Meditation: How To Use Stress To Your Advantage
By M Ryan Saldivar
With so many conclusive studies about the positive aspects of meditation - strengthened immune response, increase in grey matter density in the brain, more even emotions and better memory - the practice is gaining popularity. In my own classes, a question I get often is: how to clear the mind of stress? The answer is simple: Don't.
Instead, I tell my students to focus on the energy that comes up instead, feel how it affects the breath, what is the story that comes up with it. In other words, try to learn everything about it, and then use it to innovate a new perspective. Meditation does not mean that you sit in perfect lotus pose and think about nothing for a long period of time. It can be laying down, swimming, or even walking. If you find yourself thinking about the negative parts of your life during any activity, notice that, notice how you feel, and create an opportunity for growth from those experiences. That is living in the present.
I believe that stress is simply the reaction to how we deal with change. If we can condition ourselves to have a positive outlook on changes that occur in life - because after all, change is inevitable - we can feel much calmer overall. Doing these mental gymnastics changes our hormones and neurochemistry. The important thing is to make a connection between what you're thinking, and how that makes you feel. So next time you try to meditate and feel like you're failing because you can't stop thinking or worrying about stress, take notice what comes up behind closed eyes. And breathe. Cultivate a better conversation with yourself and I guarantee you will bring more happiness to your life!