Meditation has been practiced in various forms for thousands of years. You may already have tried meditating. If not, we can suggest a simple yet fundamental method:

Find a comfortable place to sit in an upright position, perhaps on a pillow or chair. Set aside twenty minutes or more if you can; even five minutes could be helpful, though you will generally go deeper the longer you sit. Try meditating for one minute if much longer seems overwhelming.

Close your eyes and take a big breath. Roll your head around, or otherwise adjust your position to feel comfortable. Sweep your attention through your body and relax any tension,

Breathing in and out through your nose, focus on the physical sensations of the breath, your belly rising and falling, the air going in and out of your throat, the coolness of the exhalation on your upper lip. Let your focus on your breath be a kind of anchor that enables you to witness the waves of passing thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. You need not struggle with this stream or try to control it. You are only being with it, letting it come and go, focusing on your breath.

If you do get swept along, no matter - it happens to everyone who meditates. Just return your attention to the breath. It may help center you to count your breaths for a while, from one to ten, and then start over; if your attention wanders before you get to ten, just start the count again.

As the minutes pass, you may find your thoughts quieting and a sense of spacious peacefulness emerging, like the way sediments in a pond settle to reveal clear water. But if this doesn't happen at first, it's all right: it will with practice and time.

When the moment comes to end your meditation, you can return gently to the outer world, sitting for a moment longer with your eyes open, breathing, letting the experience linger. As you meditate more regularly, this sense of peace will stay with you during your day.

For more short term stress relief techniques, see this article.


From Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships by Rick Hansen, Jan Hansen, and Ricki Pollycove. Copyright © 2002 by Rick Hanson. Jan Hanson, and Ricki Pollycove. Used by arrangement with Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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