According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation is an effective way to manage stress. It certainly works for me! Here is a five-minute meditation and breathing exercise your group can try. This might work best at the end of your time together, since it’s a good way to re-focus on yourself and your own internal activity. Remember that there are many different forms of meditation, so if this one doesn’t appeal to you, try another!
- Sit comfortably—you can sit seiza (on your knees), or cross-legged, or in a chair—whatever makes sense for your body. Try to sit with your spine straight, so you can breathe freely. You can even lie down on your back if you want to.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. As you breath in through your nose, let the air drop all the way down inside your body. If you place a hand on your stomach, you should feel it move outward as you breathe in. Your chest should not move much at all. Imagine a water balloon attached to a faucet—the balloon fills and stretches at the bottom first. Let the air fill your lungs the same way.
- Slowly exhale, again through your nose. At the end of each inhalation and exhalation, try to relax and pause. Don’t hold your breath, but rather, give your body time to reverse the action of your lungs slowly and naturally. An image I like to visualize when I focus on my breathing is a feather caught on an updraft. When it reaches the peak of its flight upward, and begins to drift back down, there is an instant when the feather pauses, motionless, in the air. This is how you should feel in the space between inhaling and exhaling—not frozen, just perfectly free.
- Continue breathing in and out naturally, but try to lengthen each inhalation and exhalation, increasing the amount of time you spend drawing breath in and letting it flow out. Do not strain to do this! It’s easy to get caught up in your desire to meditate “better,” but that tends to make you tense up and then it’s hard to control your breathing. Have patience with yourself, and keep trying!