Looking for a meditation to soothe away stress and encourage relaxation? Whether it’s the global pandemic or that of a nagging partner, we deal with stress every day. What’s more, our bodies react in the same way to whatever is stressing us out.
When faced with stress, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in. This increases our heart and respiration rate, dilates our pupils, moves blood away from our digestive tract, and drains our energy. In essence, we get primed for flight or fight.
While this is a normal response, it can become chronic if we’re feeling constantly under stress. Those email notifications from work that seem to appear every second can trigger this response too.
Thankfully, there is something we can do to keep this stress response in check: meditation.
Simple meditation to soothe away stress
Meditation helps to initiate what is called the relaxation response. This helps to move our bodies out of the ‘fight-or-flight’ response and into our ‘rest-and-digest’ response instead. This very straightforward practice will help you do just that, helping your mind and body to relax.
Find a safe space
Start by choosing a comfortable space to withdraw. Find a quiet, secluded area in your home or office that you can fully relax in and feel at ease. If you can, turn off your phone or put up a ‘do-not-disturb’ sign for your practice.
Relax your body completely. For this practice, you can be seated or lying down. Choose whichever option allows you to relax deeper (without falling asleep). Soften the muscles of your body as much as possible and surrender to the force of gravity.
Wiggle around until you can relax into a comfortable stillness. Try your best to relax your body so much that it no longer distracts you. This will help you to draw all of your awareness inward.
Soften your gaze or close your eyes completely. Let go of surrounding sounds, smells, and other distractions. Bring your attention inside and focus fully on your own internal experience.
Turn to your breath
Observe the natural rhythm of your breath. Notice its natural fluctuations, pauses, and cadence. Decide whether you’d like to maintain this natural rhythm of your breath or if you’d prefer to alter it slightly.
Whatever you choose, breathe both in and out through your nose with a slow and steady pace. Strive to equalize the lengths of your inhales and exhales or, if you’d prefer, accentuate your exhales slightly.
Repeat a simple mantra
Once you’ve established a stable rhythm in your breath, begin to incorporate a very simple mantra. One of the easiest and most straightforward mantras to help you relax is simply the word ‘one’.
After every full breath cycle, silently repeat your mantra to yourself. For example, inhale and exhale, and silently repeat ‘one’. Once more, inhale and exhale, and silently repeat ‘one’. Continue in this way. There’s no need to count your breaths, just consistently repeat the same word over and over and over again.
It can be easier to choose a mantra that has no significant meaning (such as the word ‘one’) rather than a word that could potentially bring up stronger emotions (such as the word ‘love’). Choose a fairly meaningless word or phrase to repeat.
As you continue to breathe and repeat your mantra (anywhere from two minutes up to an hour), feel yourself becoming entranced by this repetitive cycle.
Having a simple focus on your breath and mantra helps to keep your mind from wandering. This keen awareness and attention on your breath helps to stimulate your relaxation response and move your nervous system into a parasympathetic state.
Gradually, you may notice your mind feeling soothed and less stressed. It’ll help to signal to your physical body that it’s okay to let your guard down and settle into a relaxed state.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
We are what we repeatedly do. Therefore, if we want to be relaxed, stress-free individuals, we need to consciously put in the effort to alleviate stress and anxiety. A consistent meditation practice is one of the best ways to do this.
Any time you have a moment of spare time in your day, practice this extremely simple meditation to move you into a state of calm relaxation. Even if you only have a couple of minutes, it’ll make a world of difference.
Give it a try and see for yourself. You’ll likely be very pleased with the results.
About Leah Sugerman
Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she writes about and teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on finding the balance between strength and surrender. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings both online and internationally. Connect with Leah and follow her teachings and travels on Instagram, Facebook, and LeahSugerman.com.