“Through daily meditation practice you’ll grow your ability
to focus your attention, calmly observe your experiences,
release stress, and connect to a Core part of you
that knows what to do.
You’ll discover that you can choose to relax deeply and
return to calm clarity whenever you need.”
(from the included “Stress-Relief Meditation” mp3s)
Excerpts from SRM Coursebook:
"If you’re like most of us, you probably relate the stress you feel to all the demands in your life. You’ve got work and family responsibilities, endless To-Do lists, countless emails, texts, and social media invitations to respond to, as well as a constant bombardment of information, noise, and expectations of others all day long.
If you are trying to counter this with a little self-care, by meditating, exercising, eating well, and giving attention to your spiritual life, these might feel like additional burdens on top of everything else you have to do.
No doubt, life these days is moving at warp speed and intensity—and it takes a strong committed effort to manage your time, energy, and resources, so you don’t get overwhelmed and swallowed up by it all.
However, did you know there’s one key factor that is creating the stress that you feel? Learning to master this one simple thing will release you from the mountain of pressures that are weighing down on you.
Here’s a psychological definition of stress that helps us understand
what this one thing is:
“Stress is the perception of a threat combined with
the perception of your inability to handle that threat.”
I originally heard this definition in a talk given by psycho-neuro-immunologist, Dr. Myrin Borysenko. Basically, what it means is that the stress you feel is an “inside job.” The stress you feel is not so much about what is happening “out there” in the world around you as it is about how you are relating to all of that, how you are perceiving what is happening. The thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that you are caught up in at any given moment determine the amount of stress that you feel.
For example, if you perceive something as a threat to your health, well-being, and success and you doubt if you have the time, energy, skill, or resources to handle that, you’ll feel stress.
If you are looking at what you’re facing as a “should” or “have to,” you’ll feel more stress about it.
If you are looking at events, other people, or yourself and thinking that those events, people, or you “should be different,” you’ll feel stress.
And, if you look at the challenges you’re facing and think that you have to do it all on your own, all by yourself, you’ll feel more stress.
In contrast, when you look at the challenges you’re facing and think “I have what it takes to handle that,” “I can’t wait to get to it,” “Everything is set up perfectly for what needs to happen,” and “I have abundant resources to handle this,” you’ll feel relaxed, positive, energized, and empowered about tackling those challenges.
So, the bottom line is this: How you are thinking about the demands you are facing makes all the difference!
If you can look at what is happening in your life from a relaxed perspective, you immediately shift how everything feels. You are instantly able to think more clearly, be more productive, and enjoy your life more!
In 1975, Dr. Herbert Benson, M.D. released his groundbreaking book, The Relaxation Response. He defined the relaxation response as a physical state of deep rest that changes your physical and emotional responses to stress. He also described the steps you can take to consciously initiate
your body’s natural relaxation response.
Steps to Elicit the Relaxation Response:
1. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Deeply relax all your muscles, beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face. Keep them relaxed.
4. Breathe through your nose. Become aware of your breathing. As you breathe out, say the word, “one” (or any soothing mellifluous sound, preferable with no meaning or association, to avoid stimulation of thoughts), silently to yourself. For example, breathe in . . . out, “one,” in . . . out, “one,” etc. Breathe easily and naturally.
5. Continue for 10-20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened.
Do not stand up for a few minutes.
6. Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation. Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace. When distracting thoughts occur, try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them and return to repeating “one.” With practice, the response should come with little effort. Practice the technique once or twice daily, but not within two hours after any meal, since the digestive processes seem to interfere with the elicitation of
the Relaxation Response.
Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?
Well, it is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. For many people, the simple process of sitting still and quiet, while focusing on breathing with “one” in mind, quickly becomes very challenging.
At first, most people notice just how busy and distracted their minds are. It seems impossible to ignore distracting thoughts and they find themselves just sitting there worrying and/or wondering how this is supposed to be relaxing, calming, and quieting for their mind. Many people give up on meditation before they get far into it, thinking that they just aren’t good at it or that it’s just not for them.
In teaching meditation for the past 25 years, I’ve discovered that this is quite a common experience. Because of that, I’ve found that most people do best following guided meditations, especially at first. In a guided meditation, you follow along with audio instructions, which helps you
stay on track through your practice session.
There are four guided meditations in this program."
1. The Relaxing Breath
2. Relaxing Down Three Lines
3. Inner Smiling
4. Three Steps from Stress to Empowerment
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"Let your mind become still,
Like a reflecting pool