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My Top Meditation Styles for Relaxation & Stress-Reduction

There are countless varieties and all have their own benefits, appeal and fans. Here, I share my two top meditation styles, both personally and professionally, for relaxation and stress-reduction. (HINT: They're suitable for and accessible to all levels of meditator, even brand newbies and those who don't think they can meditate!)

Man meditating on a rock in a stream in the forest

With countless styles of meditation to explore—mindfulness, Vipassana, mantra, Transcendental, breath-focused, gratitude and sooooo many more—it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out which ones might bring you the most relaxation and help you best shift out of your stress loop.


Having tried many and found benefits to all, yet gravitating toward a smaller subgroup, the best advice I can share is to keep exploring and experimenting. If you haven't discovered the stress-reduction benefits of meditation yet, odds are you just haven't found the style that works best for you.


Here, I share the two styles that have become MY biggest go-to's, both in my personal practice and my classes and programs: body scan and guided visualization. Here's what they are, why they're so effective, and how they've become my favorite meditation styles, particularly for relaxation and reducing stress:


BODY SCAN

The body scan practice is one of the first meditation styles I ever did and it spoke to me instantly, perhaps because of my dance background and familiarity with listening and feeling into the body. But you don't need any specific background at all to connect with this practice; in fact, it's one of the most accessible in my toolbox and now a staple of my personal and professional practice.


What It Is A key practice within mindfulness meditation, body scan involves slowly scanning the body sequentially head-to-toe or vice-versa and noticing sensations—ideally without judgment. Breathing with what's there.


Why I Love It

  • Body scan provides an extremely tangible anchor for the mind, making the practice accessible whether you're a brand newbie or have been sitting for decades.

  • It's an incredibly effective, efficient way to shift our energy out of our over-busy minds and escape the stress loop.

  • It gets us in touch with what's happening in our bodies—something most of us don't spend enough time doing and that can help us make better, healthier, more authentic decisions (e.g. when you notice your heart is racing, that's a cue to slow down, or ).

  • It helps us notice tension and other things we actually do have some control over. Often, by simply focusing on an area of the body, it begins to release some muscular stress. And some teachers, myself included, weave in additional conscious relaxation cues to enhance this effect.


What The Research Says


Try It


GUIDED VISUALIZATION

While many people think of meditation as a "stop your thoughts" practice or something extremely rigid, rule-ridden and traditional, it can actually be extremely open-ended and personal. I enjoy "stop your thoughts" meditation as well and find it beneficial, but guided visualization is ALSO a powerful tool that can help people feel better right now and over time can help rewire our brains toward more desired responses, outcomes and so on.


What It Is

This term can refer to many different variations, ranging from guided reflection prompts such as "What is your intention for today?" and "Who are you when you are your most authentic self?" to guided journeys using specific imagery, like a walk down a serene wooded path or imagining that you are a mountain, sturdy, strong and so deeply rooted.


Why I Love It

  • Concrete prompts and imagery can make it easier to let go of stressful thoughts than more sparse kinds of meditation. You're not turning your brain off so much as redirecting it toward remembering your inner calm (or joyagain.

  • Research shows that vivid visualization fires the same neurons and uses the same chemicals we'd engage were we actually experiencing that circumstance in our external lives. Our brains chemically don't know the difference. And over time, repeated visualization can help our brains create new pathways toward desired states of being and responding to life, as well as outcomes.

  • It's a highly effective way to take a step back from our hectic lives and re-root in our truest selves, our purpose and intention and natural pace, to remember the calm and joy that lies within.


What the Research Says


Try It


Questions? Feedback? What's YOUR favorite style of meditation?

Let me know what you think of these two styles and what YOUR favorite meditation styles are!


Want to learn more about these types of meditation and more?





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