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Why is Meditation Effective for Relaxation?

By: Janie Franz - Updated: 15 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Blood Pressure breathing candle

Meditation is a method of diverting the mind from external events, to look within the body. It has been used in cultures all over the world as a means of turning mental energies inward to tap deep inner resources. We can use some of the body's own abilities to calm our bodies and minds.

How Meditation Works

Meditation is not anything exotic. It can take many forms including daydreaming, deep breathing, chanting, or even walking or dancing. During meditation, we learn to draw our attention away from what is happening around us, especially those things that are disturbing or stressful. By focusing on something else, we interrupt the stream of negative feelings we have about the stressors in our lives. This is like being in a noisy room and stepping into a bubble where there is only quiet and peace. In truth, that is what we do when we meditate.

By focusing on something else, we can calm our bodies and begin to relax. For many, meditation allows them to become aware of their breath and tensions within their bodies. As these are recognised, breathing can be slowed and deepened. Often, little muscle aches or tensions can be minimised or eliminated just by focusing within.

Types of Focus

Some people meditate just by focusing on their breathing pattern. They breathe deeply and slowly, concentrating on positive energies as they breathe in and out.

Other people use a tool to focus. That tool can be something visual or something to listen to. Some people meditate by looking at an object, such as a beautiful picture or a design called a Mandala. Others focus on a candle flame or a waterfall. Still others just use whatever is handy to look at, such as a pattern on the floor or the edge of a desk or even their own hand.

Listening focuses can be music, chimes, or chanting. By following the music or chant with our minds, we can use the notes to take us deeper inside our minds and farther away from the stressors in our lives.

Meditation and Relaxation

By interrupting the stress response through meditation, we can let our normal minds rest because we aren't thinking so much about how badly our bodies feel or how awful our life situations are. We can also place more positive thoughts and images into our minds during meditation so that we can begin to feel peace.

What happens next is our bodies begin to develop a relaxation response. It begins with our sitting quietly and slowing and deepening our breathing. Next, we feel our bodies begin to relax. This can be encouraged by going through the muscle groups and tensing the muscles and then relaxing them. As we continue to sit and feel our bodies become calmer and calmer, we drift into a deeper realm of peace.

Our bodies welcome relaxation once we allow it to occur through meditation. Sometimes, it takes training our bodies to be calm because we are under so much stress. Meditation then becomes a natural way to achieve what pharmaceuticals often do to calm our bodies. And, meditation is completely free.

With practise, meditation actually changes how the mind and body respond to stress. It can slow our heart rates, decrease blood pressure, and relieve a lot of muscle aches. Meditation is a very useful tool to help us relax and manage stress.

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