Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Stress: Seven steps to an inner calm

Stress: Seven steps to an inner calm

The Times: (Andy Puddicombe) Just seven steps, implemented each day can help you find your way to peace and tranquility

Take 10 minutes out each day

This is a simple, basic meditation that is best done at the start of the day. Find a quiet place where you can sit without being disturbed.

Take a couple of deep breaths and close your eyes. Become aware of your senses: the feelings in the body, the sounds and the smells around you.

Don’t think about them, simply notice them.

Next become aware of the breath.

You don’t need to breathe in any special way, just notice how the rising and falling movement of the breath feels in the body. Each time the mind wanders, gently bring it back to that same point of focus — the rising and falling sensation of the breath.

Make it a daily exercise

A bit like learning any new skill, meditation works best when you do it regularly and often. It doesn’t have to be at the same time every day, but you may well find it easier to stick to this way.

Be conscious of what you’re doing

We live on auto-pilot, especially when we do things that we have done thousands of times before — brushing your teeth or drinking a cup of tea, for example.

Choose just one of these activities to be fully conscious of each day.

Rather than let the mind wander off into worrying, planning or thinking about things, notice what it feels like to actually drink a cup of tea. What does it taste, feel and smell like? It’s amazing how much we miss because we are simply lost in thought.

Resist the urge to control the mind

When we first become aware of the constant chatter of our thoughts, we try to “stop thinking”, which is impossible. Focus instead on being at ease with whatever is happening in the mind. If it’s busy, OK, it’s busy. Resist the temptation to try to control it. If you feel irritated or upset, that’s just how it is sometimes. Don’t fight it. Let thoughts come, acknowledge them and let them go. By allowing thoughts and feelings to flow in this way, they are usually much more short-lived.

Shift the focus from ‘me’ to ‘you’

Have you ever noticed that the more you focus on your own problems, the bigger they seem to get? Take a moment to reflect on those people close to you who might also be having a tough time with things right now. How are they feeling? This simple exercise helps to put your own difficulties into perspective and to develop empathy and understanding towards that other person.

Ease off the gas

If you look at the best sportsmen and women, they seem to play with a sublime lack of effort. Roger Federer, the tennis player, is one of the best examples of this. Trying harder does not mean performing better — often it’s just the opposite. By approaching everyday activities in a slightly more relaxed and measured way, things not only will become more enjoyable, but also will be done that much better.

Take practical steps

When life becomes so busy that you hardly have time to breathe, it’s unrealistic to expect a lot of headspace.

If it’s possible, try to simplify life a little. Look for ways to reduce the amount you’re doing, or ways of doing it more effectively. Similarly, if you have lots of thoughts racing around your mind, take a couple of minutes to write them down. This can help to free up the hard drive, and at least give a feeling of additional space in the mind.

Article printed from Wildmind Buddhist Meditation:

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