Katerina May/Unsplash

Source: Katerina May/Unsplash

Cowritten by Sukhman Rekhi & Tchiki Davis.

Meditation is a technique that encourages us to develop mindfulness and awareness in the present moment as a means to instill calmness and clarity into our bodies and our daily lives (Behan, 2020). Hundreds of meditation techniques exist today, all of which cater to different types of feelings, situations, or sensations. If you’re looking to de-stress, perhaps a mindfulness meditation technique may do the trick. It's a fairly simple way to begin boosting your well-being (check your current well-being with this well-being quiz).

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique

This type of meditation technique is a form of belly breathing that involves using your stomach muscles and diaphragm to properly fill the lungs. This practice helps you slow your breathing, can lower your heart rate, and can help you de-stress as it encourages relaxation (Ma et al., 2017).

How to practice:

  • Find a comfortable place to lie down (e.g., bed, floor).
  • Put a pillow underneath your head and knees (optional).
  • Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach beneath your ribs.
  • Take a slow inhale through your nose allowing your lungs to fill with air and your stomach to press up.
  • Try to keep your hands as still as possible.
  • Slowly exhale through your mouth as your stomach lowers.
  • Repeat your breathing for three to five minutes.

2. 4-7-8 Technique

This popular breathing technique can help reduce anxiety, encourage mindfulness, ease tense muscles, and promote calmness (Lin et al., 2020).

How to practice:

  • Situate yourself in a relaxed position, whether that is sitting in a chair or on the floor.
  • Inhale through your nose for four seconds.
  • Hold your breath for seven seconds.
  • Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds.
  • When starting with this meditation technique, only repeat this practice three to five times and slowly increase the repetitions as needed.

3. Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique

​Derived from a South Asian yoga practice, this meditation technique supports breath control, lowers heart rate, and can improve cardiorespiratory functioning (Dhungel et al., 2008).

How to practice:

  • Sit in a comfortable position.
  • Use your right thumb to softly close your right nostril.
  • Now that your left nostril is open, take a deep breath and exhale through your left nostril.
  • After you have exhaled, unclose your right nostril and use your right ring finger to close your left nostril.
  • Take a deep breath and exhale through your right nostril.
  • Once you have taken a deep breath and exhaled from both sides, you may repeat the process a few more times as necessary for up to 10 minutes or until you feel relaxed.

A version of this post also appears on The Berkeley Well-Being Institute website.

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