Mediation is a topic that doesn’t exactly vibe with everyone. Although it is 2019 and more people are turning to more holistic and authentic ways of life, we still generally hold a stigma when it comes to those who meditate. Many of us picture monks in long robes, holding vows of silence, devoting hours to meditation every day to find enlightenment. But Emily Fletcher is here to change your thoughts on meditation. In her new book, “Stress Less, Accomplish More”, Emily encourages readers to ditch their preconceived notions and past experiences with meditation and look at it through an entirely new lens. Could meditation really be what’s keeping you from living a productive and fulfilling life?
I Can’t Quiet My Mind
For many, the hardest part of meditation is the concept of “quieting our minds” and finding that “inner stillness”. After a few minutes of playing ping pong with our thoughts, many of us get frustrated and feel inadequate. This cycle becomes discouraging and therefore many interpret that as meditation simply not being for them.
Emily recognizes that we all experience those whirlwind moments of thought. And she wants to validate and remind us all that having those bursts of thoughts is completely normal. Her goal isn’t to help us clear those thoughts, but rather simply take notice of them. She equates thoughts to clouds in the sky passing us by. We can see clouds. Sometimes we can even recognize patterns and shapes within the clouds. But instead of clinging to each and every cloud, we let them drift by with the wind without judgment or second thought. We should approach our thoughts in the same manner. When a thought comes to our brain, we need to detach from thought itself and observe it. You can give it a name (a thought tied to frustration or feelings of insecurity for example). You can notice how it makes you feel. But then you should do your best to let it go. Take the important information you need from the thought and follow John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s cue to “Let It Be.”
The 15-Minute Reset
Unlike those earlier described monks who can meditate for hours, Emily only asks that you take 15 minutes twice a day to meditate. Yes, you read that right. 15 minutes, two times a day. That’s it. Emily suggests you do your first meditation as close to waking up as you can. She herself has a morning routine of waking up, making her bed, washing her face and brushing her teeth, and then sitting down for her first meditation of the day. This allows her (and anyone who follows her methods) to get the benefits of centering and setting an intention for the day.
The second meditation should come sometime in the afternoon or early evening (before dinner). It is a way to reset and center after the morning chaos of work, projects, deadlines, meetings, and impromptu stress. Not to mention, it is also a great way to recharge your energy to be able to adapt and cope with the challenges the rest of the day may throw at you.
How to Meditate to Stress Less and Accomplish More
Emily’s meditation practice is actually pretty simple and is broken down into three parts. Think of them as a connected triangle made up of the 3-M’s: mindfulness, meditation, and manifestation. As we mentioned, the practice is only 15 minutes. Emily wants you to begin setting and recognizing your internal clock yet knows that in itself is a process. If you worry about going over time or dozing off (it can happen), she suggests setting an alarm for 17 or so minutes, with a soothing ringer, just in case.
Step One: Mindfulness: Come to Your Senses
This mindfulness exercise is designed to bring you completely into the present moment by exploring all of your senses. You start by focusing on each sense individually, gradually moving through them all. Start with listening. What do you hear? What is the most dominant sound you can hear? And then identify which sound is the faintest? Explore these contrasting levels in all of your senses – sight (yes you can see even with your eyes closed), touch, taste, and smell.
Once you move through each sense independently, then explore them together. What are you seeing and smelling? What can you hear and what do you feel? In time, you will create more seamless transitions into focusing on your senses. This, in turn, allows your brain to begin making stronger connections than it was able to before.
This part of your practice should last roughly two minutes. For a guided Come to Your Senses practice, click here.
Step Two: Meditation
Once you are fully in the present moment and your brain is fully connected, it is time to begin meditating. You will repeat a mantra in your mind over and over again. In the book, Emily gives readers a simple, generalized mantra to keep them grounded and stable. However, in her workshops, online courses, and one on one sessions, she collaborates to come up with more personal mantras. The mantra is simply meant to be an anchor during the meditation.
As we noted before, thoughts are going to continually creep into your mind. That’s kind of what they do. But it’s easier to take a step back from them when you have that mantra reminder centering you.
This part of your practice should last roughly 10 minutes or so.
Step Three: Manifestation
Let’s start with the Law of Attraction. We have talked about it before. According to legend, The Law of Attraction was first taught hundreds of years ago to a man by the immortal Buddha. It is believed that Buddha wanted it to be known that “what you have become is what you have thought.” The idea spread, and over the years, this concept developed in western culture under the term “karma”. If we think of ourselves as cell phone towers, we recognize that every conscious and subconscious thought, action, emotion, and word sends a signal out into the universe. These signals go out and attract back more of what kinds of signals we have been putting out. If you aren’t aware of the signals your sending, you may be attracting unwanted things into your life.
The manifesting part of your practice begins with a quick gratitude session. Before we ask the universe for what we believe we deserve, we should give thanks for all that we do have. Have you ever noticed how good it feels to give thanks? The colors of nature seem a little more vibrant and saturated. And the air feels a little lighter, fresher, and more filled with oxygen than normal. Reflecting upon and being grateful allows us to see what’s right in front of our eyes in the present moment. And can help us more clearly envision a future in which we feel fulfilled.
Which brings us to the last part of the practice, future manifestation. Clearly visualize the next step in the direction you want your life to go. Maybe it’s shaking hands with your boss after receiving a big promotion. Or perhaps it’s feeling and seeing the engagement ring on your finger. For you, it could be stepping foot in the home you’ve dreamt of purchasing. Allow yourself to be open to all you deserve. Practicing manifesting every day allows us to remember our goals and remind us of the choices we need to make to get us there.
Why Meditation Works: Stress and Adaptive Energy
We are all born with a certain amount of energy. In our Western culture, we relate this to the topics of naturopathy, homeopathy and chiropractic sciences. It is here we describe this concept as life energy, life force, vital force, etheric, vital energy, orgone energy or zero-point energy. Some of us are born with the ability to absorb more energy from their surroundings. And some of us have to try a little harder. Those people are often identified as achievers and pretty independent. They tend to make more positive life choices – eat consciously for nutrition, stay hydrated, notice their breathing, and get adequate sleep. These habits allow us to absorb subtle energy
Adaptive energy correlates with the idea of being able to bounce back in stressful situations. You know those days that don’t seem to go your way? The days where you’re late, or you forget something important, or Carol in the cube next to you is talking so loud to a client that you can’t get anything done and your huge deadline just got moved to tomorrow? And then when you get home, your dog chewed up your favorite slipper and then your neighbor starts blasting their country music, and all you can do is burst into tears. Yea, that’s when you’re out of adaptive energy.
Remember how early we talked about how meditation helps your brain make newer and stronger connections than before? That’s because it is during meditation in which our left and right sides of our brain are able to say hello and get to know each other. And the more consistently you practice meditation, the more the sides of our brains are able to connect outside of our practice. Giving you more patience, openness, and understanding to cope with all those stressful things throughout your day!
CPA Counseling Wants to Help!
Counseling can be a helpful tool to help you make the changes you want and work toward that end goal. Sharing these things with your therapist can help you both stay on the same page. And it also keeps you accountable in working towards your goals. Therapy and counseling are safe spaces where you can voice your concerns, develop coping and communication skills, and find the support you need.
Remember, therapy is hard work! It can feel extremely uncomfortable and even exhausting. Having a hand to hold and help guide you will only add to your personal success. Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and one in the Robinson area. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you stress less and accomplish more in 2019.
** Emily Fletcher is the founder of Ziva Meditation and the creator of zivaONLINE, the world’s first online training. Ziva’s mission is to make meditation attractive and accessible to people who are ready to up-level their performance and their lives.
Jennifer Krause – MS, LPC
Jennifer is a Licensed Professional Counselor who received her Masters of Science Degree from Chatham University. She has over 18 years of counseling experience with a wide range of patients in a variety of treatment settings. These have included: outpatient community mental health agencies, partial psychiatric hospital settings, both inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol facilities, correctional settings, and an outpatient intensive treatment foster care program. Her clinical experience has been broad, treating both adolescents and adults struggling with: addiction, trauma, mood disorders, anger management issues, borderline personality disorder, depression, and anxiety. I also have experience with couples counseling, working with families, and group therapy. She has extensive training in Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Trauma-Focused CBT.