath.
Meditation Is A Natural Stress Stabilizer
Stress is the bodys response to unforeseen adversities. Encountering immediate threats increase the level of cortisol, or stress hormone in the body, and activates the Autonomic Nervous system, which is responsible for fight-or-flight responses. Brain studies of regular meditators revealed that they have lower cortisol level in their brains, which explains their resilience and insightful nature.
Meditation Promotes Emotional Health And Well
Studies have shown that meditation improves self-image and self-worth. When we meditate, we get a clear picture of our mind and become aware of the thoughts that drive our emotions and actions at the moment.
A large-scale study found that regular meditation decreases the likelihood of developing depression and mood-related disorders . Besides some forms of meditative practices which also promoted positive thinking, as researchers stated, and could improve the overall emotional health of an individual.
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There Are Of Course Additional Anxiety Tools That Works
I know that two months can seem a little long if you are suffering from high levels of anxiety and truth be told, I dont always meditate myself because
well, honestly Im a bit lazy when it comes to meditating. I have done it enough in my life to see that it really works though and once I did it every day for 10 months. The effects really became noticeable for me after about 10 weeks of meditating. That said
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A List Of The Proven Physical Health Benefits
As a form of mental training, meditation improves core physical and psychological assets, including energy, motivation, and strength. Studies on the neurophysiological concomitants of meditation have proved that commitment to daily practice can bring promising changes for the mind and the body .
- Meditation improves physical health by boosting the immune functions, regulating hormonal discharge, and decreasing cellular inflammation.
- Some researchers found that long-term meditators had more disease-fighting chemicals in their body than non-meditators or beginners did.
- Gene studies showed that women who meditated were more fertile and delivered healthier babies than women who did not.
- Meditation stabilizes blood circulation in the body and regulates blood pressure, heartbeat, metabolism, and other essential biological functioning.
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Health Benefits Of Daily Meditation According To Science
If there is one thing common in all of us, it is the flaming urge to be happy and satisfied in life.
Whether a crying baby, an insecure teenager, or a responsible family person, we all seek something that would comfort us.
But the question is: Are we looking for happiness in the right place?
Trinlay Rinpoche, an accomplished meditator and scholar, said that the real source of happiness lies in the clarity of thoughts. External factors can only be pleasurable as long as we are happy from the inside. According to Buddha, meditation trains the mind to not dwell in the past or contemplate about the future. It lets the mind settle in the now and allows us to see the beauty of the present.
This article is an effort to understand why meditation works so well and how we can resort to its benefits for becoming a better version of ourselves.
Before you read on, we thought you might like to . These science-based, comprehensive exercises will not only help you cultivate a sense of inner peace throughout your daily life but will also give you the tools to enhance the mindfulness of your clients, students or employees.
You can download the free PDF here.
How To Manage Your Stress
The first step is to recognize that contrary to common misconceptions, stress isnt a force beyond your control. It doesnt exist outside of you in the environment or external situations instead, stress is an internal response to a perceived threat or unmet need. Its not the overdue payment, broken dishwasher, or fight with our spouse that causes stressits your thoughts and the story you tell yourself about an event or circumstance that create the emotional upset, racing heart rate, shallow breathing, surging adrenalin, and other symptoms of the stress response.
I like to use the analogy of surfing: If youre a skillful surfer who loves the water, you will see every wave as an exhilarating adventure or at least an opportunity to learn something new. On the other hand, if youre afraid of being in the ocean and have never learned how to surf, you will see every wave as a terrifying potential disaster. From this example, its easy to see that stress doesnt lie in the external event but in your perception of it.
Lets look at some of the specific ways in which meditation can help you manage stress and cultivate greater health and well-being.
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The Role Of Relaxation
There is an element of more direct physical relaxation involved in meditation as well, obviously, so this double dose of relaxation can really be helpful for shrugging off stress. A greater gain that meditation can bring is the long-term resilience that can come with regular practice.
Research has shown that those who practice meditation regularly begin to experience changes in their response to stress that allow them to recover from stressful situations more easily and experience less stress from the challenges they face in their everyday lives.
Some of this is thought to be the result of the increase in positive mood that can come from meditation research shows that those who experience positive moods more often are more resilient toward stress. Other research has found changes in the brains of regular meditation practitioners that are linked with a decreased reactivity toward stress.
The practice of learning to refocus your thoughts can also help you redirect yourself when you fall into negative thinking patterns, which in itself can help relieve stress. Meditation offers several solutions in one simple activity.
Staying In The Present Is Hard
Even long-time meditation practitioners find it challenging.This may come as a surprise, but even those who have been meditating for years can find it hard to stay present. This is perfectly normal for anyone. It’s all part of meditation, so don’t let it discourage you.
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How The Wandering Distracted Mind Leads To Anxiety
Blaise Pascal, the 17th century French philosopher, perhaps said it best: “Considering distraction… I have discovered that the unhappiness of man arises from one single fact, that he cannot stay quietly within his own chamber.“
A Harvard University study revealed that people were happiest when in a kind of fully immersed, deeply absorbed, present mind state. Some have described this as “flow“.
Whether the subjects were socializing, writing, shopping, or reading, the researchers found that the best predictor for anxiety was how distracted they were, how much their mind wandered during the activity not the activity itself.
In an ever-growing world of Facebook/ Twitter updates, Youtube videos, Netflix movie marathons, shiny new blog posts, iTunes podcasts, up to the minute breaking news, and other mediums driving our collective attention span to all time lows it is no surprise that anxiety levels are at an all time high.
How The Fight Or Flight Response Triggers Anxiety
The problem is, evolution has hard-wired our DNA to physiologically react in stressful situations our heart races, our breathing becomes shallow, our blood vessels clinch up, our pupils dilate, our muscles tighten, all in preparation to either fight or flee.
The good news is that your body has a built in stress-defense mechanism it’s called the parasympathetic nervous system. Your ability to stay anxiety-free is directly tied to activating this often elusive system each and every day.
Then, what’s the best way to wake up this sleeping giant? Meditation.
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Understanding The Anxiety Problem Better
Anxiety is a common issue and almost everyone has had it at some point in their lives, although in varying degrees. In fact studies show that one person in every fourteen people struggles with anxiety .
In the United States alone, it is estimated that around 40 million people are dealing with some form of anxiety .
This means that the constant worry about the past or future are not felt by you only. Many people across the world are having the same issue.
Anxiety can be characterized by feeling all tensed up, sweating on your forehead or palms, shortness of breath, trembling, heightened sensitivity, headaches and digestive system complications, to name a few. At times people even feel Iike they have butterflies or insects crawling in their stomach.
This occurrence is due to being concerned about things in the past that you feel affect you in a certain way or future events that are about to happen which you feel you have no control over.
It could be work, family, personal issues or even concerns about your health. This happens often.
However, there is a difference between the common anxiousness and chronic anxiety disorder.
Common anxiousness is when you are feeling uneasy and discomfort for a short while and then it disappears. But when worry occupies a good deal of your life and mind, and persists for months, then you could be suffering from the chronic anxiety disorder.
Meditation is among the many ways we can deal with anxiety and keep it under full control.
A Meditation For Working With Anxiety And Stressbob Stahl
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Better Focus And Concentration
Mindfulness meditation helps you focus on the present, which can improve your concentration on other tasks in daily life.
A 2011 study from the Harvard Medical School examined the effects of mindfulness meditation on the brain and found a connection between mindfulness and processing new information.
The researchers examined the brains of 17 people before and after participating in an eight-week meditation program. Brain scans showed an increase in gray matter in the parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory, and emotional regulation.
Additionally, a 2016 study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University demonstrated how mindfulness meditation can improve concentration and decision making.
The study consisted of 35 unemployed adults looking for work. One group participated in a three-day relaxation program without mindfulness meditation components, while the other group participated in three days of mindfulness meditation. Brain scans before and after showed an increase in connectivity among parts of the brain that control attention for the meditation group.
“Research shows we can actually train our attention and our meta-awareness, and that this is a learnable skill,” says Richard Davidson, PhD, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds.
How Meditation Harnesses Your Cool & Calm Brainwaves
Incredibly simplified, we have outlined a few of the brainwave benefits of meditation here:
Alpha Brainwaves Will help you quiet your mind, boost your creativity, achieve deep relaxation, increase your happiness, instill self-confidence, and much more.
Theta Brainwaves Bring out your emotional intelligence, allow access to your ultra powerful deep mind, make you feel inspired, deepen your intuition, make you feel more open and connected, and much more.
Delta Brainwaves Magnify your awareness, slow aging, boost longevity, give you great sleep, restore your health, tap into your deepest level of consciousness, and much more.
As you can see, by tapping into these powerful states of consciousness, meditation’s Alpha, Theta, & Delta brainwaves open up a whole world of benefits far beyond having nerves of steel.
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Meditation Helps To Overcome Postpartum Blues
Research indicates that the effects of meditation can be similar to antidepressant drugs. Pregnant women and new mothers, who are at risk of developing depressive disorders due to sudden hormonal flushes in the body, benefitted a lot when they practiced meditation and yoga training.
The evidence clearly indicates that besides reducing mood fluctuations in new moms, meditation also helped them in developing a secure connection with the newborn .
What We Make Of Our Surroundings Is Powerful
If you think about your own experiences with these negative emotions, you will likely identify thoughts that trigger these emotions or amplify them. For example, a person sees that their friend has not answered their text yet. If they shrug it off, it is unlikely that the experience will affect them in any way
however, the person might start thinking and wondering about why the person hasnt answered. They might wonder if the person has had a terrible accident or if they are ignoring the message because they are angry or perhasp
we start thinking that they are disrespectful for not getting back to us. Like we dont matter enough to them.
If the person goes on with this train of thought, their anxiety will likely become more pronounced and make them feel more worried and more afraid. However, if they are able to halt it or change it constructively, then the anxiety they experience will be less intense.
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Free Relief Available 24/7
Meditation allows us to observe, accept, and, subsequently, change the thoughts that cause us to react negatively to situations with stress and anxiety.
It allows us to use mindfulness to connect with the present moment when we may be ruminating on thoughts about the past or future.
It also allows us to notice and control our breath, thus calming our nervous system, reducing cortisol levels and balancing our neurotransmitters, like GABA, serotonin and dopamine, that contribute to our sense of anxiety and mood.
Meditation is one of the best and most easily accessible tool we can use to calm stress and anxiety, bringing us both psychological and physiological relief.
How To Use Yoga And Meditation To Relieve Stress And Anxiety
There are many ways to help people who are in psychotherapy. Sometimes talk alone works fine. Other times a more multidisciplinary approach is called for, especially with someone who is very anxious, someone who could benefit from calming methods that may include yoga, breathwork, and meditation. Paying attention to the breath calms the body and provides a focus for meditation.
One such person was Julienot her real namewho came to my office for help with chronic anxiety and anxiety attacks. Im both a psychotherapist and a yoga therapist, and she liked that combination of Eastern and Western techniques. I know from experience that practicing yoga and meditation can naturally reduce stress and anxiety in a persons life. These simple, proven relaxation techniques can help you feel better.
Chronic anxiety is a fearsome state that feels like second nature to some. You wake up in the morning and there it isshallow, fast breathing accompanied by a clenching, jumping stomach or a pit of emptiness. You want to pull the covers over your head and hide, or, worse yet, you cant fall asleep in the first place. Youre frightened all the time, simply not at home in your own skin. You might even feel like you have no skin your nerves are just exposed, reactive, and painful.
© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Lynn Somerstein, PhD, E-RYT, Object Relations Topic Expert Contributor
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