New to meditation? Try this 10-minute guided practice for end-of-day decompression
Plus answers to common questions about technique, roadblocks and more
An end-of-day guided practice for decompression offers us the opportunity to make time and space to feel, relax and process our experiences through the expansion of the breath. As we breathe in, we create space in the body and as we breathe out, we gently relax and release tension.
There are three parts to the process of a decompression meditation. The initial stage is to observe the breath in order to create the feeling of internal space through exhalation. After we begin to relax, we then scan the body, methodically drawing our breath into each region of the body to create the feeling of space and relaxation. Once the awareness, breath and body are unified we then enter a visualization process to relax to the mind, unpacking any emotions or thoughts that we may want to let go of in order to lighten any mental or emotional burdens that may surface during the practice.
The decompression meditation is a simple, calming practice for the novice or seasoned practitioner and although it can be done as an end-of-day meditation, as we did for this live stream we've embedded below, it can be carried-out during any time as a way to cultivate rest and foster relaxation.
Here's what you'll need:
- A quiet space or room to sit in for your practice.
- A comfortable chair where your feet can touch the floor (your feet should be flat on the floor, arms relaxed).
- If you prefer to sit on the ground, we suggest that you're seated on a meditation cushion, yoga bolster or firm pillow. You can also sit against a wall if you need it for postural support.
- A shawl or blanket to wrap around yourself if you feel cold during the practice.
Before you begin the meditation, it's good to remember a few tips that can help you move through any challenges during the practice.
- Try to let go of any expectations before you begin. Meditation is like learning how to ride a bike. It takes time to become at ease with the practice, so take your time and practice with patience.
- Remember that we're not aiming to achieve a goal but simply relaxing into the moment and being present. We're simply showing up to this moment "as it is."
- If your mind wanders, allow the thoughts to enter, notice them and then let them go. Become the "passenger", or witness, and observe the experience.
- Try to trust the pauses of silences during the practice. Breathe into the pause if you feel any discomfort and if your mind wanders, come back to the breath as a point of focus.
- If you experience any physical pain or discomfort, feel free to change your seated position during the practice to have the support that you need.
- During your meditation, if there are sounds around you that enter your space, let the sounds move through you as though you're transparent, with the intention that the sounds are not a distraction, but a part of the present moment.
Whether you're at home after a full day or if you've finished a day at work, this decompression practice may offer up a moment of solace and silence.
Some user questions from our livestream sessions:
How long should I be trying to meditate for, if I am just a beginner?
NM: Meditation is about arriving, making space and time for yourself, just showing up, and attending to the breath. It's effortless and without a goal, so just be present with yourself and this will make the process easier if you're a beginner. Usually we recommend that if you're new to the practice, you can try to sit for about 10-15 minutes and just attend to the breath and be present with yourself.
What if I feel pain when I'm scanning the body?
NM: It depends on the type of pain that you're feeling. We often say in the practice of Yoga and Meditation that pain exists when there's a blockage or stagnation of prana in the body so if it's a low degree of pain and it's tolerable, then you can breathe into the area to release the pain.
You may also adjust the body or change positions during the practice if it's physical pain. Quite often there's pain in the body that we're not aware of because we haven't made space to feel or attend to the pain that surfaces during the body scan. So breathe in, create the space for the movement of the pain and breathe out. This should help to alleviate the pain.
What's the best time of day to meditate?
NM: Meditating in the early morning when you wake up is a great way to start your day to set a routine for the day with an open mind and open space. Meditation before sleep is also a good time. If you're meditating before you go to sleep, just ensure that you're are seated for the meditation and not lying down to avoid falling asleep during the meditation. Dawn and dusk are traditionally the best times for meditation, when it's quiet and peaceful.
What can I do to help my mind calm down when it's racing?
NM: One of the best practices is diaphragmatic breathing with exhalation through the mouth. Simply place the palms on the belly, inhale into the abdomen, expanding the belly outward and exhale through the mouth. Repeat this five times. Concentration and focus on the breath, as well as mouth exhalation can help to create the feeling that we're decompressing and letting go to create calm and space.
Can you meditate with a partner?
NM: Yes, as long as you have your own space and you're comfortable, you can meditate with another person in the room.
Do you ever use music to meditate?
NM: Music can be utilized as a way to draw your senses inward as long as it's calm, soothing or slow moving. Sounds of water or sounds that are rhythmic and natural are always beautiful and easy to use for meditation. Wind sounds like chimes and crystal bowls, or earthy drumming sounds, like the gong or drums, can be used as well. It really depends on your personal taste and what you feel helps you to arrive at a place of internalization. Over time, as our meditation practice deepens, we tend not use music and simply sit in silence.
Nicole Mahabir is the founder and director of JAI Wellness, a platform for health education, mindful living and wellbeing. For the past 10 years, Nicole has led professional IAYT, YA and EBNMP certified programs, teaching nutrition, meditation, Ayurveda, yoga therapy and natural, anti-aging beauty. When she isn't teaching, Nicole creates integrated, sustainable health protocols for her busy clients, and leads corporate and wellness retreats. Follow Nicole on Instagram @jaiwellness or visit her website: jaiwellness.com.