Phoenix, AZ – Meditation instructor Sarah McLean, who has appeared on hundreds of media programs including ABC TV, FOX and The New York Times, has offered five ways to diminish stress in the new year.

Become more self-aware. Somehow we make this complicated, but it’s simple. How do you feel right now? When faced with a choice, pay attention to yourself and notice your body’s signals of comfort and discomfort. Discover how to live with integrity. Say “no” to things/people/events that are stressful. There is no need to manipulate yourself. A simple question I have my students ask themselves is, “Is it a yum or a yuck for me?” Move toward the yums and away from the yucks.

Surround yourself in silence. Pay attention to what people/noise/smells you have in your environment. There are simple changes you can make to create a more pleasing space. Take time for silence, turn off the TV, take the earphones out and occasionally let the phone go to voice mail, so you can finish a task. Most importantly, for a few minutes every day move away from the electronic world and give yourself time out in nature. Believe it or not, disconnecting from the world of timelines and connection can help you to become more connected to yourself and your world.

Accentuate the positive. Whatever you put your attention on grows. What do you spend time thinking about or complaining about? Over time, our behaviors create a habit of mind, so when you remember to focus on what you like and what makes you feel good, you’ll increase your experience of pleasure. It’s not just positive thinking; it’s about putting your attention on the here and now and what you like about it. There are also simple gratitude practices that can also help you feel happier and relieve stress.  

Adjust your sleeping and eating patterns. Do you eat while you are standing up or on the phone, or late at night when you could be sleeping? Do you look down and your food is gone, but you don’t remember eating it? When you follow the natural rhythms of nature, take meals when digestion is strongest and eat with full awareness, you’ll eat less and digest better. Do you believe the saying, “Early to bed, early to rise”? One way the mind and body rejuvenates is through sleep. Learn why it’s a priority to get to bed early to let your body’s rejuvenation system do its job.

Learn to meditate. Yes, you can do it. No, you don’t have to join a cult, change your religion, become vegetarian or go to India. Meditation is easy if you are taught right. Instead of trying too hard, you can learn how a relaxing silent meditation will help you achieve the deep rest that sleep can. A simple silent meditation practice can change your whole day. Researchers prove meditation improves sleep patterns even when you do it in the morning.

Once thought of as an esoteric or religious pursuit, meditation is going mainstream. A government survey in 2007 found that about 1 out of 11 Americans, more than 20 million people, meditated in the past year. And a growing number of medical centers are teaching meditation to patients for the management of stress.

“As Americans become more attached to laptops, iPhones, BlackBerries and other digital devices, we have a greater need to unplug and to tap into our inner silence,” says McLean, director of the Sedona Meditation Training Company. “Meditation is the perfect antidote to stress. Research shows that it lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow and decreases heart rate. It also decreases our stress hormone and reduces insomnia.”

About Sarah McLean

One of the founding directors of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, McLean has been teaching mind-body health for 16 years and is the director of the Sedona Meditation Training Company. She is a sought-after inspirational speaker on the subjects of meditation, self-discovery and mind-body health, and she appears regularly on Arizona morning television. Having traveled the world and lived in an ashram and monastery, McLean is an expert on bringing the ancient practice of meditation to a modern world. For more information, visit http://www.sedonameditation.com.

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