Work Stress: Meditation as Medication

work stress graphic
Picture used under Flickr creative commons license by GDS Infographics

I had a few tough days at work last week, and I am mentally preparing myself for the beginning of a new work week tomorrow. I know many other people are struggling with the same stress of work, whether they see their job as a fulfilling career unto itself, or as a day job to pay the bills while they pursue deeper interests. There are some startling studies that show the high level of work stress around the developed world. If you click the picture I posted, you can find a larger view of this information. This post is for all of us.

I see myself primarily as a writer, healer, and spiritual teacher and student. To support these interests, I work a day job as a preschool teacher. I love the children, and I have fun playing with them, learning with them, and trying to see things through their imaginative gaze. Young children are close to heaven, and I learn new things from them about the spirit realm, a place of carefree imagination and playful child-like understanding.

My job is with a corporate early childhood center, and the business side is hard for me. There is so much pressure from above to try to perform long lists of rules which conflict each other, and to create a quality program out of less: less money, less time, less staffing. Everything is about The Bottom Line. All the normal corporate heartaches created by foolish human hierarchies.

I want to succeed, and I want to create the best environment I can for each of my children and their needs, but the pressures create a lot of stress and sometimes even depression in my life. I am learning how to overcome this. I think the key is to live a life of meditation. When the conflicting rules and confusion feel like dark storm clouds suffocating the atmosphere around me, and when the lack of support and recognition make me feel like an egg boiling in hot water and about to crack, I need to recreate the picture and imagine the peaceful still rivers living deep within my soul.

Meditation is my hiding place. Meditation is my medication.

When most people think of meditation, they imagine a yogi sitting for hours in lotus position, eyes closed in blissful stillness. They think that meditation is a specific activity to be scheduled and practiced at a certain point in their day. This is not entirely wrong. Indeed, scheduling a time to sit in meditation is a good practice for anyone’s health and sanity. Meditation is taking our gaze off our physical surroundings, problems, stresses, and refocusing our gaze to the inside, our spiritual surroundings. This does take practice.

But meditation can happen anytime, anywhere, as a relaxing, dreamy hour, or as a second of peace in the middle of the chaos. Meditation is more than a practice; it is a lifestyle. When I am surrounded by stress and pressures and human strife, I need to remember, if only for a moment, to refocus my gaze to the inside, the spirit realm that transcends all of these temporal concerns. Meditation is a great antidote for stress.

I have also been exploring recently how to use meditation as medication for my body. My job is physically demanding, so the constant lifting and walking cause my tendinitis to flare, especially when combined with the stress. I have so much chronic pain that sometimes I turn to pain drugs to calm the fire and help me get through the day. Sometimes this is the only way I can work my day job at all.

I don’t like these medications, though, and I don’t think they have great long-term effects on my body. I am learning to meditate for a short moment every time the pain strikes. This lessens the sting. In these moment-by-moment meditations, am also learning things about the origins of my pain and how to let go through my spirit and energy body. I believe that much, if not all chronic pain, exists in the spirit body as much as the physical body. I will explore this more in a future post.

I invite you to join me on this journey of learning to live a life of meditation and using meditation as a medication for your stress and pain, physical or emotional, at work or at play.

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