Relaxation and Meditation

Research shows that relaxation and meditation lead to an overall reduction in stress levels, improve memory and concentration, decrease feelings of worry and anxiety and support an overall feeling of wellbeing and happiness.


Many relaxation and medication practices are based on deep breathing, which is a simple yet powerful relaxation technique. It’s easy to learn, can be practiced in almost any time or place, and can be combined with other relaxation strategies such as music or aromatherapy.



Breath training


The breath immediately and directly links the body and the mind in a bi-directional manner, which means that thoughts and behaviours influence the manner of breathing and that the way we breathe can change our physiology and our mood.


The breath is a conscious entry point to personal change. In meditation it is one of the most basic and useful objects of focus because it is totally portable and ever present. By focusing on the breath, we can still our minds and our bodies simultaneously. It connects us to the present moment and to the present moment of every other living being in our universe. Just reflecting on this for a few minutes can settle a restless mind.


Apart from breathing meditation, we often include breath training in our counselling sessions when someone is seeking help for anxietystress or panic. Breath training can be a simple instruction with visualisation, or might involve the use of an expandable chest strap that feeds the breathing signal into a computer for the benefit of being able to see the rise and fall of the breath, and the changes that occur in the heart rate as the breathing is regulated and extended.


This kind of biofeedback training has a powerful effect on people as they learn how their breathing affects the heart rate and blood pressure. In fact, when the EEG is also connected, an amazing synchrony of the Theta waves appears after a very short time. Under this condition, relaxation deepens dramatically. Heart rate and heart arrhythmia can benefit from training on our Heart Math biofeedback equipment or our more sophisticated CardioPro RSA biofeedback program. Many good research publications demonstrate the usefulness of bio-feedback to different kinds of stress-related health problems, including heart health.


Other kinds of biofeedback include an infrared pulse monitor worn on a finger for blood pressure management, or over the forehead secured by a headband to help train blood flow to the frontal lobes. This assists concentration, relaxation and is used for non migraine type headache control. A temperature feedback monitor can be held in the hand and concentration with visualisation can produce a rise in hand temperature. This has been shown to reduce the incidence of some types of migraine.


Some systems known to benefit from relaxation training include immune, hormonal, nervous, cardiovascular, bronchial, as well as all aspects of physical, mental and emotional health. It is also important for academic and professional success, athletic performance and good relationships.


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Meditation is the natural process of withdrawing attention from externals, including from physical and mental processes, and consciously directing it inward to a chosen focus of concentration. The beneficial side-benefits of regular meditation practice have been widely reported in a variety of excellent books and magazines.


These benefits can include stress reduction, strengthening of the body's immune system, better organised thought processes, improved powers of concentration, enhanced powers of memory, refinement and enlivening of the nervous system, awakening of regenerative energies, slowing of biologic aging processes, and orderly functioning of the body's organs, glands, and systems.


For these reasons, regular meditation practice is now increasingly recommended by many physicians and representatives of health research centres as a pleasant way for patient-clients to be more responsible for their own total well-being. We recommend learning from a trained teacher - we often hear that many 'cushion sitting hours' have been wasted due to improper technique.


The most important thing is to start in the first place and to practice well for five minutes twice a day at regular times. This is far more beneficial than longer stretches at irregular intervals, often practiced with impatience. The habit of practice sets you up for eventual success. A short, regular session eventually becomes a longer regular session because it is immensely satisfying and rewarding. Inconsistent practice can begin to be associated with boredom and frustration, leading to aversion to practice.


You may be interested in reading The Quiet, a book on meditation practice by popular speaker and author on calm techniques Paul Wilson. This book is simple, clear and inspiring and is ideal for the doubtful beginner or the lapsed meditator. Practices are based on four simple fail safe steps that take you from a single 13-minute a day quiet sitting all the way through to more complex insight practices.


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Other approaches


The information we have provided on hypnosisbiofeedback and neuro-feedback also relates to relaxation and meditation.



What if ... you learnt some relaxation techniques that were portable, permanently available, deeply permeating and failsafe? Imagine that.


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