Meditation for Relaxation

Relaxation meditation, which typically involves cultivating calm by using an object of focus such as your breath or a visualisation, is a proven tool to help manage and ease stress. (Healthline, 2023) Regular practice makes it easier to condition our bodies to find balance — that sweet spot between focus and relaxation.

Not every meditation technique is meant for relaxation, so how do you do meditation for relaxation?

Here’s an exercise to try, which uses deep breathing, body scanning, and awareness to calm the body and mind:

1. Focus on your breath.

Find a quiet space and get comfortable. Begin by taking five deep breaths — in through the nose and out through the mouth. As you breathe in, think about taking in fresh air; as you breathe out, think about letting go of any stress in the body and mind. On the last exhalation, gently close the eyes.

2. Check In.

Pause and take a few moments to settle into your body. Acknowledge your senses, noticing any sounds, smells, tastes; feel the weight of your body on the chair, or wherever you’re sitting.

3. Body scan.

Scan your body from head to toe, observing any tension or discomfort. Scan a second time, observing which parts of the body feel relaxed. Take about 20 seconds for each scan. Notice any thoughts that arise without attempting to alter them. Note your underlying mood, becoming aware of what’s there without judgment.

4. Back to the breath.

Return your attention to your breath. Breathe normally, simply observing the rising and falling sensation in your body. Focus on the quality of each breath. Is it deep? Shallow? Long or short? Fast or slow? Now, begin to silently count the breaths: 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 on the next inhalation, and so on, up to 10. Then start again at 1. If thoughts bubble up or your mind starts to wander, don’t worry. Just guide your attention back to the breath.

5. Just sit.

At the end of your breathwork, spend 20 to 30 seconds just sitting, allowing your mind to be free. It doesn’t matter whether you’re calm and focused or you have a lot of thoughts. Just let your mind simply be.

6. Prepare to finish.

Finally, bring your awareness back to anything physical you may be experiencing. For example, your posture or where your feet make contact with the floor. Notice any sounds. Then, slowly open your eyes.

Try to recognise how your mind feels and then make an intention to carry those feelings of calm and relaxation into the rest of your day.

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