Stress in today’s society is more common than ever before, with top causes stemming from job pressure, financials, health, relationships and poor nutrition. In Canada, over 1 in 4 workers report being highly stressed (StatCan, 2010) every day of their lives. Recent studies have shown that stress has a direct impact on mental and physical wellbeing, sometimes even encouraging poor lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking, drug use or bad eating habits. Unsurprisingly, the problem of stress is now no longer just limited to the world of adults, with 49% of post secondary students reporting more than average stress levels in 2016.
The art of meditation is a practice thousands of years old with origins rooted in the spiritual traditions of ancient India. Though making its way to North American in the 1960’s, only in the last decade has it become a method of approach amongst mainstream society, helped along greatly by the practice of yoga and celebrity doctors such as Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Grail Springs Wellness Retreat owner and wellness guru Madeleine Marentette has dedicated her life to helping others in the art of meditation, assisting individuals on how to self-correct, gain clarity, and calm the nervous system: especially when feelings of frustration, panic and anxiety arise.
With April being National Stress Awareness Month, here are five beginner meditation exercises Marentette recommends you do at home to destress, calm your nerves and feel a little more joy in your life:
Immerse Yourself in a Relaxation Bath: Take a warm bath in Epsom salts, Dead Sea or Himalayan salt. Download some healing music such as the sounds of crystal bowls, specifically designed to calm the energetic system of the body. Light a few soy candles (no perfume), and drop some relaxation essential oils into the bath such as Lavender. Give yourself a 20-30 minute break and allow the warmth, the salts, the scents and sounds to envelop you in calm.
Stop and Smell the Roses: Visit your local flower shop on your way home from work and treat yourself to a bouquet of flowers. This sounds far too simple to have an effect, but who doesn’t like to receive flowers and feel the joy they bring to us. Place the flowers somewhere where you will see them often; on the kitchen counter, living room table or on your bed table. Inviting the beauty of nature in to the home can have an immediate calming and joyful effect from both the visual beauty and the aromas.
Stay Clean and Organize: It’s important that our home is treated like a sanctuary. After all it is where we spend most of our lives and it is the only environment we can truly control. It is interesting to note that our home, office and even the interior of our car is a reflection of how we might be thinking and feeling at a particular time in our life. Is your personal space organized, clean and inspiring, or is it in disarray, unclean and uninspiring? You may not recognize it, but your personal space may be adding to your stress. Take a day to address one space at time, which can be therapeutic in itself. Purge, donate, toss, clean, organize and smudge. Breathe new life in to the space, allow in some fresh air, and get things in order. This is highly beneficial to clearing a cluttered mind, enabling us to relax, be in the flow of creativity, and deal with issues more efficiently when they come up.
Words, Mantras and Prayer: Adopt a mantra. We know words can provide positive affirmations and act as reminders to take action. Choose a few words that resonate with you, how you wish to feel, a goal you want to work on and an outcome you want achieve. Words are powerful symbols of thoughts, so choose those that will help you to stay calm, peaceful, and committed to your own wellbeing. Prayer or an invocation is also a powerful way to redirect misguided energy, turn pessimism in to optimism, enact forgiveness of self or others, change feelings of disempowered to empowerment. Write your words, mantra or prayer down and keep them with you, close to you, post them on your bathroom mirror or fridge. Affirm yourself every day until it becomes a way of life.
Noble Silence Practice: Once you have completed some of the simpler tips noted above, schedule a day when you are able to stay at home and really slow things down. Decide on a time between two and three hours where you will choose not to speak. Turn off the phone and shut down the computers. Go about your business doing chores, laundry or making a meal. Take this time to invoke silence, listen and just observe. Do not rush, but be gentle with your movements. Watch your incoming thoughts and allow them float away. Don’t give them any more thought. Take a deep breath and direct yourself back to silence. Keep a smile on your face. This practice can be profound and bring an individual endless realizations following. Make sure you have a journal handy so you can record them. Silence takes practice just like training a muscle. The benefits are tremendous to the mind, and will ultimately bring clarity and calm into our lives.
About Grail Springs Retreat Centre for Wellbeing:
Located in the Mineral Capital of Canada, and the oldest exposed rock in the world, Grail Springs is close enough for an easy drive from Toronto International Airport, yet far enough to feel you have escaped to another world. With hundreds of acres of pristine forest, walking trails, crystal outcrop, abundant wildlife, meditation gardens and a curative spring-fed lake, individuals are inspired by the stunning natural beauty and are recharged by the potent healing environment that supports them.