Meditate Your Anxieties Away

Meditation is nature's stress buster.

Posted Dec 08, 2011

Imagine that you entered an endurance contest. Whoever holds his or her arm up for the longest period of time will win. The official blows the whistle, and you and your fellow participants proudly hold your arms straight out to the side of your bodies.

After a minute your fingers begin to tingle. You close your eyes and try to ignore the pain that's shooting through your arm. Then, in what seems like a lifetime, you look at the clock and see that only two minutes have passed. "How much longer can I do this?" you ask yourself. After five minutes the pain is unbearable. You lower your arm, which disqualifies you from the competition. But you could care less because of the instant relief you experience.

Stress is like this arm-holding competition. While we often associate anxiety with events that make headline news, even subtle stress is harmful. Exposure to small, yet demanding events, over time, will take their toll on our bodies. Over the long term, stress makes us susceptible to illness and injury. It can result in minor aches and pains in our bodies, cause us to catch a cold, or it can erupt into serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

A good friend of mine, who is a physician, once told me that 80% of his patients came to him because of stress-related illnesses. He said that if he could help them decrease their stress, many of them would not need to see him. 

Negative and Positive Stress

Too many people wrongly believe that stress is only related to negative events or circumstances. But stress can result from positive experiences as well. Think about spending an entire day at a big amusement park: you and your friends enjoy yourselves, but by the end of your time there, your body will feel the aches and pains of the intense activity. Although the event was positive, it nonetheless stressed your body and mind. Other examples of positive-stressful events include celebrations, like weddings and birthdays. Once they are over, we're often completely exhausted. So while may associate stress with tragedy, even events that leave a smile our faces can be anxiety-inducing.

Meditation Decreases Stress

Alleviating stress will help our bodies run smoothly. If you're looking for ways to diminish its negative effects, then I highly recommend meditation. The practice gives our body breaks. In arm-holding competition terms, meditation is like putting your arm down. Once you've given it a rest, you're ready to resume the game.

For most of us, stress is part of our daily lives, which is why I recommend that you meditate twice a day. Your body rests and repairs during meditation, while the mind settles into deeper states of awareness. So a regular sitting practice benefits the mind, body, and soul.

Just as cars last longer and run better when we take care of them, our bodies need regular maintenance as well. Meditation is like the routine maintenence we provide our cars. It slows down the wear and tear that comes from the aging process, and although it's no guarantee of health, it definitely cultivates physical well being and longevity.

There's no escaping stressful situations. And there's no denying that stress is hard on our bodies. But with a regular meditative practice, you'll be better equipped to deal with life's difficulties, and your body will thank you for it.

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