How to Feel Better Naturally:
Simple Tips for Meditating Stress Away
Once considered an exotic and exclusively spiritual practice,
expert doctors and scientists now credit meditation with alleviating
a host of physical and mental ailments such as anxiety, depression,
high blood pressure, and chronic fatigue.
But what comes to mind when you think of meditation? Is it
monks wearing enlightenment on their sleeves, drinking super
caffeinated green tea, levitating at will, and disappearing
into tree-lined monasteries for days, weeks, or years at a
time? Is it gym yoga classes complete with $22.95/pair purple
pastel blocks and trendy attractive people in the front row?
The gazillion ads for guided meditation CDs that pop-up whenever
you put "meditation" into a search engine?
Clearly, the word meditation conjures up some interesting
images, but arguably the general idea behind mindfulness meditation
is inherent in all forms of meditation. 99.9% of the time,
our mental processes are dominated by a never-ending stream
of angry, anxious, and reactive thoughts that rob us of our
inherent ability to feel at peace and focused in any given
By contrast, during a meditation practice, you encourage yourself
to feel aligned with whatever is happening in the present
moment, instead of getting caught up in habitual perceptions
of what has happened in the past or may happen in the future.
By meditating, you gently turn off the never-ending and very
popular "what if THIS happens" channel in your mind and just
exist in the here and now. As Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, renowned
meditation teacher, psychologist, and facilitator of the Stress
Reduction and Relaxation program at the University of Massachusetts
Medical Center says in Full Catastrophe Living:
Simply put, mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness.
It is cultivated by purposefully paying attention to things
we ordinarily never give a moment's thought to. It is a systematic
approach to developing new kinds of control and wisdom in
our lives, based on our inner capacities for relaxation, paying
attention, awareness, and insight.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Full Catastrophe Living. Dell Publishing,
New York, 1990, 2.
So if we accept the premise that feeling centered in the present
moment can be beneficial to our physical and mental well being,
how do we learn how to meditate?
While there are many ways of introducing yourself to meditation,
three simple methods come to mind:
1) Taking a meditation or yoga class with a teacher and other
2) Using guided meditation tapes or CDs to create your own
3) Cultivating focused awareness through short "spot" meditations,
even if you can't commit to a full fledged meditation practice.
Taking a Class with Others
Your local gym or YMCA probably sponsors yoga classes which
can function as a kind of meditation-in-motion practice, even
if you don't have a full-fledged yoga school in your area.
Typing "online meditation class" into a search engine also
yields virtual classes encompassing many different time zones
and meditation philosophies compatible with almost anyone's
belief system or schedule.
Using Guided Meditation CDs
Using guided tapes and CDs can be a great starter program
for anyone unsure about beginning a meditation practice on
Meditation for Optimum Health: How to Use Mindfulness and
Breathing to Heal Your Body and Refresh Your Mind, by Drs.
Jon Kabat-Zinn and Andrew Weil, is an excellent meditation
starter program for anyone (especially those interested in
scientific validation that meditation works).
Radical Self-Acceptance, by renowned meditation teacher, Buddhist
lay priestess, and psychologist, Dr. Tara Brach, combines
psychological awareness with Buddhist teachings about compassion
in exploring how mindfulness meditation can alleviate the
shame or "the trance of unworthiness," so common and destructive
in modern life.
Belleruth Naparstek's guided imagery series frequently gets
rave reviews from individuals using guided meditation/visualization
in working with specific issues such as post traumatic stress
disorder, weight loss, or insomnia.
Cultivating a Smidgen of Meditative Awareness: Spot Meditations
Meditations designed to be done in 5 minutes or less may not
bring instant enlightenment, but they can still provide a
taste of feeling calm and focused in the present moment. Flip
the Switch: 40 Anytime, Anywhere Meditations in 5 minutes
or Less by Eric Harrison, is an excellent resource for anyone
who can take a few deep mindful breaths while waiting for
a red light to change or a meeting to start. Meditation from
Thought to Action by Alexander and Annellen Simpkins, also
contains many short exercises designed to focus the mind in
a few minutes.
Most people who have tried meditation usually agree that simply
having the intention to meditate has a profound effect on
anyone's mental/physical health and personal development.
So what not order a book or CD about meditation right now,
and make an investment in your well being?
Copyright © 2006 Janna Chan
Looking for a Zen-like focus to improve your life, golf
game, etc? Janna Chan and others provide articles and fun
resources on a variety of personal development subjects including
meditation, goal-setting, and mindful gift giving at: www.a-few-seconds-calm.com.