To be a Taoist means many things to many people. To be a practitioner of Contemporary Taoism simply means to have realised that we are all minute parts of an indescribably large Whole (the Tao), and to choose therefore to 'Flow Like Water' and live in a spontaneous, natural manner. This blog is about: Personal Growth / Spiritual Development as guided by the principles of Eastern Philosophy, particularly modern philosophical Taoism; Developing constructive habits and achieving success with minimal effort; Meditation - Taoist, Zen or otherwise. See 'What In Lao Tzu's Name is a Contemporary Taoist?'

Sunday, July 02, 2006

How to do a Quick Meditation for Relaxation and Stress Relief

Sometimes I just want to do a quick ten minute meditation for the purposes of slowing down my mind, relieving stress, and briefly putting aside the details of my busy life. Here's a method I use that I find quite successful.

Counting Backwards Meditation

Sit on a chair or if you prefer lie on your back or sit cross-legged. Make sure you are comfortable and that your back is reasonably straight, shoulders square, chest open, head at a natural angle (looking straight ahead). Hands resting comfortably by your sides (if reclining) or in your lap or on your knees if sitting.

Now start counting your breaths backwards from twenty to zero, like this:

"In twenty...
Out twenty...
In nineteen...
Out nineteen..."

And so on...

The technique of counting each in breath and out breath backwards should be just hard enough that you need to concentrate (ie., it's not so automatic that you can do it while your mind wanders) but not so hard as to be a brain-strain! This balance between relaxing the mind and just letting it think randomly should facilitate a fairly speedy descent into a relaxed state of mind. Of course, thoughts will still pop into your mind, but just try to observe them without judgment - don't get upset with yourself. The object of meditation is not to stop thinking, that is a common misconception.

By the way, breath naturally, or if you know how, use your diaphragm to breath a little deeper than usual. Pay attention to the quality of your breathing as you do the exercise; does it slow down as you relax? Do your breaths get deeper? Or do you breath from a shallow place, from your chest? Do you associate breathing with stress or with relaxation?

By the time you have counted each inhalation and exhalation back to zero, you will hopefully have relaxed quite a bit. Then spend the rest of the ten minutes sitting and focusing on the breath, letting thoughts float through your mind without paying much attention to them or actively pursuing them.

If you find it difficult to relax - don't fret! Meditating can take a while to get a handle on but with practice it gets easier to relax more efficiently. Every meditation is a good meditation - even when you find it hard to calm the mind, the practice of just sitting down doing nothing for ten minutes helps your mental and physical health.

Flow Like Water...

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