We can all do with a good relaxation meditation. This article will explain to you the various techniques you can use to achieve a state of deep relaxation. While much of the focus is on breathing and consciously relaxing your muscles, these two aspects of meditation are essential for a calming and nourishing practice. We will also look at the different parts of the nervous system and which ones you need to activate to fully experience relaxation on the physical and mental levels. With these guidelines, you will feel calm and centred in no time. As you read the article, you can try a guided meditation for relaxation from one of the scripts below.
Relaxation is a word that is used a lot these days as many people need to consciously switch off their busy lifestyles and switch on their relaxation mode. But what does it mean to relax truly? Guided meditation for deep relaxation is one way to explore this sensation of relaxation. It means dropping into a deep space of calm and inner peace. First off, find a place where you won’t be disturbed. You’ll need that because you want to achieve a state of being where only good feelings exist and you can leave all your cares behind. It is possible to experience this state of being, and there are a few things to consider if you want to get there. So, let’s take a look at the best ways to relax.
Right and Wrong Ways to Guided Meditation for Relaxation
First, knowing how to set yourself up for relaxation is important. You might not have thought there could be rules to relaxation (because rules aren’t relaxing!) But, if you follow these guidelines, you will find yourself dropping quickly into a place of relaxation.
Wrong Ways to Relax
- Forcing yourself into relaxation or getting frustrated because you can’t make yourself relax!
- Multi-tasking by listening to a meditation tape and simultaneously scrolling through your phone or laptop.
- Forcing other people to relax with you –kills the vibes.
- Trying to relax in a busy environment with human or vehicular traffic.
Right ways to Relax
- Find a calm and safe environment. You will know you have this when you feel safe to close your eyes.
- Use gentle background music or you may prefer to enjoy the sweet sound of silence.
- Introduce a scent that makes you feel calm – lavender might be a good choice.
- Tell the others in your home that you need some time of silence and that you are not to be disturbed.
- Listen attentively to guided meditations, focussing on the words and feelings in your body.
- Brew a cup of calming tea – such as chamomile, lavender or lemon balm and drink it mindfully.
- Choose to relax in the company of people who understand your needs and respect your boundaries.
- Take some time away from technology – phones, computers, television and bright lights – as these are potential sources of stress.
- Take a few deep breaths, activating your parasympathetic nervous system.
What does Deep Relaxation Mean?
Although there is a lot of talk about deep relaxation, do you know what it means?
The fluctuations of the nervous system rule the human body. It controls your automatic responses, such as your breath, heart rate, blood vessels, and hormonal release. The Autonomic Nervous System is split into two parts. The first is the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) – also known as being in ‘fight or flight’ mode. This function was helpful when we were facing a sabretooth tiger and had to run as fast as we could! But, in today’s society, this fight or flight mode is triggered simply by a comment from your boss at work or a text message from your phone. This is not helpful as every time it is activated, your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes shallow and the adrenaline starts to pump around your body. This can make you feel jittery and anxious, the opposite of relaxed!
The other side of this nervous system is the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) – also known as the ‘rest and digest’ mode. This part of the nervous system allows you to unwind, digest your food properly, and absorb nutrients. It allows your breath to deepen and your heart rate to slow. This mode is activated when we are in a state of true deep relaxation.
You might be wondering how to activate this rest and digest mode. There are a few wonderful techniques to bring this on.
First, breathwork is the most effective tool you can use anywhere and anytime. Deepen your breath and allow the diaphragm (the muscle under your rib cage) to expand. You can only take these deep breaths when you are relaxed, so if you do take the time to deepen your breath, you are giving your body a direct signal that it is safe to be calm.
Another way to activate relaxation mode is by consciously focusing on your body. You can use your awareness to scan from head to toe and let go of any tension you hold on to. It is a wonderful way to melt into that blissful state of being.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This relaxing guided meditation technique moves through every part of your body. As you focus on one part of your body, you can feel what is stored there. It may be stress, tension, emotions or memories. Once you can identify them and let them go, you will feel your muscle fibers easing and relaxing. Then shift your focus to another muscle until you have covered the muscles in your entire body from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes. Once you complete the circuit, you will find your whole body in total relaxation.
Before starting a progressive muscle relaxation guided meditation, it is important to be in a quiet and calm place where you feel comfortable and fully relaxed. This will enhance the practice and allow you to experience the full benefits of this powerful technique.
When you are ready, guide yourself from your head and slowly move down the body, for the sensation of moving down is very grounding and connects you with the Earth. You can also deepen your breath to activate the rest-and-digest mode. Take your time, move your awareness at a comfortable pace and enjoy your time working with your body. Take it as a gift to yourself! Try a guided meditation for progressive muscle relaxation to get the full experience. Often these guided muscle relaxation meditations work by activating the muscles first and then feeling the full effect of relaxation afterward.
Guided Meditation for Deep Relaxation
Other types of relaxation meditation don’t involve the muscles, and there are many to choose from. Guided imagery meditations will take you to peaceful places where you can completely relax. Breathing meditations are also a great guide to the parasympathetic nervous system state. Even simple music meditations can work. Some tracks will have binaural beats, or others may employ gentle, calming sounds.
All of these will take you to a place of deep relaxation. You can even combine techniques such as binaural beats, gentle music and breath with your progressive muscle relaxation practice to enhance the benefits! The more you combine for relaxation, the faster you experience this gentle rest.
Other Techniques for Deep-Guided Meditation
If you can’t find a deep guided meditation online that you like, create your very own by following these guidelines.
Lay down in a comfortable position. Support your body with pillows or blankets to help you feel more comfortable. Close your eyes and tune in to how your body is feeling. Notice the pace at which your breath flows in and out of your body. Notice the pace at which your thoughts are moving through your mind. Just observe these things and then let go of that focus.
Begin to work on deepening your breath and relaxing your muscles. You can scan your body from head to toe and relax each muscle as you focus your attention. Do this for as long as it takes, moving slowly.
With your eyes closed, take yourself to your favorite place. This may be in nature or it could be in your hometown. Perhaps it’s a place you have visited, or it could be a place you have created in your mind. Bring this place to live and feel how good it is for your body and your mind to be here. Enjoy a few relaxing moments here, soaking up the wonderful sensations that come with this place.
When you have finished, gently bring your awareness back to your body. Once again, observe how you are feeling. How is your breath? What are your thoughts? Did anything change since the start of the meditation?
This is an easy way to check with yourself and a technique that can be used daily to reduce stress and increase relaxation. For those in a rush and who can’t spare the time for a full meditation, shorten the time period by all means. Or break up the meditation into just five to 10 minutes in the morning and another five to ten in the evening. If you have time, you can stretch this self-guided deep relaxation meditation for as long as you like.
Now you have all the tools and ideas you need to achieve relaxation. Try the relaxing body scan with progressive muscle relaxation and watch your body melt into a place of bliss. These easy ways to turn off the fight-and-flight mode and the rest-and-digest mode can be used daily to create a calm and relaxing state of being for you.
If you want to begin meditation and need the motivation to stick to a daily practice, the Siddhi Yoga 30-Day Meditation Challenge is the kickstart you need.