The essence of meditation is to stop thoughts, to make your mind empty. In the Buddhist and Hindu Worldview, this is called sunyata, the nothingness. The ultimate destination of meditation is to reach Nirvana or Moksha. According to the Buddha’s Teaching, Nirvana is a state of liberation. Hindu God Krishna, in the Bhagavata Gita, describes Mokshya as the state where there will be an end to the cycle of birth and death. Not all can reach the ultimate level of meditation. However, everyone can use meditation to relax his or her mind and body and manage stress.
I was introduced to meditation through a book when I was still in high school. It has been over 2 decades. All these years, I did not meditate every day, however, I have meditated every time I have been troubled by something grave. I tried numerous meditation techniques and discovered meditation as a wonderful mechanism to ensure good mental health and improve quality of life. Here, I am sharing various meditation methods for relaxation and stress management. All of these techniques have worked for me. Hopefully, they will also work for you, however, the question is how much intent you are. I also share tips on how to practice Transcendental Meditation, Mindful Meditation and Guided Meditation for deep relaxation and stress management, and even reach the state of consciousness.
Vipassana Meditation, also called Insight Meditation, is a wonderful deep relaxation meditation technique. The ultimate aim of Vipassana meditation is liberation, however, you can use this method to alleviate stress and anxiety. Here is the guide to practice deep relaxation meditation.
Sit in a comfortable position. Breathe slowly and deeply.
You have to inhale air completely, pause for a moment, and then exhale air completely, pause for a few one or two second before you inhale again. The focal point of your breathing must be your navel, not your chest. In other words, pressure should applied to the navel area while inhaling and exhaling breath.
As you take a deep breaths from the navel area, you will have to see your breathing as it happens. When I say see your breathing, what I mean is observe your breathing pattern, you inhale air, you exhale air, as you inhale and exhale, you become conscious on your breathing. Become aware about the entire length of your breath. When you constantly focus on your breathing, you will be able to empty your mind.
Now move your focus on different parts of your body, from toe to head, and head to toe. Remember, you are still inhaling and exhaling deep and long breath. Scan your body with your mind and become aware about each parts: toes, ankle, shin, calf, knees…become aware about the bones, blood running through the veins and the space these parts occupies.
At first, you may not feel comfortable; however, when you make deep relaxation meditation your routine, it will come naturally to you. You will be able calm your mind whenever you are overwhelmed with stress and anxiety.
How does breathing in deep relaxation meditation works?
When you are stressed, you breathe irregularly, which blocks free flow of oxygen to your body. Oxygen is the vital life force and when it is blocked, your body and mind are strained. Deep breathing allows oxygen to reach your inner body, thus releasing endorphins to relax your mind and body. Breathing connects mind with body. Correct breathing is the basis of deep relaxation meditation. Relaxation methods such as yoga, meditation and hypnosis emphasize on breathing.
Deep Relaxation Meditation Techniques
Meditation does not offer quick remedy. You can reap benefits from deep relaxation meditation, only when you make it a regular practice. Here are few other deep relaxation meditation techniques, which I find very effective. These deep relaxation meditation techniques come from ancient Hindu and Buddhist traditions.
Dead Position (Sanskrit Shava Asana) Meditation
Lie down on your back, eyes closed, legs slightly apart, hands facing downwards, breathing naturally. Don’t give pressure to any part of your body, remain motionless as if you are dead. Feel your body becoming very light, as light as feather. Imagine your body slowly lifting up in the air, now its in the air, floating, not flying up, not coming down, but just floating in the air. In the beginning, you may not be able to stay longer in this mental state, however, if you continue trying, you will be in this trance state for a long time.
Navel Chakra Meditation
Squat on the floor, slowly rest your knees on the ground, and then rest your bottom on your heels. Use cushions to make your position comfortable. Close your eyes, straighten your back, breathe naturally, rest your palm on your thigh. Now start focusing on your navel. Every time your mind wanders, strain it back to the navel. This meditation takes you to your natural position, the position inside the mother’s womb.
Third Eye Chakra Meditation
Close your eyes, sit in crossed leg position, if you can manage, lotus position is the best. Your back must be upright but not stiff. Now, focus in the area between your eyebrows. If you mark the spot with something, like sandalwood paste, it will be easier to focus. Don’t let you mind wander, just constantly focus on the area between the eyebrows. If you practice regularly, one day you will see radiant light appearing between your eyebrows. This state is very relaxing.
Stress Management Meditation
There are number of meditation techniques to manage stress. Negative thoughts are the roots of stress and anxiety. When you regularly practice stress management meditation, you can control your thoughts. Here are some of stress management meditation techniques, which have helped me to channelize my stress and anxiety and experience tranquility.
Imagine you are floating on the river, your body moves with the river current, you feel water on your back, you feel warm sunrays on your face, you hear light breeze, you see beautiful clear sky, birds flying, white clouds floating; you smell nature’s aroma, you open your mouth and taste the air. You evoke your senses, you become aware about your senses. This all happens inside your mind, but you feel pleasure on your physical level.
Close your mouth. Take few slow deep breaths to calm your mind and get ready for stress management meditation. From your nostrils, exhale air forcefully, quickly. Don’t inhale, just exhale. You pressure yourself to exhale, and your body will naturally inhale. You have to exhale breath from your belly. Remember, you have to exhale quickly and forcefully. You can do this anytime of the day, especially whenever you overcome with stress, anxiety, and anger.
Take a few slow and deep breaths. Now inhale air completely until you can no longer take air. Don’t exhale, block air on your throat. Hold your breath inside. Hold it as long as you can. When you no longer can hold it, exhale it. Use a timer and monitor the time of holding breath. With every practice, increase the duration. When you are holding breath, your mind begins to clear negative thoughts.
How to Do Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation is a form of mantra meditation developed from ancient Vedic tradition by Indian Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918–2008). Mahesh Yogi went to the United States and began teaching TM in the 1960s.
How to Do Transcendental Meditation – The Secret Revealed
You can learn Transcendental Meditation only when you attend a course in Transcendental Meditation center. Tuition for a Transcendental Meditation varies according to the country and can be up to $1,500. After the introduction to Transcendental Meditation, the certified Transcendental Meditation teacher gives you a meditation mantra. You have to chant the mantra silently for 15-20 minutes, twice a day.
Here I reveal the secret of Transcendental Meditation
Sit in relaxed position in a quiet room with very few things around. If you can manage, empty room will be ideal.
Choose any of the single word mantra and chant loudly. If you choose Om, chant in long rising and then long falling tone. If you chose Hrim or Krim, chant forcefully and quickly.
Morning and early evening are ideal times. Practice regularly for 15-20 minutes. After few weeks practice, you will feel subtle vibrations in your body. This gives you a wonderful feeling. Now you can move into level two. Chant the mantra silently. With the continuous practice, one day you will notice you are no longer chanting the mantra, it is naturally coming from inside.
How Transcendental Meditation works?
Mantra is a word or combination of words, which may or may not have meaning. Most of the Mantras derive from Sanskrit language. When you chant a mantra, it creates a subtle vibration in your body. Mantra works on the principle of sound. The sound from mantra raises your awareness level.
Here are few mantras:
Om Mani Padme Hum
The first three are single word mantra and do not have specific meaning, the fourth mantra, widely used by the Buddhist, means: Jewel in Lotus Amen!
Mindful Meditation Techniques
Purpose of meditation is twofold, one, to help you relax, two, to usher you into the state of awareness. Mindful Meditation does both. Mindful Meditation Technique is not an escape from normal life, but a way to become aware about your direct experience, gain non-judgmental perception, and understand pain and pleasure, happiness and sadness are transitory. Mindful Meditation Techniques come from Buddhist tradition. Actually, most of the meditation methods are either from Hinduism, or from Buddhism.
Choose a silent room. Make an altar and decorate with religious and spiritual paraphernalia. Light candles and incense. It does not matter whether you place the Buddha or the Christ, or any Hindu Goddesses on the altar. Important point is to create an ambience of spirituality.
Sit before the altar. It is ideal if you can manage Zen Meditation posture, but it is also okay to sit in the position that you feel comfortable. But remember, your back must be upright, but not stiff, your hands must rest on the knees or thigh.
Look down few inches away from your nose. Don’t stare but gaze gently. Now breathe calmly, naturally. Concentrate on your breathing.
It is natural that your mind begins to wander, thoughts appear in your mind. Don’t give importance to them, just remind yourself, you are doing mindful meditation.
In the beginning, practice for 10-15 minutes once or twice a day, later you can increase your meditation time.
Guided Meditation Techniques
In Guided Meditation, a meditation instructor gives step by step instructions on how to enter into the depth of meditation. These days meditation instructions are available in audio recordings. You can find plenty of guided meditation instructions on YouTube and iTunes.
You can practice guided meditation on your own by listening to music, especially composed for the purpose of meditation. Sit calmly in a comfortable position. Listen to the meditation music. If you meditate with open eyes, choose an object and concentrate on it. If you are meditating with closed eyes, focus on your breathing.