Need Less Stress?

Mar 15, 2009 | March 2009, Mind & Body

Just Say OHM!

By Bonnie Osterhage

One of the main components of Yoga is a keen focus on breath and different breathing techniques. This can also include some time at the beginning or end of class devoted to meditation. During this time, the goal is to clear the mind by focusing on the breathing patterns and settling into a sate of relaxation and/or mental awareness.

The problem for many of us seems to be that, instead of focusing on our breaths, we are making grocery lists in our heads, checking off things on our mental to-do lists or even secretly checking our watches to determine how much longer we must pretend to transcend to a higher level.

So how do we clear our cluttered minds in our high-stress society? The trick is to keep trying — and you don’t have to wait for a Yoga class! All that’s necessary is 10 to 15 minutes of quiet time in a relaxed position. Once you are settled, breathe normally in and out through your nostrils and listen to the sound of the air as you inhale and exhale. Around this time, other thoughts and distractions may creep into your brain — the trick is to learn to control your mind enough to ignore them and push them from your consciousness.

Often in meditation a mantra is helpful in maintaining focus. The mantra can be a scripture, an affirmation or anything that promotes an overall sense of peace and well-being.

The most important rule to remember when practicing meditation is that there are no rules. You can’t “do it wrong.” As a beginner, do not put too many expectations on your meditations — stressing out about it defeats the purpose. As you continue to practice, meditation does become easier; and, once you have mastered the skill of calming the mind, you will find it to be an excellent tool for finding relaxation and peace in your life.

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