With origins in 5,000 BCE in India, meditation has been around for what seems like forever. These days, meditation has become increasingly popular as a way to handle stress and cope with anxiety. Also, many people meditate to improve their focus, exercise their brains, and for religious or spiritual reasons.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meditation is gaining popularity throughout the U.S. Many benefits of meditation backed by science include managing chronic illnesses as well as improving mood, memory, and focus. It’s easy to see why so many people are jumping on the meditation trend.
Start with Guided Meditation
In guided meditation, also called guided imagery or visualization, you create a mental picture of situations or places you find relaxing. The meditation is usually led by a teacher or guide who prompts you to deepen your breathing, relax specific muscle groups, and go within. Some use a CD or a recording of their own voice. Most meditation apps follow this style.
You will be asked to be in the present and actively listen to your breath or focus on your heartbeat. You may also be prompted to use as many senses as you can, sounds, smells, and textures to evoke a sense of calmness in your meditation space.
Understanding Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation trains your brain to be present with your thoughts. This means being aware of what you are doing and where you are, but not being overly reactive to what is going on. This type of meditation can be done anywhere.
If you’ve never tried it before, choose a quiet place to help you focus, close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing. Notice your thoughts and emotions, but let them go without judgment. Try mindfulness meditation for better sleep. Use this mindful meditation playlist to help you remain present.
Try Breath Awareness Meditation
Breath awareness meditation is an advanced form of mindful meditation. The intense focus on the breath brings you back to your meditation whenever your thoughts wander. Begin in a comfortable seated position, you can close your eyes or keep them open, your choice. Concentrate on the breath going in and out of your lungs.
Whenever you feel your mind wander, bring your focus back to your breath. Let go of any sense or feeling that you have to make something happen. As you conclude your practice, take notice of your thoughts and emotions and how your body feels.
Reach Transcendental Meditation
Stars such as Ellen DeGeneres, Clint Eastwood, Mick Jagger, Sheryl Crow, and Paul McCartney swear by Transcendental Meditation (TM). This simple technique involves using a mantra in the form of a word, phrase, or sound to focus. Ideally, it should be practiced 20 minutes twice a day, seated comfortably with closed eyes.
TM allows you to look inward and create a deep state of rest and relaxation to help you work towards effortlessly reducing stress and achieving inner peace. The technique is not a religion, philosophy, or lifestyle. No belief or expectation is needed for it to be effective.
Practice Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving Kindness or Metta Meditation involves directing good wishes towards others, and even the world at large. During the practice, specific words and phrases are used to evoke warm-hearten feelings.
Begin in a comfortable seated position and begin to breathe deeply. Repeat your word or phrase over and over. You can begin by directing loving-kindness towards yourself, then move outwards to a family member or friend. As you become more proficient, you may wish to include people you have difficulties with. The meditation ends with the universal mantra; “May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering.”
There are so many types of meditation, it can be hard to keep track of them. What’s right for me may not be right for you. It may take a while to find the type of meditation that is right for you.