Meditation is something that everyone can do. Anywhere. At any time. It is free to do and freeing for your mind, especially when in a stressful state. Your personal meditation can be just a few seconds or hours. It can be done on a busy subway train or in a quiet corner of your home. The benefits of meditation can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical health.
What is meditation?
Meditation is the connection of ourselves to our minds. The most basic meditation is paying attention to the present moment, or as it is often referred to as “being in the present”, with acceptance and without judgment. In the past, meditation was often used to understand and explore the sacred forces of life. Meditation is now more commonly used as a tool for relaxation and stress reduction.
The Emotional and Physical Benefits of Meditation
Meditation focuses on putting yourself in the present moment and learning to quiet the mind. When this happens, the mind is not thinking about the past or stressing about the future. Many studies have shown that a consistent medication can include emotional and physical benefits, such as:
- Increasing self-awareness
- Managing stress more proactively
- Gaining a new perspective
- Being more present
- Reducing negative thoughts
- Increasing creativity
- Increasing tolerance and patience
- Lowering heart rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving sleep and quality of sleep
Ways to Practice Meditation
There are many ways to practice meditation but they all share the same goal of quieting the mind and achieving inner peace. Here are some popular ways to meditate.
- Mindfulness meditation is paying attention to your thoughts without judgment; practice observing them, taking note, and letting them go. This is easy to do at any moment and can help to sharpen your concentration or awareness.
- Spiritual meditation is done in the form of prayer or religious practices that can take place at home or a place of worship. This can provide a deeper understanding of spirituality and a connection with a higher power.
- Focused meditation involves focusing on any of the five senses; examples include counting your breaths, starting at an object, listening to a gong, or counting mala beads. This type of meditation works to sharpen focus and attention.
- Movement meditation includes any gentle forms of movement, such as walking, yoga, qi gong, tai chi, and gardening. Movement meditation can help to develop or deepen body awareness (and can be good for individuals that have a hard time sitting still).
- Mantra meditation is repeating a word or phrase or a sound; out loud or internally. Mantra meditation can help calm the nervous system and induce relaxation.
- Progressive relaxation focuses on progressively relaxing your body to reduce tension and promote relaxation. One way to do practice this is to slowly and mindfully tighten and relax one muscle group at a time throughout your body. Another idea is to imagine gentle waves flowing through your body from head to toe. This a good practice to do before bedtime to induce relaxation but also can be done any time a moment of stress arises and relief is needed.
- Loving-kindness meditation has the intention of strengthening feelings of kindness and compassion towards oneself and/or others by opening the mind to receiving love. This can be done by repeating self-affirming statements or repeating well-wishing statements about someone who may need them. It is a great way to lessen resentment or anger with others.
- Guided meditation is a meditation led by someone else, whether in-person or through an app. Try one of these popular meditation apps if you’d like to try it: Calm, Headspace, Chill Anywhere, Insight Timer.
The beauty in the practice of meditation is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Any meditation practice that works for you is beneficial.