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Stress Management & Meditation FAQs

Answers to common questions people have about the benefits of stress management, including meditation, how to get started and how to develop a regular practice.

Is breathwork a good place to start with meditation?

There is no evidence on this either way. Breathwork is a wonderful practice but it is different to meditation. So I’d suggest that if you want to start meditating, then just start meditating.

I struggle to control my mind from racing and doing lists - do you have any tips to help with this?

Firstly, there seems to be a myth that meditation is supposed to quieten the mind, and when it doesn’t then it’s not working. This is not true. Your mind will always wander, and the practice is simply noticing that the mind has wandered off and bringing it back to the present moment. Think that when meditating you are training your attention muscle – you are practicing putting yourself back in control again of where your attention is. Even before you sit to practice, try telling yourself that all those to do lists will still be there after you finish your practice, so just for now don’t worry about them.

Is it helpful to meditate during a stressful part of the day to reduce stress, or is it more beneficial to choose a more naturally peaceful part of the day?

For a longer, formal practice it can be beneficial to choose a time of day when you are feeling less busy and stressed, as the purpose here is to practice your meditation skills. But for shorter mini and micro practices these can be done whenever, and it can be very helpful to use these deliberately to help you when you feel stressed or under pressure. Perhaps think of the mini and micro practices as tools that you can use to help you whenever you need them.

Doing a body scan makes me really aware of my MS symptoms and then I’m distracted. Do you have any suggestions to overcome that ?

The body scan can feel a difficult practice with MS symptoms. Mindfulness invites us to explore more difficult experiences and sensations, including physical difficulties and pain, which can feel counterintuitive and uncomfortable.

One of the intentions of the practice is to reacquaint ourselves with our body and body sensations, which we might have consciously or unconsciously chosen to distance ourselves from. But the key here is how we do this. So, when you do the body scan, really try and bring a sense of gentleness and kindness to the body. And when you encounter more difficult sensations, choose what is best for you – perhaps starting with very gentle exploration, or even missing out this part of the body.

Does it matter if I fall asleep when I meditate?

It’s not a problem, but it’s not an intention when you meditate. So, if you feel sleepy perhaps try opening your eyes a little until you feel more awake again.

How do you begin to incorporate mediation into your life?

The first step is to make a commitment to yourself to begin to practice.

Then find a few guided meditations that work for you in terms of length, voice and style. Perhaps start with a shorter guided mediation of 5 minutes, and then you can quickly build up on this. Also experiment when for you is it best to meditate – early in the day or later? Try different places to sit at home, and try to develop your new meditation habit. Then once you’ve got going, look for more guidance on how to further establish your practice, from books, webinars, or even a course.

How often should I meditate?

The Overcoming MS Program recommends 30 minutes of meditation every day. This can be done in one 30 minute sitting, or if you find it easier, you can do multiple, smaller sessions, eg: 10 minutes, three times per day.

What is mindfulness meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that focuses on remaining actively, purposely aware in the present moment without self-judgement or analysis. Practicing mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce feelings of stress and can combat symptoms of depression and anxiety.

How can I tell if I am meditating correctly?

There is no single way to meditate correctly and thus this question is quite difficult to answer. Most forms of meditation focus on quietening the mind by focusing one’s attention on something else such as the breath, a visualization, the body, a movement or simply the present moment.

Generally, if you are able to sit (or lie) quietly without getting lost in your thoughts or worries and if you feel calmer, happier or more at peace when you have finished, you are meditating well.

You can read more here:

Meditation and Mindfulness

The best meditation apps… chosen by you 

Guided meditations

Why does meditation help with stress reduction?

Problems in our day-to-day life, such as road rage or an argument at work, can trigger our ‘fight or flight’ instinct – this means higher blood pressure, heightened adrenaline and a pro-inflammatory immune system.

However, if this happens too often, stress builds up, causing chronic inflammation and can cause damage to the body.

Meditation can reverse this process by calming the body and reducing stress. Indeed, when we meditate the frequency of our brain waves decreases, putting the mind in a calm state where it can heal itself more effectively.