The essence of meditation is to stop thoughts, to make your mind empty. In the Buddhist and Hindu Worldview, this is called sunyata, the nothingness. The ultimate destination of meditation is to reach Nirvana or Moksha. According to the Buddha’s Teaching, Nirvana is the state of liberation. In the Bhagavata Gita, Hindu God Krishna describes Mokshya as the state where there will be an end to the cycle of birth and death. Of course, not all can reach the ultimate level of meditation. However, everyone can use relaxation meditation to calm their mind and body and manage stress.
I have been meditating for more than ten years. I have practised various meditation techniques and experienced meditation as a beautiful mechanism to ensure good mental health and improve my quality of life.
Here, I share deep relaxation meditation and stress management meditation techniques, which have worked well with me. I also share tips on practising transcendental meditation, mindful meditation and guided meditation for deep relaxation and stress management, and even reaching the state of consciousness.
Deep relaxation meditation
The purpose of meditation is twofold: to help you relax, two, to usher you into the state of awareness. Mindful meditation does both. The mindful meditation technique is not an escape from normal life but a way to become aware of your direct experience, gain non-judgmental perception, and understand pain and pleasure, happiness and sadness are transitory.
Mindful meditation techniques come from the Buddhist tradition. However, most of the meditation methods are either from Hinduism or from Buddhism.
- Choose a silent room. Make an altar and decorate it with religious and spiritual paraphernalia, then light candles and incense. It does not matter whether you place the Buddha or the Christ or any Hindu Goddesses on the altar. The critical point is to create an ambience of spirituality.
- Sit before the altar. It is ideal for managing zen meditation posture, but it is also okay to sit in a comfortable position. But remember, your back must be upright but not stiff; your hands must rest on the knees or thigh.
- Look down few inches away from your nose. Don’t stare but gaze gently. Now breathe calmly, naturally. Concentrate on your breathing.
Naturally, your mind begins to wander; thoughts appear in your mind. Don’t give importance to them. Just remind yourself, you are doing mindful meditation.
In the beginning, practice for 10-15 minutes once or twice a day; later, you can increase your meditation time.
Deep relaxation meditation techniques
Meditation does not offer a quick remedy. You can reap benefits from deep relaxation meditation only when you make it a regular practice. Here are few other deep relaxation meditation techniques, which I find very compelling. These deep relaxation meditation techniques come from ancient Hindu and Buddhist traditions.
Dead position (Sanskrit Shava Asana) meditation
- Lie down on your back, eyes closed, legs slightly apart, hands facing downwards, breathing naturally.
- Don’t give pressure to any part of your body; remain motionless as if you are dead.
- Feel your body becoming very light, as light as a feather.
- Imagine your body slowly lifting in the air. Visualize your body floating in the air.
- Remain in this mental state as long as you can.
Navel chakra meditation
- Squat on the floor, slowly let your knees touch the floor, and then rest your bottom on your heels. Use cushions to make your position comfortable.
- Close your eyes, straighten your back, breathe naturally, rest your palm on your thigh.
- Now start focusing on your navel. Every time your mind wanders, strain it back to the navel.
- This meditation takes you to your natural position, the position inside the mother’s womb.
Third eye chakra meditation
- Close your eyes, sit in crossed leg position; if you can manage, the lotus position is the best. Your back must be upright but not stiff.
- Now, focus on the area between your eyebrows.
- If you mark the spot with something, like sandalwood paste, it will be easier to focus.
- Don’t let your mind wander; constantly concentrate on the area between the eyebrows. If you practice regularly, one day, you will see radiant light appearing between your eyebrows. This state is very relaxing.
Stress management meditation
There are several meditation techniques to manage stress. Negative thoughts are the roots of stress and anxiety. When you regularly practise stress management meditation, you can control your thoughts.
Here are some stress management meditation techniques, which have helped me channel my stress and anxiety and experience tranquillity.
- Imagine you are floating on the river, your body moves with the river current, you feel the water on your back, you think warm sunrays on your face, you hear the light breeze, you see beautiful clear sky, birds flying, white clouds floating; you smell nature’s aroma, you open your mouth and taste the air. You evoke your senses; you become aware of your senses. This all happens inside your mind, but you feel pleasure on your physical level.
- Close your mouth. Take few slow deep breaths to calm your mind and get ready for stress management meditation. From your nostrils, exhale air forcefully, quickly. Don’t inhale; exhale. You pressure yourself to exhale, and your body will naturally inhale.
- Next, you have to exhale breath from your belly. Remember, you have to exhale quickly and forcefully. You can do this any time of the day, especially whenever you are overcome with stress, anxiety, and anger.
- Take a few slow and deep breaths. Now inhale air entirely until you can no longer take the air. Don’t exhale; block air on your throat. Hold your breath inside. Hold it as long as you can. When you no longer can hold it, exhale it.
- Use a timer and monitor the time of holding breath. With every practice, increase the duration. When you are holding your breath, your mind begins to clear negative thoughts.
Transcendental meditation is a form of mantra meditation developed from ancient Vedic tradition by Indian Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918–2008).
How to do transcendental meditation
- Sit in a relaxed position in a quiet room with very few things around. If you can manage, the empty room will be ideal.
- Choose any of the single word mantra and chant loudly. For example, if you choose Om, chant in long rising and then long falling tone. If you decided Hrim or Krim, chant forcefully and quickly.
- Morning and early evening are ideal times. Practice regularly for 15-20 minutes. After a few weeks of practice, you will feel subtle vibrations in your body. This gives you an incredible feeling. Now you can move into level two.
- Chant the mantra silently. One day, you will notice you are no longer chanting the mantra; it is naturally coming from inside.
How transcendental meditation work?
A mantra is a word or combination of words, which may or may not have meaning. Most of the Mantras derive from the Sanskrit language. When you chant a mantra, it creates a subtle vibration in your body. Mantra works on the principle of sound. The sound from the mantra raises your awareness level.
Here are few mantras:
- Om Mani Padme Hum
The first three are single word mantra and do not have a specific meaning; the fourth mantra, widely used by the Buddhists, means Jewel in Lotus Amen!
Mindful meditation or insight meditation techniques
Vipassana Meditation, also called insight meditation or mindful meditation, is a beautiful deep relaxation meditation technique. The ultimate aim of Vipassana meditation is liberation. However, you can use this method to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Here is the guide to practice deep relaxation meditation.
- Sit in a comfortable position. Breathe slowly and deeply.
- You have to inhale air completely, pause for a moment, and then exhale air completely, pause for one or two seconds before you inhale again. The focal point of your breathing must be your navel, not your chest.
- Observe your breath as it comes in and goes out. Become aware of the entire length of your breath. When you constantly focus on your breathing, you will be able to empty your mind.
- Now move your focus on different parts of your body, from toe to head and head to toe. Remember, you are still inhaling and exhaling a deep and long breath.
- Scan your body with your mind and become aware of each part: toes, ankle, shin, calf, knees. Become aware of the bones, blood running through the veins and space these parts occupies.
At first, you may not feel comfortable; however, it will come naturally to you when you make mindful meditation your routine. You will be able to calm your mind whenever you are overwhelmed with stress and anxiety.
How does breathing in mindful meditation work?
When you are stressed, you breathe irregularly, which blocks the free flow of oxygen to your body. Oxygen is the vital life force, and when it is blocked, your body and mind are strained.
Deep breathing allows oxygen to reach your inner body, thus releasing endorphins to relax your mind and body. Breathing connects the mind with the body. Correct breathing is the basis of deep relaxation meditation. Relaxation methods such as yoga, meditation and hypnosis emphasize breathing.
Guided Meditation Techniques
In guided meditation, a meditation instructor gives step by step instructions on how to enter into the depth of meditation. These days meditation instructions are available in audio recordings. In addition, you can find plenty of guided meditation instructions on YouTube and iTunes.
You can practice guided meditation on your own by listening to music mainly composed for meditation. Sit calmly in a comfortable position. Listen to the meditation music. If you meditate with open eyes, choose an object and concentrate on it. If you are meditating with closed eyes, focus on your breathing.