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The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Stress

The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Stress

Shocking as it may seem, there are probably very few people who have never experienced stress. Stress can happen in a minute or it may build over time. It can spur creativity but is more likely to leave you irritated, depleted, and even physically ill.

The word stress is a derivation of the Latin word that means to be drawn tight, which is pretty much how most stressed-out people feel. The words meditation and medication have the same prefix derived from the Latin word medicus, meaning to care or to cure, indicating that meditation is an effective and efficient remedy for a busy and overworked mind. Which is why meditation is the greatest gift you could give your self.

In essence, meditation is simply about calming our chattering monkey-like mind and being aware and present in this very moment. This is easier than we may think, yet so many people say to us: My mind is too busy; I can’t sit still; I can’t possibly meditate; I just fall asleep. This is because our mind tends to be all over the place chasing different scenarios, so that our ability to be completely here and now is challenged. Although being aware of the present moment is simple, we have spent so many years covering it up with all sorts of distractions that now we have to practice being still in order to reconnect with it.

During meditation we gently let go of distractions so we can genuinely be present. Like a child watching an ant walking down the sidewalk carrying a crumb, that is all that exists in her world at that moment. She is not thinking about what she had for breakfast, or what she will do with her best friend at her next playdate. She is only watching the ant.

Meditation enables us to stop trying, to let go of the story, the dramas, our stressed mind, and to discover an inner easefulness. Some people describe this as a sense of coming home, as if they had been away or out of touch with themselves without having realized it; others experience it as a huge relief as there is a release of anxiety and self-centeredness and they enter into a more peaceful state of being. The inner joy and happiness is incomparable. Personally, we don’t know how we would function in this mad, mad world without it!

Here is a simple and effective practice that can be done anywhere and at anytime of day. Practice for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or longer:

Sit comfortably with your back straight. Take a deep breath and let it go. Eyes are closed, breathe normally. Begin to silently count at the end of each out breath: Inhale… exhale… count one; inhale… exhale… two; inhale… exhale… three. Count to five, then start at one again. Just five breaths and back to one. Simply follow each breath and silently count. So simple!

(For step-by-step instructions for meditation and a guided video, click here.)

How do you deal with stress? What techniques work for you? Do comment below.

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Ed and Deb Shapiro

You can learn more in our book, Be The Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Marianne Williamson, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie and others. Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at:


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9:09AM PST on Jan 19, 2013


4:29PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012


5:18PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012


9:48AM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

What is a belly breath? That is what I call the deep breath achieved after walking briskly for some distance. On an intellectual level we are told to manage stress with exercise. So when feeling anxious or not thinking clearly, going for a brisk walk should help. Making such a walk part of your daily routine is supposed to be preventative. When I get a deep breath after walking briskly it feels so great. You must realize how anxious I have become with shallow breathing. Even if people around scowl in hallways or on sidewalks due to the fast walking, I do not care. Often it is not possible to go for a brisk walk. You may be stuck inside babysitting children or many other scenarios. Therapists will give assignments of taking ten deep breaths every day. We forget to breath deeply and it causes problems. To get in the habit of remembering to breath deeply might help.

1:49PM PDT on Mar 27, 2011

Meditation is good for the heart, mind and soul so we shine like the sun rays upon others and brighten their day. Sharing meditation with another is beautiful.

5:14AM PST on Feb 6, 2011

I see deep purple when I meditate somtimes. Other times I receive knowledge.

I used to take the varied thoughts and shred them in a pretend shredder or file them or sail them out to sea in little boats.

9:06PM PST on Jan 24, 2011


4:55PM PST on Jan 23, 2011

Thank you

2:02AM PST on Jan 15, 2011

Thank-you for the informative article. I have tried meditation as it has been suggested to me. I have numerous health issues & I truly believe it would be beneficial in helping me take care of them. I have tried meditating numerous times but just can't get the knack of it. I'm either just there with my eyes closed or I fall asleep. i am to any & all constructive suggestions. Thank-you.

7:42AM PST on Jan 14, 2011

When I meditate I let thoughts come and go as each wave splashes onto the shore

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