How meditation can help you relieve stress
For years, I had heard about the benefits of meditation or contemplative prayer, but until I started practicing it myself, it had not occurred to me that meditation could be so profound. In my own practice of meditation, I discover my heart rate slows, tension releases from my body, I start to feel at ease and I become more aware of what’s going on internally. With a more focused energy, I can make better, more logical decisions. That is what I want for my clients as well. I want you to feel the clarity and relief I do with simple, short meditations.
So what is meditation?
Literally, meditation is relaxing, breathing or sitting in silence to consciously relax your mind and body for a period of time. It is a practice that promotes mental calmness, clearing your mind of the jumbled thoughts the day brings on, through mental and physical techniques to bring tranquility to your mind and body. Meditation can also be used for religious or spiritual reasons.
The key to meditation is mind management. When you learn to manage your mind, you can have a different relationship with your thoughts, and you’ll be able to help alleviate the physical and mental symptoms of stress. Once you’re fully comfortable, close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing throughout your entire meditation session. Literally count your breaths if you notice your mind starting to wander. This is a time for concentration.
Another way to help reduce wandering thoughts when you’re in a meditation session is to use imagery. Focus on something you consider refreshing or pleasant, or hum music if it helps you concentrate. You can also use some soothing music that features nature sounds.
Why is meditation beneficial?
Research has shown mediation is very effective in relieving stress. It is scientifically proven to reduce stress and control anxiety, enhance self-awareness, improve sleep, build skills to manage stress and more. Some studies have even shown it to lengthen your attention span.
Meditation practice can range from 10 minutes to 30 minutes a day, so there’s no reason to feel like you don’t have time for one more thing in your day. In fact, you can break the sessions into even smaller tidbits if needed. The point is, if you’re feeling that stressed, you may want to try a guided meditation to relax and become more focused. Meditation can help you leave behind the stress and anxiety of the daily grind and actually see your problems or issues from a clearer, calmer frame of mind.
Types of meditation
There are many types of mediation out there. Just a quick Google search brings up varieties like mindfulness meditation, spiritual meditation, focused meditation, movement meditation, mantra meditation, transcendental meditation, progressive relaxation, loving-kindness meditation, guided meditation, vipassana meditation, chakra meditation, yoga meditation and the list goes on.
If you’re just dipping your toes in meditation, try a couple to see what best suits you. And give it a little time to see what you like best before making any decisions. Try visualization exercises (when you are picturing positive, beautiful elements, places or moments) or concentration exercises (when you are trying to focus on your body’s sensations and stimulants). There are also specific meditation exercises that help with obtaining a better sleep, better appetite and other problems you’d like to eliminate from your daily life.
Remember to be kind to yourself as you work toward well-being.