While it’s not a new phenomenon, meditation is quickly becoming a mainstream method of finding peace in a world of chaos. A quick Google search will lead you to countless meditations for stress relief, productivity, and improving your relationships. There are countless ways to meditate and many practices to choose from – almost to the point of overwhelm.
As a certified meditation teacher, I understand all too well the challenge of trying to sift through the wide range of resources out there. That’s why I put together this helpful guide that includes my favorite meditations for stress relief and relaxation. These seven curated meditations are a great introduction to the numerous practices that are available to help guide you into a clear and peaceful headspace. So, keep reading if you would like to see how these different meditations work and what their benefits are.
Benefits Of Meditation And Mindfulness Practices
Whether you’re 3 or 103, anyone and everyone can practice meditation. The benefits of meditating can be felt on the mental, emotional, and physical levels and can also improve your relationships.
Mental And Emotional Benefits Of Meditation
Countless studies have been conducted on meditation for stress relief. The majority of them have proven that meditation has a significantly positive impact on anxiety, depression, and stress . One study, in particular, revealed that after only 10 days of meditation, participants’ stress and irritability levels significantly decreased .
Physical Benefits Of Meditation
Research is beginning to show that meditation activates the parts of your brain that regulate and control pain. A 2013 review found that mindfulness-based interventions significantly decreased pain intensity in participants and led to overall increases in pain tolerance . In addition to pain management, meditation has also been proven to help lower blood pressure, treat insomnia, and regulate the immune system .
Benefits Of Meditation On Relationships
A study conducted by Northeastern University discovered that just three weeks of meditation reduced aggression in participants by 57% . Similar studies have been done on the effects group meditations have on cities’ crime rates. One experiment that took place in Washington D.C. had an average of 4,000 people meditating together daily for 21 days. At the end of the experiment, researchers found that violent crimes in the city dropped overall by 15% . What this teaches us is that we’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to the astounding benefits meditation can have on both an individual and global scale.
7 Meditations For Stress Relief And Deep Relaxation
You don’t need to set aside hours to obtain the benefits of meditation. All you need to start meditating is a few moments, your focus, and your breath.
The following is a list of curated meditations for stress relief that will help you unwind, let go, and relax into a space of inner stillness.
#1 – The 1-Minute Meditation
Start by taking 3 slow deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Breathe in again through your nose.
- Breathe out through your nose.
- Breath in, feel your lungs expand.
- Breathe out, feel your muscles relax into the chair.
- Breathe in, feel your body fill with fresh air.
- Breathe out, feel the tension leave your body.
- Breathe in, feel the cool air coming in through your nose.
- Breathe out, feel the warm air coming out through your nose.
- Breathe in, feel your breath fill up your body.
- Breathe out, feel your body melt into the chair.
#2 – Body Scan Meditation
- Take a deep, conscious breath in through your nose, feeling the air travel to your lower belly. Exhale out through your mouth.
- Continue to breathe. Starting at the top of the head, focus your attention on one body part at a time.
- Notice your head.
- Scan down and notice your face.
- Notice your neck. Your shoulders.
- Scan down through your chest. Notice your heart beating.
- Down your arms to your hands and fingers.
- Scan down through your torso.
- Down to your lower belly.
- Notice your hips. The tops of your thighs.
- Down to your knees. Your lower legs, ankles, and feet.
#3 – The “I Am…” Meditation
The “I am…” meditation is a practice that introduces you to affirmations. Affirmations are an extremely effective way to bust through limiting beliefs and promote self-worth and a positive mindset.
- Take a deep breath, feeling the rise and fall of your chest and belly
- As you exhale, breathe out love to the space surrounding you, knowing that whatever you send out will come back multiplied.
- Breathe in again, as you finish the sentence, “I am…” (i.e. enough, grateful, loved, safe).
- As you breathe in, imagine that you are breathing in the loving energy that is always available to you.
- Exhale, as you once again repeat the affirmation, “I am…”.
- Repeat 5 times. Savor each breath and each affirmation. You are whatever you choose to focus on.
#4 – The “5-4-3-2-1” Meditation
This meditation is excellent if you are feeling stressed out, anxious, or overwhelmed because it forces your attention away from your thinking mind. It’s a bit different than the other meditations for stress relief because it relies on your five senses to anchor your focus on the present moment.
- Take a deep breath in, and out. Look around the room. Name 5 things you can see.
- Inhale. Exhale. Listen. Name 4 things you can hear.
- Take another slow, deep breath in and out. What are 3 things you can touch? Focus all your attention on the sensation of how each item feels.
- Inhale deeply. Exhale completely. Take another inhale. What are 2 things you can smell?
- Take one last conscious breath in, and out. What is 1 thing you can taste?
#5 – Humming Meditation
Humming creates a sustained vibration in your vocal cords which activates your parasympathetic nervous system . Your vagus nerve is the star of your parasympathetic nervous system which is the main switchboard for your body’s rest and relaxation response.
- Take 3 deep breaths, in and out through your nose.
- Inhale deeply, focusing your full attention on the air entering your nose.
- As you exhale, hum whatever note comes out until you are out of breath. The “right” note is the one that feels most comfortable.
- Repeat 3 times.
- After your last round, sit in stillness and see if you can notice the subtle energy in your body.
#6 – Alternate Nostril Breathing Meditation
Alternate nostril breathing is one of those meditations for stress relief that may look a little strange but provides incredible benefits. Those benefits come from activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which leads to feelings of peace, balance, and tranquility .
- Take the thumb and pointer finger of your right hand.
- Use your thumb to plug your right nostril.
- Deeply inhale through your left nostril. Now slowly exhale. Hold the breath.
- Switch, taking your pointer finger to your left nostril and releasing your thumb from your right nostril.
- Inhale deeply through your right nostril and slowly exhale.
- Repeat steps 2-5 for 3 rounds.
#7 – Box Breath Meditation
This meditation restores balance within the nervous system by establishing an even inhalation and exhalation . This slow, conscious way of breathing sends a signal to the body that it’s safe to relax.
- Slowly inhale for a count of 4, filling up your lungs and belly.
- Hold for a count of 4.
- Exhale for a count of 4, emptying your lungs and belly.
- Hold for a count of 4.
- Repeat steps 1-4 for 4 rounds.
The Bottom Line
These meditations for stress relief are intended to be a jumping-off point for your practice. There are countless ways of meditating, and the benefits can be felt in your mind, body, and relationships. At the end of the day, meditation works because it is the practice of staying present. When you are present, solutions to stress may become clearer with time, and you are able to handle life’s curveballs with ease.
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