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How to Meditate When You’re Stressed (Like Really Stressed)
Spiritual meditation for the anxious mind
We all want to be able to develop the ability to meditate like monks, to reach deep meditation in seconds by walking down the well-trodden zen path that has become a familiar friend. Here’s the thing. I’m stressed, you’re stressed…and monks aren’t.
Monks don’t typically have a naked 3-year-old running through the background of their Zoom meetings or a difficult coworker who constantly points to the reasons a new idea will fail. They don’t have in-laws or unrealistic date night expectations, clingy friends or lengthy to-do lists.
I’m not saying monks never have problems, but it sure seems like their stressors are few. Monks have nearly unlimited time to cultivate spiritual meditation. Is it possible for us normal people to reach deep meditation even in the midst of our chaotic, stressful lives?
It may be too late for you to become a monk (celibacy? no thanks), but it’s not too late to gain some tools for spiritual meditation. These tips are for the stressed-out, the chronically anxious, the unfocused. People like us need zen too.
- Let the tension out
Before you enter the deep meditation zone, you need to get rid of the tension and the anxiety that’s holding you back. A great way to do this is by facing your emotions. Take a few moments to figure out what’s making you feel anxious, afraid, or angry.
Once you’ve found the root of your stress, yell about it. I’m serious. Scream into a pillow or rant to your friend or let it out by attacking some unwelcome weeds in the backyard. Now that you’ve dealt with what’s inside of you, the meditation can begin.
- Get in position
When you picture someone meditating, you probably think of an insanely flexible person in the lotus position. Fortunately for those of us who aren’t even flexible enough to touch our toes (I have long legs–don’t judge me), that’s not the only acceptable position for deep meditation.
You can sit upright in a chair with your feet on the floor, lie on the floor with your knees bent, or stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. It’s best to choose a position you don’t normally spend time in so your body knows it’s time to meditate. For example, if you spend the whole day sitting at a desk, try a standing position. If you’re constantly on your feet for work, lying down might be better.
- Focus on your breathing
You may think that you need to alter your breathing for spiritual meditation, but that’s actually not the case. Rather than trying to make your breathing deeper or longer, just let it be. The key is to notice your breath.
Once you are concentrated on your breath, stay there. This anchors you to the present moment and reminds you that your body is taking care of you even when you’re not aware of it. Focusing on your breath inevitably makes you more relaxed and mindful.
This is where the spiritual side comes in. You may protest that you’re not religious, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pray. If you don’t have a divine being to pray to, pray to your inner self. Present your requests and share what you’re grateful for.
You need to remember that you’re not in control. Unexpected things happen, and you are strong enough to cope with them. Your life is bigger than just you. Stay in prayer until you notice a shift to inner peace.
- Be gentle with yourself
Let’s be honest, you’re not going to be perfectly focused for every single second of the meditation. I know it’s hard, but give yourself grace. Every time your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back. As you practice more and more, your mind will become more centered.
Is there a persistent, distracting thought that won’t leave you alone? Maybe it’s something you forgot to do or a brilliant idea for a project you’ve been working on. Take a minute to write it down and then clear it from your mind so you can continue the deep meditation.
- Do it every day
You might have to move some things around in your busy schedule, but spiritual meditation needs to happen every day for it to be most effective. When can you squeeze it in? Maybe it’s before you eat breakfast or while you’re stretching after your morning workout…or maybe it’s while your kids are taking their afternoon nap or right after you put them to bed at night.
Try to be as consistent as possible. Practicing deep meditation every day will actually free up more time in your schedule as you learn to prioritize the most meaningful parts of your life. It won’t be long before you notice a significant decrease in the amount of stress you internalize.
- Use a companion wellness tool
Sometimes the stress is just way too intense. Believe me, I’ve been there. If you have a difficult time getting your mind to stop racing, it’s time to invest in a wellness wearable that can help your mind wind down.
While there are several wearables on the market for meditation enhancement, my favorite is Hapbee. Every time I turn on the Calm signal, I feel my inner zen start to flood in. It’s like a shortcut to deep meditation even in the middle of a stressful workday.