Relaxation through meditation – Calm your mind with meditation
Meditation and relaxation are often used synonymously because they are so closely connected. But relaxation is by far not the only thing that can be achieved through meditation. It can also help with insomnia or anxiety. In this article, however, we will focus on types of meditation that are used for relaxation.
Prepare yourself for your Relaxation Meditation
Before you start with Relaxation Meditation, you should prepare yourself mentally and arrange your environment appropriately. Here are some important factors for a successful meditation:
A quiet environment
Find yourself in a quiet place with few distractions. Turn off or put away your television, radio or mobile phone. The more experienced you are with meditation, the easier it will be for you to meditate even in noisy environments.
During a meditation your breathing is often the focus of attention. This may seem trivial to you, since we all breathe continuously throughout our lives. But conscious breathing has the advantage that we take in more oxygen, while our body starts relaxing.
A comfortable position
Whenever you meditate, you will have to sit down… or do you? Even if we imagine most meditating people sitting on the floor, it does not matter in which position you meditate. You can sit, lie or even stand. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable, can breathe well and if possible do not fall asleep – unless that is your goal.
Your attention is one of the most important tools available to you during a meditation. By focusing your attention on an object of meditation (your breath, a mantra or a candle), you free your mind from worries and negative thoughts and lower your stress level.
Meditation relaxation techniques
There are many meditation techniques that you can use to relax. In the next section we will introduce you to the most important ones and give you concrete step-by-step instructions on how to perform the techniques.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Tension is one of the many reactions of our body when we find ourselves in a stressful situation. Permanent stress can therefore lead to painful muscular tensions that can be a burden to you in your everyday life. Progressive muscle relaxation is one in which you relieve the tension by specifically tensing and relaxing individual muscle groups.
The basic principle of progressive muscle relaxation is that you notice the difference between muscles in tense and relaxed mode and learn to counteract the first signs of tension.
Practice progressive muscle relaxation
- Put on loose clothing, take off your shoes and find a place where you’ll be undisturbed for the next 20 minutes.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. Place your hands on your chest and stomach to monitor your breathing closely. Repeat this procedure for a few minutes until you feel noticeably more relaxed.
- Focus your attention on your feet and tense them as much as possible. Hold the tension and count slowly to 10.
- Release the tension and concentrate on the feeling of releasing tension. Breathe deeply and slowly and try to memorize this feeling.
- Next, tense your calves and work your way up your body to the back of your neck.
Do not be disappointed if you do not succeed in addressing specific muscle groups at the beginning. Over time, you will become better at tensing only the intended muscles.
Body scan relaxation meditation
Similar to progressive muscle relaxation, you concentrate on individual parts of your body. Instead of tensing them, the Body Scan is only about perceiving the sensations in the respective body part without evaluating them.
How to perform a body scan:
- Lie on your back with your legs straight apart. Lay your arms relaxed to the right and left side of yours.
- Concentrate consciously on your breathing for about two minutes until your heartbeat has slowed down completely
- Place the focus on your right foot. How does it feel? Do you feel a tingling or is it cold? Work your way from the sole to the ankle and then further over the calf, knee and thigh. After you’ve reached the hip you should repeat the sequence on the left side. Focus on each area for at least 3 seconds.
- Repeat the procedure for your upper body by scanning your abdomen, back, chest, shoulders and neck. Pay attention to which areas you feel tension or pain.
- After you’ve completed your scan, sit for a while and pay attention to how you feel. Before you get up, shake your limbs gently and stretch.
If you ever had a fantastic massage, you know how relaxed the body feels afterwards. It is as if all stress is pressed out of the muscles and you feel light, almost weightless. It doesn’t always have to be a professional massage, you can get the same effect yourself. You will learn how to do this in this section.
- Take time for your self-massage and celebrate with a little massage oil or a fragrant cream. Make the massage a ritual – for example before going to bed.
- Pick a specific part of your body that you want to massage. Depending on the body part, apply light pressure with your fingertips or palms. Pay attention to gentle, gliding movements. Alternatively, you can also work with gentle strokes with the edge of your hand. Try out what feels good.
- The neck area, scalp, face and temples are particularly suitable for a self-massage.
- You can also massage your back, legs, stomach and bottom. Just take a soft brush on a stick and combine your next shower with a small massage. A brush massage is not only relaxing, it also stimulates your blood circulation and removes annoying skin scales.
In recent years, mindfulness has become a real buzzword. But what does it actually mean? Mindfulness is the ability to focus fully on the moment. Sounds simple? When was the last time you took the train without looking at your mobile phone every two minutes? In our fast-moving times it has become normal to be constantly busy with other things, but not with what is right in front of us.
Mindfulness meditation is therefore about engaging with the present moment and taking a few minutes to listen into the body. You learn to perceive your thoughts and feelings without judging them. Wandering thoughts can be captured again through mindfulness meditation and directed in a more positive direction.
Train your mindfulness
- Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted or distracted.
- Keep your back straight and breathe in and out relaxed a few times until you feel completely relaxed.
- Take a last look at your surroundings before closing your eyes and concentrating on your breathing. Feel the air flowing into your nostrils and making its way through your body, only to be expelled through your mouth. For a particularly relaxing effect, try to breathe into your stomach.
- Stay focused on the breath throughout the meditation. Whenever your thoughts drift away, bring your focus back to your breathing. You can also start counting your breaths to make it easier for you to concentrate.
- Remember not to judge yourself for when your thoughts keep wandering. During your mediation, take a minute or two and allow your mind to do what it wants by not focusing on anything in particular. Just observe where your thoughts drift off to.
- Before you open your eyes, experience your surroundings with all your senses. What sounds do you perceive? Does a special scent come into your nose? What’s the taste in your mouth? How do you feel? Are you feeling warm or cold? When you have answered all these questions, it is time to slowly open your eyes and enjoy the feeling after the mindfulness meditation.
Guided relaxation meditation
During a guided meditation you will be led into a state of relaxed concentration. A meditation guide will read a script in a pleasant voice, which you listen to via CD, app or in a special avoidance course.
The meditation script determines the theme of the meditation. Often it is a mixture of progressive muscle relaxation, visualizations, mental images and breathing exercises.
Guided meditation can last only a few minutes or several hours. A particularly popular method of this type of meditation is guided meditation using apps. For this reason, in the next section we will compare the two largest and most popular meditation apps.
Calm vs Headspace
Although the premium version of the headspace-app is more expensive, it can be used permanently (albeit limited) in free mode, while Calm blocks access to its guides after the 7-day trial period. But that’s by far not all that makes Headspace our favorite app: The choice of speakers and the wide range of meditations have also convinced us.
In the end, however, both apps are very well suited for getting into the topic of meditation. So don’t hesitate to get your own impression of both apps!
Other relaxation meditation techniques
Check out the following relaxation exercises for even more mind relaxation.
Repeat a Mantra
It is not for nothing that the Om Mantra is firmly connected with our idea of mediation. Even if mantras are originally religiously motivated, you can use them to lower your stress level and free your mind from negativity.
You can find more about this in our article about Chakra Meditation.
Meditate while walking
The combination of walking and meditation is a great technique to help you relax and which you can use almost anywhere and at any time of day.
In a so-called walking meditation you need nothing more than a straight stretch of road that you can walk at an extremely slow pace. You walk so slowly that you can concentrate on every single step and notice how your weight shifts.
You divide the walking process into individual steps and try to do each of these steps consciously. To make this easier for you, say the words in your head: “Lift”, “Move”, “Step” over and over again with each step.
The number of people who read daily is dwindling. Yet books not only contain a lot of knowledge, but also the key to a more relaxed life. Especially factual texts like books on meditation are suitable for calming your mind and learning new things. Afterwards you should always take a moment to reflect on what you just read.
Yoga for relaxation meditation
Yoga includes a series of poses that you combine with conscious, deep breathing to relieve and prevent stress. Three types of yoga are particularly suitable for relaxation.
Satyananda: This traditional form of yoga is characterized by gentle poses that are well suited for beginners. Through slow movements you will achieve deep relaxation from which you can relieve your stress.
Hatha Yoga: This form of yoga also offers a gentle introduction with simple yoga poses. When looking for suitable classes, make sure that the poses are really suitable for beginners, because Hatha Yoga also includes many poses for advanced students.
Power Yoga: If you are looking for a mixture of stimulation and relaxation, Power Yoga is the perfect choice. This form of yoga is especially suitable if you have a basic physical fitness and want to work out.
If practiced incorrectly, yoga can lead to injuries, which is why you should definitely study video instructions or attend a yoga course at the beginning.
Relaxation meditation music
It has been scientifically proven that music has a great effect on the body. Film producers take advantage of this effect and create all kinds of emotions in the audience. For example, music can be used to reduce the heartbeat.