Meditation is a spiritual discipline that promotes relaxation and mental calmness through the use of controlling or suspending thoughts for a certain period of time. Since meditation involves physical and mental relaxation, it is a great way to relieve stress.
When some people hear about meditation as a way to relieve stress, they laugh and think it is a bunch of baloney. They think that meditation is not a viable solution to eliminating stress. But research has shown that meditation works and is a practical technique for stress management.
The most notable research on meditation’s usefulness in relieving stress was done in 1968 by Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard University. He conducted a series of experiments on popular meditation techniques and published his findings in the book The Relaxation Response. He discovered that meditation has a “real effect on reducing stress and controlling the fight-or-flight response.” Dr. Benson wrote that meditation increased the skin’s resistance to damage or infections, slowed the heartbeat and breathing rate, and reduced oxygen consumption.
Meditation is all about consciously relaxing your mind and body for a period of time. Meditation means that you need to focus inwardly so that your mind is basically so busy concentrating on breathing and body form that there is no time to think about the events that are causing you stress.
The act of meditation is actually quite simple to do. Meditation does not require you to be a mystic or to be very spiritual. Meditation is something that anyone can do almost anywhere.
When you prepare yourself for meditation, be sure to set aside a certain amount of time where you are guaranteed not to be interrupted. Meditation does not require hours of practicing at a time for it to be effective in reducing stress. Practicing meditation in ten- or twenty-minute time slots is definitely good enough.
Effective meditation requires that you are in a comfortable, quiet environment. This means that when you practice meditation, you should make sure that you are wearing comfortable, unrestrictive clothing. The atmosphere temperature (whether indoors or outdoors) should also be comfortable for you in order to make your meditation session as stress fighting as possible.
Stress-relieving meditation is all about concentration. Once you are fully comfortable (you can sit or lie down) close your eyes. Focus your attention on your breathing throughout your entire session. Count your breaths. You can even say the numbers out loud to discourage your mind from wandering to other thoughts.
Another way to control wandering thoughts when you are in a meditation session is to use imagery. Imagery is very popular in meditation. All you have to do with imagery is focus on something you consider refreshing or pleasant. Music is also a popular way to help mind concentration during meditation. You can do a monologue hum. Or you can use some soothing music that features plenty of nature sounds.
The key to meditation is mind control. When you learn to control your mind, you can control your thoughts, and you will be able to better control the functions of your muscles. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to learn not to let your mind wander to other thoughts while you are meditating. But once you have mastered meditation, you will discover that you are able to do it almost anywhere to relax when you are feeling overwhelmed with stress.