When people are stressed, most of the time they reach for some type of tranquilizer, or they itch for a change of scenery. For some, that tranquilizer comes in the form of a pill or a glass of wine, while for others it might be a cigarette or casual sex . If we do this often enough we condition ourselves to numb the pain, run away from our problems and artificially create a temporary sense of serenity.
It’s easier to pop a pill, smoke a joint or enjoy a few drinks with friends when the going gets tough. It’s much more difficult to sit with our feelings of discomfort, let alone take the initiative to explore some new options to create a healthier response pattern. When we choose the quick-fix, we are digging ourselves into a hole and investing in faulty patchwork that will inevitably unravel and leave us feeling worse than we felt before.
If we all knew how soothing the direct experience of meditation was, we would never turn to anything else. Numbing the pain, ignoring our emotions and distracting ourselves from the root of our problems through “mood changers” pales in comparison to the lasting effects of meditation and yoga. After about six months of a consistent meditation practice, people report experiencing spontaneous happiness unassociated to any other person, place or thing. Mindfulness practices help us feel less affected by the things that normally rattle us, conflict begins to dissipate and one experiences an extended sense of ease. Doesn’t that sound nice? And to think there are zero negative effects to this type of response.
Next time you’re feeling the tension of your grievance, carve out at least twenty minutes for a quick meditation or yoga session. You will likely feel better for longer and you’ll start to train your body to respond to stress by taking care of yourself and recharging. Below are a few tools you can use to get your started.