Breaking Away From Stress With Meditation


TheBreakway
Zy Marquiez
July 5, 2016

“Meditation is not like doing reps at the gym.  It strengthens your attention muscle.”
– David Levy

“Give me silence.  Let me ponder my despair.  Where the trees and the birds know no cruelty.  And where I may learn to breathe again.  Without the harsh views of humanity.  Without judgment or jury.  Just me, the trees, the green.  And my silence.”
– Amelia Dashwood

Meditation is a tool that is as great and powerful as its precision of use.

A still mind helps employ this tool and its effect will be proportional to the drive the individual employs in its application.

Calming the mind can help:

Better sleep
Clearer focus
Greater effectiveness
Anger control
Ability to learn faster
Stress release
Less distraction
Better concentration
Reduced depression
Enhanced physical relaxation[1]

Michael Singer, in his book The Surrender Experiment, covers many experiences that expanded his consciousness when he became ready to allow things in life to happen, rather than forcing things to manifest in his own manner.  In his intriguing and thought provoking book he writes:

“Challenging situations create the force needed to bring about change.  The problem is that we generally use all the stirred-up energy intended to bring about change to resist change.  I was learning to sit quietly in the midst of the howling winds and wait to see what constructive action was being asked of me.”

This resounding passage helped me change the path of stress that was chosen by me to a more consciously calming road.

Another effect of reading the above passage was that it was as if the stress-balloon popped, and it was quite shocking at first.  This was due to the realization that change was being resisted by me, and that was one major factor causing stress in my life at the time.  Synchronistically enough, it was after that very moment subsequent to reading that particular passage and making the choice to change that everything in my life began snowballing into positive circumstances once it was decided by me to become proactive, rather than reactive.

Such resounding change wasn’t able to take place until my eyes and mind were open to it, and willing to act on it.

In Meditation For Warriors – Practical Medication For Cops, Soldiers & Martial Artists, Loren W. Christensen not only shows many anecdotal evidence by those in the martial field of the benefits of meditation, but he also offers various ways that meditation can be employed.

As the author notes, one army veteran told him:

“There was a soldier in Afghanistan into the Zen/hippie stuff.  He was always meditating, doing yoga, whatever.  Thing is, he always seemed so calm no matter what was going on.  So I asked him to show me how to meditate.  After a while, it started to make a huge difference on how I mentally dealt with stress in combat.”[3]

Christensen’s friend, Paul McRedmond, who was a long-time martial artist, retired police officer, and avid meditator for nigh five decades, related:

“The nervous system can only take so much dynamic input before it crashes/needs to sleep, etc.  It’s like filling a cup with water.  The cup can actually take more water than just the cup’s measure.  But one more drop can cause more water to flow from the cup than just that one drop.  Loren, you’ve dealt with many, many ‘last straw’ [last drop of stress] people.  With them, a seemingly random event, a single word or a glance can cause emotional upset, panic, screaming, and, sometimes, really stupid actions…There are three ways to empty the cup: You can get a bigger one.  You can dump or drain the water in the existing one, or you can avoid water.  Training, relationships, good nutrition, and exercise all enlarge the cup.  Sleep allows some of the water to drain and vacations get you away from the water.

But, meditation does all three at once.  It expands the capacity of your nervous system by creating coherence [a synergistic pattern of brain wave frequencies across the main 4 quadrants of the brain], it allows for greater restfulness during sleep [draining the water], and [here comes the woo-woo stuff] to eventually become water.”[4]

Essentially, meditation impacts the health of the individual through what are called “stress reduction pathways” within your brain.  As Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University elaborated:

“When an individual experiences stress, activity in the prefrontal cortex — responsible for conscious thinking and planning — decreases, while activity in the amygdala, hypothalamus and anterior cingulate cortex — regions that quickly activate the body’s stress response — increases.

Studies have suggested that mindfulness reverses these patterns during stress; it increases prefrontal activity, which can regulate and turn down the biological stress response.

Excessive activation of the biological stress response increases the risk of diseases impacted by stress (like depression, HIV and heart disease).

By reducing individuals’ experiences of stress, mindfulness may help regulate the physical stress response and ultimately reduce the risk and severity of stress-related diseases.”

There are countless other examples that showcase what individuals in high-stress environments thought of the regular use of using meditation as a tool.  That convinced me, as an individual, that there could probably be some merit to what they spoke of.  And there was.

After learning how to employ meditation, issues that used to bother me, melted away.

Empty/inflammatory comments people made, affected me no longer.

Stressful scenarios that used to be obstacles became puzzles to be solved rather than detriments on my path.

Because of the above reason, and more, meditation has always been a staple in my life, and always will be.

There are many ways stress can be conquered, and these techniques are up to the individual to figure out what helps them best.  In my case, reading, working out & meditating have always worked best, with the last one netting the most benefits by far.

Whatever tool/technique one decides to choose to deal with stress, it’s of utmost importance not only to refine this tool, but to hone it as much as possible for when it is needed.  The beauty of whatever technique/tool you choose, is that the more you employ it, the more efficient you will become with it.  But its benefits will only accrue by being regularly proactive.

Ponder about it, a perfectly honed tool sitting in the attic of your life most of the time does nobody any good.

Please keep in mind, when the next obstacle in your life arises, it’s not to bring you down.  It’s to test you.  It’s to show you what you’re made of.

But nothing great will happen unless you unleash the power of your mind in its full potential.

As Eckhart Tolle intimated:

“Your mind is an instrument, a tool, a weapon.”

The mind, your mind, is your greatest asset.

Be cognizant.

Hone it.

Employ it.

To sum up, the following quote is left for your contemplation:

“The mind can be our best friend and advocate in getting what we want in life, or it can pull the breaks on and be a nasty little foe – the choice is yours – choose your attitude.”
– Rachel Bermingham
______
Sources & References

[1] Loren W. Christensen, Meditation For Warriors – Practical Medication For Cops, Soldiers & Martial Artists, pg. 19.
[2]  Dr. Kelly Brogan, M.D., A Mind Of Your Own – The Truth About Depression & How Women Can Heal Their Bodies To Reclaim Their Lives, p. 260.
[3] Loren W. Christensen, Meditation For Warriors – Practical Medication For Cops, Soldiers & Martial Artists, pg. 19.
[4] Ibid., pg. 19-20
[5] [5] EurekAlert!, Carnegie Mellon Researchers Reveal How Mindfulness Training Affects Health, February 12, 2016

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