Stress and burnout can rob you of mental, emotional and physical well-being, but there are techniques to help you cope. Read on to learn about how to practice healing meditation for greater relaxation.
by James Han
It’s no secret that stress and burnout can take a toll on every aspect of your life, including your personal relationships, work performance, appetite and sleep.
With vectors of stress at every turn, it’s important to keep a set of tools in your back pocket that can help you reset and restore your sense of calm.
The good news is that there are plenty of lifestyle changes and activities that can help you manage stress, from soothing herbs to baking to nature baths and more. But meditation remains one of the most studied and effective techniques for a calm mind. In this piece, we’ll walk you through one of our favorite meditation practices, known as healing meditation, with easy tips and strategies to make it a part of your daily wellness routine.
What Is Healing Meditation?
Healing meditation is a broad category of mindful practice that focuses on the restorative and healing properties of meditation. Though you’ll still experience the general benefits of meditation — such as improved problem-solving skills, creativity, attention span and more — healing meditation prioritizes your mental, emotional and physical well-being.
There is no one-size-fits-all way to practice this type of contemplation, but for the purposes of this guide, we’ll focus on healing visualizations. Visualization has a long history of use in ancient healing systems — in Ayurveda, for example, it’s known as bhavana, which translates to “development” or “cultivating” and refers to yogic vision or imagination during a meditation set.
Benefits of Healing Meditation
Visualizations in healing meditation have a number of benefits that are easily accessible wherever you are. In fact, one study on 48 participants between the ages of 19 and 71 demonstrated that guided imagery techniques were an effective tool to manage anxiety. In addition to helping you feel more relaxed, healing meditation can help you feel more compassionate and loving toward yourself (and others), promote better sleep and boost your confidence — all of which can equip to you live more fully and radiantly every day.
Though you can experience immediate relief after a single session of practice, making it a daily ritual or routine can help you live in a more meditative state, and react mindfully to stressors whenever they arise.
How To Prepare for a Healing Meditation at Home
Again, you can practice healing meditation wherever you are — on the train, before a meeting at work, at the beach. But if you’re at home, preparing a space (and space of mind) for your meditation can help you ease into your practice, ensure that you’re comfortable and potentially amplify the effects. Here are a few tips to help you settle into your healing meditation journey:
- Find a clear, cool spot in your home (beds and bathtubs are perfect — there’s no judgment here!).
- Turn off your phone and any other devices — or, better yet, keep them away from your meditative space.
- Set up a candle, aromatherapy diffuser, incense, palo santo or other soothing companion to your meditation.
- Lay out a chair or cushion for sitting, or a yoga mat if you prefer to lie down. The goal is to be comfortable.
- Wear earplugs, if it’s noisy.
- Dim the lights or wear an eye mask.
- Take SLOW, an Ayurvedic tincture of calming essential oils (including sweet fennel, basil and orange) amplified with the relaxing, restorative properties of hemp CBD.
6 Healing Meditation Techniques To Try
To get you started, here are six healing meditation visualizations to try. Remember — there are no rules, and as you practice these techniques regularly, you’ll become more attuned to what works for you and develop the confidence to be improvisational and create your own guided imagery. Meditation is never the same experience twice, so keep an open mind and playful spirit.
1. Healing Colors
In this meditation, you’ll ascribe emotions or “vibes” to colors and guide them throughout your entire body for relaxation and healing. To start, get comfortable, close your eyes and imagine that you’re breathing in a strong white light (or any color that represents restoration for you) that enters your nostrils and travels to your lungs. As you hold your breath, guide the light to circulate through your entire body, particularly areas that need attention (your head if you’ve been experiencing tension headaches or your heart if you’ve been nervous). As the light accumulates negativity, stress and other things you want to expel, let it change to another color, then send it out with your exhale. Repeat as long as you’d like.
2. Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a widely researched stress management technique to help you relieve tension, but the concept has been around for many years. This exercise is best done lying down. Start by closing your eyes, relaxing your entire body and gently tensing different muscle groups and body parts (beginning with your head and working down to your feet) as you inhale and hold your breath for 4 to 10 seconds. Then exhale. You can get creative here and stick with a less “active” body scan, if you don’t want to tense your muscles. Acknowledge and express gratitude to each body part, starting with your head, and combine with healing colors for added relaxation.
3. Sensory Focus
Sensory focus can help you pay closer attention to your body and surroundings alike. While seated or lying down, close your eyes and scan your body. Is there a soreness somewhere that you didn’t notice before? What does your skin feel like against your clothes? What does your mouth taste like? Then open your eyes and turn your focus outward, to any external sights, smells and sounds. You don’t have to let all your noticing pass through you — how do these sensations make you feel? Are they conjuring any memories of past experiences?
4. Sound Bath
Creating your own sound bath can be an easy way to experience relief and aural healing. With headphones or speakers, play relaxing sounds — music, ocean waves, rainfall, binaural beats, healing frequencies — and relax. Though you can simply let your mind wander while the sounds play, this technique can be combined with any of the other techniques in this guide.
5. Positive Manifestation
This technique is more goal-oriented and centered around your intentions. As you settle into your healing meditation, think about the things you want to cultivate: self-love, compassion, gentleness, less impulsivity, etc. Then, sit or lie down and repeat affirmations to yourself (aloud or in your head) with these goals in mind. You can find guided YouTube videos, mantras and scripts online to help you get started.
Positive manifestations don’t have to be abstract, either. You can focus on an upcoming interview, a skill you want to learn or having a difficult conversation. As you meditate on these, imagine yourself succeeding in the interview, practicing the skill or having the conversation. Be as vivid as possible when you picture the scene.
6. Nature Imagery
Let your imagination roam free by imagining yourself in any relaxing spot — whether it’s somewhere you’ve been or somewhere you’ve only seen in pictures, movies and shows. The key is to be as detailed as possible. If you want to imagine yourself on a beach, feel the sand between your toes, the sun on your hair and the flecks of water hitting your face. Forests, beaches, mountains, dunes and other natural landscapes have inherently soothing and beautiful effects, but don’t feel limited. If your safe space is your childhood home or a specific street, let yourself be transported there.
Want more techniques to feel relaxed? Check out these other guides on our blog:
James Han is a writer, editor and content strategist based in Los Angeles. When he’s not deep in a Google Doc, you can find him reading, watching films and taking long walks.
Scientific American - Meditation’s Calming Effects Pinpointed in the Brain
Yogapedia - Bhavana
Frontiers in Psychology - Nature-Based Guided Imagery as an Intervention for State Anxiety
Harvard Health Publishing - Mindfulness Meditation Helps Fight Insomnia, Improves Sleep
University of Michigan Health - Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation