Meditation: a proven way to reduce stress
Find out all the ways it can get you centred and improve your life.
Let’s start this conversation by first looking at how we men, at large, deal with unique stresses that are particular to us as we move through life. As we know, there are things that we have had to deal with that “come with the territory” of being a man in the world.
We believe it’s necessary to talk about these things openly, because they are real, and affect us in profound ways.
What are the root issues?
Oh... you know.... dealing with teasing and put-downs from friends... dealing with family and religious issues... being closeted in some places and not in others... coping with body issues... the list is long, honey.
We will get into these issues in articles to come, but for now, let’s go ahead and shift to talking about what we men can do to respond.
Meditation is hands-down one of the most effective ways of regulating our stress.
Yep - meditation! And we're talking about it as a regular practice.
Although it’s true that even if you just do it every now and then, something is better than nothing, spending even a few minutes a day meditating can help you find your calm center and achieve inner peace.
Most people who haven’t practiced meditation don’t understand what it’s about and its benefits. Let’s start with the basics.
Meditation induces deep relaxation, can quiet your mind, it’s great for your body, and for some of us, it helps us find a deeper meaning in life. Actually, while we are here, we need to mention: the list of benefits is long. very. very. long.
But you may have some doubts about the idea of wanting to get into meditation. But hear ye!
What meditation is and what it does
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and is a core part of the human experience in many parts of the world. Its original purpose was to delve into and cultivate mental concentration, to see past the mind's limitations to experience profound states of awareness.
In our modern society, meditation is primarily used for relaxation and stress reduction. And, for most of us, that’s a very GOOD thing.
It is the simple-yet-somewhat-tricky practice of focusing your attention on something to slow down the mind’s fast-paced thinking. Disentangle from those nasty thoughts! Let’s get our minds healthy.
Let’s zoom in on this important aspect because the lives of many of us men are on a constant emotional rollercoaster. Meditation smooths things out by helping you to…
Meditation and "dis-ease"
Meditation for sure will be of benefit to men who have certain stress-related illnesses.
The ancients in many cultures all over the world had an understanding that the mind is directly linked with the body. In our culture, the term “psychosomatic” points to this notion of how our mental and emotional wellbeing directly impacts and manifests in the physical body.
The conditions it could help with sound just like a list of side effects on a medicine bottle: anxiety, asthma, cancer, chronic pain, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep problems, tension headaches… to name a few. As for the extent to which meditation can help alleviate these symptoms... well, the research on this is highly indicative, but not fully definitive.
That being said, your meditation practice is unlikely to cure you of these ailments (and it’s not recommended as a replacement for medical treatment), but it can reduce their symptoms. Think of meditation as an essential “tool in your toolkit” for us gay men to achieve a sense of calm and balance.
Types of meditation
The term "meditation" is a broad one that includes many ways to achieve a relaxed, centered state of being and inner peace. Let's browse through some of the most popular ones:
Some good guidelines...
Even though meditation practice is ultimately about your own personal experience, doing it with others can be significantly potent. Nothing beats a good meditation group, and there are many that are exclusive to gay men.
When you meditate...
Looking for some online help? Here is an excellent list of the top meditation apps in 2021.
Final tips on meditation
“It's not the destination, it's the journey.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Meditation is a learned skill, just like any other. It takes time, so please be kind to yourself as you go along. Not every meditation session will be perfect, so don’t label yourself for being a “bad meditator.” It takes practice and patience.
Start small! Even just a few minutes is great.
If one type of meditation doesn’t work for you try another one. It’s likely that on the spectrum of meditation types, having a low commitment to high, meditating solo or in a group, you’ll find your own groove.
In the end, the only thing that matters is that meditation helps you reduce your stress and feel better about yourself.
See you on the cushion!