Guided Meditations - HealthMeditation was traditionally used as a means to reach a state of higher consciousness with good health just being a side effect. Now with our understanding of stress and the benefits of relaxation, meditation has become an affective technique in treating a wide range of physical, mental and emotional stressors.
Unresolved trauma, worries, fears, anger and tension that are not resolved or released, can keep our bodies and minds in a state of stress – the fight or flight mode. This can make it difficult to respond to challenging situations in a calm and non-reactive manner, therefore, creating more intensity, without a chance to release tension or relax in between events.
To be relaxed is to be healthy and meditation invokes the relaxation response – a deeply relaxed body and still mind, creating the optimal conditions in which the body’s natural healing ability can operate and develop.
Relaxation meditation can be a simple as spending 5 minutes focusing on your breath or as complex as a 40 minute full body scan.
The profound mental stillness that follows physical relaxation is the essence of meditation.
BreathMost meditations contain a focal point on the breath - from focus, concentration and grounding to mindfulness, healing and relaxation. The breath represents many things - from life force, sustenance and revitalisation to healing, energy and stress relief.
When people feel stressed, worried or fearful, their breathing tends to be shallow and quick. Breathing slowly, deeply and fully brings us back to the present moment, grounding and anchoring us which can then lead the body into a state of relaxation and reenergising.
Following the rhythm of your breath and noticing it’s movement in your body (e.g. flow of air in and out of the nostrils, rise and fall of the chest, inflation and deflation of the tummy) is one of the simplest and most effective meditation techniques to learn. Giving the mind something to focus on, e.g. the breath, helps still the thought stream.
N.B. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth releases tension and stress initially but then it is advisable to breath in and out through the nose as this slows the heart rate.
Your Breath is Your Brain’s Remote Control (article from Mindful.org)
Relaxing your body, helps relax your mind. A body scan can be done in several ways depending on how much time you have, how stressed your body is and how experienced you are at meditating.
Clenching and releasing muscle groups is an effective form of body relaxation as you are physically and mentally instructing your body. You can also mentally breath into each body part. Listening to a full body scan, e.g. Jon Kabat-Zinn is great for beginners and once you get practised at relaxing your body you may be able to just bring your awareness briefly to each body party and consciously relax from head to toe or toe to head.
Jon Kabat-Zinn's full body scan meditation
Emotions & Feelings
I read somewhere that you haven’t meditated properly until you have cried (but this could be from joy or grief). It does seem to be the case that sitting still for any length of time, can bring up strong thoughts and emotions.
Fighting against them tends to only intensify them and rather than resist repeated patterns of thoughts or feelings it’s better to just try to accept they are there, allow them to be, and eventually they will pass or lessen.
If you continue to focus on something like your breath or an object in the background so that it comes to the foreground, the emotion or thought can then gently return to the background of your awareness where it's not so dominant.
If you find negative feelings and/or a negative situation stays present fo any length of time or you are feeling constantly overwhelmed, then it’s important to seek additional support via counselling or therapy if you need to.
Healing the Heart (article from Jack Kornfield)