Meditating to Reduce Stress

By  | 
(Image: Berkut) (Image: Berkut)

Sheree, I am a 32-year-old African American male who has recently been diagnosed with hypertension. My parents and two other siblings (who are older than me) have no trouble with high-blood pressure. I believe the high stress level in my work has caused my blood pressure problem. My doctor suggests that in addition to developing a consistent exercise program, he wants me to meditate to help me handle the demands of working in a highly competitive career. Exercising 2 or 3 times a week is easy compared to trying to quiet my mind to meditate. I do not want to stay on medication for the rest of my life and am willing to give meditation a try. Do you have any suggestions for me?

Open to Making Changes

Dear Open to Making Changes:
It is easy to get overwhelmed by work, and even our personal lives, to the point where it affects the wellness in our body. Being diagnosed with hypertension at your young age, is a big wake up to help you set the tone for how you want to handle your life challenges.

First of all, I want you to commit everyday to taking your medication. Not taking your medicine could lead to even more serious health problems. Also, schedule and keep your doctor’s appointments so that your condition can be carefully monitored.

The best way to begin meditating is to set a consistent time to be quiet and turn off the outer world to focus on yourself. It begins by shutting off your smartphone and all other electronic devices. We live in a world that is bombarded with sensory overload. You will be surprised to learn that research shows it only takes 5-10 minutes of consistent meditation to have great benefits on your health including:

Reducing hypertension
Helping chronic pain
Releasing worries and fears

An easy way to begin a meditation practice is to repeat a mantra and allow yourself to feel the words deeply. One of my favorite ones to meditate on is Peace Be Still.

Another key factor to being able to meditate is not judging yourself or becoming frustrated if you cannot quiet your mind. Instead observe your mind like you would a science project and simply allow yourself to be aware of what you are focusing on. The term for a mind that remains active with thoughts jumping around is Monkey Brain. If this happens to you, gently, remind yourself that you have scheduled 10 minutes for meditation and this is your time to fully love yourself and bring yourself back to the mantra or quiet state you are trying to maintain.

Not everyone meditates the same way, and there are as many ways to meditate as there are the people who do the meditating. Your practice could include choosing a safe space to do a meditative walk. Say positive words, such as Love, Peace, Joy and God to yourself and feel them deeply in your heart.

There are plenty of guided meditation CD on the market that you can try. Most public libraries carry an assortment in their collection. You can borrow a couple to try and if one fits your needs purchase your own copy to work with.

Once you begin to develop a consistent meditation practice allow yourself to become aware of how you are feeling inside when your day gets stressed due to job pressures. Being able to identify what throws you out of balance will help you to decide the things that you need to change to stay healthy. One of the big indicators I suggest to  my clients is to be aware of the situations, people or events that trigger a negative reaction in them. For me, whenever I hear myself silently cursing about something this is my warning sign. Even if you are not saying the words out loud,  cursing silently is like putting sharp edges around the energy field that surrounds our body. Our words are powerful and we need to be aware of our inner dialogue to help us set the tone for what we want to create in our lives each day.

Take advantage of your organization’s employee health programs. Corporations today are offering more than lunch to their employees by taking a holistic approach to help them reduce stress. Industry giants such as Google, Aetna, Target, Nike and General Mills, are among the many who have created programs to help their employees stay healthy. These programs include non-conventional classes such as yoga, mindfulness, Tai Chi, and lectures by professionals on health and wellness. If your company is not currently offering health classes, speak with your human resource department and express an interest in this area.

Read my book, Intuition:  The Hidden Asset Everyone Can Learn to Use, to help you understand the challenges men face in expressing their feelings and emotions. Two chapters in my book which focus exclusively on males are The Male Species and The Healer’s Healer.

Life is a do-it-yourself project. Everyday we must stay committed to presenting the highest version of ourselves. Living a life being intuitively aware of what is going on inside of us helps us to stay healthy and happy.

Sheree Franklin is a professional coach at Holistic Health Practice in Chicago. She helps people to trust their gut to make better decisions in less time with less stress. Sheree is the author of Intuition: The Hidden Asset Everyone Should Learn to Use. You can send questions to her at For more information visit her website at