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“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” – Sidney J. Harris
Stress can be defined as the release of powerful neuro-chemicals and hormones that prepare us for action (to fight or flee). If we don’t take action, the stress response can lead to health problems. Relaxation can be defined as the act of relaxing or the state of being relaxed; the opposite of stress or tension; the aim of recreation and leisure activities; a diminution of tone, tension, or firmness; specifically in pathology: a looseness; a diminution of the natural and healthy tone of parts. Read on to find out how to use mantras to help you to relax and de-stress simply.
USING MANTRAS TO RELAX
Using mantras are a very simple place to start to learn relaxation and meditation. With the particular exercise that we have chosen, as indeed with any relaxation/ meditation exercise, you should not be afraid to modify or adjust the exercise to suit your particular needs and situation.
Despite much of the mythology which surrounds meditation and the very strict teachings which are often seen to accompany many forms of meditation, there is nothing magical or mysterious about using mantras and meditating and, although many forms of meditation have been practiced for centuries, the exercises are not set in stone.
The secret to successful meditation lies in finding an exercise, or series of exercises, which suit you and, more importantly, which work for you, such as simple mantras, breathing exercises, simple yoga moves. You will only experience the benefits of meditation if you are relaxed and calm while performing each exercise. And you will only continue to practise meditation if your experience the benefits.
The following is an example of the most basic form of vocal meditation and is known as the basic So-Hum meditation exercise, or So-Hum mantra. It is a form of mantra meditation and combines both breathing and mantra meditation:
- Start by sitting comfortably on the floor or on your bed and focus your attention on the “third eye” (the area between your eyebrows).
- Follow your breathing in and out for a minute or two simply noting the rise and fall of your body along with each breath. Notice the natural rhythm of your breathing.
- Now, lie on your back and add the mantra, “So-Hum”. Inhale while forming your mouth in the position to say the syllable “So”. You will not be able to actually “speak” the syllable, but you can use the inner rush of breath to make a sound similar to the sound of the word ‘So’. Then when exhaling, say the word “Hum”. It is not necessary to have clear pronunciation as it is the focus on the rhythm that is important here.
- After a minute or two, stop speaking the mantra and simply think it instead and try to imagine that you are expressing the words through your “third-eye”.
- At this point it is likely that a variety of thoughts or sensations will start to intrude upon your meditation. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by these but simply acknowledge them and then let them go, keeping your attention focused on expressing the words of your mantra through your “third eye”.
- This particular meditation may well put you to sleep if you allow it to do so. If, however, you are not intending to sleep then, when you are ready to finish, stop thinking the mantra and return to simply concentrating on your breathing for a few moments. Finally, stretch gently and continue on with your day.
Remember, you can modify this exercise to suit you and your environment.
“There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub.” – Elisabeth Kubler
Using mantra meditation can be particularly helpful for some people at both the end and the beginning of each day, and you can repeat or chant soothing mantras and affirmations, such as “I sleep properly” before you go to bed or “I am at peace” when you get up in the morning. Remember to use positive affirmations, e.g. use “I AM at peace”, rather then “help me find peace”.
Experiment with various different chants and see what helps you to reduce the stress, anxiety and fear that can interfere with your normal daily routine. Mantras can be used consistently throughout the day, or whenever suits your situations. For example, if a particularly stressful situation arises, it may be useful to take 5 minutes “out” and to repeat your positive mantra!