Where do you hold your stress? Typical points are the head, neck and shoulders. Backaches, neck pain, headaches. Tension builds up to a point where it is physically painful and our bodies tell us “stop”.
Since I started meditating regularly, my aches and pains have decreased. I still do carry more tension in me than I’d like. Several times throughout the day it helps to simply pause and breathe. Posture counts with this technique but ordinarily I actually mediate lying down. If you’re going to pause and breathe, sit up straight and breathe normally for a few breaths. Inhale, exhale. When you’re comfortable, take a deep breath in slowly through your nose. The goal is to fill your lungs entirely. Visualize them filling up from the bottom up. Fill your lungs up with air all the way to the top. Then slowly exhale through your mouth. Push all the air out from the top to the bottom. And relax. You may experience a sense of lightheadedness so do not move around too quickly.
A sure way to tell if you’re carrying too much stress (I use this as a test all the time). You think you’re relaxed, right? Not too stressed, right? Have everything under control. So relax. Let your shoulders droop and tilt your head from side to side. Can you do it – without stiffness or pain? Here’s another: As you relax, pay attention to the muscles in your face. In particular, your jaws. If you have to consciously remind yourself to relax your jaw muscles, you are carrying too much stress.
Pause. And breathe.