Relaxation is a vital but often overlooked part of our mental and physical well-being. Stress and tension are major contributors to illness, disease and injury. To better manage stress, we need to make time for relaxation.
Some people struggle to find the time to relax, and when they do, they still feel overwhelmed by everything they need to get done. Taking time to relax, and be fully relaxed, can help you feel physically and mentally refreshed.
How to Meditate to Relax
For people who struggle to relax, learning to meditate can be a powerful skill for mental well-being. Meditation is an ancient practice that emphasizes the mind-body connection. As you release racing thoughts, your body naturally relaxes, and vice versa—as you concentrate on relaxing your body, your thoughts naturally slow down, too.
Meditation for relaxation is a tool you can use to release mental and physical tension. How to meditate to relax depends on the type of meditation you choose to practice.
There are dozens of types of meditation that can put you into a relaxed state, with some of the popular ones being:
- Mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness meditation is the practice of paying attention to your thoughts, letting go of negativity and relaxing your mind and body.
- Guided meditation: Many people find it difficult to meditate, so guided meditations for relaxation can help you stay focused in your quest for mental peace.
- Yoga, qi gong and tai chi: Active meditations, like yoga, qi gong and tai chi, incorporate breathing, mindfulness and physical movement to help relax both the mind and body.
- Transcendental Meditation®: TM is a type of meditation taught by a licensed practitioner. It involves sitting with your eyes closed and silently repeating a mantra to yourself. TM is practiced for 20 minutes twice daily.
No matter which type of meditation you choose to practice, all meditation provides the same benefit, which is to help you achieve mental and physical relaxation. If you’re new to meditation, it’s a good idea to try a few different meditation types to find the one that helps you relax the most.
How to Meditate to Relax Your Mind
Experiencing mental stress is a regular part of daily life, so it’s important to have a way to relax your mind. Relaxation meditations help you to release mental tension, bringing about a sense of calm and peace.
Many people who try meditation find it difficult to relax their minds. Becoming distracted by our thoughts is the biggest challenge of practicing relaxation meditation. In particular, meditations that involve focusing on the breath or a repeated word can be challenging to practice because it’s easy for your mind to wander.
If you find it difficult to relax your mind during meditation, try the below tips to help you stay focused and calm.
1. Start With Short Sessions
Whether you’re meditating to relax, reduce stress or get clear on your thoughts, it’s always recommended to start with short sessions and gradually build up your practice over time. Meditation is a skill just like any other, so it takes time to get the hang of it.
Begin with sessions as short as 30 seconds to one minute.
Many people find that this is enough to help them achieve some inner peace. After a few days of short sessions, increase your meditation time by one or two minutes each time. After a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to practice a ten-minute relaxation meditation comfortably.
You can also try practicing multiple times throughout the day, such as whenever you feel yourself getting tense and needing a break.
2. Maintain an Upright Posture
Maintaining a neutral and upright posture can help you stay focused while you meditate.
Protecting your spine with proper posture also prevents slouching and hunching, which can compress your vertebrae, strain muscles and cause aches and pains. Feeling muscle soreness during meditation can distract from the practice and prevent you from achieving the full benefits of your relaxation time.
To ensure proper posture, sit in a meditation chair with an ergonomic, zero-gravity or neutral design. If you prefer a meditation cushion, choose one with memory foam or other body-conforming material for comfortable support.
3. Set a Timer
Thinking about time is a common distraction people face while trying to meditate. During meditation, your mind tends to wander, and you may lose track of time. Setting a timer can ease the burden of keeping track of your session.
Here are some tips for using a meditation timer:
- Set a timer on your phone at the beginning of the session.
- After the timer starts, take several deep breaths before closing your eyes and beginning your practice.
- When the timer goes off, calmly reach for your phone and shut the timer off.
- Continue to breathe deeply as you gently come out of your deep relaxation meditation.
Try to pick a timer sound that isn’t a startling alarm but rather a peaceful tone that will help you maintain your sense of relaxation. Search YouTube for relaxing meditation music and choose a soothing song to be your timer.
How to Relax Your Body for Meditation
Preparing your body for relaxation can help you overcome the mental barriers to meditation. By relaxing your body prior to your meditation session, you’ll also help relax your mind.
While there are many ways to relax your body, two simple approaches are stretching and progressive muscle relaxation. Each technique takes just a few minutes, and you can do it without any equipment or effort.
- Stretching: Before you meditate, take five minutes to stretch your body, particularly your neck, shoulder, back and hips. These areas tend to hold a lot of tension, so releasing these tight muscle groups can help soothe your body in preparation for meditation. Hold your stretches for a minimum of 20 seconds each, easing slowly into each stretch and deepening it as you hold.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Incorporate progressive muscle relaxation into your meditation by working your way through each main muscle group of your body. Starting with your neck and shoulders, tense and then relax them gently. Continue moving down your body, tensing and releasing your major muscles for deep relaxation.
Stretching and releasing tight muscles not only relaxes your body but also invigorates it. Feeling physically energized before meditation can help improve your concentration while you practice and prevent you from dozing off.
What Is the Difference Between Meditation and Relaxation?
Relaxation is a broad way to describe any technique or method that puts your nervous system into a restful state. There are plenty of ways to achieve relaxation, including taking a warm bath, getting a massage or doing anything else that helps you unwind.
Meditation is just one way to achieve relaxation. However, unlike reading a book or watching TV, meditation allows you to consciously achieve relaxation by bringing awareness to your mental and physical state. Other ways to relax can sometimes be used to escape from, rather than attend to, how you currently feel.
With meditation, you learn to practice relaxation with intention, meaning you take an active role in your ability to relax and unwind.
Benefits of Meditation for Relaxation
In addition to preventing chronic stress, there are other essential reasons why you need to relax daily.
Relaxation offers the following benefits:
- Clears your mind and invites inspiration and creativity.
- Helps you make new connections between situations and ideas.
- Gives you deeper insight into yourself and your personal desires.
- Increases your ability to focus by providing you with a mental recharge.
- Allows your body time to recover from physical stress.
- Heightens your sense of patience and compassion.
Meditation, in particular, is highly beneficial for achieving the above benefits of relaxation. Several studies have found that people who practice meditation have more control over their stress response, which is vital for preserving mental, emotional and physical health.
Relax the Back Guided Meditations for Relaxation
If you’re looking for healthy ways to let go of stress, you might benefit from a guided meditation designed to walk you through the relaxation process.
Relax The Back’s guided meditation for relaxation is led by a trained meditation teacher who will help you explore the roots of meditation and discover its benefits for deep relaxation.
Those who are seeking to add more tranquility to daily life may benefit from creating a meditation sanctuary at home. With health and wellness solutions from Relax The Back, you can retreat to your meditation space daily, where you’ll sink into a relaxing and meditative state for optimal mental well-being.
Shop Relax The Back online for everything you need to make your home a relaxing and restorative oasis.