Overstressed? Give meditation a try

04/09/2013 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:16 AM

If meditation sounds intriguing, you can try it out – in as few as 10 minutes a day – without leaving your office.

“I’d say there’s quite a range (of styles), says Mark Coleman, a longtime teacher. “Sitting. Stillness. Movement. Yoga, tai chi, chi gong. Ones that cultivate the heart, mind and awareness and clarity. Concentration meditations – mantras. Various New Age meditations that focus on energy. Once you choose, you have to give it some period of time to evaluate.”

There are many free or low-cost downloads available and classes at meditation centers, universities, and such sites as Kaiser Permanente, which offers meditation programs for members and employees.

Rachel Donaldson, senior behavioral health educator at Kaiser, says all sorts of people are attracted to the class, those who get headaches or feel anxiety or have trouble sleeping. “We try to make it comfortable for people,” she says, by explaining it’s not a religion, telling people they don’t need to sit cross-legged, and enabling them to “stick their toe in the water” with an easy entry such as mindful eating.

James Gimian, publisher of the new Mindful magazine, likens the state of meditation to that of yoga a couple of decades ago, moving from the margins of life to gaining an estimated 20 million U.S. practitioners.

Andy Puddicome, a former Buddhist monk and founder of the meditation nonprofit Headspace, says he wants people to integrate mindfulness into ordinary activities.

“That’s ultimately where we need to bring it, in the midst of everyday life. It’s a great opportunity to learn to be mindful when you are chopping the vegetables, or gardening. Eating, clearing up, making a cup of tea.”

In her memoir, “Blood, Bones and Butter,” the New York chef Gabrielle Hamilton describes a life busy beyond imagining. But when she prepares food, she says, her mind becomes “free to sort everything out. I have never once finished an eight-hour prep shift without something from my life – mundane or profound – sorted out.”

UCLA’s Diana Winston tries meditating while walking from the parking lot to her office in Westwood.

“When I am harried or rushed, it’s trying to maintain an awareness and have compassion for myself when I screw up.”

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