1. Find a quiet and comfortable environment Turn off your electronic devices so you won't be disturbed. In the beginning as you're learning to focus and quiet your mind, having a familiar environment can make it easier for you to relax. Once you have harnessed the ability to relax your mind, you can then practice in noisier environments such as during layovers at the airport, or in the waiting room at the doctor's office.
2. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. If your belt is too tight, loosen it. Take your shoes off. If you have an itch while meditating, simply scratch it and then focus back on the meditation. Trying to avoid scratching the itch will ruin the whole experience because you're concerned that it's going to disturb your meditation if you scratch it. It just takes a moment to scratch an itch, take a deep breath, and forget about it.
3. How often should you meditate? In the beginning, meditate once or twice a day for a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of 45 minutes. Most days I meditate for 15 to 20 minutes. When time allows, I will meditate from 30 to 45 minutes. Meditating two to three times a day should be the maximum. We all live busy lifestyles, and don't have time to meditate for hours on end.
4. Time of day. There are many theories on the time of day to meditate. Find a time that fits into your lifestyle. A time that works for you that you can do consistently is going to be more effective. Find a time when you will be least likely to be disturbed. If the kids come home from school at 3:30, don't try to meditate at 4:00 PM. Instead, choose a time when you will be less likely to be interrupted. Turn off the ringer on your phone. If you receive a call when you are meditating, you can return it later. Value your meditation time. Don't let the outside world distract you or take you away from this valuable life-changing practice.
5. Breathe deeply several times. In the beginning, as you're entering into meditation, focus your attention and awareness on your breath. Take in several deep, full breaths, filling your lungs with life-giving oxygen. Hold for just a moment, and then exhale through your mouth. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth three to 10 times. Mentally say the word “relax” as you exhale. Similar to a mantra, your subconscious mind understands this word and will help you let go of tension and fatigue quickly. Then after the cycle of deep breathing, allow your breath to move into its own natural rhythm, the rhythm of relaxation.
6. Relax your eyes. We project an enormous amount of energy through our eyes. When you desire to relax your body and enter meditation, it's a good idea to start with your eyes. A great way to relax the tiny muscles in and around your eyes is to do this exercise: With your eyes closed, simply lift your eyes up as if you're looking straight up towards your forehead. Hold that position, straining the eyes slightly for about five to 10 seconds. Relax your eyes and let them go back to the center. Then look down as if you're looking down towards your chin and hold that position for five to 10 seconds. Allow your eyes to return back to the center. Next, look to the right, straining the eye muscles ever so slightly for five to 10 seconds and then letting them return back to the center. Finally, look over towards the left and hold that position for five to 10 seconds to stretch your eye muscles and then let them return to the center. You will have stretched and relaxed your eye muscles and you will find that your body is much more relaxed.
7. Slow down your brainwaves. Another eye technique you can do to help slow down your brain wave activity. Quiet your thoughts and enter into meditation. Behind your closed lids, simply roll your eyes upward ever so slightly, not as far as you did when you were stretching your eyes, but at a 10 to 15-degree angle. This has been measured scientifically with brainwave activity machines that reveal that when our eyes lift upward, we begin to slow down our brainwave activity from Beta into a more Alpha state of mind.
This occurs when we're trying to go to sleep at night. Our eyes naturally roll up to a 10 to 15-degree angle in our head. This signals our brain to move from Beta into Alpha, the more creative and relaxed state of mind. This Alpha state produces a more internal focus and is the state of mind where meditation begins. It is associated with creativity and memory as well.
For example, for a person to remember something, they have to slow down their brainwave activity long enough to retrieve the data from their subconscious mind. When you ask someone a question about a memory, they will often quickly roll their eyes upward to think about it before they give the answer. This can be used consciously to help you to begin to relax and enter meditation whenever you desire by simply lifting your eyes from the horizon up 10 to 15 degrees ever so slightly.
8. Relax your tongue. A great physical technique that can help you to relax and focus your mind is relaxing your tongue. When your tongue is pressed against the roof of your mouth or behind your front teeth, you are in the mind frame poised for speaking, not in a meditative state. However, when you relax your tongue and allow it to go back into the center of your mouth where it belongs, your mind begins to slow down your thinking process. Try it right now. Notice where your tongue is in your mouth. If it's pressed against the roof of your mouth or behind your front teeth, simply allow your tongue to relax and notice what happens. Notice your mind makes a subtle shift. As you begin your meditation practice, check in and let your tongue relax. As your tongue relaxes, you'll find that you enter meditation much more easily.
9. Progressive relaxation. Begin by scanning your body for tension. Simply take a mental inventory of your physical body starting at the top of your head. Look for any areas where you notice your muscles are clenched or tight. Often your jaw or your tongue is tense. Relax your tongue and jaw very quickly. Continue scanning into your neck and shoulders, which is another common area where most people hold stress. Continue scanning your chest, your back, down into your legs, all the way down to your feet, looking for pockets of tension. As you discover those areas, simply tense the muscles and squeeze them tight to bring your awareness to them and then relax and let go. As you let go, give the mental command for those muscles to relax. Doing a quick body scan from head to toe as you are entering into meditation can help you relax your body so that your mind is free to move into deeper and healthier states.
10. Secrets to relax your thoughts. Try not to become frustrated as you learn how to meditate. Often, you'll encounter pesky thoughts that keep reoccurring. It is natural to have many thoughts come to you when you're learning to meditate.
Because you're becoming more aware of your thinking process by disconnecting from the distractions in the outside world and turning inward, it's as if you turn up the volume of your thinking. Here is a great technique to help you quiet your mind.
For example, if you are worried about a report due at work while meditating, don't fight it, listen to your inner concerns and then simply release it. If you can't stop your mind from thinking, "I have to finish that report by Tuesday morning," simply take a deep breath and as you exhale, imagine you are blowing that thought out of your head. Or perhaps see the words written on a chalkboard, "Tuesday morning meeting." Then simply blow the message off the board with your exhalation, imagining you're allowing it to disintegrate and disappear. If that's too difficult, simply erase it. This can give your subconscious mind a very clear message that you're ready to let go of those thoughts.
This concludes the 10 tips, tools, and techniques for relaxation meditation. The purpose of this is to shed a light to help demystify meditation so that you can learn to manage your mind, reduce stress, and relax any time, and anywhere.