Mindfulness, Meditation, and Stress Reduction

by meditative - August 12th, 2015

We carry this mind wherever we go.The only way “out” is “through”…

Most all of us understand the significance of stress and stressors in our modern lives. Definitively, stress is a non-specific response of an organism to any pressures or demands placed upon it. In our present time, many of us struggle to adapt, change, and/or respond in a healthy manner to growing pressures and demands. Furthermore, our traditional buffering mechanisms such as extended families and religion have declined over the years. As a people living in this “Techno Era”,we are experiencing increased isolationism not only with our own families and neighbors, but with our own inner beings (i.e.“self”). In turn, this has left us very vulnerable as we often neglect to devote the quality time and attention to strengthen our mental, emotional and spiritual muscles… the mind and the heart.

A mindfulness practice helps us to better cultivate our coping muscles. Meditation is a discipline, an exercise regimen to help us become more aware of… better connected to… and increasingly adaptive to our external and internal challenges.

Many health practitioners will tell you…“the body keeps score.” Mindfulness is a great tool to enable us to better connect with the body’s early warning systems- “undercurrents” such as tension, sleep disorders, mood swings,“out-of-sorts” feelings, etc. Related symptoms might include headaches, elevated blood pressure, digestive disorders, etc.Typically the body is sending us messages for our attention.We either pay attention to the subtle signals now in the present moment, honestly and openly, or we run the risk those years later they manifest into something more significant.

Daily stressors are a fact of life.The pressures and demands are not the problem, but rather how we internalize and relate to them.The practice of mindfulness meditation can help open our awareness to more constructive & sensible ways to manage our daily stress. The application of mindfulness to stressful situations involves the distinction between responding in a knowingly, conscious manner versus the more typical reflexive, unconscious, and knee-jerk reaction. The former allows us to expand our repertoire of options to manage our stress more effectively.

When something comes up it comes up. It’s already happened. A mindfulness practice helps us to accept the stressful moment for what it is and embrace it.The anxiety and physiological reactions may still be present, but we learn to allow them to unfold into our conscious awareness without shaking us from our central axis of response.

Our meditation practice can help better equip us to navigate through our feelings about a stressful moment to a place where we can respond beyond the confines of the “fight or flight” reaction (e.g. anger or withdrawal) triggered more often than not by a situation which doesn’t necessarily threaten our life but our ego.Getting caught up in reactivity circles… going round and round…will inevitably erode our health if we are not able to break this self-perpetuating cycle.

As we begin to cultivate mindful awareness, we learn to simply stay in the moment consciously aware of our stressful challenge and to allow it to unfold… “Maybe if I stay present in this moment, things could be different.” Meditation teaches us to invite the awareness… and to expand our field of awareness… true to the moment, and thereby trusting our intuition to allow what we face to be. Possibilities become apparent in a calmly abiding mind. In mindfulness practice, the only “way” out is “through”, with 100% awareness, as best we can.