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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Stress Reduction Should be an Easy Process: Learn how mindfulness can help reduce stress, from Julie Lemerond of A Mindfulness Life Center.

Aug 28, 2015 07:13AM ● By Julie Lemerond

Professor Emeritus Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, describes mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” In other words, being fully present with each moment as it passes.

Our society is filled with many pressures and distractions, and the state of our mental health is perhaps the biggest contributor to overall health and wellness. Living with stress is normal and can even be a good thing; we need some stress in our lives in order to stay engaged, challenged and move forward. But when stress becomes overwhelming, it can lead to physical disease in the body and emotional distress in the mind.

This is where the strength of our mental health steps in. If we can better manage our stress and learn to live from a space of action, instead of reaction, we are able to handle more of the issues in our lives and be in better control of our circumstances and perspectives. The mind/body/spirit connection can be found via many avenues. Physical classes such as yoga and tai chi are one, but quieter and subtler practices such as meditation and sound healing are another.

If we cultivate a more relaxed, more present state of body and mind every minute of every day, we would likely be much more at peace despite all the stress that surrounds us. The circumstances are the same, yet our perspective has changed. That may be the greatest gift we can learn to give to ourselves in order to live a more fulfilling and positive life.

That is not to say that this process is easy. Meditation can often be very difficult, especially for beginners. Trying to silence a mind that is bound and determined to continue working is one of the biggest challenges we face when learning to meditate. The key is not to stop the thoughts, but to allow the thoughts to come and go without attachment or judgment. There will always be distractions and buttons pressed in our lives, testing us. The more we are able to separate and distance ourselves from them without letting them affect us in a negative manner, the easier life becomes.

Keep in mind that the breath is the bridge between the body and the mind. Whenever we notice ourselves in a state of heightened stress, we can first change our breath, letting it become slower and deeper and watching the effect on our body and mind.

If a mindfulness practice is something new, try taking a class. Following along with a teacher’s guidance is an easier way to start the process, and meeting other like-minded people in the community opens the door for more mindfulness and peace to enter into our life.

Julie LemerondJulie Lemerond teaches Sound Healing with Yoga Nidra at A Mindfulness Life Center, located at 10309 N. Scottsdale Rd., in Scottsdale. The center offers classes, events and workshops to help people cultivate a more present, mindful life of physical, mental and emotional wellness. For more information, call 480-207-6016 or visit

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