Meditation: These Simple Techniques Can Help You Unwind
7 min read
Try your hand at some simple meditation techniques to help you relax after a long day on the go. After all, many of us find that the hustle and bustle of day to day life gets on top of us every now and again. Finding an outlet to unwind from it all may be an important ritual in your daily routine.
Traditionally, meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique (like mindfulness) to help achieve a clear, calm and stable state of mind (1).
Practising meditation can help you to cultivate a sense of calm and heightened awareness (2).
This is because when meditating, your mind concentrates on a singular element, such as your breathing, surrounding sounds, body movements and feelings or a chant (known in meditation-terms as a mantra) (3).
These extended periods of deliberate concentration can help your mind to stay focused throughout the day and may help you unwind during periods of stress (3).
Meditation is generally practiced for both health or spiritual reasons, but many also utilise it as a self-help tool to help improve cognitive thought and manage stress (2).
After all, how many times have you been instructed to take three deep breathes in an effort to calm down?
During periods of stress, the idea of cramming yet another task into your growing to-do list may seem daunting. However, in reality, meditation can be done anywhere with little time-spend required.
When you first start incorporating meditation into your schedule, try starting with just 1-2 minutes of practice each day. Over time, you can gradually increase your daily dedicated meditation time.
When learning to meditate, it’s important to remember that patience is key.
1. Meditation should be practised in a quiet location with as few distractions as possible.
2. The meditator should maintain a comfortable position throughout. These positions may vary between you sitting, lying down, standing, or walking.
3. Attention should be focused on a specific word, an object or the breath.
4. The meditator should maintain an open mind, especially for those dipping in their toe for the first time.
If you’ve decided to give meditation a whirl, you might not know where to start. While there are many different forms of meditation to choose from, you might find these three techniques useful as a starting point.
The easiest way to picture this method is to imagine a photocopier slowly scanning your body from head to toe, feeling any physical sensations within your body (3).
Begin with your eyes closed and slowly scan your body from the top of your head down to your toes. As you do this, take note of areas that feel tense and those that feel relaxed. You may also like to note areas that feel particularly light, heavy or uncomfortable.
Repeat this three times, with each time taking roughly 20 seconds.
If you become distracted, return to the last area you had reached and continue on from there.
The body scan method allows you to familiarise yourself with your body, thoughts and feelings as well as centre your attention for a short period of time.
Taking deep breaths is a well-known meditation technique that can help to shift your focus when you’re stressed or overwhelmed.
The 4-7-8 breathing method is a simple but effective method for calming the body.
To practice the 4-7-8 method, simply follow these instructions:
1. Breathe in deeply through your nose for four seconds
2. Hold your breath for seven seconds
3. Exhale through your nose while pursing your lips for eight seconds
4. Repeat four more times or until you feel yourself begin to relax
Progressive muscle relaxation is a quick and easy exercise whereby you tense and release all the muscles in your body. This may help you to physically relax from your head to your toes.
Follow these simple instructions to practice progressive muscle relaxation:
1. Position yourself comfortably in either a seated position or by lying flat on your back.
2. Pay attention to the contrast between when your body is tensed and untensed. Take an inhale breath as you tense and an exhale as you relax.
3. Begin to tense each large muscle group for roughly five seconds, then release. These muscle groups may include the chest, back, arms, legs, shoulders and calves. A simple way to do this can be to work from top to bottom, starting with muscle groups higher placed on the body like your shoulders.
4. Gradually work your way either up or down your body, rather than tensing all at once.
So, there you have it, three simple ways to incorporate meditation into your day-to-day life. Meditation can be a simple addition to your day that may allow you to feel more relaxed after a long day.
If you are experiencing frequent stress or have any concerns about your mental health, talk to your health professional.
Have you found this information useful? If so you may enjoy the following:
1. Walsh, R.N. and Shapiro, S. (2006). The meeting of meditative disciplines and Western psychology: A mutually enriching dialogue. American Psychologist, [online] 61(3). Available at: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/7885t0n6
2. Vic.gov.au. (2012). Meditation. [online] Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/meditation
3. Healthdirect.gov.au. (2018). Meditation. [online] Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/meditation
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