How Do You Deal With Stress?


propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

A couple of weeks ago I read an article on Yahoo! News that gave me pause for thought.  Dan Harris, an ABC News Anchor, shared a part of his life seen by millions around the world.  During a live broadcast, Harris had a debilitating panic attack.  Unable to finish his spot, he turned it  back to Diane Sawyer.  Harris couldn’t breathe and was as surprised as anyone when this occurrence happened.  He took a good look at his life to research reasons for the attack and discovered he had three very problematic areas.  One was his frenzied attempt to rise to the top,  another was reporting from Iraq, and the third taking occasional recreational drugs on the weekend.  He was very stressed.  When he saw a psychiatrist the doctor told him the attack was most likely provoked by the drugs.

Stressed

 Mr. Harris sought to find healing.  He tried everything and nothing worked.  Meditation was suggested and, desperate, he decided to give it a try.

Mr. Harris’ idea of meditation was sitar music and chanting, but he knew he had antiquated ideas about the subject, a throwback to the era of the 60’s and 70’s.  He thought the idea might be a little crazy, however, he went to a class.  As he learned to breathe he found  peace.   Harris says the trick is to learn the breathing process to keep stress at a lower level.

Once he learned to meditate, Harris made it a daily habit, spending Meditatingbetween 1-2 hours a day.  He slowed down his life, looked around at things he had never noticed before; as his brain slowed down, and his work improved, he slept better, and quit worrying.  As Mr. Harris found answers in meditation he wrote a book entitled 10% Happier.  You can watch a video of Dan Harris’ breakdown here as he explains his experience and how he turned to meditation.

Though his earlier thoughts about meditation took a while to change, Harris overcame those preconceptions and learned to reap the benefits of meditation and relaxation.

I had much the same feeling when asked to try meditation as part of my therapy for Bipolar Disorder.  Although I had many of the same thoughts Mr. Harris did, I do know the quietness of prayer, so thought I could try it and decide then.

A free  21-day meditation from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey was offered on the Chopra website.  I signed up, and from the first day I experienced relaxation, but it took  a few  months to learn to get quiet and kick the “mind monkeys” out of my head.  Mind monkeys are all the thoughts that creep inside while you try to stay focused and relaxed.  You’ll always have thoughts that come and go, but with practice you can ignore them.seafoam

 That meditation ended and there was a break before the Mentors Channel started with a 21-day Meditation, each session taught by different experts on the subject. When that program ended, I haunted YouTube for “guided meditation”.  Between the 21-Day classes I use YouTube and find many wonderful guided meditations.  My favorites on YouTube are those by ‘The Honest Guys.” You can search and find many uplifting and relaxing meditations from them, as well as those presented by other teachers. I prefer to have my eyes closed during meditation, although the experts say it doesn’t matter.  Meditation is your time and you should do it whenever and however you’re most comfortable. 

 I look for 10-30 minute meditations in the morning.  I get up early, make coffee, walk the dog, and meditate.  When I’m through I feel calm and ready to start my day.  I did this for several months when I had a couple of anxiety attacks and my therapist recommended I try doing an additional meditation at night.  Another 21-day Mentors Channel class started.  Instead of listening to a guided meditation, a duo sang meditations.  The name of the artists are are Deva Premal and Miten.  Deva has one of the loveliest voices I’ve ever heard.  She and Miten record together, but there are many earlier albums by Deva alone.  I now do one of these recordings before bedtime to relax.  Some of these are available on YouTube, (search for Deva Primal or Deva and Miten) but I’ve been buying songs one at a time on the iTunes store.  Here is a sample recording.

Doing two meditations a day worked well until I had a mood swing that drained me.  My therapist suggested I meditate four times a day until I felt better.  I did this by not changing my morning and evening meditations, but by adding a prayer here and there, listening to a 5-minute meditation, or sitting quietly for 5 minutes.  I’m still doing this because I have been in a severe depression for a couple of weeks.  I know it will change though.  The meditation helps as I breathe deeply and relax.

I’ve learned is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate.  I prefer guided meditations, as they seem to help me relax more, but there are scores of recordings that are just music.  Some tell you to watch the images on the screen but my mind wanders too much when I do that.  I prefer to close my eyes, listen, and feel the peace and relaxation through my body.  You’ll find what works best for you.sunset

Have you ever tried meditation?  Would you?  What are your thoughts on the subject?

Below are some links you might find helpful if you decide to try it.  I know you’ll reap benefits.

Explanation of Meditation on Wikipedia

The following video on YouTube is short and explains the benefits of meditation.

How to Meditate

My favorite meditations come from The Honest Guys on YouTube. Here are two examples.

 Blissful Deep Relaxation

 Guided Meditation for Health and Healing

 

Books by L.Leander:

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

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Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

 

 

 

 

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

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Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

 

 

 

13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

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13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook

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You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

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The Greatest Gift

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

When I was three years old, it was a doll called “Miss Peep.” When I was eight, it was a bicycle painted in my favorite color (purple!), complete with a handle-barred white basket with pink and purple flowers. When I was 19, it was an engagement ring. When I was 25, it was my bachelor’s degree and my first job as a writer for a newspaper. Each time I thought, “This is the greatest gift!”

Miss Peep doll

Dolls come apart, bicycles get traded, engagements are broken (mine due to his infidelity and subsequent departure to marry someone else), papers dull, and jobs change (although I am still a writer). During the Christmas season, we’re bombarded by ads to BUY, BUY, BUY, and kids beg and whine to their parents to get them “the greatest gift.” We’re led to believe we need more stuff, bigger, stronger, faster … made to feel we can’t live without the latest gadget, largest TV, or fastest car. But, gadgets give out, TVs go on the fritz, and cars get T-boned. And, even with what we do have left when our time on earth is finished, as the saying goes, “you can’t take it with you” … or as John Ortberg so succinctly says in his book, “it all goes back in the box.”

Gifts are amazing. The saying goes, “Your life is a gift from God; what you make of it is your gift to Him.” A recent sermon at my church spoke to that, mostly in the form of our work and our volunteerism. The minister reminded us work is a gift – whether we work outside or inside the home. We’re blessed to use our talents, to positively impact people, and to make a wage to pay bills … or not make a wage and serve/care for our families.

Gayle_ChrisjpgGifts also come to us in the forms of talents and abilities. Whether one has the gift of music, the gift of hospitality, the gift of managing, the gift of writing – each one is important and wonderful; I appreciate those traits in people. Again, our gifts/talents are from God and what we do with them is our gift to Him (and to others).

Gifts of material things, such as diamond jewelry, candy, flowers, a car – those are wonderful as well. I appreciate the gifts my family and friends give me on my birthday, for no “special reason,” and for Christmas. But, it’s not the “stuff” that makes me smile as much as the love and care with which those gifts are given. The relationships, those family members and friends, are gifts themselves. Recently my husband gave me the gift of taking our little family (us and the two dogs) to our mountain cabin. He had spent the previous weekend snow-blowing and plowing our long driveway from the main road to the cabin. This hasn’t been done in recent years because the blower/plow needed repair and we didn’t have the money to fix it. He spent two long afternoons ensuring we could drive in to the property so that our nearly 17-year-old Cody dog could go with us and not have to walk (or be carried). We spent a delightful, sunny Sunday afternoon basking in the beauty that is our mountain hideaway, and though I’m not much of a snow or winter person anymore, the majesty of brilliant blue, sunny skies, peace and quiet, and the aura of Christmas delighted my heart and relaxed my spirit. That was a special gift of love he gave me (plus, Greg enjoys winter much more than I do! But I still greatly appreciated the gift of his time spent making the trek possible and the time we shared eating soup, reading, and simply enjoying the scenery).

Cabin_back sideThe gift of love is the greatest gift, and during this Christmas season I’m reminded of the greatest gift of all – the love my Heavenly Father bestowed, giving his one and only Son, so that, as Scripture says, “whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life.”

Christmas isn’t just packages under a tree, festive light displays on the lawn, or mistletoe above the doorway (although those are nice) – Christmas is love from friends family and the One who Created us. Christmas is loved wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager … then, 33 years later, dying on a cross and rising from the grave. Without Christ there is no “Christ-mas”, it’s just another day. The greatest gift of all is Jesus – He is love … and mercy … and hope … and so much more. I pray we each unwrap that precious present, the greatest gift of all – the very Love of God, which was given to each one of us that first Christmas, a present from the past that continues into the future, given to us every day.

Nativity movie scene

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is a writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion boos: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What?, released August 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, Creation Illustrated, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal, River Press, and Douglas Budget newspapers. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.

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