I once asked a client if she had ever tried meditation to help her counter stress and she answered yes but that she was unable to meditate. When I asked what type of meditation she had tried she answered that she lit a candle, put on some soft music, turned down the lights, stared into the candle, and then tried to stop thinking. I was not surprised she was unsuccessful because ceasing conceptual thoughts is an advanced meditation practice which many experienced mediators find difficult. I then described a simple breathing meditation that is easy to do and practical for almost everyone.
You can do this practice for a short period, say five or ten minutes, or it for an hour or longer. It all depends on how much time you wish to devote to the practice. However, I recommend you start with a short period and then gradually build up the amount of time you spend in mediation, just as you would with any exercise. The beauty of the practice that I am about to describe is that it is simple, has immediate results, and has no particular religious or spiritual orientation. This meditation is accessible to everyone regards of beliefs or lack thereof.
Start by finding a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Turn off your cell phone or temporarily disconnect the landline if necessary. This place can almost be anywhere, your bedroom, office, or even your car provided you are not driving. Make yourself comfortable by either sitting in a relaxing chair or lying down on a comfortable bed. If you are sitting in a chair, I recommend that you keep your back straight and place your feet flat on the floor.
Now take a deep breath in through your nostrils, hold it just for a second, and then exhale out your mouth. If you have worked with me, you can silently repeat your trigger word as you exhale just as if you were listening to your self-hypnosis tape. Take two more deep breaths, in through the nostrils, hold it just for a second, and then exhale through the mouth, repeating your trigger word if you have one. Now close your eyes if you have not already done so and slightly shift your breathing so that you are breathing naturally through your nostrils. Keep your focus on your breath as you count your exhalations. Simply count your exhalations, starting with one and continuing up to 21. When you reach 21 simply start over at one. If you lose count just start counting again starting with one.
Become mindful of the temptation of following your thoughts. Notice how your conceptual thoughts are like a never-ending stream and that is okay. Simply take a moment, sit on the bank and mindfully watch the stream flow by. If you find yourself getting overly involved with a thought by following it rather than observing it, gently return your attention back to your breath and to the count. The key is to return your attention gently back to the breath and count. Use your awareness and intention to return yourself back to the breath and count. This is the key to the practice, when you find your mind wandering; lightly, gently, smoothly, and in a kind way return your attention back to the breath and count. You will soon notice a profound change as your body relaxes and your mind settles.
This practice can be as brief or as long as you desire. At the end of my practice when I realize it is time to come back into the world I like to give myself suggestions before opening my eyes. I will usually tell myself that when I open my eyes I feel aware, alert, energized, and carry the sense of peace I have obtained through the meditation with me throughout the rest of my day. When I am ready, I then gently open my eyes and return to the room.
Meditation is a wonderful adjunct to hypnotherapy particularly in dealing with stress and anxiety. If you would like to learn meditation or other techniques to overcome stress and anxiety, give call me at (805) 637-4263 or email me to arrange for a free consultation.