Meditation as a relaxation technique

When was the last time you sat down and did nothing for an hour?

What about 30 minutes? 15 minutes? Ok 5 minutes? You just don’t, do you. In today’s world you find something to do every minute of the day. Even if your minds and bodies are crying out for you to just take some time out and relax. To give them a break. Somehow you have been programmed to always be on the go. Until you drop. I know that this isn’t everyone, but you can all think of a time when you were thinking. ‘When did I last really relax? Or even just stop for a while. There are some clear signs that you are in need of taking some time out for yourself and it’s good to know what they are:

5 signs that you need to stop, take time out and relax

  1. You’re feeling tired all the time or having disturbed sleep. It’s a cruel twist that stress can cause sleep problems, when you are already exhausted.

  2. Headaches that you can’t get rid of and that cause tension in either side of your head, neck or shoulders.

  3. Being irritable and unable to control your moods or taking things out on other people. Feeling more sensitive and negatively reactive.

  4. Withdrawing socially, preferring to hide away and just wanting to be alone. Being on your own is not in itself unhealthy, but you might notice if it’s more than usual.

  5. Getting more colds and infections that you can't seem to shift. Stress suppresses the immune system and being stressed means that the immune-supporting hormone DHEA can’t be released, so the immune system suffers.

Now you know what the signs are, what is meditation going to do to help? As I am often saying, some say like a broken record, if you were to practise meditation or mindfulness regularly then it would be unlikely that your stress levels would be at point where you weren't able to manage them. You are all human though and let’s face it when you are spinning plates, then things like exercise, meditation and finding time to do the things that you enjoy often are the first things to go out the window. Then you have tipping point, where you think ‘I just can’t do all of this’.

Here are some meditation techniques that can help you to regain control

  1. Breathe, yep obvious I know, but if you are stressed then it’s likely that your heart rate and breathing are accelerated. By regularly throughout the day noticing your breath and purposely aiming to slow your breath down, you’re sending signals to the brain to let it know you’re not in danger.

  2. Okay, not technically meditation, but finding something that has a rhythmic quality to it that you can totally immerse yourself in mindfully, will help reduce those stress levels and leave you with some happier hormones too. Try walking, swimming, dancing or climbing.

  3. Close your eyes and visualise a happy place, imaginary or somewhere where you’ve been really at peace and content. Once you’re there, notice what you can see, hear, smell, feel and taste. Let your worries and thoughts drift away and keeping coming back to the sensations.

  4. Put on some of your favourite music. Maybe think about what the tracks are, trance or drum and bass might not have the same effect. Close your eyes and really listen to the music. Doe it speed or up slow down? Can you hear different instruments, what are the words. Focus completely on the music and you’ll probably hear things you haven't before.

  5. Find an object to focus on, it could be a candle, a crystal, your favourite ornament or picture, the object itself isn’t important. Start to look at the object, focusing gently, you might want to close your eyes and see if you can hold the image of the object in your minds eye. When it disappears, open your eyes and refocus on the object.

Choosing a meditation to listen to is a very personal thing as some peoples styles and voices sound great to you and others are like sticking pins in your ears. Here are a couple of my favourite people, but you will want to explore and find your own.

Tara Brach leads a Guided Meditation for Sleep and Relaxation

Gabrielle Bernstein: The Easiest Meditation for Beginners

Louise x

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone
— Lin Yutang