Feeling stressed? Try meditation

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11702770532978.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.newageinfo.com’, ‘“Meditation can be a valuable tool for finding a peaceful oasis of relaxation and stress relief in a demanding, fast-paced world. Although meditation may take some getting used to at first, keep at it. Before you know it, meditation will come naturally.”—Tom Bergmann, DC, a professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minn. ‘);

BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—Trying to keep up with today’s fast-paced, highly demanding society can have a major effect on people’s stress levels and their health. The American Medical Association reports stress is the cause of 80 to 85 percent of all human illness and disease. But something as simple as meditation can help reduce stress levels and provide an overall sense of calmness.

“Meditation can have a calming effect because it helps quiet the mind,” says Tom Bergmann, DC, a professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minn., who regularly lectures to the public about spiritual health and meditation. “It helps reduce stress and clears your mind of everyday clutter.”

Through meditation, people can learn how to transform their minds from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful, and from unhappy to happy. “Frequent meditation can keep you from overreacting to outside stimuli and help the body’s physiology remain in balance,” says Dr. Bergmann.

Meditation is a practice that can be done by anyone, at any time, anywhere. It can consist of sitting silently in a quiet room or listening to a guided visualization. Dr. Bergmann gives the following four basic guidelines for the meditation process:

1. Put all worries aside. “Put your expectations aside, and don’t worry about doing it right,” says Dr. Bergmann. “There are infinite possibilities and no fixed criterion for determining the right meditation.” Things to avoid, however, include trying to force meditation to happen, over-analyzing the meditation, and trying to make your mind blank.

2. Be comfortable. Find a quiet, comfortable place to meditate. “You can sit in a comfortable chair, on the floor, or on a bed—anywhere that’s comfortable,” says Dr. Bergmann.

3. Sit up straight. “Sitting comfortably with your spine straight allows the spiritual energy to flow freely up the spine,” says Dr. Bergmann. “Try leaning against the back of a chair, a wall or a headboard for support. If you are unable to sit up, lie flat on your back.”

4. Keep your surroundings quiet. Eliminate as much noise and as many potential distractions as possible. Once the above conditions are met, meditation can begin. According to Dr. Bergmann, there are three important elements to the actual meditation practice:

1. Breathing. Close your eyes and continually take deep breaths in and out.

2. Affirmations. “Say (and repeat) positive statements to yourself to get into your subconscious and elevate your consciousness,” says Dr. Bergmann. “Try one statement of praise, one of thanks, one of love and one of compassion.”

3. Focus. “Don’t worry about what you have to do and where you have to go,” says Dr. Bergmann. “Take a few moments to be with yourself and not worry about a thing.”

For people who have a hard time sitting still, Dr. Bergmann recommends trying tai chi or qi gong. “These exercises can be thought of as moving types of meditation,” he says. “They communicate and focus on energy flows.”

“Meditation can be a valuable tool for finding a peaceful oasis of relaxation and stress relief in a demanding, fast-paced world,” he adds. “Although meditation may take some getting used to at first, keep at it. Before you know it, meditation will come naturally.”

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