Stress can take its toll on us. In fact, research has shown that high stress levels experienced consistently over a long period of time can actually shorten your lifespan. So, there is little wonder that many of us look for effective ways to lower our stress levels.
Meditation in the Dojo – breathing.
Part of your Karate training should include focusing on your breathing. Not only is breathing an important part of combat – you can’t fight if your out of breath – it is also an effective method of reducing stress. When practicing your meditation techniques, remember that breathing is an important requirement when trying to reach a state of mental awareness. Your breathing should be controlled, but not so much so that you are interrupting your body’s natural breathing rhythm. In fact, you should be attempting to reach this state of balance – your body will naturally bring your breathing to a calm and predictable pattern, but only if you let it. So, just relax and allow your body to achieve it’s natural balance.
Leverage Breathing for Stress Management.
When you are outside the Dojo, you can effectively use meditation breathing techniques to reduce your stress. Remember – everyone is subjected to stressful situations. What is important is how you deal with the stress. Sure, you could start throwing a fit – yelling and screaming or you could see this as an opportunity to use breathing techniques to diffuse the situation. You might have this internal dialog with yourself:
Self, this is really stressful…
….ya, tell me about it.
Okay, there is a really sweet chair over there that I bet you could toss out the window, but I’ve got a better idea.
…okay, lets have it… the idea I mean, not the chair.
Great – first, lets acknowledge the stress…
…umm – already ahead of you.
No, your body has been impacted by the stress (heightened breathing, etc.), but what you need to do is just acknowledge the stress. Allow your body to accept the fact that the current stress is impacting you and then just let it go. Let go of the angst and regain control of yourself.
…wow, this is really working. Who are you again?
…really? Okay, so now I want you to bring your heart rate down by controlling your breathing. Allow the stressful thoughts to pass through your mind. Don’t dwell on them! Simply acknowledge them and move on.
Okay, I’ve got my breathing under control, now what?
Continue to focus on your breathing for at least 3 minutes – allowing yourself to return to your natural (and unstressed state).
Remember, only by acknowledging stress in our lives can we begin to build a plan to deal with it. Do not allow your actions to be controlled by your stress. It will only end in disaster. Never respond impulsively, as you will only live to regret it.