SOS - Meditation for Stress Relief
If stress makes you feel anxious, tense and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes meditating can restore your calm and inner peace. Anyone can do it ― it’s simple, free and doesn’t require any equipment. You can do it wherever you are. Meditation clears away the “information overload” that builds up within us each day and contributes to stress.
Meditation is an umbrella term for many ways to achieve a relaxed state of being. There are many types and relaxation techniques that have meditative components ― all share the same goal of achieving inner peace. Methods of meditation include guided meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, Tai chi, Transcendental meditation and yoga.
There’s no right way to meditate. You can certainly go to meditation centers or group classes led by trained instructors, but you can do it on your own, if you set aside a few minutes out of your day.
Here are some ways to meditate on your own, whenever and wherever you choose:
- Breathe deeply. This technique is good for beginners because breathing is a natural function. Focus all attention on your breathing. Concentrate on feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Breathe deeply and slowly. When your attention wanders, gently return your focus to your breathing.
- Try reciting a mantra (repetition of a sacred word). A single word like "om" uttered at a steady rhythm is best. You can recite it verbally or just with the voice in your mind. Beginners may find it easier to count their breaths. Try counting your breath from 1 to 10, then simply start again at 1.
- Visualize a place that calms you. It can be real or imaginary. Imagine you are at the top of a staircase leading to a peaceful place. Count your way down the steps until you are peaceful and relaxed.
- Scan your body. When using this technique, focus attention on different parts of your body. Become aware of your body's various sensations, whether that's pain, tension, warmth or relaxation. Combine body scanning with breathing exercises and imagine breathing heat or relaxation into and out of different parts of your body.
- Walk and meditate. Combining a walk with meditation is an efficient and healthy way to relax. You can use this technique anywhere you're walking — in a tranquil forest, on a city sidewalk or at the mall. When you use this method, slow down the pace of walking so that you can focus on each movement of your legs or feet. Don't focus on a particular destination. Concentrate on your legs and feet, repeating action words in your mind such as lifting, moving and placing as you lift each foot, move your leg forward and place your foot on the ground.
- Read and reflect. Many people report that they benefit from reading poems or sacred texts, and taking a few moments to quietly reflect on their meaning. You also can listen to sacred music, spoken words or any music you find relaxing or inspiring. You may want to write your reflections in a journal or discuss them with a friend or spiritual leader.
~ Post adapted from the Mayo Clinic