Saturday
Jul042015

How to De-Stress

Have any stresses in your life?  I’m sure you do; don’t we all. I have dealt with a child with special needs with Asperger’s Syndrome, raising two other children, adopting two additional children due to a tragedy with their parents, all while constructing a new building for my business that happened to go $400,000 over budget due to rising energy costs in 2008.  Talking about challenges, I would say that my wife and I have had our share.  Miraculously, throughout all of the challenges, I was still able to stay centered and focused on the desired end result.  In fact, I remember my banker saying that he had never seen anyone overcome so many obstacles and still have a smile.  Many people would ask how I did it.  Are you curious?  Well, it’s simple.  I practice daily and consistent meditation.

See, I am a 30 year plus Martial Arts practitioner and a professional martial artist.  No, that doesn’t mean I go and fight all over the world.  It means that I make a living by teaching and training in the martial arts.  I have been blessed to have a mentor (Grandmaster Byung Min Kim) who has been guiding me in the spiritual aspects of martial arts, including meditation.   I have been practicing meditation consistently for over 15 years and I have to say, without a doubt, it is the best practice that anybody could do.  Especially if they experience stressful situations or challenges that must overcome.

Why?  It can be summed up in two words.  MENTAL REJUVENATION.  Let me ask you a question.  Have you ever had an emotionally challenging day and become physically drained?  Yet, you have not exercised?  Of course you have; we all have.  Do you know why?  It is because all of your mental energy was depleted and you had nothing left to give.  It is as if your cell phone died and needed recharging.  The challenge that most people have is that they don’t give themselves an opportunity to recharge their batteries.  Therefore, they are stuck in the midst of the crisis or the situation and not able to approach things with a clear mind.  That is where meditation comes in.

Meditation gives you the opportunity to recharge your batteries and approach things from a 30,000-foot view rather then in the middle.  Here’s another angle for you.  Did you know that our personal energy is like a hose?  When there is stress, doubt, fear, frustration or any negative emotion, this causes a kink in your energy hose.  As a result, thought-energy is unable to flow freely and effortlessly through you and you remain stuck without a solution.

Here is another question for you.  Have you ever had an idea come to you in the shower?  What about when you were exercising?  Or maybe right before you went to sleep?  Has that ever happened?  My guess is yes and it is important to know why.  When you are relaxed and able to calm your mind, all those kinks in your energy hose becomes undone and your thought-energy flows more freely.  This is, without a doubt, the biggest benefit of meditation.

OK, so how do I meditate?  First thing is you will need to breathe properly.  Most people breathe with their upper chest and their lungs.  While this is correct, it is the deep abdominal breathing that brings you the most benefit.  If you ever watch a baby breathe, you will notice that their belly will go in and out, not their chest.  So, as you inhale, you want to push out your lower stomach, and as you exhale, your lower stomach retracts.  It will feel like backwards breathing at first but once you get used to it, it will feel like second nature.   Practice breathing like this when you are driving, when you are sitting, when you are experiencing stress, whenever you can and this alone will help you.  This is the first step.  Once you learn how to breathe properly, we can get you into practicing meditation.

Now, next step is to find a quiet place to practice meditation.  I recommend a chair or pillow in front of your bed.  When I wake up in the morning, I first drink some water, use the bathroom and go right into meditation in front of my bed.   Sit down comfortably, making sure your back is completely erect, close your eyes and count your breaths.  Every inhale and exhale is a count of one. Give yourself a goal to start with.  For example, 50 deep breaths may turn out to be a fifteen-minute meditation.  100 deep breaths may turn out to be a half hour.  When you are in meditation, thoughts will come into your mind.  Your job is to not resist those thoughts but to let them roll out as quickly as they came in.  If you think about resisting the thought, you will not be able to focus on the counting.  Over time, this will relax you and each meditation will feel as if you were on a mini vacation.  Trust me, it works.

Recommendation:  Start small at first by doing ten-minute meditations and as that gets easier, add on the time.  Before you know it, you will be practicing an hour a day.  Remember to focus solely on your breathing and practice first thing as you wake up in the morning.   Our mind is a little less filled with clutter at this time and it is a bit more impactful.  Lastly, please do not expect immediate results after one ten-minute meditation.  It takes diligence and consistency for you to receive the mental clarity you are seeking. As with anything, it takes time. 

I truly believe that this is what has helped me through extremely challenging times and still helps me to this day.  I hope you receive the same kind of benefits that I have.

Enjoy and happy meditating!

Chris Berlow

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Editor's Note: Master Chris Berlow is a 6th degree black belt and the owner of the highly successful United Martial Arts Centers in Briarcliff Manor NY. He’s been teaching Martial Arts and Meditation for over 20 years. He is also a principal of EMPOWERED MASTERY, a personal transformation coaching firm that has had a positive impact on thousands of individuals. Additionally, Master Berlow is a co-author of the best-selling book, “YOU HAVE INFINITE POWER,” and the author of “IT’S NOT ABOUT THE BELT.” He is currently producing a video to be released this August that will instruct parents on how to do mindful meditation with children.