5 Ways to De-Stress

Some people think meditation is too hippity-dippity to get behind. And I know, it can sometimes seem really kooky. But I swear, when I took a meditation class for childbirth, I slept better in the days following than I ever had before. Plus, there is something really nice about forced quiet and relaxation, especially when it can seem like you’re being constantly stimulated by kids and noise and traffic and smartphones and TV.

So if your stress is off the charts or you just want a little guidance for meditating because you’re a total newbie, check out these tips from William W. Blake. Blake’s new meditation book A Creative Toolkit of Meditations, is a guidebook designed to make meditation easily accessible to anyone, so these tips are perfect for beginners. Plus, spoiler alert: it’s a lot about breathing, which I’m sure you’re a pro at!


5 Ways to De-Stress

1. Take note of your breath. By simply noticing our breathing, we become more mindful and stop beating ourselves up with negative thoughts about ourselves or someone else.

2. Affirm. Whenever you experience a negative thought or feeling, breathe it in with a slow, expansive opening of your chest area. On the inhale, give yourself the affirmation: I am loved by the heart. On the exhale, offer the affirmation: I love the heart. Rest in silence for a moment and repeat with a couple in-and-out breaths, until the negative thought dissipates.

3. Be aware. For a more sophisticated and powerful breathing meditation, in-breathe the negative thought or emotion with a slow, wide opening of the chest area. Exhale slowly and deeply while thinking I am the awareness or witness observing you.

4. Think positively. Positive thoughts tend to hatch more positive thoughts. When you have a negative thought, actively replace it with a positive one. For example, if you find yourself thinking, “I feel guilt because I haven’t exercised enough” replace it with, “I work out for an hour at the gym six days a week. Screw you, guilt.”

5. Be patient. There’s no way to estimate how much time it will take to see results. You could choose two meditations, practice them for years and notice little to no change. Then one day you sneeze and, suddenly and completely, you know who and what you are and you have a sense of your larger purpose in life.

Do you try to meditate regularly? Or are you like me and you attempt as you lie in bed at night and find yourself asleep immediately? —Erin

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