• Managing stress through meditation

    • email print
  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Many things can trigger stress in life — jobs, school, relationships — and that, in turn can cause problems with health and overall well-being.
    One way to manage stress is through meditation, according to Kathy Glaser, yoga and meditation teacher; Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation employee; and owner of Wandering Ashram Yoga and Meditation school. Glaser offers a free “Find Your Balance” meditation class at noon every Wednesday in January in room C212 of the Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library.
    “Meditation helps us by soothing the nervous system because it brings you into a state of ease. As it does that, we tap into the parasympathetic nervous system and consequently blood pressure will lower. Then, when you lower the blood pressure, the cortisol levels start to drop, (and) you start to feel calmer,” Glaser said. “That brings better balance to your life because it evens out the playing field for you and gives you the sense of ‘It’s going to be OK’ and maybe s‘Whatever is going on in my head isn’t quite as important’ because you’re allowing yourself some space.”
    Glaser, who has been teaching yoga and meditation for five years, was first introduced to meditation in 2007 after her husband, Col. William Glaser, director of the National Simulation Center, brought home the book “Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom” by Joseph Goldstein.
    “He was on deployment to Iraq in 2006. He was on division staff and he had 12 hours on at time, so he was working all the time with little downtime,” Glaser said. “He ordered the book … (and) started meditating in Iraq to help him sleep and then he brought it home to me. I started meditating because he is the one who said ‘why don’t you try this.’ As far as soldiers are concerned, it’s such a huge piece of having the space to make better decisions so you’re not so reactive to situations.”
    Glaser said she loved it so much that she felt she had to share it.
    “I want to help people,” she said. “I’m one of those people that if something is beneficial to me, I just want to share it.”
    Glaser said there are several different ways to meditate, including insight meditation, which is a mindfulness-based stress reduction that focuses on breathing, and the “loving kindness’ meditation, which focuses on goodwill toward oneself and others.
    “We take 20,600 breaths a day. You are your breath. Your breath is what keeps you in the moment … Focused awareness on your breath is meditation, too,” she said. “‘Loving kindness’ is about being aware. We think about the inner critic — anger, fear, resentment — and you think about how they come into your life. Rather than fighting it, ‘loving kindness’ invites them in.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Like most skills, Glaser said practice is the key, and simply trying meditation is the first step.
    “You don’t want to change yourself, you just want to be the best version of yourself. I would say just try and see what happens, see what your reaction is. There’s nothing you can do that’s wrong. There’s no rules that say you can’t do something,” she said. “It’s not easy, but nothing really worthwhile is super easy, and change doesn’t come from nothing happening. … The only time you can really ever make a change is in the present moment.”
    First-time meditator Christy Dumas said though she found it challenging, she wanted to keep learning and trying.
    “I know how good meditation can be and I know it can even change the way your brain works so I want to give it another try,” Dumas said. “I need to learn how to calm my brain, focus my brain and I just want to learn and keep learning.”
    Veteran meditator Alma Molino said she enjoys the benefits of meditation.
    “I think that we think 24/7, we have feelings 24/7, we’re doing things 24/7 so it’s really a time to be able to slow down and say ‘What was that that was going through my head just then?’ so that you’re not going on auto pilot,” Molino said.
    Glaser said it’s all about giving oneself the opportunity.
    “Just give yourself the time,” Glaser said. “It’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself is your own undivided attention and acceptance.”
    The free meditation classes are next offered Jan. 24 and 31, and April 4, 11, 18 and 25. Glaser also teaches yoga at Gruber Fitness Center at 9 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Comment or view comments