Stress is an issue for many people living in the fast and furious 21st century. Many people when they are stressed, turn to food as a method of relief. This results in unwanted weight gain. There are techniques to manage and effectively reduce stress. One of stress reduction method that has gained tremendous momentum is meditation. Meditation techniques still the mind and focus it on calm and steady thoughts. As deliberation turns inward, the introversion frees the flow of thoughts, visions and memories aligning the mind and the body in awareness and relaxation.
Meditation and mindfulness are routes to reduce stress and regain the equanimity needed for a productive life. Many types of meditation address the importance of breathing while focusing the mind on thinking positive thoughts or visualizing constructive images. Guided meditation is a growing practice for many who desire to relieve stress and enhance the peace, health and composure of their life. With various guidance topics and recordings available, meditation, sometimes termed “centering,” calls the individual to tune into the body and breathe with the energy force of the world.
According to Andrew Weil, M.D., “Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.” This reduction in stress levels often results in creating a positive energy flow through the body that can prove effective in alleviating anxiety and even chronic pain. With relaxation of the muscles and nerves, blood and energy flow more freely to all parts of the body generating an enhanced feeling of well-being.
Proponents of mindfulness and breathing additionally laud “Improvement of body luster and general health” and “improvement in concentration” as benefits of meditation.
Though meditation is essentially a spiritual practice reaching across cultures throughout recorded history, its purpose elaborates as it is embraced. Individuals involved in guided breath meditation often evolve their practice to explore the very nature of themselves as they find success in dealing with problems and issues.
Interviews with people involved in meditation reveal that it can be an antidote for depression, stress and even fear. Offering increased joy, confidence and health, advocates find that meditation and breathing exercises assist them in gaining strength, when combined with yoga, and general health as they make meditation a way of life. Mindful breathing when combined with meditation helps practitioners to expand their horizons of life consciousness.
Process and methods of meditation span a wide range. A simple Zen practice of counting breath exhalations up to five and then repeating is a good place to begin. This simplified technique means that while never counting above the number 5, the breathing meditation can continue for hours.
With guided meditation processes your imagination is exercised as you are piloted through a journey. Often a word of intention is selected as a focus for breathing and meditation that helps with discovery of healing and healthful realizations. Frequently, practitioners of breathing, mindfulness and meditation utilize recordings. This accompaniment of appropriate music or sounds of nature can add depth and texture to the experience. Recordings are readily available in stores and online. Also, you may decide to compose a recording of your own from music, poetry or quotations that you find inspirational.
Many times meditations will begin with concentration on one aspect of the body such as the breath. As you begin a meditation it is necessary to find a comfortable sitting position. Once sitting comfortably with eyes closed, you will be guided to hold your stillness and breathe deeply. Initially you will turn your mind to focus on your breathing, shifting your attention to inhaling and exhaling. As you breathe deeply you will notice your body becoming relaxed. Then there will be guidance to concentrate on other areas of the body moving from the right side to the left side. For instance, focusing on the right shoulder as you breathe noticing the muscles there and imagining those muscles becoming a stream of liquid as you breathe. This will be repeated with the left shoulder and so on moving your focus around the body as lead by the recording or leader of the meditation.
As the meditation progresses, you will transition into listening to words that you have selected. Slowly, you will begin visualizing these words or ideas with your mind’s eye. It is these words that guide you through the meditation giving your subconscious time to flow along with the meditative message or visualizations.
Meditation is such an enjoyable and healthful experience that is sometimes necessary to tear yourself out of the elixir that it manifests. Closing the meditation is like saying goodbye to a pleasant journey though the next journey into mindfulness and peace already beckons.
- Finding a comfortable sitting position is vital to effective meditation and stress reduction.
- Achieving relaxation and breathing requires a comfortable position for reflection. Sitting with head slightly tilted forward and hands folded or placed palm up on the knees is recommended for guided breathing mediation.
- It is frequently the case with daily stress that the tongue is glued to the top of the mouth. If so, relax the tongue to rest at the bottom of the mouth inside the teeth.
- As you progress in your mediation you will often experience distraction, return gently to focus on your selected message and your breathing.
- Finding a regular spot to meditate daily supports guided meditation by giving place to it in your life.
Incorporating meditation in your life, will help you feel better about yourself, reduce stress, help you to stop using food as a crutch…thus leading to weight loss. I think much of our stress is self-imposed and prevents us from reaching goals we set for ourselves (ie: weight loss).
Give meditation a try and come back and share how it’s helped you with your life goals.
Resources on the Meditation Process and Exercises
- The Art and Science of Breathing
- Basic Breath Meditation
- Health and Yoga.com
- Centering Prayer Guidelines
- Guided Meditation Project