Meditation for Stress

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A Simple Technique to Relieve Stress and Improve Health in Just 15 Minutes a Day

Stress is considered one of the most common causes of various health issues that have us visiting our doctors. Author and associate prof-essor of Medicine at Harvard University, Dr. Herbert Benson M.D. explains in his book, The Relaxation Response, why stress is the cause of high blood pressure, back pain, ulcers, insomnia, and much more. In fact, research conducted by Dr. Benson concluded that over 90% of all our ailments are stress-related; that is, stress blocks the body’s natural healing mechanism (the immune system) in its efforts to properly perform its job. The longer we let this interference go on, the harder it is to rebalance the body’s defense system.

The Benefits of Regular Meditation

The easiest way for us to manage stress is to meditate regularly. The benefits of regular meditation include not only an improvement in the immune system’s ability to keep stress in check, as many scientific studies show, but also an increase in a feeling of wellbeing, happiness, self confidence, and connection to those around us. The challenge for many is not having knowledge of how to meditate; meditation may be unfamiliar and, to some, can even seem a little esoteric. However, the truth is that meditation is a simple and powerful tool, the efficacy of which has been researched and proven by scientists and scholars from a wide array of institutions – from Harvard University to the World Health Organization. Meditation is a proven technique of relaxation that can be practiced almost anywhere and anytime, without the need of any other aids or additional resources.

Relaxation Technique

The meditation technique explained below is a basic relaxation tool that is taught to students of the Silva Method, and used by millions of people around the world. It can be learned quickly and is easy to practice.

Read all the steps below before trying it and be sure to set aside at least 20 minutes of time to relax, before practice, in order to attain the full effect.

Now find a quiet place where you can sit, undisturbed, for 20 minutes.
1. Choose a comfortable chair, without armrests.
2. Sit with both feet on the ground, sitting upright with your back against the chair.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. As you exhale, feel your body relax from head to toe. Repeat three times.
5. On the third exhalation, mentally count backwards from 20, again while relaxing your body from head to toe. At 20, relax the top of your head; at 19, relax your forehead; at 18, relax your eyelids and eyebrows; at 17, your cheeks, mouth, and ears; at 16 your neck; at 15 your shoulders; at 14 your chest; at 13 your upper arms; and so on until you arrive at your toes at 0.
6. When you have relaxed your entire body, imagine a tranquil, peaceful spot where you feel you can relax. It can be anywhere in the world, or out of it. Just use your imagination, or your memories. Project yourself to that place and take it all in. Immerse yourself in the environment and let yourself go. Keep your mind focused on this relaxing place only.
7. If some thought or worry comes to mind, just let it go. Say to yourself: “It doesn’t matter now” and return to your peaceful place.
8. Stay in this peaceful environment for 15 minutes.
9. After 15 minutes, say to yourself mentally: “I am going to count from one to five; at the count of five, I will open my eyes and be wide awake, feeling better than before.
10. Count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Then open your eyes and say mentally: “I am wide awake, feeling better than before.”

How Will I Feel After Meditation?

What should you expect to feel after a session of meditation? Typically, those who practice this technique feel a sense of calm, relaxation, or even deep peace. The intensity of what you experience will depend on you, and on your ability to relax and let yourself go; on your willingness to let yourself be totally immersed in your chosen place of relaxation. Just let yourself go and remember: don’t try too hard. Whatever you achieve is just fine, and the next time will be better. For instance, even if you only improve by 1% each time you meditate, after 52 attempts you will already have improved by 52%! I know that may sound counter-intuitive, but don’t worry about the results. Just let yourself go and enjoy.

If you feel anything like dizziness or nausea, stop and consult your physician before you continue meditating, in order to rule out any potential health problems. However, these are often just physiological responses to the practice as your body starts to let go of the stress it’s been holding on to for so long.

So relax and enjoy the benefits.

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