Stress as we all know can make us anxious, worried or nervous. Stress can also have physical manifestations in form of high blood pressure, increased heart rate and lifestyle disorders such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, heart diseases and cholesterol issues. You might have tried varied interventions such as exercise, sleep, aromatherapy or even yoga. But, have you tried even few minutes of meditation? Well, if you haven’t, then do explore meditation to gain that elusive calm and inner peace. Just like yoga, meditation practise is inexpensive and does not require any special gear or equipment. What’s more, you can practise meditation at any place and at any time. Be it your office desk or your home, meditation can rejuvenate your body and mind even on the go!
What is Meditation?
Although meditation was practised in ancient times for purposes of spiritual enlightenment and exploring the mystical life forces, today, it is followed to alleviate stress and tension. Meditation for stress is looked upon as a kind of mind-body alternative therapy. Practising meditation can ensue a deeper level of relaxation and a calm mind. Focussing your attention while eliminating distracting or jumbled thoughts which might be causing you stress is at the core of any meditation practise. For the unversed, this may sound a tad bit difficult. However, with regular and devoted practise, meditation can lead to better emotional as well as physical outcomes.
Does Meditation Helps to Relieve Stress?
As we have already enunciated, stress management with meditation elucidates a sense of calm and balance that benefits emotional and overall well-being of a person. For the naysayers, the benefits of meditation do not end with a meditation session, but helps you to carry out your activities more calmly and mindfully. Moreover, meditation also helps to better manage symptoms of certain medical disorders that you might be suffering from. Research suggests that meditation for stress helps to better manage conditions like anxiety, asthma, insomnia, depression, pain conditions and even heart disease. However, it should be noted that meditation is not a replacement for conventional medical treatment that you might be undergoing, but should be practised as a gainful intervention that will support your other treatment.
Meditation for stress relief can have the following emotional benefits:
- Handling stressful situations with a new and altered perspective
- Relieving negative thoughts and emotions
- Increased self-awareness
- Developing tolerance and patience for handling stressful situations
- Learning to live in the moment
- Enhanced creativity and imagination
- Skill building to better manage stress
Types of Meditation
Achieving a tranquil and relaxed state of mind is the ultimate purpose of any meditation practise. However, there are different ways through which a balanced state of mind can be achieved. Let us delve into some types of meditation techniques that are practised across different parts of the world.
- Mindfulness Meditation
This meditation evolved from the Buddhist teachings and is the most popular form of meditation that is practised especially in the West. In this meditation for stress management, you simply observe the thoughts that come to your mind. You should not judge or get overly involved in such thoughts. Awareness with concentration is at the crux of this meditation. You can focus your attention on your breath or an object while being aware of your feelings and thoughts. Mindfulness meditation is generally practised by those people who are practising meditation without guidance.
- Focussed Meditation
Focussed meditation for stress relief involves concentration by employing any of our five senses. For instance, you can focus on your breath or focus on an external object like a candle flame or mala beads. You can also focus by hearing the sounds of a gong or simply gaze at the moon. Though this practise may sound easy, but initially you may have difficulties in holding your focus for longer durations. Its quite possible that your thoughts might wander. In such situations, simply refocus your attention on the object in question.
- Mantra Meditation
This type of meditation involves silently chanting a word, phrase or thought to do away with distracting thoughts.
- Transcendental Meditation (TM)
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi founded this meditation technique which has been studied at length by the scientific community. Similar to a mantra meditation, transcendental meditation also involves repetition of an assigned word or phrase, especially given by a certified TM practitioner in a certain way. Your body settles in a prolonged state of rest and relaxation while your mind slowly drifts towards a calm state.
- Progressive Relaxation
Also referred to as body-scan meditation, progressive relaxation is an effective meditation for stress relief. Most often, this meditation involves gradually tightening and then relaxing a muscle group in the body. This is done for all the muscle groups throughout the body. This technique may help you to imagine that a soothing wave is flowing through your being to release tension and stress. Progressive relaxation is usually practised to unwind and relieve stress before bedtime.
Besides these types of meditation techniques, stress management with meditation can also involve simple activities like engaging in prayer or even walking amidst tranquil nature. Reading out from poems or religious texts such as ‘Bhagvad Gita’ or ‘Bible’ and then contemplating on their meaning is also a kind of meditative practise.
Features of Meditation
From the above different types of meditation, you can easily surmise that different meditative practises have niche features that help you meditate. Below mentioned are some common features that a meditative practise may include:
- Quiet setting
- Relaxed breathing
- Focussing attention
- Sitting in a comfortable position with an upright posture
- Positive attitude
Mastering a meditative practise takes time and patience. However, don’t let this thought of doing meditation perfectly add to your stress. You can visit meditation centres or sign up for instructor led group classes. You can also practise meditation all by yourself. Make sure that a meditative practise suits your lifestyle and situations. Some people might have ample time to meditate while some of you may need to squeeze out a few minutes from your busy schedule. So, whenever you are practising meditation, keep in mind that stress management with meditation can be achieved only when you practise it with love and gratitude without judging your meditative skills.