The world we live in is full of stressors. Finding healthy ways to decompress from that stress can be difficult. Meditation is a highly useful tool in relaxing the body and the mind. On a physical level, meditation helps to reduce high blood pressure, improve the immune system, and decrease tension-related pain. On an emotional level, meditation can lead to a decrease in anxiety, an increase in creativity and focus, and an improvement in emotional stability.
When we are stressed, our body releases the hormone cortisol into our blood streams. Cortisol increases our appetites, causing us to over-eat. Meditation leads to the production of serotonin and oxytocin, which counteract the cortisol. By incorporating meditation into our daily routine, we are adding another healthy habit into our lives.
To fully experience the benefits of meditation, it must be practiced regularly. This is not always easy for people. The concept of sitting silently and breathing deeply with a quiet mind can be daunting. This is where the concept of guided meditation can be helpful. In guided meditation, you are voice-guided, step by step, through the meditative process. Easy to follow and deeply relaxing, guided meditation can help you achieve a state of inner stillness and clarity that can effect positive personal change.
Guided meditation often begins with a body-focused, progressive relaxation. The guide will ask you to concentrate on your breathing, directing you to breathe in deeply through your nose, hold the breath for a period of seconds, and exhale through your nose. During deep breathing exercises, the goal is to block out all other distractions around you and focus on the rhythmic cadence of your breath. The full oxygen exchange experienced during deep breathing helps to slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure. You will find that the more you practice breathing techniques, the easier they become.
Once you have reached a comfortable, measured breathing rate, your guide will walk you through a variety of visualizations. Sometimes referred to as guided imagery, visualization techniques involve the systematic practice of creating a detailed mental image of a peaceful and relaxing environment. Visualization guides may ask you to imagine yourself lying on a cloud or floating on the water, swaying gently in the breeze. You may be led through the details of visualizing a beautiful waterfall or sitting under a shady tree.
When you are fully immersed in the visualization, your guide may call on you to make a shift in your thinking. You may be asked to make a concerted effort to react with kindness in a situation that may presently lead you to a reaction of anger. Feelings of anxiety may be replaced with those of comfort and confidence. Fear-filled responses may be shifted to ones of rational thinking. To better understand how guided imagery and visualization work, here is an excerpt from a guided meditation that deals specifically with weight loss:
Now, take your awareness to the thoughts that are flowing through your mind…
Notice how here in this space, you are able to watch the thoughts and feelings of your mind,
without becoming involved or affected by them….
With a bit of detachment, you can just witness and watch…
As you do this, bring to mind the goal you have set for yourself, your personal weight loss goals…
As you consider this, list for yourself all the different benefits that you would receive as you move toward this goal…
Benefits such as confidence… Better health… More energy…. Feeling happier…..
As well as the pride and satisfaction from achieving your goals….
You have made the first step…The choice to make change…
And as you progress towards your own success you can feel that all these benefits are within your grasp…
You are on your own path towards a fitter, healthier and happier you….
Losing weight and keeping it off requires making healthy lifestyle choices that are both rewarding and enjoyable….
As you observe the fitness goals you have for yourself, take a moment to consider the obstacles that have been preventing you from achieving these goals so far?
What are the things that challenge you and drive you to make the choices you have made?
Perhaps you struggle with difficult emotions? Such as anxiety, boredom, frustration, stress, loneliness or depression….
What are your main trigger or triggers?
In order to redirect these patterns of behavior, it is necessary to observe and recognize these emotions as they arise, so that you can redirect them into more constructive behavior choices….
So as you consider what it is that triggers you…
Remember that though you cannot change the emotions you feel, you can change the way you react to them
When we respond to difficult emotions with poor choices, we often compound these feelings with guilt,
That can send us spiraling in the wrong direction…
Becoming more aware of these triggers allows us the possibility of changing our reactions to them…
- Goldberg, Lynne. “Can Meditation Help You Lose Weight?” OMG. I Can Meditate. 2014. Web. May 2016.
The goal of these exercises is to center your mind and help you to ground yourself when feelings of worry and pressure overwhelm you. When using visualization techniques to help with stress reduction, it is important to connect to your feelings and be mindful of your triggers. With practice and dedication, guided meditation can become a highly successful method to combat stress and enhance the quality of your life.