As a meditation teacher, one of the most common requests I receive is for some simple meditation techniques for relaxation.
Most people come to meditation for relaxation.
Sure, you know you can get significant health benefits from meditating, and that it can help with problems like stress. But deep down, the number one reason people meditate is for sheer serenity.
When you try the meditation techniques for relaxation below you will find your stresses melting away as you truly relax into the present moment.
Benefits of Meditation Techniques for Relaxation
We all know what it feels like to relax. It feels calm and tranquil, harmonious, and stress-free.
Relaxation is the psychological state of living in the present moment without tension and without arousal from external or internal sources of anxiety, stress, or fear.
The Oxford Dictionary says that relaxation is when we are free of tension. This is the opposite of chronic stress, which causes headaches, increased heart rate, and negative thoughts.
When we feel stressed, the sympathetic nervous system is active and stress hormones like cortisol, adrenalin, and norepinephrine are released. In turn, this causes the “fight or flight” response and makes our muscles tense.
The body’s relaxation response is the opposite. Relaxation stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to create feelings of calmness and to relax the body.
Calmness is also associated with Alpha brain waves. These are brain was that are active when we are calmly aware. They occur at 8-12 Hz. According to research from The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), meditation increases these brainwaves.
Why Use Meditation for Relaxation
Meditation and mindfulness are practices in which we focus the mind on the present moment without judgment. It is a psychological exercise stemming from Hinduism, yoga, and Buddhism. Today, it is also a form of therapy used in treatments like Jon Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
When we use meditation for relaxation, we stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. In turn, this produces feelings of calmness and relaxes the body. Plus, it balances vagal tone to produce feelings of wellness.
Of course, meditation is not the only solution, there is also yoga, tai chi, qigong, reiki, relaxing music, affirmations, mantras, and many more options.
But my favourite way to relax is with meditation.
Let’s look at how to meditate for relaxation.
Best Meditation Techniques for Relaxation
- Take a look at my guide to 31 meditation techniques. Thanks to these methods, I was personally able to relax and stop being neurotic!
Try this relaxing meditation script.
- Lie down on a flat surface. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Gently rotate your ankles out at a 45-degree ankle.
- Close your eyes.
- Focus on your breath. Watch as your breath moves through your body, moving through your nostrils, down into your diaphragm, and back out.
- If you need help breathing slowly, try Box Breathing. Breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold out for four, repeat.
- Now become aware of the world around you. Specifically, pay attention to your senses. Be mindful of sight, touch, scents, tastes, and sounds.
- Aim to be mindfully aware of your entire environment. Let the whole world come into you through your senses. This is “Open Monitoring Meditation”, one of the best types of meditation for relaxation.
- Continue as you take 108 breaths.
10 More types of meditation for relaxation.
10: Meditation Music to Unwind
There are thousands of hours of relaxing meditation music available on Youtube and iTunes. Whether you just want to take five minutes at work listening to a relaxing YouTube video or spend an hour with your eyes closed at home, relaxing meditation music will help.
9: Zen Walking for Calm
One of my favourite meditation techniques for relaxation is Zen walking.
Walking is massively beneficial for our health and is one of the most relaxing activities in the world. And Zen Walking makes it even better.
Odds are you already spend quite a lot of time walking, whether you’re the outdoors type who loves to go on hikes, or, like many of us, you just have to walk to work.
Because you’re doing it so much already, it’s a smart idea to start walking mindfully.
All you need to do is try to be aware of your every step as you walk. Pay attention to the sensations in your legs, the sense of movement, as well as the scenery. This is the type of meditation advocated by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.
Pranayama is the rhythmic style of breathing used in yoga.
When we combine yoga with mindful breathing we enhance the mind-body connection. In turn, this helps us relax both physically and mentally.
You don’t need to be a Yogi, either. To be honest, you don’t really need to know much about Yoga. To perform this technique, simply learn a few simple yoga poses, then perform them while being mindful of your breath and focussing on the sensations in your body
7: Muscle Relaxation Meditation Technique
If you’re feeling stiff, try this Muscle Relaxation meditation technique. Releasing physical tension will help you to unwind.
Lie down on the floor and begin to focus on your breath. Then start scanning your body gradually from tip to toe.
At various points in this scanning process, you will find that certain muscles are tense. When you get to these parts, focus on drawing your breath into that area. Observe your breath entering through your nose, reaching to the tense part of your body, and relaxing it.
6: Meditating in the bath
I love meditating in the bath. Because the bath is already full of relaxing feelings, like soapy water, it is perfect for meditation.
Simply pour a warm bath, light some aromatherapy candles, and meditate in the bath. Easy.
5: Tai Chi
Tai Chi involves observing the breath moving around the body while performing slow and graceful movements.
I find that Tai Chi is the number one way to promote the mind/body connection. It is also one of the best ways of relaxing, both physically and mentally. The slow and smooth moves encourage mindfulness while also relieving bodily tension.
4: Binaural beats
Binaural beats are soothing and straightforward ways to unwind. And there are many excellent examples of both on Youtube. All you need do is close your eyes and listen. No effort required.
3: Mantras (Japa)
Mantras involve meditating on a specific spiritual phrase.
A relaxing mantra might involve focusing on the words “I am feeling calm and relaxed, free as a bird.” Naturally, this is just an example. You may choose whichever mantra works for you.
By focussing on a positive and relaxing line, we train the mind to think in relaxing ways. In turn, this promotes inner calm and relaxation. A great mantra for relaxation is “Om.”
2: Taoist meditation for relaxation
I love Taoist meditations. And research shows that Taoist meditations are very relaxing.
Techniques like Tai Chi, QiGong and Zhuangi (a breathing technique) are powerful ways of tending to the mind and cultivating inner peace.
You can find a complete list of Taoist methods and instructions via our main menu.
1: Guided Meditation for Relaxation
There are lots of relaxing apps that include relaxing guided meditation scripts and audio.
Guided meditations use audio scripts specially written to guide you towards relaxation and inner peace.
Guided meditations are great. And especially for beginners. I often think that guided meditations are like a visit to the spa. They are quick and easy. Just make sure you also use other meditation techniques alongside guided meditations.
Benefits of relaxing and meditating
Scientific research confirms that we are at our best when we are relaxed. Just look at this list of the benefits of relaxation.
- Slows heart rate
- Massively reduces anxiety
- Helps us overcome depression
- Increases blood flow to major muscles
- Reduces muscle tension and chronic pain
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves concentration and mood
- Helps with maintaining normal blood sugar levels
- Reduces anger and frustration
- Boosts confidence to handle problems
- Reduces activity of stress hormones
- Slows breathing rate
- Improves sleep quality
- Improves digestion
- Lowers fatigue
Our brains are at their best when relaxed too, largely because relaxation massively reduces stress.
Stress inhibits cognitive functioning and heavily impacts brain health.
When we are stressed, the brain releases cortisol and adrenalin, prompting the body to enter the ‘fight-or-flight response.
When we are stressed, we fixate on whatever we are stressed about, and we become so singularly focused on the negative that we simply cannot function. At these times, the relaxing meditations that I have shared above will come in handy.