10. Nourish Your Spirit

Have you ever known someone who, even when faced with insurmountable obstacles, pain, trauma, tragedy, or loss, continues to be happy? Such people have nurtured and nourished their spiritual sides, either through effort or because it comes naturally. Sure, some people don’t buy into the idea that people have a spiritual side or a soul. It’s all chemical, they say. Others prefer to say it’s all related, all intertwined like a dramatic and intricate web. The bottom line? If you manage your stress with the whole you in sight, you’ll manage stress fully, effectively, and in a way that really works for your unique self.

11. Give Your Mind Positive Images to Focus On

Imagery meditation and visualization are meditations that use your imagination to make positive changes in your thinking. The purpose of imagery meditation is to imagine yourself in a different place (the beach, the mountains, Paris) or circumstance to effect instant relaxation. Visualization is a technique for imagining something you want (a different job, the love of your life) or a change you would like to see in yourself (to be less reactive to stress, more self-confident, perfectly organized). Imagining and visualizing have two separate effects:

1. Instant stress relief because of the positive feeling you associate with what you are visualizing

2. Life changes because continually visualizing something can help to bring those changes about in your life

Even if your imagination is a little rusty, you can practice imagery meditation and visualization. It’s fun! Whatever you use them for, these imagination generators are powerful stress management techniques, both in the short and the long term.

12. How to Practice Imagery Meditation

Get comfortable, either sitting or lying down. Close your eyes. Take a few deep, relaxed breaths, then form a picture in your mind. Maybe it is the place you wish you could be right now, a place you visited in the past and loved, or a place you invent. What does the place look like? What do you see around you? What colors, what textures? Notice everything about the place you are visualizing.

Then, imagine touching things around you—sand, water, grass, trees, great art or architecture, your favorite person. Listen. What do you hear in this place? Next, think about what you smell. Focus on each of your senses and explore the place you’ve created or remembered in your mind. Stay here as long as you like, but for at least five minutes. Then, slowly, let the images fade away and open your eyes.

13. How to Practice Visualization

Get comfortable, either sitting or lying down. Close your eyes. Take a few deep, relaxed breaths, then form a picture in your mind of some kind of positive life change. Maybe it’s a career goal, a change in health or appearance, situation, confidence, or anything else. Keep it simple and stick to one thing. You can always tackle other areas in a separate session.

Imagine yourself in your new situation. How do you look, act, feel? How do you like being this new way, looking like this, having this job? If you like it, if it feels right, then stick with your visualization every day and imagine it with fervent and confident intention.

14. Be Flexible with Visualization

As your life changes, your visualizations may change and grow. That’s fine! You may realize, for example, that as your life becomes less stressful and more rewarding, you don’t really need to be financially wealthy, because you have gained emotional and spiritual wealth instead. The trick is to keep it up. The more you use your imagination, the stronger it becomes, just like a muscle.

To add power to your visualization, use an affirmation as a mantra for your meditation, worded as if the change has already taken place, and worded positively (rather than, “I won’t be sick,” say, “I will be well”). Use the affirmation as a mantra while you visualize your goal.

15. Learn about Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere, anytime, no matter what you are doing. It is simply focusing on total awareness of the present moment. Anything you are doing, you can do with mindfulness.

Mindfulness meditation is easy to do for short periods. It is tough to do for an extended time, because our minds resist staying in the present moment. But it is a rewarding mental discipline that teaches us to cherish and relish the miracle of the present moment, no matter how ordinary. It is also supremely relaxing and satisfying.

16. How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation

Wherever you are, you can practice mindfulness meditation by consciously making the decision to be fully aware of everything around you. Notice the impressions from all your senses—see, hear, feel, smell, taste. When your mind begins to think about something else, gently bring it back to the present moment. You may be amazed at what you notice about yourself and the world around you.

If practicing mindfulness anywhere sounds overwhelming, you can start out practicing it while doing something very specific, like eating. Pick a single thing to eat—a vegetable, a piece of fruit, or a piece of bread. Eat it slowly, slowly, and notice everything about the process. How do you bring the food to your mouth? How does it feel? How does it taste and smell? Practicing mindfulness meditation while eating is a good way to hone your mindfulness skills. It is also a way to help overcome mindless eating.

17. Open Your Mind to Prayer

Prayer is a focused, concentrated communication, statement of intention, or opening of the channel between you and divinity, whatever divinity is for you. A prayer can be a request, thanks, worship, or praise to God. It can be an intention of being thankful directed to the universe. It can be used to invoke divine power or an attempt to experience divine or universal energy directly. Many different traditions have many different modes and types of prayer. Prayer can mean whatever you want it to mean for you.

18. Practice Prayer

First decide to whom, to what, or toward whom or what your prayer is addressed. What is the substance of your prayer? Are you praying for healing for yourself or someone else? Are you praying for something you want or need?

Are you praying to say thank you for everything you already have?

Once you have a specific intention in mind, sit or lie quietly in a place where you are unlikely to be disturbed. Focus your thought on your prayer and say it, out loud or in your mind. Stay focused on your prayer and the energy of your prayer. Imagine where it is going. Let your prayer continue to radiate from your heart toward its intended source.

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