Meditation

Finding Time for Your Soul

How to bring stress down and raise your soul up
BY Nisha Jackson TIMEFebruary 22, 2022 PRINT

“We need to change the delusion that we need to burn out in order to succeed” —Arianna Huffington

One of the biggest challenges to finding time for meditation—and balancing ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally—is the burnout complex. Many of us feel the need and pressure to “operate at maximum capacity” from the time our eyes open until we go to sleep. That doesn’t even make sense for a machine, let alone a human being. You wouldn’t expect a car to run at top speed 100 percent of the time without its engine exploding, so why do we expect it of our minds and bodies?

Why We Need to Slow Down

While real physical dangers are rare today, most of us suffer from internal perceptions that create stress. Our brains are registering these as incoming threats, triggering our body’s fight-or-flight response. This is that jolt of energy you feel at the top of a rollercoaster or when a barking Doberman starts charging toward you. This physiological response narrows our focus and energizes our body to deal with a physical situation. However, for most of us, the threat we face is an urgent email, a heated argument with our partner, or climbing bills from an over-budget renovation. These daily (or hourly) stressors are triggering a biochemical shift in our bodies. The clinical explanation of what’s happening is that our brain perceives, our nervous system activates, and our adrenal stress systems prepare our body to react to incoming danger by changing our biochemistry.

The problem with many of us experiencing this stress response on a regular basis—besides that it activates a survival mode not intended for an average workday—is that it performs a variety of short-term, life-saving actions that harm our bodies when triggered too often. Those actions include pumping extra sugar and insulin into our bloodstream, constricting blood vessels, directing energy away from daily bodily functions, slowing digestion, deregulating our immune system, interrupting fertility, and more.

Meditation: Why It Matters

Those who meditate daily, for even just ten minutes, immediately discover increased mindfulness, greater sense of purpose, better productivity, decreased stress, and even decreased illness. It has been proven to improve health, relationships, and help people find a connection to nature and the universe.

Besides directly countering our stress response, meditation helps us better regulate that response in the face of future “threats.”

Many of us are stuck in the rut of “I don’t have time for ___,” even when that blank is essential for our health and basic satisfaction with life. For many, that blank is meditation. Fortunately, we often have more time than we think, especially when we reclaim time dedicated to unessential activities like scrolling social media feeds and internet browsing.

Reclaiming this time leaves an opening to meditate. Instead of plopping onto the couch to scroll or click through Netflix, you can truly unwind.

Meditation contributes to a positive mindset and energy, both of which are invaluable to the health of your body and brain. Positivity has been proven to increase feelings of joy, contentment, and love. These positive emotions increase our ability to problem-solve, find opportunities, see the bigger picture of our lives, and ultimately be the best versions of ourselves.

Two Ways to Find Time

Want to meditate but feel like you don’t have the time? Two tips to help get you that valuable opportunity are to set “no fly times” and eliminate your “energy zappers.”

Set and Maintain “No Fly Times”

Build intentional downtime in your schedule where you make no calls, texts, or emails. This could be in the morning, at the end of the day, during your lunchtime, anywhere that makes sense for even just ten minutes of a break for your brain and nervous system.

Find and Eliminate ‘Energy-Zappers’

So many people, women especially, waste their valuable time on activities, functions, meetings, and so on, that make no difference in their lives. Try spending less time on things that add no value to your life and leave this space available for more important things.

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When you build in downtime and cut out non-essential and energy-zapping activities, you have more time and clarity for meditation.

Eight Meditative Exercises

Meditation helps you still your mind and gain internal clarity. These meditative exercises can also help you reach those goals.

  1. Traditional or guided meditation, with or without prayer
  2. Exercise meditation, (yoga, walking, or stretching)
  3. Journaling and self-reflection, (just 2 sentences to start, anything that’s on your mind)
  4. Quiet alone time (start with 5–10 minutes of mindlessness, or mental relaxation)
  5. Practicing self-empowerment mantras (I am valuable, I love my life, I am connected to my life’s purpose, I am getting stronger every day, and so on)
  6. Taking a bath with calming essential oils like lavender, bergamot, or chamomile
  7. Walking in nature, or somewhere quiet and calm, (try to do this daily if possible)
  8. Breathing exercises (start with belly breathing instead of chest breathing 10 times every time you get up to go to the bathroom)

Nisha Jackson is a nationally recognized hormone and functional medicine expert, renowned lecturer, motivational speaker, radio host, columnist, author of the bestseller “Brilliant Burnout,” and founder of OnePeak Medical Clinics in Oregon. For 30 years, her approach to medicine has successfully reversed chronic problems such as fatigue, brain fog, depression, insomnia, and lack of stamina.

This article was first published in Radiant Life magazine.

Nisha Jackson
Nisha Jackson is a nationally recognized hormone and functional medicine expert, lecturer, motivational speaker, radio host, columnist, author of “Brilliant Burnout” and founder of OnePeak Medical Clinics in Oregon. For 30 years, her approach to medicine has successfully reversed chronic problems such as fatigue, brain fog, depression, insomnia and lack of stamina.
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