Meditation Exercise to Relieve Stress by Lisa Hunt-Wotton
When stress overwhelms your nervous system your body is flooded with chemicals that prepare you for “fight or flight.” While the stress response can be lifesaving in emergency situations where you need to act quickly, it wears your body down when constantly activated by the stresses of everyday life.
Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection – Amit Ray
‘No one can avoid all stress, but you can counteract it by learning how to produce the relaxation response, a state of deep rest that is the polar opposite of the stress response. The relaxation response puts the brakes on stress and brings your body and mind back into a state of equilibrium’ (Ref).
When the relaxation response is activated:
- Your heart rate decreases
- Breathing becomes slower and deeper
- Blood pressure drops or stabilizes
- Your muscles relax
- Your body begins to heal
‘In addition to its calming physical effects, the relaxation response also increases energy and focus, combats illness, relieves aches and pains, heightens problem-solving abilities, and boosts motivation and productivity. Best of all, anyone can reap these benefits with regular practice’ (Ref).
A lot of the maladies and stress responses that we suffer today are actually manageable. Nature is a natural healer and yet in our busyness we become more and more disconnected from the source of our healing, from noticing the small moments of wonder around us. Landscapes, trees, flowers, animals, rivers, oceans have the ability to sooth and to heal.
This exercise will use poetry and visual meditation.
- Put 10 min aside where you will not be interrupted.
- You will need a pen and paper.
- On the paper write out across the top of the page the numbers from 1 – 10
- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Then write out these words
1: Restless – Peaceful
2: Tired – Rested
3: Anxious – Calm
Put a number next to each word group indicating where you are at the moment.
E.G.: 2 is very restless – 9 is quite peaceful
Do this exercise again after the poetry and visual meditation and notice if there has been a shift.
* Read this poem twice, once to yourself and once out loud. Then view the motion video below.
by Hilde Wegter
The moment a seed is planted
never entirely sure but
for growth to commence!
Anticipation is building
observing when ever so
slowly transformation from inner depth occurs.
trusting the warmth of the sun’s
invitation, it beckons to celebrate!
How I wish I could stay in this spot
Never to leave
I have difficulties moving on from here
but know I can not stop now!
Finding richness in colours
in bees with their pollens
my lens observes closely
Purity changes and through perhaps
pain and grief another birth occurs
deeper life changing
gifts are born
Falling in rich soil
That seed has multiplied.
Now take 1 min to look at each picture, and reflect. Notice your breathing and slow it down. Close your eyes and imagine the photo in your minds eye. Imagine being at that location right now. Is a bird singing? Can you hear the babbling of the creek?
Notice your breathing and slow it down. Close your eyes and imagine the photo in your minds eye. Imagine being at that location right now. Can you feel a gentle breeze? Can you smell the soil, the flowers?
Last one: Notice your breathing and slow it down. Close your eyes and imagine the photo in your minds eye. Imagine being at that location right now.
Now go back to your paper with a different coloured pen or pencil and write a number next to the words.
Have you noticed a change?
Are you more rested? More peaceful? More calm?
It takes a little practise but each time you meditate you move into that place of solitude and comfort a little quicker.
The you that goes in one side of the meditation experience is not the same you that comes out the other side. – Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
Lisa Hunt-Wotton is the writer and editor of the blog SundayEveryday.
You can find more of her work here.