Stress Management For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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Probably the best known and most popular form of meditation is meditation for stress reduction is using a mantra. A mantra is a sound or word that you repeat; it can help you focus your mind and avoid distractions.

Choose your mantra for relaxing mediation

The word mantra comes from Sanskrit: “man” means “to think,” and “tra” means “to free.” Often mantras take the form of one or two syllables, such as om, meaning “I am,” or soham, meaning “I am that.” Many teachers of meditation believe that your mantra should have personal meaning.

In The Relaxation Response, cardiologist and researcher Herbert Benson says that a personal mantra isn’t necessary for successful meditation. In his teaching of meditative relaxation, Dr. Benson suggests using the word “one” as a mantra. That word has very little meaning for most of us and is therefore not terribly distracting.

Your mantra can also be a soothing word, such as “peace,” “love,” or “calm.” Whatever you come up with, choose a word or sound that has a relaxing feel for you.

Meditate with your mantra

After you select your mantra, you’re ready to put it to use:

  1. Sit quietly, either in a chair or on the floor.

    Eliminate any distractions. Close your eyes and relax as much as you can.

  2. Start with some deep breathing and try to clear your mind of the day’s hassle and worry.

    Remember not to breathe with your chest alone. Breathe until you notice that you feel much more relaxed. (About a dozen breaths should do it.)

  3. Do a body scan to see where any residual tension may be hiding.

  4. Focus on your breathing and begin to repeat your mantra to yourself, either repeating it silently or chanting it softly.

    As you say your mantra, see the word in your head. Repeat your mantra over and over. Find a timing and rhythm that is comfortable for you. As before, if you find your concentration slipping, simply become aware of that fact and gently guide your mind back to your mantra.

    Do this exercise for about 20 minutes or so and try to squeeze in as many meditative sessions as you can in your week.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Allen Elkin, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and the director of The Stress Management & Counseling Center in New York City. Nationally known for his expertise in the field of stress and emotional disorders, he has appeared frequently on Today, Good Morning America, and Good Day New York.

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