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Stress-Proof Your Brain – Rick Hanson
Neurosculpting for Stress Relief – Lisa Wimberger
Mindfulness for Beginners – Jon Kabat-Zinn
* There are countless meditation practices for stress. Please look at our other resource pages for additional practices.
What you’ll need: A quiet environment with few distractions
Meditation postures: Seated or lying
Find yourself in a comfortable posture.
Give yourself a few minutes to simply feel yourself breathing, to feel gravity connecting you to the earth, to feel yourself in this room and in your skin. You can do this with your eyes open or closed.
Gently close your eyes. Spend a few moments feeling your body breathing.
Begin by feeling the pulse of your heartbeat by slowly bringing the fingertips of your 3rd and 4th fingers of your left hand to either the inside wrist of your right arm, or to the right side of your neck.
Don’t press your fingertips into your wrist or neck. Place them as gently as you can while still feeling your pulse as clearly as you can.
Remain for a few minutes silently feeling the pulse of your heartbeat. The human brain automatically relaxes to the beat of a slow, steady rhythm. You may reflect that the sound of your heartbeat was one of the first sounds you ever heard while in utero. Connect for as long as you’d like to your inborn relaxation rhythm.
When you’re ready, leave 50% of your attention on the pulse of your heartbeat, while bringing 50% of your attention to your exhale. Don’t elongate or exaggerate the exhale. Breathe as naturally as possible while your awareness is on the heartbeats under your fingertips while you exhale.
Silently count the number of heartbeats of every exhale. Some exhales may be longer with more heartbeats, other exhales may be shorter with fewer heartbeats. Don’t try to make them all the same length, simply count the number of beats with each unique exhale.
Continue counting heartbeats per exhale until every breath feels natural. This will be the foundation of the meditation: counting the heartbeats of each natural exhale.
Once this feels easy, on the next inhale draw in the breath for the same number of heartbeats as the previous exhale. For example, if the exhale lasted 8 heartbeats, lengthen the next inhale to be exactly 8 heartbeats.
Relax and let the following exhale be natural. Count the number of heartbeats of the natural exhale.
On the next inhale draw in the breath for the same number of heartbeats as the previous exhale.
Continue for 5 – 15 minutes. Let every exhale be natural, and adjust the following inhale to last the same number of heartbeats.
Whenever you’re ready, place your hands in your lap or at your side and slowly open your eyes. For the next 30 minutes be abundantly gentle with yourself in thoughts (self-talk) and actions.
Note: by synchronizing the respiratory system (breathing) with the circulatory system (heart beat) a form of entrainment is created – activating the parasympathetic nervous system for muscle relaxation, improved digestion, increased immune function, hormone regulation, improved sleep, and overall stress reduction.
(These are merely suggestions. Use any words or phrases that are meaningful to you.)
In this moment I am relaxed.
In this moment I am safe.
I am balanced and resilient.