The Power of Meditation (and Prayer) in Times of Stress
I’m no stranger to stress. As an entrepreneur I have had more than my share of sleepless nights and fretful days as I have navigated through a world that has very little appreciation for the sacrifice and dedication that it takes to open, build and run a business with no safety net, no guaranteed income and no long term security. Most of my friends have government jobs or jobs with large corporations that offer significant long-term benefits and job security. I grew up surrounded by teachers and people employed by fully funded NGOs.
I’ve worked in start-up firms or for myself since I was 19.
Sure, I’ve brokered some big deals in my day. The kind that purchase a modicum of security for a few months or even a year, but the money inevitably runs out and I am always left searching for the next big thing.
In the era of COVID19 many of my closest personal friends, colleagues, associates, and clients are experiencing job related financial stress for the very first time and I’ve been fielding a lot of calls from a lot of stressed out people.
Earlier this week I created a resource page that I published on google docs to help people find the things they might need to get through these stressful times.
Focusing on your breathing is the first step of meditation in all its forms.
According to Healthline.com, meditation, regardless of religious context has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, control anxiety, promote emotional health, enhance self-awareness, lengthen attention span, slow age related memory loss, improve sleep, control pain, and decrease blood pressure.
In my book “Prayer School”, available on Amazon.ca or for free download I dedicated the entire first chapter to centering and opening your mind and heart for greater things. Whether you are religious or not the practise of the breath prayer (or breathing meditation if you prefer) is a key step in calming your mind and centering your thoughts for a greater purpose.
So here is a quick breath prayer or breathing meditation exercise that I teach everyone who comes to me in financial stress. When pressures mount and it seems like you are losing control follow these steps to calm your mind before you act on your impulses. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
1 – Stop
2– Be Still
3 – Breath In for a count of 4
4 – Hold it for a count of 4
5 – Breath Out for a count of 4
6 – Repeat until you feel your heart rate slow
If it helps repeat a mantra as you breath in and out. Personally, I like to breath in and out on Psalm 46:10, “Be still (in), and know that I am God (out).” It helps me to remember that I am not alone in the world. But the words don’t really matter, I had one friend who like to breath “I like (in), peanut butter sandwiches (out).” The point is, to take your mind and body away from whatever it is that is causing you stress in the moment. Once your heart rate settles down, you can turn your focus to the problem at hand with more clarity and peace of mind.
This practise works to calm anxiety and stop panic attacks in their tracks, but meditation is also a great way to inject a general sense of calm into your daily life. Many people have incorporated meditation into their lives as a regular practise at the beginning and/or end of each day. I’ve been doing it every morning for decades. That’s next level stuff though, for now, and while we all learn to navigate the world during and post COVID19, a simple breathing meditation can go a long way to help us all through these stressful times.
How do you deal with stress? Let me know in the comments below. And if you are having trouble dealing with financial stress as a result of COVID19, or any other reason, get in touch and let’s talk. But first – breathe.