Stress Management Techniques 3: Centering Meditation

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Stress Management Techniques 3: Centering Meditation

The experience of relaxation is essential to offset the harmful effects of recurring stress on the body. Through the regular practice of relaxation techniques, one can begin to reverse this cumulative, hurtful process, and connect to the body’s tremendous potential for self-healing.

Centering Meditation is a tested technique which encourages this condition of deep rest and release. In this practice we focus our awareness on a single word or phrase to increase the experience of relaxation while breathing deeply, slowly and evenly. The words you choose can have profound special meaning, be neutral or just consist of pleasing sounds.

One approach with this kind of structured meditation might be to silently speak one word or phrase to yourself as you inhale and another as you exhale. Here are some examples for you to try right now:

With the inhale, mentally say to yourself: Be
With the out-breath, say to yourself: Peace

With the inhale, saying: Let
With the exhale, saying: Go

Inhaling: Deep
Exhaling: Slow

Another way to make use of centering meditation is to repeat the word or phrase each time you exhale. Here are a few examples of words or phrases you might choose to repeat to yourself in this way:


You can also use the approach of counting breaths when you do centering meditation. To do this, just count each time you breathe out. You can count up to ten and when you reach ten, begin again at one with the next breath. If you forget where you are in the count, start over again at 1.

If thoughts, feelings or distractions arise, just allow them to slip on by and lightly return to the repetitive word, phrase, or counting.

This relatively easy technique can deliver strong results. It works, in part, because the usage of language and counting offers the brain — which is prone to distraction — something to do. This places the mind’s awareness on an activity which reinforces a focus on the breath; this, in turn, brings the body into the Relaxation Response.

We inadvertently elicit the Stress Response in our bodies through sustaining recurring muscle tension; through anxiety, worry, and catastrophic thinking; through lack of exercise and good sleep; through a frantic, fast-paced stressful lifestyle. The Stress Response can be the underlying cause of a compromised immune system, greater susceptibility to disease, and to more rapid aging.

The remedy to the Stress Response is the Relaxation Response, which negates the harmful effects that result from our bodies being chronically “revved-up”, as if to fight or flee from peril.

Practice Centering Meditation today – – give yourself twenty minutes to investigate this powerful stress relief technique. Remember, just twenty minutes of Relaxation Response per day can overturn the effects of recurring stress.

Sandi Anders, M.Div., R.Y.T. is a yoga and meditation teacher and life coach in Nashville, TN. Her relaxation CD The Alchemy of Peace and Love combines a gentle and effective relaxation meditation with a powerful guided imagery experience to boost self-esteem and self-acceptance. She recommends Stress Management and Relaxation resources at

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