FORT LEE, Va. -- In today’s technologically saturated world where adults and children are never far from the reach of a telephone, television or radio, we’ve all experienced stress – and need an escape from it.
Some attempts to reduce stress have been productive and at other times counterproductive. For those who believe in God, the presence of the Divine can be a tremendous source of support and comfort where serenity is available in the midst of trials and travails. Two common spiritual practices that may aid in managing stress are those of prayer and meditation.
Prayer may be viewed as the means for communication with the Divine. In this forum, one can express his or her thoughts and feelings as it relates to a particular issue or concern. Research has shown that people who pray for themselves when they are distressed tend to cope better than those who do not pray. It also can be important to pray for individuals with whom one is involved in a stressful situation. When you pray for a person, you may find that you come into a deeper level of care for them. The 18th century Anglican mystic, William Law, wrote, “There is nothing that makes us love a person so much as praying for them.”
Meditation involves one becoming still before God and pondering deeply on the words and meaning of certain spiritual truths. Listed below is a strategy for incorporating this technique in the daily routine.
• Select a quiet area with minimal interruptions. Silence any electronic devices.
• Pick a focus word, phrase, religious teaching, prayer, or profession of faith that is reflective of your relationship with the Divine (e.g.,” Shalom,” “Jesus,” “Nicene Creed”).
• Sit comfortably in a quiet setting. Close your eyes to minimize distractions. Relax your muscles. Breathe slowly and naturally and as you do, repeat your chosen area of focus silently to yourself.
• Continue for approximately 10-20 minutes.
• Remain seated for a few minutes and take a few deep cleansing breaths before resuming normal activity.
• Practice this technique once or twice daily.
In prayer and meditation, as with any concerted endeavor, it is crucial to persist through weariness and distractions and to practice regularly for maximum benefits. Possible outcomes may include a peaceful and more centered approach to life, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, and increased energy and hopefulness.
For further resources in learning how to manage stress in a way that incorporates one’s religious beliefs and spiritual practices, assistance may be found through a trained mental health professional or member of the clergy.
Active duty military members can obtain mental health care from the KAHC Department of Behavioral Health by calling (804) 734-9143 or 734-9623.
Retirees and family members are authorized up to eight visits with a networked behavioral health provider without a referral. Providers can be located via Military One Source at www.militaryonesource.com and Health Net Federal Services at www.hnfs.com.
Lois Barlow, KAHC Psychologist, Fort Lee Traveller