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Stress, Anxiety, and Meditation

By Dean Whittaker

My lesson this month was on the role of stress, anxiety, and mediation in my life. A day this past month, I had scheduled three major meeting events. The first was a teleconference presentation to the board of directors of an economic development organization considering our proposal for a major project. The second was a webinar to a large on-site audience without the benefit of video feedback, and the third was a conference call with a potential client referral.

Each of these events, in and by themselves, produces a fair amount of anxiety in me. Although I was well-prepared for each, including a well-conceived presentation that I had rehearsed and testing of equipment and connectivity with two on-site colleagues, I still felt a high level of concern. My mind went racing off to the land of “what if” causing a self-reinforcing loop that, if left alone, can become debilitating.

Meditation came to the rescue. Over the past four years, I have been learning the art of meditation or, as some call it, mindfulness. I use a guided meditation app called Headspace ( Headspace offers a series of meditations practices and techniques on a wide variety of topics.

After a ten-day series of daily meditations, I was able to manage my stress levels and accept the emotion of anxiety I was feeling. I was taught that my thoughts produced my emotions and that emotions are temporary feelings that pass with time. Emotions are part of us and make us human. Mr. Spock, a Star Trek character, has shown us the struggle between emotion and logic. To be human, we need both.

Emotions are energy. They give us the drive to succeed and move forward as we overcome fear and doubt with love, trust, and commitment. Headspace reminds us that stress and anxiety are emotions. These emotions are not to be resisted or banished, but rather, to be “noticed” and seen as passing through us. They do not define who or what we are. They are a reflection of our thoughts and, therefore, subject to change.

Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels by more than 50% when practiced on a regular bases. My anxiety level has returned to normal (relatively low). The board of directors accepted our proposal, the webinar was performed despite technical difficulties, and the prospective client requested a proposal based on our conversation.

As Shakespeare said, “All’s well that ends well.”

Book Recommendation: “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” by Daniel H. Pink

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  • Don Iannone

    Wonderful article Dean. I enjoyed reading it. You remind all of us that we are human. Perhaps we should talk in the future. I shifted lanes on life’s superhighway, and I am working with cancer patients at Cleveland Clinic as a Reiki master and meditation guide. In addition to my clinical work, I am training other health professionals in these healing modalities and designing a research study on their effects on patients. Take care.