The experience of relaxation is vital to counteract the harmful effects of chronic stress on the body. Through the use of relaxation techniques, one can begin to undo this cumulative, damaging process, and connect to the body's astonishing potential for self-healing.

Centering Meditation is a proven practice which promotes this state of deep rest and release. In this practice we direct our attention on a single word or phrase to augment the sense of relaxation at the same time as we are breathing deeply, slowly and evenly. The words you choose can hold deep special importance, be neutral or just be welcome sounds.

One tactic with this kind of structured meditation is to silently utter one word or phrase to yourself as you breathe in and a different one as you exhale. Here are some examples you might try right now:

As you inhale, mentally say to yourself: Be
With the out-breath, say to yourself: Peace

As you breathe in, saying: Let
As you exhale, saying: Go

Inhaling: Deep
Exhaling: Slow

Another way to make use of centering meditation is to repeat the word or phrase each time you exhale. Here are a few examples of words or phrases you might choose to repeat to yourself in this approach:


You can also practice centering meditation by counting breaths. To do this, just count each time you breathe out. You can count up to ten and when you reach ten, start back over again at one. If you forget where you are in the count, simply go back and begin again at one.

If thoughts, feelings or distractions come up, just let them pass on by and kindly re-establish your attention in the repetitive word, phrase, or counting.

This deceptively simple technique can yield strong results. It works, in some way, because making use of language and counting offers the brain -- which is prone to distraction -- something to do. This puts the mind's concentration on an activity which supports focusing on the breath; this, in turn, leads the body into the Relaxation Response.

We unintentionally elicit the Stress Response in our bodies through holding chronic muscle tension; through anxiety, worry, and catastrophic thinking; through lack of exercise and proper sleep; through a hectic, fast-paced stressful way of life. The Stress Response leads to a compromised immune system, greater vulnerability to disease, and to more rapid aging.

The remedy to the Stress Response is the Relaxation Response, which undoes the injurious effects that result from our bodies being chronically "revved-up", as if to fight or flee from peril.

Practice Centering Meditation today – - grant yourself twenty minutes to investigate this powerful stress management technique. Remember, just twenty minutes of Relaxation Response one or two times per day can overturn the effects of chronic stress.

Author's Bio: 

Sandi Anders, M.Div., R.Y.T. offers her relaxation CD Alchemy of Peace and Love at, and recommends Stress Management and Relaxation resources at
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