The feeling of stress is all too familiar for most of us. It’s the obsessive thinking that keeps you up at night, the weight of fear deep in your core, or the tightness that slowly spreads throughout your whole body.
Studies have shown that stress is linked to many health issues, including an increased risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, and gastrointestinal problems—quite the list of reasons to keep your cool, if you can get past the worry. So how, in this increasingly complex modern age, do we stress less? Try this 6-minute meditation to reduce thoughts of fear and anxiety and begin to re-connect inward.
6-Minute Meditation for Less Stress
- Come to sit in a chair with both feet parallel, the soles of each foot firmly planted into the ground, like two heavy tree roots. Sit at the edge of the seat so your back is upright, as if there was a string lengthening your spine from the tailbone up through the crown of the head. Place the palms face down onto the thighs and let the front ribs remain soft. Keep the eyes closed or gazing down a few feet forward and ground yourself for 2 minutes.
- Inhale through the nose as you balloon the belly outward, filling the chest, lungs, and abdomen, and exhale deeply through the mouth, drawing the navel toward the spine. This type of breathwork—in through the nose and out through the mouth—calms the sympathetic nervous system and removes the body’s stimulation from fight-or-flight response. Continue breathing like this for 3 minutes.
- With each inhale, breathe in something that brings you joy (i.e. your children, pet, best friend) and with each exhale, release something that is no longer there to serve your highest good (i.e. money troubles, job stress, health concerns, self-doubt).
- For the last 60 seconds, begin to silently repeat the mantra “so” on the inhale and “hum” on the exhale. When the mind starts to wander to anxiety provoking thoughts, come back to these two powerful syllables that translate from Sanskrit as: I am.
- Deepen your breath and choose a comforting word to repeat after the phrase, “I am.” I am safe. I am whole. I am supported.
- Bring your palms together and remind yourself that you are more expansive and limitless than the fearful thought patterns erratically filling up the mind.
Photo by Emily Bergquist