Meditation for Peace and Stress ReliefJan 15, 2024
While technology has made things more convenient, its downsides have significantly impacted mental health. The previously quiet pre-internet world has become chaotic, with social media agitating the mind and leading people to develop more worries and anxieties that affect their daily lives.
Sitting for meditation has become the immediate avenue for many to find peace amid the chaos and noise. You can achieve peace and stress relief by forcing the mind to stillness for a brief moment of silence. Learn the different ways to meditate to benefit your overall well-being.
4 Types of Meditation
There are several forms of meditation and mediums to suit your preference. Meditation can be broadly classified into four categories.
1. Concentration Meditation
This is a form of meditation where you focus on a particular object — like a candle — or sensation — such as your breath.
2. Contemplative Meditation
In contemplative meditation, you create the scenes you want to happen with your thoughts — like buying your dream house. Visualization and affirmation are some examples of this form.
3. Chanting Meditation
You verbally repeat a mantra, sacred hymn or sound to tame the mind. Like concentration meditation, you focus on the words and prevent your thoughts from wandering.
4. Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental meditation involves using mantras, phrases or Sanskrit sounds that you silently repeat in your mind. It's one of the most common meditation techniques today.
Ways to Meditate for Peace and Stress Relief
People meditate for various reasons, but many incorporate it into their daily routines as part of their stress management strategy. Here are some of the ways to de-stress and achieve peace with meditation.
Breath is the most accessible tool people can use for their practice, but it's also often ignored. You inhale and exhale even when unconscious but don't pay attention to it. Meditating using the breath as the center of focus can help you deepen relaxation and reduce stress, anxiety and depression, easing the worries of the mind.
Breathing meditation is simple but challenging for first-time practitioners since an untrained mind wanders constantly. Refocusing on the breath every time thoughts go astray requires willpower and discipline — two things you need a lot of when you sit down for practice.
One technique you can try is ocean breath meditation. Close your eyes and envision the ebb and flow of ocean waves as you breathe in and out. Transport yourself to a calming environment.
2. Body Scan
The body scan is another technique of concentration meditation with stress-relief benefits. When swamped with daily obligations, you sometimes forget you're caught up in stress. Physical discomforts eventually start to affect your quality of life.
By sitting in stillness and mentally scanning your body, you become aware of the tensions your muscles have been holding on to. Recognizing and noticing these aching sensations can teach you many things about your body, which can help you find solutions to manage these stresses.
The body scan is similar to breathing meditation, but you focus on the body sensations this time. Once you're seated comfortably, draw your attention to your feet and start feeling for any aching, throbbing or prickling feeling. If you notice any tightness, breathe into it and imagine the tension leaving your body with each exhale. Gradually move up until you reach the top of the head.
Practicing body scans regularly has several mental and physical health benefits. It can lower stress, inflammation and fatigue and improve sleep.
Mantra meditation is one of the oldest types of mindfulness practice. A sacred word, syllable or phrase — such as om — is repeated 108 times throughout the practice to control your thought pattern.
Based on ancient beliefs, the number 108 is associated with the Divine and has a significant representation in the cosmos. For instance, the sun's diameter is estimated to be 108 times greater than the Earth's and the distance between the two is also about 108 times the sun's diameter. In ayurveda, people believe there are 108 hidden spots in the body called marma points, which are crucial intersections of the life force.
Mantra meditation involves training the mind to pay attention to the words. It's essential to choose a mantra that reflects your goals and intentions. For instance, you can use "Om Shanti," which translates to "Peace for all beings," to heal your body and mind from stress and anxiety and boost your immune function.
Affirmations are positive words you repeat and direct to yourself. These often start with "I am." For example, you might say, "I am at peace" and "I am happy and I feel blessed."
According to experts, affirming things you believe about yourself can boost your self-worth and improve your ability to cope with distressing situations. One study found people who affirmed their values had significantly lower cortisol responses to stress than the control group. Affirmations are believed to engage the areas of the brain affiliated with positive valuation and self-processing.
The best thing about affirmations is you can create your own positive statements to make your practice more personal and resonate with your current experiences or state of mind. Like mantra meditation, you also repeat these words until you embody them.
Music, instruments and the crashing of the waves against the shore all make sounds that can be therapeutic and healing. Much like emotions, noises have frequencies that can counter negative vibrations, such as feelings of anxiety and depression.
Experts don't fully understand the dynamic behind it but believe that sounds — like that of a singing bowl — can alter brain waves and interact with the energy field surrounding the body or biofield. This clash results in physiological and psychological responses, such as improved blood pressure and respiratory and heart rates.
This meditation is very straightforward. Use any instrument or digital music and start by sitting or lying down while listening to a speaker. Allow the sound to take its effect and imagine it enveloping your system.
Movement meditations — like tai chi or yoga — are as beneficial as still mindfulness practice. Additionally, they have multiple physical benefits. They help lower the incidence of depression, heart disease, dementia and osteoporosis — health conditions that are a significant source of stress and anxiety for many people.
While you receive double benefits, you need an instructor to guide you in doing the poses correctly and safely transitioning to the next moves. Throughout the practice, your awareness is on your body, the movements and surroundings as you change forms.
Creating a Conducive Space for Meditation
Your environment is vital for the success of the meditation practice. You won't be able to concentrate when your surroundings are noisy. You should look for a room or a corner where you can be alone for an hour or less without being interrupted. Additionally, you should consider the timing. If you have kids, the time before they wake up is ideal for your mind work. Here are some tips and tools to create a conducive environment for meditation.
1. Essential Oils
Essential oils have calming effects and help prime your mind for self-inquiry or contemplation. Spray ylang-ylang oil to promote relaxation, lemongrass to reduce tension and jasmine to boost mood.
They've been essential to many rituals — you can also light a few of them during meditation. Scented candles have the same soothing effects as essential oils.
Like candles, incense is found throughout meditation centers and altars. These sticks can be an alternative if you don’t have candles.
4. Blanket or Shawl
Many practitioners use a blanket or a shawl during their practice as it provides a sense of warmth and security.
5. Mat and Cushion
Sitting in an Indian-style position for several minutes can be painful. A meditation mat and cushion can help alleviate discomfort.
Meditation Is Good for Overall Well-Being
You can meditate for a few minutes and reap several health benefits. Meditation lowers stress, promotes inner peace and minimizes your risk for diseases. However, you can only gain these positive benefits if you sit for practice regularly.
Meditation is a training for the mind. To successfully control your thought pattern and negative thoughts, you must stick to a particular technique and do it consistently. After all, learning meditation is like learning a skill — repetition is key.