At the beginning of this year, shortly after Dick Clark rang in New Years for the last time, I made my resolution: I was going to learn to meditate.
I could ignore meditation no longer. I’m a self-improvement junkie, and after a year of hardcore fitness training, it was time to focus inward on spiritual development and the health benefits that followed.
You’ve heard it all before: Meditation lowers blood pressure. It improves relationships. It helps you concentrate and increases attention span. It reduces stress. But my mind is either running at full tilt, or I’m unconscious, so getting into a relaxed state seemed elusive, if not impossible.
I’ll save my meditation journey for another post, but I’ll cut to the chase: I discovered something called Progressive Muscle Relaxation, which, in the words of my inner frat boy, is totally awesome.
In the words of a more articulate and responsible thirty-something, Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a form of meditation that has enough meat to it that my mind doesn’t wander all over the place and I can actually feel substantial benefit.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation works like this: you sit in a chair or lie down, and clench your muscles tightly for a bit (one body part at a time), then release the tension. In ten minutes you can progress through your whole body and afterwords, you feel relaxed and refreshed.
Here’s the really good news: you don’t have to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to get started. The Internet is chock-full of guided Progressive Muscle Relaxation routines that you can do right now. Many are less than ten minutes (especially if they’re on YouTube and restricted to 10 minutes in length).
The best way to learn and practice this technique is to watch one like the following I found on YouTube, which has a minute introduction to the technique, plus you get to watch pictures of seagulls if your eyes aren’t closed.
We’ll explore other de-stressing and meditation techniques on this blog as time goes on. There’s certainly a lot of value there for both work and home.