How Does Meditation Relieve Stress?
We look at different meditation techniques and ask can meditation relieve stress?
Does meditation relieve stress?
In a one word answer, yes.
As I’ve mentioned before I feel meditation is the cornerstone of any stress management course. I also feel that if you want stress relief then meditation must be on your list of things to do.
Can Meditation Relieve Stress? An example
I remember when I first started to meditate in the 90s. I was working for an airline in their head office and I had to commute through London in rush hour at the time.
My journey would start in zone 4 in the north of London and go all the way to zone 5 in the south. This meant that I had to go all the way across London.
Now, London in rush hour is busy, busy, busy, especially Victoria station, which was the main station I would go through.
I started to meditate on the journey, where possible. A 5-minute meditate on the tube or 10 minutes on a train.
I found commuting in London to be terrifically stressful – it’s hot, sticky, oppressive and busy, and I also suffered from claustrophobia at the time.
But after a few weeks of meditating I noticed a huge shift one day. There I was in Victoria station with a sea of people around me.
I’d got off my train and was headed to the underground. Suddenly something clicked or stopped within me.
Why was I rushing?
What was I doing?
So instead of racing across, battling across this ocean, I swam, I went with the flow. I felt amazing! I was smiling and relaxed!
I got to the steps of the underground.
A lady stood there with her pram, and two suitcases.
I must have walked past 100 of these people since I started work. I’m too busy to stop, I would say to myself.
And everyone else was walking past and ignoring her. Rushing, fighting, pushing…
“Would you like a hand?” I asked
“Oh, thank you,” she replied, and a smile crept across her face
And so I helped her carry her pram and baby down the steps. From feeling relaxed and calm, I then went to feeling really elated. I didn’t have to struggle!
How Meditation Can Change Us
This was my introduction to meditation. This was my introduction to how powerful this stress relief technique is.
Of course, the next day wasn’t so blissful but I started to have more clarity over the coming weeks and months. The, “Oh, I don’t have to worry or get angry here,” moments became more common.
This for me, is what meditation can do. It gives you space to think and time to breathe, and so you can see that when you ask does meditation relieve stress. The answer is yes!
Different Meditation Techniques
Find a quiet space, preferably where you will not be disturbed and sit for 10 minutes. Sit upright, in a comfortable chair, in a relaxed posture and take it easy.
Try out the following meditation techniques:
1. Close your eyes and follow your breath. Breathe in and breathe out and relax. Watch your breath. When you get distracted come back to the breath.
2. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. Listen to your breathing, birds singing, traffic or people. Don’t attach yourself to them. Just listen. And after a while you should hear the sound of silence – a soft ringing sound in your ears. (This might take a little time – let go and don’t try to force it, it will come with time and patience.)
In the Buddhist scriptures this form of meditation is said to be the quickest way to enlightenment.
3. Close your eyes and focus on your body’s sensations. How does the body feel? Start with the head and move your attention to every body part. Really come into your body. Breathe and relax.
These techniques are really magical. They have been around for over 2,000 years. Try them out and see how they work for you.