How To Meditate to Reduce Stress

When you first start to meditate, you will probably notice that the mind’s habit of focusing on thoughts, emotions, sensations, sounds and memories is endless! There are some meditations that try to control attention so you don’t get lost in the rabbit hole of the thinking world-like breath-work, mantras, visualizations and so forth. You may like those and even find them helpful, and I encourage you to follow what feels right for you. I have found that honoring what has felt right at different times in my life is always supportive.

The meditation I invite you to experience is a bit different from the ones mentioned above because it has no direction or goal. It is what I have discovered to be the most profound and purest way to meditate. It is not dependent on a certain state of consciousness, which is temporary and can create anxiety to get back to the high. This meditation I am speaking of is more of an opening, a relaxed receptive awareness that allows everything to be as it is. In this way there is no efforting in the future to get somewhere you aren’t already.

We are so conditioned in our society to continue 'becoming' and even the search to be “better” is stressful and can keep us on a self-improvement hamster wheel if we are not conscious of it. This meditation is about stopping that search for more, whether that is happiness, peace, success, even enlightenment.

It is about recognizing what is here, right now, when all those tendencies are paused. It is a time to rest back in observation, free from following all the thoughts, emotions and sensations. Notice the awareness that is always here, prior to these things that come and go. There is something that is allowing this moment, however it is, to be just as it is, free of judgment, completely neutral.

When awareness isn’t focused on the mind’s compulsive contractions, identifications and control patterns, it is freed up. In this meditation, all of these habits are left to be as they are. There is no resisting of the thoughts that arise and there is also no indulging in them. Instead, there is a resting as the awareness prior to all thoughts, emotions and sensations. Awareness naturally returns to its peaceful, silent condition and it opens more fully to experience the largest expression of your Being.

Even if you get taken away by a thought, that’s ok because that which noticed you being carried away with thought was not the mind. That was grace as an invitation to come back to the truth of what is actually happening here and now and rest as the awareness in which all things happen within.

If the mind is loud, it may be helpful to first put attention on awareness itself and notice how it experiences the moment. As you gently relax and abide as the larger all-encompassing presence of awareness, stillness is more naturally experienced as your true nature. This then becomes a way of living, not just limited to the cushion and naturally reduces stress in your life.

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