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Meditation Techniques
For Stress Relief

There are many meditation techniques available but all are able to help you with your stress levels.

Basically it is down to personal preference as to which technique you are most comfortable with.

Take your time and perhaps try a few methods before deciding on the one that you benefit most from.

I will outline the different meditation techniques briefly, you will need to explore each technique more for yourself so that you can practice your chosen meditation method to its fullest and which will consequently provide the most relaxation and stress relief.

Zazen Meditation

zazen meditation and stress relief picture by LDCross

This is a Buddhist sitting meditation method; however you do not need to be a Buddhist to practice this method if you feel that it is right for you.

Zazen means “just sitting” and this is basically all you have to do to practice this method of meditation. Sounds easy right or even a little boring and pointless.

Well to most of us who are used to rushing around and having a million things to do this does sound rather odd. However it really does work and is designed to make you stop and clear your mind of all those worrying, anxious thoughts.

You don’t need any props to do this although if you become a devotee of this method there are certain specialist cushions called zafu’s you may wish to buy to make your sitting more comfortable.

The basic method of Zazen is to spend some time in a quite comfortable position sitting and allowing your mind to go blank. It does require some practice though; you will be amazed at just how hard it is to sit still for any length of time, especially as most of us are not used to it.

The basic method is:

  • Sit cross legged on the floor
  • Make sure you are warm and comfortable in your position.
  • Keep your back straight as if you were being pulled up from your head.
  • Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth
  • Look slightly downwards but do not move your head down.
  • Slightly un-focus your eyes so that you are more able to concentrate inwardly rather than externally.
  • Place your hands cupped in your lap and loose
  • Keep your mouth closed and breathe through your nose
  • Focus on your breathing, counting the breaths naturally as they come
  • Soon you may find that your mind starts to wander, at this point refocus your mind on counting your breaths and feeling how they feel coming in and out of your body.

Try this for 5 minutes at first and then increase the amount by 2 minutes every week. The more you practice the easier it will become.

Walking Meditation (kinhin)

This meditation technique is the opposite of Zazen as you are not sitting still for any length of time and you do have to be more aware of yourself so as not to bump into things.

However it can be harder to achieve as there are more things to look at and distract your mind from its inward focus. And possibly allowing worries to creep back into the mind. Because of this many people choose to mix both Zazen and walking meditations together one after the other.

The basic method:

  • Decide where you are going to walk, this can be either outside or around your home, you need to know exactly what route you are going to take so that you do not have to make decisions during the meditations.

  • Start by taking a few deep breaths and prepare yourself for the meditations. Now take slow deliberate steps and while you do you need to notice your breaths, how your legs and feet feel, how your body feels whilst you are walking.

  • Once you are fully aware of your own self and how it feels, you can begin to notice the environment you are in. If something you notice starts to make your mind wander off onto other things then bring your focus back to your breathing and how that feels.

Yoga Meditation

Yoga has been around for many thousands of years and may be the oldest of all the meditation techniques. There are many different forms of yoga which different sects practice however there is a central belief system which is that there are channels running throughout the body which carry energy around and if these channels become blocked they can cause both metal and physical illness.

The poses used in yoga are designed not only to strengthen the body but also to allow the body to relax and so allow the mind to follow and relax too. In yoga medication simple poses are used to allow the body to get out of the way and allow for total mind relaxation.

The basic method:

  • The lotus position is the main sitting posture to practice this meditation but not all can or should attempt this, so a simple crossed leg position is fine.

  • Make sure you are comfortable and in a quiet and warm environment.

  • Make sure you are sitting with a straight back and place your hands on each knee with your palms facing up.

  • Inhale and exhale through your nose and take some slow deep breaths. Focus on your breathing.

  • Once you feel more relaxed you can begin to use a mantra, this is simply a phrase or word which helps to focus the mind. The traditional mantra is “Om”.

  • Slowly say Om on the exhale breath, let the m resonate throughout your body.

Try this for 5 minutes at first and then increase the time slowly over the coming weeks.

Mantra Meditation

There are forms of mantra meditation techniques which are similar to that of yoga but they use other more meaningful words. Words which in themselves evoke feelings and beliefs. So words like:

  • Peace
  • Love
  • Joy
  • God
  • Earth ...can all be used.

You can choose your own words as it is not necessarily the words which are important more there sound and perhaps personal meaning to you. They should be words which will help you achieve relaxation and rid you of feelings of stress and worry.

Mandala Meditation

This method used objects rather than sounds to help focus the mind. These objects known as mandala’s are beautiful circular pictures or sculptures which are designed to draw your eye along their lines into the centre and so focusing your mind.

When practicing meditation techniques like this instead of making any sound you simply focus on the image, noticing its form and following its lines in every detail. Again the more you practice this method the easier it becomes and your mind will wander less and less.

Other Meditations Techniques

There are many other forms of meditation techniques you may want to look into and which are not covered here. For instance there is:

Mindfulness meditation
Chakra meditation
Breathing meditation
Visualization

With all meditation techniques the more you practice and stick with it the better you will become and the more benefits you will achieve. Many people have practiced medication and truly believe that it has enriched their lives, so there must be some truth in it.

Even if you only manage to squeeze in a few minutes every day of one form of mediation then you are bound to feel more relaxed and in control and this in itself will be lowering your stress response even if you may not realise it at first.

So good luck and keep at it.


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