January 9, 2013
Ideally meditation will make us less, not more irritable, but sometimes people do find that irritability or other uncomfortable experiences come up when they begin mediation. I just answered a question from Danielle who is having this problem. The question and answer are worth posting, as it’s much easier to find articles about the benefits of meditation than about the challenges that may come along.
Q (from Danielle who recently started meditating):
“The past week I feel I’m more irritated than I usually am, mostly about other people. Is it possible that meditation makes you more sensitive to sounds, noise, etc? Have you heard it before that people become more irritated in a time where they meditate? Of course it is possible that other issues in my life attribute to this feeling. Do you have a suggestion or should I just let it be?”
A: “There could be a number of reasons that you are feeling more irritable and you will need to experiment with and explore them to see what is happening. As you say, it could be issues in your life and not have to do with the meditation. Some people become irritable when under stress. If it is related to the meditation, I can think of three possibilities:
1 – You are coming out of meditation too quickly. If you get deep into meditation and then come out really fast, it can cause a headache or irritability. Always take time to come out of meditation slowly.
2 – Sometimes emotions that are under the surface can come up in the deep relaxation of meditation. We may become more aware of things that we are feeling. This ties in with the life issues. You may be more aware of how you are feeling about things, perhaps something that you are angry about, or it could even been some stored anger from the past. In either case, let the feeling be there in meditation, letting go if you notice resistance. When you are out of meditation, see if you can find the source of the irritation.
3 – You are straining in meditation. Ideally meditation is effortless, or you develop the habit of backing off when you realize you are trying too hard. It could make you irritable if you are making too much effort.”
I asked Danielle to keep me posted on what she discovers as she explores these possibilities. I’d love to hear from you if you have had similar experiences or challenges with meditation.
February 25, 2010
Even a few minutes is enough to relax and release tension. Our latest podcast episode, Mini Break from Work or Study, is a short meditation you can use when you have just a few minutes to spare. It guides you through a process that you can use anytime, even when you don’t have your mp3 player with you.
After you’ve done it a few times, your body will remember to use it to relax. Similar in length to the Deep Relaxation Meditation in our first podcast episode, this meditation has a different approach. You’ll be guided to let go of your work, stretch, take some deep breaths and do a quick body scan with tension release. I think you’ll be impressed with how much difference a little time away from work or studies can make.
If you can take a little time here and there to relax, it can make a big difference. Making it a habit to take breaks throughout the day can really reduce your stress. I have to remind myself to do this all the time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the sense of urgency about getting things done. You may feel you can’t afford to take the time, but you really can’t afford not to! When you take time off to “reset”, you’ll be able to accomplish a lot more. When you feel clear and relaxed, everything goes better!
July 27, 2009
Although many people have reported stress relief from our meditations, we’ve still had requests for a special meditation for stress. This inspired me to create this latest podcast — a meditation that goes further and helps to root out the stress at a deeper level.
Like all the guided meditations I create, I am meditating as I speak. I am literally meditating with you. Since I was feeling a lot of pressure on the day I recorded this meditation, I found myself sinking deeply into my own experience and talking my way through it. I actually felt a lot better after I finished the recording! I hope your experience is the same.
Acting under a sense of pressure doesn’t help us accomplish what we need to do. In fact, the feeling of pressure can interfere. Our energy is actually being dissipated and our attention scattered as we are in an over-stimulated state. In reality, we are able to accomplish a lot more when we are relaxed. Our minds are clearer and all of our energy can go toward the task at hand rather than into pressuring ourselves. And of course, it’s extremely unpleasant to feel pressured.
Relaxation is the antidote to that pressured state. It’s an antidote for stress. It’s so difficult, though, to relax once we’re feeling that kind of pressure. We feel as if we have to meet its demands! We hesitate to take the time to relax. So it’s important understand that taking the time to relax will actually help us accomplish more.
Also, it can be challenging to sit still with that feeling of pressure. It may be accompanied by unpleasant feelings such as anxiety, irritability and so on. Continuing to be focused on a task keeps us from feeling the inner discomfort that is propelling us. To allow deep relaxation to happen, we need to be able to be present to the emotions and bodily sensations associated with the stress and pressure. Being able to sit with those feelings and and sensations and experience them completely helps them to resolve. It allows the tensions to unwind.
Using this meditation regularly should help develop a habit of noticing when a sense of pressure is present and then backing off. The more we respond the the pressure, the more pressured we feel. Our muscles tighten and our emotions escalate in their intensity. This meditation can help you develop new ways of responding to stress, ways which help create more balance and ease.
At the end of the meditation, you have the option of continuing on your own with the music. Be creative — use the various strategies that were used during the meditation in the way that works best for you. Some of the things mentioned were noticing the breath, feeling what the pressure feels like, being fully present to the emotions, noticing tension in the body and letting it go. Let your intuition guide you. You can learn to relieve the stress and pressure using your own inner knowing. You just need to take the time to listen.
May 12, 2009
I recently had an email from someone under a great deal of stress asking which meditations to use to keep stress from making him sick and out of balance. Although anything that’s relaxing will help relieve stress, I recommended the following podcast episodes in particular:
- Mini Relaxation Break
- Breath Awareness
- Simply Being
- Effortless Meditation
- Deep Rest
- Letting Go
I recommended these particular meditations because they don’t have a specific focus or ask you to be active in any way. My sense is that they would allow for the deepest rest and therefore the most release of tension. When we are deeply relaxed, our body chemistry and muscles switch gears from the flight or fight response into a more relaxed style of functioning. The energy of the body can then go to work to release tension and recuperate.
Ultimately, though, I encourage you to try the various episodes for yourself. Try the ones whose titles and descriptions appeal most to you. That way you can see the effects of the various meditations. It just might be that a focused meditation would be most helpful with some specific types of stress. If you are grieving, for example, the Grief Meditation might be most useful.
(You can listen to our podcast on iTunes or on this page.)
July 2, 2008
We’ve had several requests for a meditation having to do with coping with change, and here it is.
Just looking at my own life over the past couple months reveals a staggering amount of change. I’m sure any one of you could report the same.
Change, of course, is in the nature of life. It’s constant. Life is movement. Life is one thing morphing into another. We don’t realize how many changes we are experiencing all the time. The weather changes, our moods change as our hormones fluctuate, relationships, technology and institutions are constantly changing — it’s endless.
Change can be exciting, but it can also be challenging. Whether it’s a major life change or a myriad of other smaller changes, change is constant and change takes time and energy. What’s more is that it can be mentally and emotionally challenging. We need to develop mental clarity, emotional stability and adaptable bodies to deal with all the change.
Meditation is one of the best ways to surf the waves of change. The Flowing with Change Meditation can help with change in several ways. First, it helps us relax into the reactions that we have to change so that we can be more clear mentally and have more emotional stability. The second is that the deep relaxation of meditation helps us recharge our batteries so that we have more energy for dealing with change. And finally, the meditation helps us connect with that which doesn’t change — the unchanging nature of our own awareness which is present throughout all our experience. That awareness is wakeful and intelligent. It is unchanging and constant, and recognizing it helps us to feel anchored in the midst of change.