More and more people around the world experience anxiety and everyday stress that only seems to be getting worse. Mix that with other stressors like poor diet, intensive (or insufficient) exercise, prolonged isolation from Covid-19 and basically no time for self-care and reflection, and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. Here are some simple meditation techniques that can calm your anxious mind and help you get back on track.
Take a moment to focus on all of your senses and get a glimpse of the present moment. Find a comfortable position, either sitting down or laying, and close your eyes. Let your breath come to a normal, peaceful pace, and shift your attention to what you hear. Listen to the sounds of the birds chirping outside your windows, cars passing by, any music you might be streaming in the background, or a fan you turned on because the day was just too hot to handle.
Let those sounds consume your thoughts and push the stress out. Next, focus on your smell and invoke the delicious aroma of your recent meal, the coffee on your table, the flowers in the vase, or even something unpleasant coming from the outside. Just observe it and notice it.
Then focus on what you can touch and feel the fabric of your leggings underneath your fingers, the soft blanket you’ve covered yourself with, and the gentle breeze on your face coming from the wind outside. Breathe it all in and feel it relax you.
Now, open your eyes and slowly take a look around. Notice what you’re seeing and explore your environment with great detail. Look around your room and pay attention to all the little things, all the nooks and crannies. Take a look through your window and watch the trees sway in the wind, the birds flying around, and cars speeding along. And then finally, take a look at yourself. Look at your hands, each finger at a time, your legs, your clothing. Take in every single detail you can; breathe in and breathe out.
Lastly, get up and grab a glass of water. Slowly bring the glass to your lips and take a sip. Focus on your taste buds and try to explore how that sip feels on your lips and in your mouth, and as the cold water drips down your throat. Inhale and exhale.
Have you ever taken a moment to listen to yourself inhale and exhale? The entire act of doing so is incredibly soothing and stress-reducing, and all you really need is yourself. No equipment, no music, no fancy tools...just your breath.
Find a comfortable seat and place a pillow or a blanket under your lower back, so that your entire spine is supported. Make sure your environment is peaceful and that there are no possible distractions around you.
Slowly close your eyes and start paying attention to your natural breathing rhythm - the volume, length, frequency of your breath. And then, with intention, start to prolong them. You can do this by counting to a specific number upon inhale and again on exhale, or omit the counting and just focus on deepening each inhale and exhale you take.
Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest and feel your body respond to your breath. Expanding and lifting on your inhale and closing and dropping on the exhale. Gently notice which hand moves more, the one on your chest or the one on your belly? (Hint: belly breathing is incredibly powerful.)
More often than not, we tend to breathe very shallowly, not allowing the air to fully fill out our bellies. Now is the time to change that. On your next inhale, feel your chest lift up, but keep inhaling until your belly is full of air, expanded and firm. And then exhale by completely emptying your belly and dropping your chest.
Repeat this for 5-10 times and then let your breath return to normal. Feel the vibration running through your body and the stress flushing out.