“To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki

A calm mind is the centerpiece of any relaxation technique. And a quiet and calm mind is developed only through skill and practice. Because stress is automatic but relaxation is learned.

Not all stress is bad. Stress is a necessary and important element of daily life. In an instant, stress can prepare the body and mind for situations that require immediate strength and action. A little stress can improve concentration and job performance. But when stress continues throughout the day or longer, it becomes chronic stress. There is no good side to chronic stress. Chronic stress suppresses the immune system, causes rapid aging, makes the body retain excess fat, dulls thinking, increases pain, is the root cause for more than 80% of illnesses today, and generally reduces quality of life.

Stress is caused by fear.

Stress Relief Training provides the skills and practice needed to reduce stress in the mind and body. With a few minutes of training and awareness: shoulders can drop, muscles relax and soften, breathing becomes slow deep and regular, and the mind is serene.

The mind is busy

According to Eastern spirituality, the mind is always attempting to seek pleasure and avoid pain. The mind is never at rest because this attraction and avoidance causes an unending string of thoughts. For some people, most of the thoughts are not satisfying and this lack of satisfaction causes fear and stress.

The mind will never find rest through achieving more, it will only find rest through slowing and becoming quiet. [Tweet this!]

Following is an easy exercise to resolve this problem.

How to calm a mind

Mental images and words can slow and even stop for a short time. When this happens, the mind becomes detached from the cares and problems of the world. The body and mind relax and stress is relieved. Practiced regularly, this can make an important shift in consciousness.

The following guided exercises should be read and then practiced. Each exercise should not only be understood intellectually but should be committed to practical experience.

Guidance: Be fully present right now. Discard any thoughts about the past or the future that may arise. Enter your senses fully — feel the weight of your body in the chair, your feet on the floor. Notice the feel of the air on your skin. Feel yourself breathe. Be receptive to the sounds around you and sights in front of you.

Guidance: Just listen to all the sounds that come to your sense of hearing. Do not move your attention from one sound to the next. Rather, listen to all the sounds together as one sound. Hold all sounds equally in your attention at the same time and do not let your attention jump from sound too sound.

Guidance: Relax the muscles of your eyes so that your vision falls in front of you and slightly downward. Without moving your eyes, notice your whole field of vision from side to side and top to bottom. This is done with the eyes relaxed and motionless. Place your attention on your entire field of vision without fixating on any single object in your field of vision. Receptively experience your whole field of vision.

This is a receptive practice and does not require any “doing” on your part, other than remaining receptive. Combine each of these exercises so that you are practicing all three at the same time. Continue this practice of being present, seeing, and hearing for only a minute or two.

How it works

The attention working through the senses is no longer being pulled about by competing sights and sounds. As the attention slows and becomes calm, the whole mind slows and becomes calm.

In this receptive state, unneeded tension is released. Muscles soften and let go. Breathing can become slow and naturally deep.

This exercise delivers best results if it is practiced at least three times a day for a minute or two. Within a few days, this stress relief practice will become easier to enter and sustain. In time, the hours between each practice session will become more stress free. The desire will naturally arise to do this practice frequently, more than just three times a day. As stress is relieved, the immune system will strengthen, aging will slow, and sleep will improve.