Stress Relief With Meditation: Get Relaxed In Five Easy Steps

You may have heard a lot about meditation. But, you may be put off by the seemingly arcane sound of the word 'meditation'. When one is already stressed, how can one think of getting relief from stress with meditation? Who has so much spare time to learn weird old world practices?

But, wait, before making up your mind, give me five minutes of your valuable time, and I assure you that-

  • You will stop believing that meditation is some kind of voodoo or mystical practice, and,

  • You will get a glimpse of the power of meditation in making you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

  • You will realize that it takes only ten to fifteen minutes to practice meditation.

    I am describing below five simple steps for getting stress relief with meditation. You don't need to make any elaborate arrangements for practicing the meditation; just a quiet place. Your family will willingly offer you a few minutes of quietude if they know that you will come out of it in a healthier and happier state of mind.

    So here are the five steps to reach meditative state-

    • Choose your mantra. You can choose any word- it can be 'ohm', or 'relax' or 'peace' or any other word with which you are comfortable.

    • Sit down in a chair, or in the lotus position, or whatever position you are comfortable in. Don't lie down: you may fall asleep.

    • Relax all your muscles, starting from the feet and legs. Gradually start moving upward. Concentrate on your thighs, stomach, chest, back, neck, face and head, relaxing them one by one. Concentrate on one group of muscles at a time, relax it, and then move ahead. In the end, you entire body will feel relaxed. Even if you are not successful the first time round, don' bother, do it anyway

    • Start taking slow and deep breath, while reciting the mantra, you chose in step 1, with each breath. Try concentrating on it without making too much of an effort. Reconcile to the fact that the mind will wonder. Whenever you become aware of your mind going away from the mantra, gently bring it back.

    • After five minutes, stop reciting the mantra, and start becoming aware of your surroundings, very slowly. Give yourself a few minutes to come out completely.

    This is your five steps exercise for stress relief with meditation. You will feel deeply relaxed, if you do it correctly. It takes not more than ten to fifteen minutes. If you do this exercise in the morning you ill feel more relaxed during the entire day.

    Practicing regularly trains your body and mind to get relaxed under stressful situations in a few seconds, at will. Meditation not only relaxes you, it benefits your body and mind in many other ways. Do it regularly, and start seeing those benefits in your own life.

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    Why Meditate

    The best place to begin when faced with a question like "Why Meditate?" is to take a closer look at what the mind is. The mind is a continuity of thoughts that present themselves in a linear arrangement in both our waking hours and when we are asleep (in the form of dreams). Our thoughts cause a reaction in our nervous systems that is known as stress. Some stress is necessary for our day-to-day functioning and some of it is unnecessary and can even harm us. Research has shown that it is the harmful stress that meditation can address and reduce by helping us to transcend the whims and worries of our minds.

    Personally, I practice zazen - a form of Zen meditation whose aim it is to empty the mind of all thoughts - although many Zen practitioners would say that zazen is not meditation at all, but more of a process. It is very easy to describe how to do zazen, but takes commitment to make it work effectively.

    The practitioner needs to sit in an upright position (laying down may induce sleep or day-dreaming), and focus on following the breath that enters and leaves the body to the exclusion of all other thoughts. If thoughts enter the mind, the sitter needs to reject them and bring his/her attention back to the breaths with renewed vigour.

    As sitting for a long time may cause discomfort and circulatory problems, meditators are instructed to stand and walk around at certain periods, remaining focused on the breaths. This should take place every twenty-five minutes or so, and awareness should then also be focused on the movement of the legs, pressure on the soles of the feet etc. again to the exclusion of all irrelevant thoughts.

    Beginners, who find themselves almost incapable of holding their attention on just the breaths, should start their practice by counting each inhalation and exhalation from one to ten, then returning to one again and starting all over again. That is, focusing on one, whilst inhaling, two, exhaling, three, inhaling again, and so on.

    But, to go back to the question, why do all this? Meditators the world over have been found to suffer very little stress and anxiety, can transcend pain of any sort, can rejuvenate themselves easier after exertion, can deal with sleep problems, fatigue, deal with problems like weight loss, smoking cessation, gain confidence in communication with others, motivation in career and study and much else that is exacerbated by day to day life. And many who master the techniques, find improvement in concentration and all sorts of mental abilities.

    If I was asked to put it all in a nutshell, I would say that there are three main functions to meditation.

    1. To become clear of one's aims and intentions in life

    2. To find 20 minutes each day (twice a day if possible) to devote to the practice

    3. Communication to clear any up any problems and to remain committed to the process of daily meditation this can be carried out by e-mail, phone or (if local) booking a one-to-one appointment.

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