Find Peace and Comfort in the Age of Anxiety

How can we find positive, sustainable comfort in this age of anxiety? A comfort that connects us to ourselves, and the Divine, regardless of our religion or spiritual tradition? In my life, meditation is a key that turns the lock and opens the mind and heart, as it shifts us from unconsciousness back into consciousness.

In my mediation practice and the groups I lead we experience the positive pleasure of being alive. Meditation allows us to reduce our pains, and rekindle our hopes and dreams. It takes us to an inner sanctuary where our inner resources can fuel our outer expression ... as they return us to our center, the surest place of comfort in our soul.

Meditation is nothing new yet in our modern world it has become widely respected as an essential way to reduce stress, enhance well being and, for some people, feel closer to Divine Source. Studies have shown that meditation is a way to maintain your spiritual center regardless of religion and it can be as simple as carving out 10 minutes a day to just be.

Stress-related disorders are on the rise due to our complex and constantly changing world and we are seeing symptoms of fear and anxiety that have skyrocketed in the past decade. These directly impact our quality of life and our health.

Meditation helps us to take a break from chaos. As we move away from the stimuli of the moment we are able to gain more clarity, focus and peace of mind.

The key to meditation is it allows us to calm our fears and move into the present moment, and in that moment we can tap into a sense of peace — rather than worrying about the past or obsessing about the future.

Give Yourself a Meditation Break

If you make some form of meditation a regular part of your well-being routine you will find that you waste less and less energy on worry and reactive behavior and that your capacity for coping with life's ups and downs increases. You will begin to adopt a new sense of mindfulness and awareness that will give you the power to participate more fully in your own life. You will learn that your "home" is inside you, and that you can take it with you wherever you go — and retreat to it wherever you are. This means that even if you are traveling — by train or plane — or hanging out at the office or a beautiful park, you can take time out to center yourself through meditation.

The Breath is the Key to Meditation

When we are tense or anxious, we tend to hold our breath. The breath is the key to finding inner peace and harmony. It is our link with our bodies and the world. For most of us, breathing is something we never think about, yet for the most part we are breathing shallow breathes into our chest. This shallow breathing actually can create a stressful condition in our minds and bodies. By slowing down your breath, you will instantly relax your body and bring clarity into your mind.

The next time you are feeling stressed, focus on your breathing. Try it at a business meeting, before picking the kids up from school or while sitting in a doctor's waiting room. Athletes are meditating to improve their game, artists are using it to access their creativity and doctors are finding it helps their patients heal.

Power of the Heart Meditation

The following technique, adapted from Momentary Meditations, is a "portable stress-breaker. " You can easily take it with you wherever you go. By using it whenever you feel out of balance, you will find that you are calmer, clearer and more able to cope with what life has to offer. This is perfect to use if you re flying through turbulence, you receive a disturbing phone call, your business meeting falls apart or your mind gets stuck in a worry loop.

Take a few slow, deep breaths...

and imagine pushing a pause button deep within your chest.

Begin to focus at the heart center.

Envision it as a bright golden sun. (20-30 seconds)

Now think of a positive quality or experiences that you have had:

You may feel appreciation for someone special in your life. ... or envision a beautiful scene in nature, your favorite place or the locale you want to explore on your next vacation... or imagine a baby's laughter or the joy of licking an ice cream cone on a hot day. Let yourself really be in the experience. Give yourself permission to smile. (60 seconds).

Now, take 3 deep breaths and come back to normal waking consciousness and open your eyes.

To Summarize:

Appreciating where we have been is a magical tool to harmony and joy. As we review and meditate on the happy pictures of where we have been, and where we dream of going, we become imbued with gratitude for life and are inspired to dream about places we have yet to go.

Barbara Biziou is a leading expert on rituals and meditation. She is author of "The Joy of Ritual" and "The Joy of Family Rituals". She is creator and producer of Momentary Meditations, a DVD shot in high definition video that features five powerful guided mediations geared to help people stay centered at home and on the road.

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