Reduce Stress with These Novice-Friendly Meditations

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Stress can trigger or worsen symptoms of anxiety, OCD, depression, and other mental health disorders.

A proven way to reduce our stress level is the practice of meditation, and the following three novice-friendly techniques make it possible for nearly anyone to begin reaping meditation benefits.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

The Loving-Kindness meditation alleviates stress by nurturing thoughts and feelings that soothe our heart: friendliness, compassion, appreciation, and equanimity.

To perform this meditation:

  1. Take a slow deep breath, close your eyes, and think or say to yourself, “May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be well. May I be peaceful and at ease. May I be truly happy.”
  2. Next, bring to mind someone you love or care about, and think or say to yourself, “May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be truly happy.”
  3. Now, bring to mind a person who challenges (e.g., frustrates, irritates) you, and think or say to yourself, “May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be truly happy.”
  4. Finally, bring to mind all of humanity, and think or say to yourself, “May we be filled with loving kindness. May we be well. May we be peaceful and at ease. May we be truly happy.”

You can extend loving-kindness to more individuals by repeating steps two and three.

TIP: A great time to do the Loving-Kindness meditation is just before rising each morning, or after getting into bed at night. It’s also a peaceful thing to do during a break at work.

Breath Awareness

The breath awareness meditation is simply sitting or lying comfortably, usually with eyes closed, and being attentive to the inhalations and exhalations of your breath.

You might place your awareness on your belly’s rise and fall, the coolness or warmth of the air flowing through your nostrils, the lung’s expansion and contraction, or just maintain a general observation of your breathing. Start by doing this mediation for two minutes, gradually working your way up to five, then more if you wish.

Breath awareness not only calms the body, it nurtures our mind-body connection, and heightens body awareness. It’s also a portable tool for deflating tension; use it while waiting in long checkout lines, or when sitting in heavy traffic—eyes open, of course.

TIP: Trouble with insomnia? Breath awareness can help you relax and drift off to sleep.

Guided Meditation

If you have one of those busy always-on-the-go minds, guided meditations might be your best option. Guided meditations are led by individuals or guides, most often via recordings (e.g., streaming, CD, download), but sometimes they’re offered live in group settings. To meditate you simply get comfortable and follow the guide’s voice.

Guided meditations typically have a theme such as harmony, relaxation, balance, inner peace, healing, or forgiveness. Some are more motivational, addressing such issues as finding one’s purpose, or overcoming procrastination. Tranquil or inspiring music usually accompanies the meditation, setting the emotional tone.

TIP: Begin with shorter guided meditations of five to 15 minutes, and if possible - before purchasing a guided CD or download - listen to a sample. This lets you know whether the guide’s voice is agreeable to your ears.

Source: Chopra
Photo credit: James Jordan

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