How to Meditate to Reduce Stress

Meditation can be a powerful way to reduce stress. Stress is caused by putting a lot of mental energy into worrying about the future or stewing about the past. Your mind can get "stuck" in a seemingly never-ending spiral as the same worries race around inside of your head. The remedy is to bring your focus back into the present. One of the best ways to do this is to meditate. Here is how to meditate to reduce stress.

Set up your meditation space. Roll out your yoga mat, light your candle and play relaxing music. Dim the lights to promote a more relaxing atmosphere.

Sit on your yoga mat. Cross your legs Indian style with your back against a wall. Keep your back as straight as possible while also being comfortable. Place your hands on your knees, palms up. Make an "okay" sign with your hands by touching your index fingers to your thumbs.

Focus on your breathing. Close your eyes. Breathe in very slowly, keeping your thoughts on your breath as you completely fill your lungs. Hold the breath for a couple of seconds and then slowly exhale, completely emptying your lungs. Do this repeatedly as you feel your body begin to relax.

Visualize colors as you breathe in and out. As you breathe in, "see" air that is gold and green filling your lungs. As you breathe out, "see" a color that represents your tension leaving your body, such as gray. Do this for several minutes.

Picture a peaceful symbol. With your eyes closed, visualize a symbol, such as a place or object, that makes you feel happy and safe. Choose the beach, a butterfly, a flower or anything else that causes you to feel more peaceful.

Concentrate on your symbol. As you continue to breathe in and out very deeply, put all of your focus into the visualized symbol. Push away any other thoughts that try to intrude and gently bring yourself back to focusing on your visualization.

Return to deep breathing when you are ready to end the meditation. As you breathe out, visualize any remaining stress leaving your body.

Practice meditation regularly.