Reducing Stress with Ancient Practices

Want to reduce stress? Consider this: Stress is most often a response to the content of the mind. Imagine you’re watching a movie. When the heroine in the movie tries to escape from the villain, you may find that your heart beats faster and you begin to perspire. You are having a real physical stress response to a fictional story. The same phenomenon happens in “real life”. People tell themselves stories and then experience real life stress responses; responses which can wreak havoc upon mind and body.

A great way to reduce stress is with the ancient practice of meditation. It allows you to witness the stories you tell yourself and decide if they’re true. Mark Twain’s famous quote aptly describes the tendency to create stress through anxious thoughts. “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, most of which never happened.”

Another ancient practice is the first of the “Five Tibetan Rites,” a series of five exercises similar to yoga. Here’s a modification:

Stand straight with feet hip distance apart. Lift your arms straight out to the sides at shoulder level, palms down, so your body is in the shape of a lower case “t”. Start turning very slowly to the right, keeping your focus at eye-level the as you turn. Make a complete circle and then continue circling anywhere from 3-10 times. Discontinue if you become dizzy or if you experience discomfort.

Why this works:
The mental content that cycles through the mind can be a significant cause of stress. This exercise engages the mind and keeps it busy by trying to keep focusing at eye-level, all while turning the body in a circle and trying to stay balanced. The effect of this is to quiet the mind. The beauty of this exercise is that it can be practiced most anywhere to help reduce stress, and best of all, it’s free!

guided meditation sitting

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