Report courtesy of Sadie Rogerson, Amy Laws, Georgia Platt and Michael Laws.
On the 1st March 2016, the ECHO team had a visitor. Dawn Cretney, from Enterprising Youth, helps children of any age with stress and emotional problems. She runs sessions and provides practical advice about how to reduce stress and worries through meditation. She said that teenagers can often suffer with stress due to the big changes they are going through at school, so she gave us some tips for all age groups about how to reduce stress.
Amy Laws summarised Dawn’s top tips for reducing stress:
- Find a type of meditation that suits you. This can be breathing or chanting. Chanting just consists of saying a word that you really like repeatedly. These could be words such as “love.”
- Drink water. Even if you are the slightest bit dehydrated, this can affect your overall meditation performance. Water is very important and energy flow is easier with water.
- Find apps or music that calm you. Use the internet to help you.
- The best time to meditate is before bed and when you wake up.
She said “When you meditate, your mind will wander. This is a good thing. The best time to learn stress relief is when you aren’t stressed.
Georgia Platt summarised some of the different meditation techniques she taught us.
Close your eyes. Listen to any noise around you. Focus on one noise, or focus on any feeling in your body. Breathe in and whilst you do this, imagine a line tracing from your right shoulder to your left shoulder. Then, as you exhale, imagine a line going from your left shoulder to your left hip. All the breaths you do should last as long as the line is drawn. Then, imagine a line going from your left hip to your right hip whilst you inhale. Then exhale as a line is drawn from your right hip to your right shoulder. Repeat this as many times as you want. When you have finished, slowly open your eyes.
Tune out of everything around you and simply softly stroke the side of your thumb. Focus on the feeling in your thumb.
Tune out of everything around you and place your hand on a flat surface. With your free hand, trace the outside of your fingers. Focus on the feeling inside your fingers as you trace them.
Dawn also shared some information about the different parts of the brain. Michael Laws summarised this below.
Neocortex – this is the part of the brain that does the rational thinking.
Reptilian – this part of the brain does the survival response of humans.
Mammalian – this is the part of the brain that processes emotions and feelings.
Finally, Dawn talked to us about recommended apps we could use to aid us with meditation. Sadie Rogerson summarised this information here.
Head space-this app is a great way to start making meditation into a part of your daily
routine. You can only do a later exercise after you have done the previous one, I think that
this is good for people who find focusing difficult, so they don’t try something too ambitious
or challenging. Unfortunately some of the features are only available to paying subscribers,
this slightly put me off this app because areas like the emergency exercises and the on the
go exercises are not available.
Stop, breathe and think-I think that this is my favourite of the three apps because it
measures your mood and recommends exercises for you. As well, it keeps track of your
progress. It is also set out simply and is made easy to use, in fact some of the programs are
used by schools.
Pacifica-I like this app because it also links in with your health and measures your sleeping
patterns, calorie intake and exercise. The only feature I do not like are the ‘chats’ and
‘community’ features, I think these sections would be good for meditation teachers but get
slightly irritating if you want to just use the app for meditation.”
“As well as apps I would also recommend some of the ‘focus’ or ‘calm’ playlists (on Spotify or
iTunes) if you like listening to music whilst meditating, but make sure the music is not what
you are concentrating on and you are not distracted by it.
The team would like to say a big thank you to Dawn for letting us try out some of these techniques and for allowing us to interview her. If you would like more information about meditation or techniques for relieving stress, Dawn runs workshops and is happy to come into school again to work with students, so contact the Echo team for more information at email@example.com