3 Simple Meditations to Combat Stress

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When life throws you the unexpected, here are your tools to cope.

It was a quiet morning, I woke up before sunrise and got myself ready to meditate. I was so happy that I had some extra time to sit, relax, and follow my breathing. I was going to enjoy the next twenty minutes before making my tea. My wife would wake up at some point, then we were meeting some friends to go for a hike. It was to be the perfect morning when about 5 minutes into my meditation there was a rough, “knock, knock, knock,” at the door. I knew my wife was still in bed, so I had to go down to see who it was. One of our friends arrived early. Not a big deal at all. We haven’t seen her in a while, but being interrupted during my meditation was a bit jarring to say the least.

We’ve all had the experience when we plan something nice for ourselves and life throws us the unexpected. It’s never fun, but we have to learn how to deal with these moments. If you have kids, this happens on a regular basis. Instead of being frustrated that I was interuppted, I have to change my mindset, change my attitude and be okay with the circumstance. Our friend has no idea that she interrupted me. She’s so happy to arrive early and spend more time with my wife and I definitely didn’t want to spoil her excitement.

The experience, however, prompted the follow tasks to help deal with life’s unexpected stressors. You can use them in a pinch to help you relax and deal with stress.

Our first meditation is simple. Sit up in a cross legged position, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. By doing this you immediately set the tone for the next few moments. You can do this anywhere really, but if possible, getting yourself in a proper position always sets the tone. It is a simple breathing exercise where you inhale deep for 5 seconds, hold your breath in for 2 seconds, and slowly exhale for 8 seconds. That’s it! 15 seconds and immediate change of energy and being. Do more if you feel compelled, but this is to build a habit. Start with a small step!

Our second meditation starts by using the previous breathing technique as our entry into a deeper state of consciousness. Do 3-5 rounds of the breathing. Inhale for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 2 seconds, then exhale for 8 seconds. The total will be about 45-90 seconds. When you’re done, allow your body to breathe naturally while you stay aware of the sensations in each moment. Feel your lungs expand and contract, notice your spine, your jaw, your fingers and toes, your tongue. Seek all of these opportunities to stay in the moment, especially when distractions take you away. If you feel comfortable feel free to sit for 5 minutes or even 20. It is incredibly beneficial to condition ourselves to meditate 20 minutes each day. This will set you on your way!

Our third meditation is about being in the present moment. Sit up tall with your spine straight, begin to take long slow breaths. If it’s early in the morning, give your lungs a moment to wake up by breathing deeply and holding your inhale for a few moments. Then start breathing by increasing your inhales about 5-15% and lengthening your exhales 10-20%. You’ll immediately begin to notice your body and mind start to relax. Do this for 3-5 minutes. Don’t breathe so deep that you cause tension. Expansion is what we’re looking for, not stress. Then if you can make more time, let go into the relaxation for another 5-20 minutes, breathing slowly and naturally. Over time you will get more and more used to sitting comfortable.

These techniques are simple, sometimes they are not easy. Once you get into the habit of using them as your tool to help you deal with stress, you will become much better at it and soon your coping skills will be second nature. As always, I’m here to help. You can reach me on twitter @teddymcdonald

Photo: Courtesy of author

About Ted McDonald

Ted McDonald is a yoga teacher, fitness trainer, endurance athlete, entrepreneur, philanthropist and modern day adventurer. A former Lacrosse player at UCLA and Elite Adventure Racer, he has been an athlete his entire life. He began teaching yoga and meditation over 14 years ago while he continues to compete in marathons, triathlons, endurance mountain bike races and ultra marathons.

He is the founder of Adventure Yoga Retreats, a company that organizes premium travel adventures that enrich lives and inspire people to live life at their highest level. Ted co-created Tony Horton’s p90x:2 yoga DVD and is featured in p90x:3 Yoga, p90x:3 Isometrix as well as Tony’s yoga “expert” for his one-on-one video series. He is a long time lululemon ambassador and is the designated yoga teacher for the Tour de France winning pro cycling BMC Racing Team. He is a featured teacher on YogaVibes.com , Curious.com and created the yoga program at The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu which was named in Travel & Leisure’s World’s Best Spas for 2012 & 2013.


  1. This is so important! Hoping all your Good Men spread the word to the Good Boys. With gratitude from a Good Woman.

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