Stress Reduction Meditation & Mindfulness

Saloni Sharma, MD April 1st, 2020

Part 1: Stress Reduction Meditation & Mindfulness

Stress is a daily part of modern life and triggers a response in your body. It is your body’s response to difficult situations and is helpful in life-threatening scenarios. But ongoing, repetitive stress in our daily lives from daily news, financial limitations, family, health and work demands, takes a toll on the body. If left unchecked, stress contributes to many chronic conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, dementia, depression and gastrointestinal problems. In addition, stress can increase inflammation and pain in muscles, joints and the spine. 

Recently, scientific studies have proven the benefit of meditation and mindfulness in stress reduction, health improvement and pain control. Both practices calm the mind and body.  They do not require any special equipment or extravagant costs. Meditation involves focusing inward, often, on your breath or a mantra (repeated peaceful sound or phrase). Mindfulness is being present and engaged in the activity you are doing. There is some overlap and even a term Mindfulness Meditation that means becoming aware of what is happening around you, in your mind, in your body and in your environment. Below are some tips on how you can engage your senses and decrease your stress:  

Tips for Meditation

  • Sit in a comfortable position with your back upright, either cross-legged on the floor or on supportive chair with your feet planted on the ground. 
  • Close your eyes or lower your gaze to the ground.
  • Observe your breathing and take three slow, deep breaths. A longer exhalation helps relax the body.
  • a relaxing phrase or sound to repeat silently such as “So Hum.”
  • Repeat “So” on the inhale and “Hum” on the exhale
  • If you mind jumps to other thoughts, gently guide it back to your mantra.
  • If it is easier to just focus on your breathe, place your hands on your belly and follow your belly rise with each inhale and lower with each exhale.
  • As with any new skill, you will find it easier with practice and may want to start with a three- or five-minute practice.

Tips to Being Present

Pick an activity to engage in a mindful way – being fully present with the experience and your senses. No computer, no phone or television. This could be taking a walk, eating or even listening to music.

If walking mindfully:

  • What sounds do you hear? (birds singing, cars chugging, people giggling)
  • What do you smell? (fresh flowers, pine sap, street vendor food)
  • What does your skin feel? (cool breeze, crisp air or warm wind)
  • What do you see? (squirrels running, ants climbing, bright billboards)

If eating mindfully:

  • What does the food feel like against your teeth and tongue?
  • What does it sound like? 
  • What do you smell?
  • What flavors do you taste? 
  • What colors do you see on your plate? 

If listening to music mindfully:

  • What instruments or notes do you hear?
  • What does the music make you feel?
  • If you close your eyes, what do you see? 

Meditation and mindfulness can help decrease orthopaedic inflammation and pain. There are many phone applications that can help as well. For more guidance, knowledge and a customized plan to reduce your stress, pain and inflammation, consider seeing an Orthopaedic Integrative Medicine physician at Rothman Orthopaedics. 

Dr. Saloni Sharma is a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation physician as well as the Medical Director of the Orthopaedic Integrative Medicine Center (opening later this year) at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute. To learn more about the Orthopaedic Integrative Medicine Center, please contact 

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