Stress is the number one cause of disease, addiction, insomnia and more in the USA today.
Just go ahead and Google, “conditions caused by our inability to deal with stress” and you will find that almost every disease known to man is linked to our inability to deal with stress.
For 28 years, number one best-selling author, counselor and life coach David Essel has been helping people to learn correct coping strategies in the face of dealing with stress, and meditation is just one of the many tools he uses to help people become more grounded, healthy and happy in life.
Below are are my four key tips to use when beginning a meditation program as I hope you can try them out.
“It was 1974, I was a freshman at Syracuse University, playing on the junior varsity basketball team, and stressed out of my mind.
Not only did we have 3 to 4 hour practice session 6 days a week, with games thrown in as well, but I also had a full 18 hour credit workload that I was carrying and the stress was unbelievable.
A friend of mine invited me to a transcendental meditation class, that was being offered for free just off the university campus. I figured what the heck? It was going to be one hour out of my life, and let me see what this meditation stuff was all about.
I walked into the room and everyone was dressed in white clothes and Birkenstocks. I knew right away meditation was not for me. I turned around walked out shook my head and said I’ll go for a run instead.
10 years later, 1984, and I’m talking to a friend of mine about the stress that I was under opening my own business for the second time, and she recommended meditation. I laughed, she did not laugh back. She told me it would be amazing if I could learn how to meditate.
So here are some of the tips I’d like to offer you, as you enter into the world of meditation to reduce stress, high blood pressure, Addiction, insecurity, anger, loneliness and more:
Number one. Not all forms of meditation are for everyone. Try a variety of different forms from the relaxation technique with breath work, to transcendental meditation, to mantra meditation of many forms… Before you say meditation isn’t for you.
In 1988 I took an intensive weekend training workshop on transcendental meditation, and it radically changed my life.
It was the same form of meditation that I was introduced to in 1974, when I thought it was a bunch of bunk. As I revisited that form of meditation, in a three day intensive workshop, I found it was one of the major keys to life that I had always been looking for, but I just didn’t know it.
Stay open minded.
Number two. If you’re going to try to learn to meditate on your own, never attempt to do this with a book, or an online course unless it’s being led by someone on video that you can follow.
This is critical! I have found that the best way to learn meditation is through an audio program, or a video program, where you’re actually following the instructions of a leader.
For most of us, to try to sit still and concentrate on our breath, or a mantra that you repeat silently over and over in your mind, is almost impossible. But, if you’re following someone else’s voice, it’s really easy through all the variety of apps and videos today, as well as CDs, to get the hang of meditation. It’s a foreign concept, regardless of how many benefits it offers, it’s still a very foreign concept to sit and do nothing.
Number three. There are a variety of massive double blind, placebo controlled studies on the power of transcendental meditation, and some other forms of meditation as well. However, I always caution my clients not to rely on meditation alone to radically change your life.
Just like I wouldn’t tell someone to rely on running alone in order to decrease stress, or learn how to communicate in a troubled relationship.
Let’s be realistic. Meditation is amazing, but it should be part of a holistic living program, I don’t want people to put all their eggs in one basket and think that meditation alone is going to radically bring them to a highly awakened, or enlightened state of being.
Is a powerful? Hell yes. Will it change every problem you have in life? Hell no, unless it’s a miracle.
Number four. Give meditation a 365 day chance, before you say it’s not effective for you.
Everyone is basing his or her live on instant gratification. We want to win the lottery today. We don’t want to work two jobs to become financially independent.
We want to lose weight by taking some magical pill right now. Who wants to go into the gym, and commit to clean eating for 365 days to lose 60 pounds? No one. Even though that’s the only way it’s going to happen.
And it’s the same with meditation. When I committed 365 days in a row to meditate, I found amazing changes happening. It was after that first year, that I was able to meditate in a taxi, a noisy airplane or even an airport terminal.
I remember when I went to get braces in my 30s, and the doctor said I’m going to put this huge apparatus in your mouth and you’re going to feel like possibly choking at times but do your very best because The mold has to be in your mouth for like seven or eight minutes.He was amazed when he came back and I was in this incredibly deep meditative state, thanks to transcendental meditation, and he basically had to bring me out of that state to remove the apparatus from my mouth.Him and his nurse were shocked! I was the first patient that didn’t gag, throw up, or constantly wiggle in the chair hoping that the time will go faster.So as you see, learning meditation can have some very practical benefits as well.
Don’t view it as some kind of woo woo practice, or that you have to be involved with some religion or spiritual group in order to learn the art of meditation. Just give yourself some time, practice daily even just for two or three minutes a day, and you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Your life will slow down, and you’ll be living exactly as you’re supposed to.”
About the author:
David Essel’s work is verified by psychology today, who calls him one of the top counselors and life coaches in United States. He is also verified as a top relationship expert via . David accepts new clients every week from around the world, where he teaches them techniques like meditation, mindfulness, as well as helping them to accomplish any goal they have in life via phone and or Skype sessions. Mention where you read this article from, and you will receive a free 15 minute phone counseling session with David. Reach us at http://www.talkdavid.com/
by Ruth Cherry
When I sit with a client in psychotherapy, I practice presence. I want to experience what it is to be her. I want to see through her eyes and feel as she feels. I want to live in her skin for a few moments. At the same time I am anchored in my Observer.
In meditation I look at my feelings and my thinking from my Observer. I experience my feelings while I watch them. I notice my thoughts but I don’t think my thoughts. My feelings and my thoughts exist. My relationship to them shifts in meditation.
By identifying with my Observer, I move below the level of thinking and feeling to the level of being. I simply am. Whatever is, is. I don’t judge my thoughts, my feelings, another person’s words, my choices in the past, or anything else that moves through my mind during the time I sit. I simply allow what is to be, just as it is, and I notice.
Over many years meditating, I have noticed that when I maintain a detached Observer stance and I allow, I am carried deeper. I’m not consumed with the details of my life as Ruth. I experience “being.” I am. I pay attention. I don’t focus on the object of my attention but on the process of attending.
With this alert passivity, an invisible curtain rises and I glimpse a reality behind the everyday specifics. I can only access this deeper level of reality when I practice presence. One part of practicing presence is noticing and allowing. Another part is accepting vulnerability. Usually, our intellects tell us to dismiss the places in us that hurt or rage or fear. But moving into this deeper level of our own personal reality invites us to integrate every part of who we are. So, we notice what is and we say, “Yes.” “Yes, I am furiously angry.” “Yes, I am scared to death and I have no idea what to do.” “Yes, I feel totally humiliated and I wish I could disappear. I don’t want anyone to see me in my shame.”
In addition to noticing and accepting what is, we experience what is. By experiencing whatever moves through us, we integrate our vulnerability. We notice and allow and accept and experience what it is to be ourselves this moment. That is the definition of practicing surrender. When we surrender and we don’t resist our experience, it shifts naturally and we are carried even deeper.
Eventually, we move into a serenity that already exists. Here we continue to breathe and to notice and to allow. We may experience a sense of well-being. By moving deeply into our personal dynamics and accepting ourselves just as we are, we are carried into another dimension. Accepting vulnerability while practicing surrender and presence opens us to partnership with Life.
We notice that Life works with us in the details of our own experience. Acknowledging our partnership with Life in completely personal terms is the defining element of transformation. We can only allow and recognize partnership; we can’t create it. We experience Life responding to our vulnerability. Our practice of surrender allows partnership, so we always pay attention.
We learn that our partner, Life, is wiser than we are and knows us better than we know ourselves. Our partner shows us our unhealed spots and then offers us opportunities to experience healing. Acknowledging an inner wisdom operating at this depth humbles us. Gladly, we accept that we are not “in control.” We respect everything that happens to us, everything that is said to us, and everything that flits through our minds. We are aware in the moment. We practice availability.
We allow ourselves to be carried from our personal limited consciousness into an arena of unlimited possibility. We discover that a power greater than our intellect’s already exists at our deepest center. Allowing ourselves to be carried tells Life that we are available. We are available to experience our own dynamics as well as being available to experience Life in a grander perspective. Working in both the deeply personal and the transpersonal levels of consciousness simultaneously invites transformation.
Life knows better than we do exactly what we need to grow and to heal and Life draws the precisely perfect experiences to us. If we stay open and present, we allow healing. Life always carries us deeper. In our deepest center we participate in a healing consciousness and, by doing so, we experience transformation.
About the author:
Ruth Cherry, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Luis Obispo, CA. Her specialty is integrating psychological and spiritual dynamics. Her latest books are Open Your Heart, Accepting Unconditional Love, and Living in the Flow: Practicing Vibrational Alignment. Her web site is www.meditationintro.com
by William T. Hathaway
We live in traumatic times. The shock waves from wars, terror attacks, and spree shootings reverberate through our society and impact us all. For the direct victims and their family and friends this can be life shattering. Many of them suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a debilitating condition that can last for decades unless properly treated.
Soldiers are highly affected. Over half a million US troops deployed since 2001 suffer from PTSD. It cripples their functioning and places them at great risk for violent and self-destructive behavior including alcoholism or drug abuse, depression, anxiety, emotional numbness, family abuse, employment problems, and suicide. More US soldiers and veterans from the Iraq War have died from suicide than from combat. 6,500 soldiers and vets take their own lives every year.
Fortunately, treatments are now available, and some of them can also protect us from the condition before trauma strikes. They can build up an inner immune system that keeps the stress from devastating us.
One approach that has been shown to be highly effective is Transcendental Meditation (TM). Research on its trauma-healing effects began in the 1980s with Vietnam War veterans who had been suffering from PTSD for over a decade. After three months of TM 70% of them were free of clinical symptoms (Journal of Counseling and Development, 1985). In 2011 the journal Military Medicine reported a 40-55% reduction in PTSD in current war veterans, including reduced depression, flashbacks, and painful memories. Ten studies published in professional journals have shown TM rapidly heals PTSD.
Most of the government-sponsored research has been on soldiers and veterans, but massive numbers of civilians, particularly women, also suffer from PTSD. With this group TM has also been proven effective. A study on female prisoners and two studies on Congolese war refugees with high levels of symptoms showed that within four months the majority became non-symptomatic. Ninety percent of Congolese war refugees with PTSD became non-symptomatic within 30 days of learning and practicing TM (Journal of Traumatic Stress, April, 2013; February, 2014). The stories of their trauma and recovery are posted at www.ptsdreliefnow.org.
Research also indicates TM can protect us against PTSD before the trauma strikes. It does this by increasing our resilience, the ability to think clearly and act effectively in the midst of stress without being overwhelmed by it and afterwards to quickly recover from the ordeal. It’s a quality we all need now, an inner shield against trauma that defends us in advance from the damage.
A Stanford University study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology reported TM is twice as effective as other meditation or relaxation techniques for decreasing anxiety. Greater resistance to stress was confirmed in studies in Psychosomatic Medicine, Journal of Counseling and Development, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, and International Journal of Neuroscience. For more information and citations on the research: https://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/veterans.html and http://www.ptsdreliefnow.org/the-research.html.
About the author:
William T. Hathaway’s personal story of recovery from trauma as a Special Forces veteran is published at http://www.dmd27.org/hathaway2010.html.
According to Leonard Perlmutter, philosopher, author and founder of The American Meditation Institute (AMI), ”Any democracy without its citizens and politicians armed with the meditation tools of detachment, discrimination and self-discipline, will inevitably lead to discord, dissension and destruction.” Perlmutter claims that, “In the midst of the media’s daily drumbeat of political conflict, anger, fear and allegation, the nation’s educational systems need to urgently incorporate AMI?Meditation and its allied disciplines into every level of curriculum––from grade school to graduate school.”
Speaking at a recent conference of Yoga scientists at The American Meditation Institute, Perlmutter explained, “The bitterness between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans in Washington is not the real cause of the problems Americans face today. The political malice is only a reflection of the violent emotional conflicts already raging in individual minds of the citizenry and their politicians. In order to change political character, conduct and consciousness, tactics are needed that work systematically–– from the inside out. AMI?Meditation is an engineering science. Meditation can transform the blinding power of angry, fearful and self-indulgent thoughts and emotions into potent, positive and creative energy that can heal the nation’s social, racial, political and economic angst.”
According to Perlmutter, the solution lies in recognizing that, “A daily meditation practice can provide the blueprint, resources and inspiration to explore beyond the boundaries of habitual thinking, feeling and unexamined reasoning. All the answers to the questions, ‘What is to be done and what is not to be done,’ are waiting for all Americans in the profound silence experienced in meditation. Unless people can consciously know and examine the silent space between thoughts, there will never be sufficient clarity of vision to resolve the nation’s most pressing problems.”
Then he concluded, “Meditation for every woman, man and child––regardless of their religious beliefs––is not simply a good idea, it’s a dire necessity. To begin meaningful change, the nation’s local and state boards of education as well as the boards of directors at every American college and university must begin to incorporate mandatory classes in meditation. When this occurs, all levels of educational institutions will not simply train people how to make a living, but how to live lives that reflect the wisdom, creativity, fairness, compassion and inclusive sense of community that can redefine what it means to be a human being in 21st century America.”
Leonard Perlmutter is the author of the award-winning book, “The Heart and Science of Yoga” and the mind/body medicine journal, “Transformation.” Leonard has presented courses at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Albany Medical College, the United States Military Academy at West Point and The New York Times Yoga Forum with Dean Ornish MD. From October 24-28, 2017, Leonard Perlmutter will head a faculty of eleven scholars at The American Meditation Institute’s 9th annual mind/body medicine CME conference at the Cranwell Resort and Spa in Lenox, Massachusetts. Entitled The Heart and Science of Yoga this comprehensive mind/body medicine training to prevent and relieve physician burnout is accredited through the Albany Medical College Office of Continuing Medical Education.