Meditation Techniques for Stress

Stress happens when you feel as if you are drowning in the demands your job, your family, or your community obligations. Stress is in itself is not bad. Short-term stress will spur you on to do well in that job interview, to shine at that work presentation, to ace that exam or to complete that physical challenge. Stress buoys people up to get through those trying situations like a crisis at work or home, a health problem, a death, a work deadline, or a school assignment.

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However, chronic stress can have serious health repercussions including, anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and intestinal difficulties.  Stress can affect every one of our organs and systems. Research shows that stress can also cause autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, lupus and type 2 diabetes. Stress also takes its toll on marriages, families and work relationships.

One effective way to combat stress is to learn healthy meditation techniques. Stress meditation strategies have been shown to lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and improve confidence.

Why meditate?

Meditation isn’t for everyone. Even those who discover the benefits of meditation didn’t all start out believing in meditation techniques for stress. Beginners often find stress meditation challenging at first. Meditation benefits are particularly elusive for “Type A” personalities who tend to be perfectionists and want instant solutions. However, if you find yourself not getting into meditation, persevere. Meditation benefits make it all worthwhile.

Research states that a few minutes of meditation each day eases anxiety and relieves stress. It is believed by neurologists that meditation alters the brain’s neural pathways and makes them more able to handle stress.

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Getting Started: Beginning Meditation Techniques

The instructions are really quite simple. Sit up straight with both feet firmly planted on the floor. Close your eyes. Choose an appropriate mantra to recite aloud or in your head. For stress meditation, this mantra might be something like: I feel at peace or I am calm. Placing one hand over your stomach, synchronize the mantra with your breathing. The hardest part is to clear your mind of any distracting thoughts.

Deep Breathing Meditation Technique

This meditation strategy takes only five minutes. You can do it anywhere and anytime you are feeling stressed. Sit up straight. Close your eyes. Put one hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose. Feel the inhalation at the top of your head. Keep breathing. Inhale through your nose. Breathe deeply. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Work your way from the top of your head to your belly, breathing deeply at each stop along the way.

As you breathe, you should be able to feel your heart rate and pulse slow.

Being Present

This meditation technique teaches us to slow down. All it takes is five minutes. Focus on one behavior or awareness. Notice senses like how the air feels on your face, how the sun feels on your skin, how your feet sound hitting the ground, how the air smells, the tastes on your tongue. Enjoy the texture, sound, smell and taste of the moment.

When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel less tense.

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Tune In to Your Body

Mentally scan your body. Feel the places where stress has collected. Lie down on your back, or sit with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Starting at your toes, gradually work your way up to the top of your head. Take inventory of the places you feel tight. Take a minute or two.  Imagine each deep breath flowing to that part of your body that feels stressed. Continue this process. Move your focus up your body, relaxing each tight spot as you go.

Decompress

Place a warmed grain or bean bag around your neck and shoulders. Sit with your feet firmly planted on the floor for ten minutes. While you enjoy the sensation of warmth, quiet, and peace, close your eyes. Visualize your facial muscles relaxing. Feel your neck muscles melting gradually. See in your mind’s eye your upper chest muscles relaxing one by one. Finally see your back muscles easing. Now remove the wrap. Use a tennis ball or a foam roller to smooth all the tension from your face, neck, chest and back.

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