How Meditation Helps to Reduce Stress


Whenever you have just 10 minutes of free time, you can lower your level of anxiety, reduce stress and enjoy a much more relaxed state of being. That is all the time that is needed for the Relaxation Response meditation technique to calm you down, and it also improves your cardiovascular health.

Created by Harvard physician and bestselling author Doctor Herbert Benson in the 1970's in the United States, the Relaxation Response delivers the exact opposite physical reaction to your natural "fight or flight" response. When your mind perceives some type of stress or threat, you receive an adrenaline rush, your blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate increase rapidly, as does blood flow to your muscles.

The Relaxation Response meditation method helps to reduce stress by slowing down your breathing, blood pressure, metabolism and pulse rate. You sit quietly with your eyes closed in a quiet environment for 10 to 20 minutes. Visualize your muscles relaxing, beginning at your feet and moving up through the top of your head. You silently repeat a word or phrase, or have a particular sound repeated, that triggers a relaxing response in your body.

By continually training your mind to deliver this sense of calm and peacefulness when a particular word is repeated, you can easily access this stress-relieving tactic anytime and anywhere. Develop a phrase or word which has special meaning to you, or one that sounds relaxing, such as "peace" or "restful".

This works because your brain switches conscious efforts to unconscious habit after several repetitions. Your mind is an amazing machine, and when it notices a certain behavior accompanied by a particular response happening on a regular basis, it does not spend any time thinking about possibly delivering a different response. It automatically and unconsciously does what it has been taught to do.

When you are first training yourself to benefit from meditation and the Relaxation Response, understand that this takes time. It takes multiple repetitions before this becomes an automatic behavior. You should also wait at least 2 hours after eating a meal before trying this process, as your digestive system can interfere with your success.

Do not set an alarm. The harsh sound of an alarm bell could undo all of the stress-relieving, anxiety-cleansing benefits you are enjoying. It is acceptable to open your eyes and check a clock to see how long you have been meditating. Practice twice a day for 3 to 4 weeks and you will find it easier and easier to drain the stress and anxiousness out of your hectic lifestyle.

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