East County locals discuss remedies for relieving stress through mindfulness and meditation.
In the harried and hectic world in which we all live, how does one simply chill?
For some, the answer is meditation and mindfulness. Just breathe and relax.
“It is not like you go into another world or anything. You just become extremely aware of yourself,” said East County’s Glenn Herpst said. “It is important to listen to your thoughts, but the trick is to let them go.”
“It’s important to listen to your thoughts, but the trick is to let them go"
Several clinics, institutes and studios offer meditation lessons, but you don’t have to join a group and spend big bucks to reach mindful zin.
“It’s important to listen to your thoughts, but the trick is to let them go,” Herpst said. “Mindfulness is a big thing. Being mindful all of the time is not easy because you have to constantly be attentive of everything going on around you and within yourself.”
Herpst, who’s meditated “off and on” since the 1970s, is a 69-year-old retired pilot who heads with stress daily.
“When you get stressed, you are not listening to yourself, you are reacting to everything going on around you,” Herpst said.
So how does he do it?
“When I am in a stressful situation, I evaluate the situation and see how much energy I want to put forth,” Herpst said. “I never want to promote the stress, I would always rather decompress the stress. You have to let go of it and just breathe.”
He meditates several times a week in his home office or while he’s out walking.
“When I’m walking, I try to be here now and pay attention to my steps, feel what I’m doing and let go of any other thoughts I am having and try and be in the present,” he said.
For Shana Rosenthal of Lakewood Ranch, fighting your thoughts is “counterproductive.”
“I am filled with running thoughts and ideas constantly. Most people think when you’re meditating you need to empty your mind, but I don’t believe that that helps.”
Rosenthal manages her stress by “being in the moment” and using all of her senses — what she is hearing, seeing, and when she is sipping on her coffee, what she is smelling.
“We live in such a stressful world,” Rosenthal said. “I think it is important to take just 5 or 10 minutes to fully appreciate and fully be present in what that moment is offering you. That is what the gift is.”
Both Rosenthal and Herpst attest to the power of purposeful breathing.
“If I really need to release stress, I focus on my breathing. I notice how my body is feeling in that moment and where my tensions are,” Rosenthal said. “On my exhale, I blow those tensions out and I feel it leaving me. On my in breath, I am inviting in whatever it is that I want to feel. I’m inhaling it.”
“I close my eyes, breathe in — remain conscious of the breath that is coming in — and then I breathe out,” Herpst said.
More importantly, Herpst said, is to live in the moment.
“The neatest thing about meditation is that you get in touch with yourself,” Herpst said. “It helps you understand yourself better and gives you the opportunity to listen to yourself.”
But there isn’t a single path to mastering meditation.
Sarasota's Susan Moen doesn’t meditate like "everybody else" does.
She owns her own crystal and jewelry boutique store in Sarasota and is often "high strung," she said. Meditating helps her live in the moment, forget the past and not think about the future.
"Meditating is important to connect and live in the moment," the 61-year-old said. "I meditate while I draw. It puts you exactly in the moment. You focus on what you are doing one stroke at a time."
Because she owns her own business, she often feels like she rushes around all day. Meditation slows her down.
"It helps me calm down and relax," Moen said. "Everybody is stressed. It is important to get out of your head and live in the moment. Don't think about the past — that often causes depression — the future causes anxiety. But when you live in the moment, you are stress free."