I work in a high stress job and use secular forms of meditation practice to help me to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Meditation is simply learning to live in the moment, when nothing distracts you and when you are not tied to the past or anxious about the future. In meditation you become peacefully aware of your real self. The more you use it, the more aware you become. When you learn to live life for each moment, to enjoy and appreciate life to the fullest at that moment, you suddenly become impervious to the myraid of doubts and fears that you've lived with all your life.
While there are many folks that seem to believe their particular mantra has "magical power", it really is the mindfulness that matters. The mantra is just one of the vehicles you can use to get there.
I developed a simple nonsectarian practice, but my background is in Buddhism - specifically Jodo Shinshu (aka Shin) Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, and the nonsectarian teachings of the Bright Dawn Institute (aka Kubose Dharma Legacy).
Here is the simple, yet potent, meditation technique that I use with some recommended resources as well. Specific posture does not matter. If you are uncomfortable sitting on the floor, you can sit on a chair with feet flat on the floor.
Since I have medical issues, I do a simple form of secular mindfulness meditation to relieve stress and anxiety. This helps to reduce high blood pressure and the frequency of headaches. It is a practice recommended by my primary licensed physician and is not encumbered by any superstitious nonsense.
I have actually studied a wide variety of religions and paths. Being more musically inclined, I was initially attracted to the practices of Jodo Shinshu (aka Shin Buddhism) and Nichiren Buddhism - with the combination of chanting a rhythmic phrase (Nembutsu or Odaimoku) and/or sutra recitation to a visual object (a scroll of Amida or a Gohonzon). This is a more active form of meditation as compared to the silent form (see below for that). So I decided to create a nonsectarian alternative in that vein. One practice that I find helpful in the vein of the Way of Oneness (the realization of interdependence) is to chant “Be One, Be Peace” in a position of gassho (palms together in front of chest with fingers pointing upward - a traditional gesture of respect) to an object such as a Dharma Wheel or a drawing of enso (a circle - you can paint one on a while sheet of paper with a Chinese style brush - traditionally the circle is not fully enclosed - just do a Google search on enso to see examples) as used in Zen. Five minutes of this every morning before work does wonders for my blood pressure and stress level.
You are more than welcome to use the chant if you think you may find it possibly useful.
I use two forms: “Be One. Be Peace.” for those who prefer a four syllable “mantra” like “Namandabu.” Or “Be One. Be Love. Be Peace.” for those who prefer the pace of a six syllable “mantra” like “Nam(u) Myo-ho Ren-Ge Kyo” or “Na-Mu A-Mi-da Butsu.” People who like (or are drawn) to chant are attracted to the rhythm.
For me, the purpose of any practice is to encourage self-reflection, internalizing this awareness , and wonder/gratitude/awareness of the interdependent forces of the Universe (Dharmakaya - in Shin this is symbolized as Amida Buddha which allows practitioners to perceive these forces as “compassionate” and “caring” thus allowing us to relate to them easier, or as the Gohonzon in Nichiren Buddhism which is a calligraphic representation of the “Ceremony in the Air” from the Lotus Sutra which is also a representation of the interdependent forces of the Universe).
There are a couple of simple techniques for silent meditation as well. You do not have to sit on the floor. You can sit with erect back on a chair. Many people say try for 15 minutes twice a day. I say start with a simpler goal - 5 minutes twice per day. The benefits include stress management and relaxation benefits which help the body, increased mindfulness and focus, and increased energy. The mindfulness can be a benefit to your spiritual life, but meditation also has "non-spiritual" benefits. Here are two easy techniques:
Breathing meditation - 1) Check posture. 2) Close your eyes and relax. 3) Focus on your breath entering and leaving your body. 4) Count breaths mentally one to four. Repeat. 5) Don't fight a wandering mind, but calmly direct it back to task. 6) Sit for a minute afterwards.
"Mantra" technique (choose a personal "calm" word or phrase that you will repeat in your meditation - it can be from your religion or something as simple as "one" or "calm" – I use the nonsectarian “Be One. Be Peace” or “Be One. Be Love. Be Peace.”) - 1) and 2) as above in the Breathing meditation. 3) Listen to your breathing and let it relax you with each breath. 4) Once you are relaxed, mentally "hear" your "calm" word or phrase in your mind. Let it repeat in your mind. 5) Don't fight a wandering mind, but calmly direct it back to task. 6) Sit for a minute afterwards.
That is all there is to these very simple but beneficial meditation techniques. Many people think that something "mystical" should happen during meditation. Most often "nothing" happens and "nothing" should be expected.
Oh yes, and it didn't cost me anything to learn nor were there any "initiations" involved.
Some good resources on "secular" meditation are "The Calm Technique" by Paul Wilson as well as "The Relaxation Response" by Herbert Benson. If you need more formal "assistance" or "training" then I would look into Natural Stress Relief which was founded by former Transcendental Meditation instructors upset at the rising cost and ongoing superstition associated with TM. They charge $47 for their training compared with the $2,500 that TM would charge you.
Also look at these websites on Buddhism on the nonsectarian Bright Dawn teachings which have a heritage of Shin and Zen Buddhism:
I hope these are helpful!