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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Goals for Stress Relief

By June 30, 2013

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This may come as a surprise from a stress management person such as myself, but I've had a love-hate relationship with meditation in the past. It started well over a decade ago when I tried my hardest to clear my mind. For thirty minutes. On my first try. And wondered why thoughts kept popping into my head. I decided that I couldn't 'do' meditation. (It was about like trying not to think about pink elephants or the taste of chocolate on command.) Anyway, as an over-achieving perfectionist, I didn't see the value in repeatedly attempting to do something that I was so obviously 'bad' at, when there were other stress management techniques that I was really 'good' at.

But I did try again. And again. And after several years, many books and a few good teachers, I've come to realize that the goal of sitting down and maintaining a completely clear mind for thirty minutes in my first meditation practice ever was not a realistic one. I'd set the wrong goal.

What was realistic was sitting for five minutes and re-directing my thoughts back to my breathing each time they wandered. And then sitting for ten minutes. Every day, twice if possible. (But not giving up if I missed a day.) Just sitting was reaching my goal, not trying to make my practice perfect. (In fact, I've worked to throw that perfectionism ideal right out the window, where it belongs!)

I'm sharing this with you for two reasons. First, if your experience with meditation has been like mine was, I'd like to encourage you to try again. It can be great! And, second, I thought it was a good way to introduce the concept of goals: achieving them, maintaining them, and--also very important!--setting the right ones. Without being rigid, having goals and intentions guide your thoughts and actions can help you get from here to there, to build a better life for yourself.

The following resources can help you to set the right goals for yourself, and know how to work toward them. You'll find information on goals for stress management as well as resilience and personal happiness. I'd also love to hear about your own experiences with personal goals: what have your biggest goals been, and how have you reached them (or not)? What wisdom have you learned from the whole experience, and are you still working on it? Leave your experiences in the 'comments' section.

Goals and Stress Relief

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July 28, 2009 at 10:11 am
(1) Cheryl says:

I had trouble too, and became disappointed in myself when I couldn’t stop mind racing while trying to meditate. I had to resort to visual help to control my racing thoughts. It really helped me to stop stressing about my lack of concentration, and get to a meditative state faster.

July 29, 2009 at 12:27 pm
(2) Dr. Len Schwartz says:

Trying so hard to focus on the meditation was my issue. Then, like you, I relaxed and set my goal realistically. You shouldn’t stress yourself out on a stress reliever!

July 30, 2009 at 4:41 am
(3) stress says:

That’s good advice, Cheryl. And SO true, Dr. Len! Thanks to both of you for sharing your experiences : )

July 19, 2013 at 2:49 am
(4) energy healing technique says:

Yeah Elizabeth Scott, it was awesome information. Stress can be caused for good or bad things. The self-directed practice of meditation does wonders for relaxing the body and calming the mind.

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