Practice Basic Meditation for Stress Management

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Rear view of woman meditating in lotus position

Meditation has many health benefits and is a highly effective way to relieve stress and maintain a healthier lifestyle. With practice, meditation becomes both more of an easy habit to maintain and more of an effective one as well, given that it builds resilience to stress over time. Putting in the effort to learn and practice meditation can actually transform your experience of stress in your life. There are many different ways to meditate, and this technique is one of the most basic.

With practice, you can use this technique to feel inner peace whenever you need it.

How to Begin a Basic Meditation Practice

Step 1: Get into a comfortable position.

Many people like to sit in a comfortable chair while others prefer to sit cross-legged on the ground. You want to be able to completely relax while still staying awake.

Ensure that your posture is correct. It is easier to stay awake through long meditations if your back is straight. If you begin your meditation practice with this in mind, your body will become used to the position as you move on to longer periods of time.

Tip: Should you feel your shoulders slump while meditating, simply straighten back up. A straight back will also prevent soreness during longer meditations.

If you choose to sit in a chair, sit toward the front of the seat and place your feet firmly on the floor. This will improve your posture and help you concentrate on your practice.

Step 2: Close your eyes gently.

When you are in a comfortable position, look into the distance with a soft gaze, then slowly lower your lids. Keep your jaw slack and slightly open as well. You want to relax all of your facial muscles.

Tip: Do not squeeze your eyes tight. If you feel your face tighten, slowly open your eyes, refocus on that soft gaze and lower them again.

At this stage, your goal is to relax every part of your body. If you feel some tension in certain parts of your body, take a deep breath and allow it to relax you.

Step 3: Clear your head.

This is the part of meditation that takes the most practice and it can cause the most frustration. Keeping your mind clear is the most important and most challenging aspect if the practice. Learning to do this during your meditation practice can help you to let things go in the rest of your life as well.

The idea is to stay unattached to thoughts of any kind. That means that, if the inner narrative voice in your mind speaks up, gently “shush” it and opt for internal silence.

Tip: Do not be discouraged if you cannot clear your thoughts completely. Our minds are constantly filled with thoughts and even the most experienced meditators must silence their inner voices. The goal is to recognize the thought then mentally tell it to go away (even if for just a second before the next one pops up).

Step 4: Keep Going!

That’s it, really! Keep letting go of any thoughts that may pop into your mind. The quiet spaces between thoughts will become longer and more frequent the longer you practice.

You’re on the road of meditation!

A Few Tips to Help Your Meditation Practice

Give it time. Meditation takes practice and a lot of it.

If you’re expecting to do it ‘perfectly’, you may actually create more stress than you relieve. There is no ‘perfect’ meditation session and if you go into it with an expectation of perfection, you may let yourself down and won’t want to stick with it.

Start small and work up to longer sessions.  Begin with a short session of 5 minutes. After you are comfortable, move to 10 or 15 minutes until you are comfortable meditating for 30-minute sessions.

With practice, this type of meditation becomes easier and more effective. You will come out of a meditation session feeling relaxed and refreshed, ready to face the rest of your day.

Track your time and set goals. It can be easy to lose track of time while meditating and two minutes can seem like an eternity when you are just beginning. This can cause you to worry and have thoughts like “Is my time up?” or “Have I meditated long enough?” Those thoughts defeat the purpose of clearing your mind.

To combat this, you may want to set a timer. Use an app on your phone and set it for the amount of time you want to meditate during that session. Be sure to use a gentle tone or set it to vibrate so it doesn’t startle you when time is up, then turn off the screen and relax.

With practice, you may eventually find yourself saying “Wow, that was 10 minutes? I could go longer!” When you are comfortable, skip the timer and allow your meditations to last as long as needed.

Try another style of meditation if needed. If the experience is frustrating for you and you don’t really want to continue, you may find more success with other types of meditation like the Karate Breathing Meditation.

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