Category Archives: Soothe the Stress

An ongoing compendium of tips.
Try one, try ’em all.

Quiet Amidst the Chaos

Rupert Park

There are times when you need a moment of peace and quiet.  It can be difficult in the city to find that quiet place.  But finding the quiet place inside, that’s the real trick.  And that, that you can find anywhere.  How?  Ah, that’s what we’re all working on, isn’t it?

Copyright © 2014  Marlin S. Potash, Ed.D.  All rights reserved.  

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A meditation…

Soothe the Stress: A Conscious Breathing Meditation

I was recently asked to put together a conscious breathing meditation for someone who finds reading an easier way to focus than listening to a pre-recorded meditation – and for whom simply returning to a focal point may well be simple, but is not at all easy.  The following meditation is meant to be read, either silently or, if one wanted to, recorded in one’s own voice.  Thought I’d share it here for anyone else who might find it helpful.  Comments – always – appreciated.

Make certain you won’t be disturbed.  Turn off the tv and quiet all electronic devices.  Close the door and quietly yet clearly tell yourself you have decided you will now do a conscious breathing meditation.  Determine if you will give yourself 3-5 minutes, or if you might set aside 15-20 minutes.  Either way, consciously decide you will now do a breathing meditation, and gently tell yourself you will now begin.

Sit comfortably, by which I mean sit with your feet uncrossed and on the floor, and your hands uncrossed in your lap or resting on the arms of the chair.  Let the chair support your weight;  feel the floor under your feet. Or lie down comfortably – supported and uncrossed – on the floor.  If your body wants to shift position as your meditation progresses, that’s fine.  Just start out uncrossed and supported by chair or floor.

Close your eyes and focus your awareness on your breath.  Nothing to do, nothing to worry about, simply notice your breath coming into your body, and moving out of your body.  And again.  And again.  As you focus your awareness on your breath, you may notice your breathing gets deeper – or more shallow.  If it changes, fine.  If it does not change, fine.  Simply focus your awareness on your breath as you inhale and exhale. Notice your breath coming into your body, moving through your body, and moving out of your body.  And again.

Good.

Now allow your awareness of your breath to gently shift, as you focus on HOW you inhale through your nose.  Notice how your breath fills your chest and belly. And then focus on HOW you exhale, also through your nose.  Nothing to do, nothing to change, just focusing your awareness on your breathing however it is in this moment.

You are becoming mindful of your breath, focusing your awareness on your breath, becoming conscious of your breathing.  Nothing to do, nothing to worry about; no correct way, no incorrect way.  Simply focusing your awareness on your breath.  As it moves into your body, as you inhale through your nose.  As it moves through your body, filling your chest and belly with breath.  As it moves out of your body, as you exhale through your nose.  Notice how it is your breath moves into, through, and out of your body.

Good.  As you continue to focus your awareness on your breath, imagine it is as if your breath were breathing you.  As if you were watching a movie called “My breath is breathing me.”  You needn’t do anything; your breath continues with or without your conscious awareness.  You are now choosing to be aware of your breath.

Focus your awareness on your breath as you inhale through your nose.  Focus your awareness on your breath as it fills your chest and belly. Focus your awareness on your breath as you exhale through your nose.

Your mind may wander: remembering something you must do, worrying about a deadline, wondering how you are doing at this meditation.  Minds wander.  It is what minds do.  When your mind wanders, when you become aware of your mind wandering, bring it back to focus on your breath, easily and gently.

Focus your awareness on your breath as you inhale through your nose.  Focus your awareness on your breath as it fills your chest and belly. Focus your awareness on your breath as you exhale through your nose.

Again.  And again.  And again.

Good.

You may find it helpful, as you breathe in, to say to yourself, ‘Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.’ And as you breathe out, to say ‘Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.’  Or “Breath in” and “Breath out.”  Or you may find it helpful, as you breathe, to count your breaths.  If you care to try one of these, do try it.  If not, do not.  Either with or without one of the above, you are focusing your awareness on your breath, recognizing your in-breath as an in-breath and your out-breath as an out-breath. And gently bringing your mind back to awareness on your breathing when it wanders.

Focus your awareness on your breath as you inhale through your nose.  Focus your awareness on your breath as it fills your chest and belly. Focus your awareness on your breath as you exhale through your nose.

Again.  And again.  And again.

Good.  And when you have finished, remember you can bring this feeling of focused awareness with you, as you slowly open your eyes and return to the room.

 

Copyright © 2012 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

Soothe the Stress, With Thanks

ennio morricone:  Le Vent, Le Cri

Some things are beyond words…

As the Clock Ticks: Anxiously Awaiting the Fate of the Debt Ceiling . Heaved Up or Heave-Ho ?

And these are the Days of Our Lives…

Reality TV?  The looming default.  The deadlines (August 2?  August 10?).  The soaring VIX.  The reach for aspirin and antacid.  The Boehner Bill vs. the Reid Bill.  The hope for a bipartisan agreement.  The shifting landscape: when, what, who, how?  The fear of implications: for Social Security, jobs, 401K, mortgage interest rates.  The threat of a stranglehold on fragile economic growth.  The likely downgrading of U.S. credit rating from AAA to  AA.   The Dow’s worst weekly decline in almost a year.

The need for unbiased news – and explanations.  The frantic search for safe haven –  gold? cash? corporate bonds? – or inertia?  The grab for the Business Section – and someone to translate.  The end of the fantasy of any sort of reasonable plan to retire…

The erosion of faith and the lack of control.  The difficulty distinguishing what to expect from what to worry about.  The stress of trying to prepare for the unpredictable. The reactions to looming but poorly understood threat. Free-floating anxiety, summer of 2011 style.  Is it any wonder that anxiety seems to have gone through the roof?  Crashed through the debt ceiling, as it were?

Copyright © 2011 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

Anger Management, Part 1

The Deadly Sin of Anger - Jacques Callot

People often act as if there are only two ways to handle anger:

They explode when they “will no longer put up with this!”  They yell, threaten, force, demand, even destroy to prove they are right, not afraid, can win.

or

They swallow it, believing it critical not to appear too angry, not to let others know their outrage.  They “rise above it,” they “let it go.”

But here’s the thing:

You can BE, LOOK, FEEL angry, too angry, outraged, too outraged… any feeling at all.

But you appear stronger when you BEHAVE in measured fashion.  When you can decide if and when to express what you are feeling, why you are feeling it, what you will/won’t do, what you expect of others.  That gives the impression you are strong enough to contain your (very strong) feelings, and put them to optimal use: showing self-control and control of the situation.

That the feelings don’t run the show, you do: a person who has strong feelings, a strong intellect, and the capacity to determine the course of action taken – by herself/himself and (by extension) by others.

Copyright © 2011 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

Putting it to the Test

Bomb threat.

On a wing and a ...

The plane was about to take off.  We had already begun taxiing down the runway, the instructions about face masks and seatbelts barely audible above the “where did you put my sandwich” and “you know you really do have to turn off your cellphone now!”  And then:  Bomb threat.

Well, actually, that’s not what he said.  It’s just what I thought.  My seatmates also.  And they hailed from a part of the world that’s been taking security measures seriously for a whole lot longer than the tsa’s been checking our shoes…

Calmly, he said, “Please exit the plane.  Take your belongings.  No, don’t.  Yes.  No.  We’ll put them back up for you.”

Lots of officers in uniform.  Not lots of information.  Lots of stress.  Lots of opportunity to practice all the nifty stress reduction and breathing tips I’ve been offering up all these years.

And here’s the thing:  they work.  Really.  They do.  And I gave ’em quite the workout…

Then again,  just might be I’m breathing easy now because it all ended with happily ever after.  At least for now…

Copyright © 2010 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.