As you probably know, stress is a complicated thing. There are many different causes of stress and many different symptoms. Some people mostly experience stress in the form of painful thoughts. And others experience it as physical sensations, such as a tense chest.
Because stress is complicated, there are many different types of meditation for stress relief. And it is important to find the best one for you.
But I’m here to help.
Let me show you the best meditations for stress relief. And I will explain the differences too.
Meditation for Stress
1: Guided Meditation + Script
Let’s start with this simple method, which will make you feel more relaxed.
- Sit comfortably with good posture either kneeling down on the ground or sitting on a chair. Make sure your back is straight but relaxed, that there is no pressure on your knees, and that the back of your neck is relaxed.
- Close your eyes and become aware of your body. Gradually move your focus down through your body, from the crown of your head to your feet. If you notice any tense areas, imagine breathing air into that space, and ask it to relax. You can also gently rotate your muscles to relax. This should take around five minutes.
- Now become aware of your breath. Start to breathe using Box Breathing. To do this, breathe in for two; hold for two; exhale for two; hold for two; and repeat.
- While you are Box Breathing, mindfully observe your breath moving around your body. Observe the energy and sensations involved with breathing. Observe how the breath is soft and gentle, but with a warm energy behind it.
- Count to 108 breaths while meditating on your breath. Counting your breath will help you to stay focused while meditating.
- Now imagine a truly relaxing scene, such as a beach. Vividly imagine this beautiful and relaxing scene. What sights do you see? Oceans? Cliffs? What sounds do you hear? The waves? Vividly imagine this scene. Notice how your mind and body relax as you think about this peaceful scene.
- Now slowly open your eyes to a count of ten.
2: Mantra Meditation
- Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Count to 27 breaths.
- Now recite the following words to yourself several times in your mind. “I am feeling tense at the moment, but it is just a feeling. This feeling will pass. I am safe. All is well. I am becoming calm”.
- Now, continue to focus on your breath. On each inhale say the word “Relaxing”. And on each exhale say the word “Calming”.
- Continue to count your breaths as you recite the words.
- Aim for 108 deep, diaphragmatic breaths. By using diaphragmatic breathing, you will stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system to produce feelings of relaxation.
3: Guided Meditation (2)
There are many different guided meditations for stress. And I find the science of these methods quite interesting. From my studies and from my experience teaching meditation, I have found that guided meditation is a really good easy way to stop stress momentarily. But for long term benefits, traditional meditation techniques are much better.
Jon Kabat Zinn [a] defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”.
Basically, all you want to do is non-judgmentally observe stress for what it is. Observe the energy of stress, the way it feels. When you do this, you will reduce the effect that stress has on you.
5: Buddhist meditations
There are many excellent Buddhist meditations for stress. These range from mindful breathing to meditative walking.
When we practice Buddhist meditations we aim to understand the mind. Because, as S.N Goenka has stated, it is a lot easier to live with the mind when you understand it.
So, if you feel like your mind is out of control and you don’t understand your thoughts and feelings, Buddhist meditations will help.
When we practice Vipassana, we meditate on the breath, and then we observe what happens in the mind. We also label thoughts and feelings. Research shows that labeling these things makes us less reactive to them.
Note that we teach this method in our corporate meditation classes.
In Anapanasati meditation, we focus on the breath and then observe the various mental states that the mind goes through.
As American Psychology and Buddhist meditation teacher Tara Brach says, “Our breath is often the most helpful home base for coming out of our thoughts and back into our senses. “
When we practice Anapansati, we start with breathing meditation. We then observe when the mind comes and goes. For instance, when we get caught up in thoughts and then when those thoughts dissipate. We will label these mental movements as “coming” or “going”. This makes us more aware of when we get lost in thoughts.
Buddha explained in the Anapanasati Sutta that Anapanasati leads to equanimity of mind (calmness).
We use Zazen meditation to improve our concentration and to stop being affected by distractions.
In Zazen, we sit facing a blank wall with our eyes a little open, and then focus on our breath.
9: Taoist Techniques
Taoist techniques are all about living as our true selves and connecting with the pure energy (chi) inside of us. These methods were created by Lao Tzu. They focus on acceptance and authenticity.
Taoist methods are great for cultivating stillness and tranquility. They teach us to let go of anything we don’t need and to live more naturally, in harmony with our true selves.
Yoga releases endorphins (the feel-good chemical). Plus, it relaxes the body and reduces inflammation. Meanwhile, practising yoga mindfully helps to calm the mind. 
You might also like to try Tai chi, Qigong, affirmations, forest bathing, healing crystals, reiki, and breathwork.
Benefits of Meditation for Stress
So how does meditation help with stress?
Well, let me quote Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. In the book How To Relax, he says that we need “days where time unfolds naturally, unhurriedly, timelessly.”
Basically, your mind needs breaks. It needs periods of silence, periods of just being. And the best way to give your mind a break is to meditate.
Scientifically, we would say that meditation relieves stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, balancing blood pressure, slowing breathing rate, and reducing information overload.
It also reduces the inflammatory response to worry and to negative thoughts, which stops the body from getting so tense.
Plus, it reduces activity in the amygdala , and increases connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. This lessens reactivity and improves our ability to manage stress naturally. Meanwhile of course is also helps with other issues such as anxiety.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison