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Meditation techniques for deep rest and stress reduction

Updated: May 14, 2018

Detailed instructions for 4 distinct approaches to help beginners and regular practitioners alike.

With the fast pace of our busy lives, it can be hard to take time to de-stress and feel fully rested. We find ourselves constantly thinking about worries of the future, memories of the past and present daily tasks. Our lives become an endless to-do list, causing us to feel stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Luckily, relaxation, anxiety reduction and rejuvenation can be fostered and sustained, by adding simple meditation techniques to our daily regime.

During the initial stages of learning meditation, we can practice tools that help us to concentrate, by focusing our minds on a single experience or activity. The result of prolonged attention is deep relaxation, clarity and resilience. Our racing thoughts begin to slow down, and the parasympathetic nervous system signals the body to rest. Deep rest allows the body to repair, quiets the mind and relieves stress. Here are some easy meditation techniques that encourage deep rest and promote stress reduction.


For each exercise, sit in a comfortable position, either on a chair, or cross-legged on the floor. (If you are on the floor, you may want to sit on a meditation cushion.) The spine should be straight and the body should be relaxed, with eyes closed.

The Mouth Breather

Exhalation through the mouth induces deep relaxation, relieves emotional stress and decreases tension in the head, neck and chest. Slowly inhale a long, deep breath through the nose. Feel your stomach rise as you inhale, filling the abdomen, the middle chest and upper chest with air. Gently exhale through the mouth, as though you are softly sighing, feeling the upper chest drop down, the middle chest contract and the ribcage move down, toward the abdomen. The navel should naturally be drawn back toward the spine. Repeat this practice 10 times.

The Retrospector

Introduced by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, Retrospection is a process that helps us to review our daily lives, improve our memory and recollect fragmented thoughts and experiences that can create subconscious stress. This exercise should be practiced at the end of the day, before sleep.

Gently breathe in and out, focusing on the sensation of the breath. Slowly repeat 5 times. Begin to recall the experiences of your day, starting from the evening and ending with the morning. Try not to linger on any event or change it, simply look at the events as though you are watching a film from an objective viewpoint. When you are finished, remain seated with your eyes closed and continue to breathe slowly for 5 complete breaths.

The Autogenic Trainer

Developed by the German psychiatrist, Johannes Heinrich Schultz, Autogenic Training fosters communication between the body and mind, and has been used to manage pain, alleviate stress, improve sleep and reduce fatigue. Take seven, slow, deep breaths. Silently and slowly, repeat this script to yourself: My mind is calm My mind is calm, my right arm is relaxed My mind is calm, my left arm is relaxed My mind is calm, my right leg is relaxed My mind is calm, my left leg is relaxed My mind is calm, my abdomen is relaxed and warm My mind is calm, my breathing is regular and smooth My mind is calm, my body is relaxed and warm My mind is calm

The Progressor

Progressive muscle relaxation is a series of successive tension and relaxation exercises. Each muscle group is tightly contracted for five seconds, then released for 10 seconds. The result is increased circulation and a relaxation response. Progressive relaxation is not recommended for those who have high blood pressure, low blood pressure or heart conditions. Raise your eyebrows up as far as you can, and feel the stretch of your forehead Release Tightly shut the eyelids Release Stretch the jaw down and open the mouth as wide as possible Release Raise your shoulders up to the ears and then squeeze them backwards Release Inhale and tighten the chest Release Exhale and pull the navel to the spine, sucking the stomach in and up Clench your fists and tighten your arms Release Pull the buttocks together and tighten Release Squeeze the thighs, pull the lower leg muscles toward you and tightly curl the toes down Release
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