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15 Steps To Achieve Relaxation Through Breath Meditation

By Gay Falkowski

People often wonder if stress can cause MS — but despite decades of research, no definitive link has been found. Research has shown, however, that stress can worsen MS symptoms or even lead to a relapse. This could be incentive enough for you to start figuring out how to cope with the stress that comes with having such an unpredictable disease. The good news is that many people have successfully reduced stress by using nonpharmaceutical mind-body techniques.
One of the simplest ways to reduce stress is to learn breath meditation, the practice of focusing your attention on your breath. Considered a form of "entry level" meditation, breath meditation is something that most anyone can do anytime, anywhere, to immediately relax. If you enjoy it, breath meditation can lead to a broader practice known as "mindfulness." Mindfulness has been described as a method of watching your thoughts nonjudgmentally as you maintain a keen awareness of your existence in the moment.
Ready to give breath meditation a try? Here are 15 steps to help you get started:
• Find a place with minimal distractions.
• You may sit, stand, or walk — whichever you prefer.
• If you prefer sitting, as many people do, get comfortable on a chair, floor cushion, or bench. Sit with your spine erect.
• Choose a sustained focus for your mind, such as the repetition of a sound, word, phrase, or movement.
• Many people find it helpful to start by focusing on their breath, and silently count inhalations and exhalations: In (one), out (two), in (three), and so on. This gives you something other than intrusive thoughts to focus on.
• Bring your attention to the natural sensations of the breath in the body.
• Don't try to control the breath. It doesn't matter if it is short and shallow or long and deep.
• Try to “follow” the breath through full cycles, from the beginning of an inhalation to the end of an exhalation, and then on to the next cycle.
• As you try to focus your attention, thoughts will often arise. Allow everyday thoughts to come and go as you focus on the repetition.
• The key is to not get annoyed or impatient with your unquiet mind. Acknowledge the thoughts and let your attention slip from them.
• If a chain of thought hijacks your attention and you lose awareness of the breath, gently return your attention to the sensations of breathing.
• It helps to create a meditation practice by doing it at the same time every day.
• To start, try for 10 minutes in the morning and evening; then gradually increase to 20 or 30 minutes.
• If you’re able, start a session of breath meditation whenever you feel stressed out.
• Be patient. Breath meditation becomes easier with practice.