Meditation isn’t just another gimmick that offers to calm your nerves, but doesn’t deliver. And, you don’t have to be an expert to reap its many benefits.
There are numerous approaches to meditation, and I’m excited to share my favorite with you — specially crafted for stress relief. Get ready to snuggle in for some cozy relaxation — body, mind and spirit.
YOUR BODY — EXPERIENCING THE BREATH
If you’re alive, you’re breathing, right? So what’s the big deal about focusing on it?
There’s a lot of science behind breath awareness, as detailed in The Inhale: Receiving Grace. Healthy breathing is not just about getting oxygen into you. The way you breathe can help reduce stress, promote clear thinking, and literally give you life! So let’s get practical. Here’s how:
- Sit in a comfy position and begin to notice your breath. Don’t alter it, just become aware. Is it fast, slow, tense, easy? Are there any places where it catches?
- Begin to draw breath in through your nose and down into your belly. That’s right — belly breathing! Did you know that you used to do this as a baby? Life was much simpler then — and healthier. Avoid shallow breathing that skips the tummy and stays stuck in the chest. Of course, your chest rises and falls naturally, but your focus should be belly expansion.
- Now, allow your breath to slow. Specifically the exhale. In the practice of Holy Yoga we call this “lengthening the exhale”. You may wish to count. It gives your mind something to focus on. Perhaps you inhale to a count of 4 and exhale to a count of 6. Whatever your rhythm, listen to your body and don’t force it. Settle in to the ebb and flow of your breath. In through the nose, out through the nose. Do this for a few minutes.
YOUR MIND — KEEPING THE FOCUS
It’s a struggle to corral unruly thoughts. This is true for everyone. Agree to be gentle with yourself. Whenever you notice your thoughts wandering, kindly re-focus them on one of the following:
- The flickering flame of a lighted candle.
- An increasing awareness of your body’s expansion and contraction, experienced with each breath. Notice where you feel this movement. Imagine there’s a wide elastic band around your belly area, and as you breathe, the band expands. Feel this inflation — not merely into the belly, but feel the breath expand into your sides and back. Do you feel movement anywhere else?
- A word of encouragement that flows with your breath. You may wish to imagine exhaling stress and inhaling peace. Or, consider a breath prayer. Breathe in: “Come, Lord” and out: “Je-sus”. There’s no need for vocalization — all can be expressed silently.
- Music designed specifically to combat anxiety. For a link to Jason Lewis’ YouTube channel (which offers scientifically-proven calming tracks for free) take a look at: Music for Anxiety Relief.
YOUR SPIRIT — SEEKING THE DIVINE CONNECTION
Have you heard of Lectio Divina? If you’re looking for a deeper meditation experience, I highly recommend trying this ancient approach. Positive change occurs when you sooth anxiety at the soul level. Simply put, this age-old Christian practice is Scripture meditation. There’s no theological analysis involved, and you don’t need to know anything about the Bible to participate. Lectio Divina (Latin for “Divine Reading”) is done as follows:
- Someone reads an excerpt from God’s Word out loud.
- Engage with your breath (as discussed earlier). Simply listen. Don’t try to “make something happen” — just notice if there’s a word or a phrase that lights up for you.
- The reader gives a space of silence. Then the same selection is read again. And again, you listen.
- Invite God into this moment with you. Be mindful of the word or phrase that stood out to you. (If there was one.) Be open to hear from the Holy Spirit. Perhaps there’s something that He wants to speak to you — personally — through these words.
- During this third reading, listen and receive. Focus on God, His Spirit, just as you feel the breath flowing into your belly and filling your lungs. God is the Source of all life. Of your life. He is personal and He is real. Rest in His Presence. Create space in this moment, to abide with Him.
TRY IT NOW!
With a few clicks of your mouse you can enter in, right now, to a thirty minute Lectio Divina experience, led by Amy Chapoton. She and her husband Lee have an amazing ministry called Cultivate Connection. They offer free Christ-centered meditations online.
So, grab your water. Get comfy. Dim the lights. And click the logo for a beautiful, free meditation. Begin to feel anxiety melt away, as your breath grounds you and you experience God’s presence.
Effective stress relief is holistic — nourishing body, mind and spirit. May this be your experience now.
For deeper exploration, I highly recommend Robert Morgan’s book, Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in Jesus. It is available on Amazon by clicking the link.
I’d love to hear your thoughts regarding meditation and stress relief. Share below, and I will always respond!
— Blessings, Ali 😊