The rising popularity of meditation is undeniable and even confirmed by a recent study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study covers popular complementary practices—meditation, yoga, chiropractic care—and analyzes the popularity of each. Although yoga is the most popular, meditation won the honors of the fastest growing trend.
The known scientific long-term benefits of meditation include improved memory and focus, stress reduction, depression and anxiety reduction, improved mood, and boosted immune system. Many people dip their toes in the water with mini-meditation sessions as an easy way to learn how to meditate.
Yet for many, the main purpose of meditation is to discover their truest, highest self. That part that lies underneath the day to day chaos and endless chattering thoughts. Your best, most pure, GR8 potential.
3 Types of Mindful Meditation To Try
Body Scan Meditation
As the name implies, a body scan medication involves checking in with every part of your body. But keep in mind when doing this type of meditation to resist trying to make something happen. Just observe and let things be for a while.
When something catches your attention, such as an itch, ache, or pain, first observe it and see if it changes. If it becomes truly uncomfortable and distracting, take a moment to address it.
Body scans can be done lying down or sitting comfortably. If lying down, let your legs and arms relax and fall gently to your sides. If seated, find a stable and balanced center.
How to Begin
First, settle in and notice the sensations of breathing. Bring your attention to your feet. Notice the pressure of your feet against the floor, any comfort or discomfort that you feel. Your mind may wander, that’s okay. Just bring your attention back to your feet.
Next, bring your attention to your lower legs. Again, notice how the floor, blanket, or clothing feel against your legs. It’s okay if you feel nothing. Whatever you are feeling is right in this moment.
Move your focus to your upper legs and observe them in the same way. Continue on to your abdomen and chest. As you go, notice physical sensations including breathing, hunger or fullness, and any emotions that come up. You may feel physical manifestations of sadness, happiness, anger, tension, and more.
Keep tuning in to your body in the same way, spending a few minutes on your back, hands, and arms. Then move your focus to your neck and shoulders. Release tension if you can, and don’t worry about any that remains.
Lastly, focus on your face and head, notice expressions and reflections of emotions, especially around your eyes and mouth. No matter if you feel tense or relaxed, invigorated, or restless, pause before ending your session. Rest in a moment of stillness, and then set an intention and choose when to conclude.
Mindful Breathing Meditation
Mindful breathing is an ancient practice with many science-backed benefits. When you harness the power of mindful breathing, you can better control your emotions, release physical tension, and boost energy and focus. This practice helps you stay in the present instead of getting caught up in the past or worrying about the future.
Breathing is used in this meditation because it is always with you. It’s not about trying to change the way you breathe but using the breath as a focal point. The only intention is to be in the moment as best you can. You aren’t trying to block anything out or transcend any feeling. You aren’t even trying to relax, although that often occurs. As you practice, your focus will take less effort.
How to Begin
Find a comfortable, balanced, seated position, either in a chair or on the floor. You can use a meditation playlist or set a timer. Close your eyes, or leave them open with your gaze downward. Focus on the physical sensation of breathing, noticing the gentle rising and falling of your chest or abdomen. Feel the breath moving in and out of your lungs. If you wish, you can mentally note “Inhale, Exhale.”
It’s normal to get distracted, so don’t sweat it. When you do, simply notice the distraction, let it go, and come back to your breath. It’s also not unusual to feel the need to shift or adjust your position. When this happens, shift with intention by noticing the urge and choosing the moment. This puts space between what you experience and what you decide to do.
Let go of the need to make something happen. Use this time to not plan, not fix, or not worry. Exert enough energy to sustain the practice, but don’t stress or strain. If you find your mind wandering, use a little extra effort to keep your focus on the breath. Return to your breath over and over, with no expectation of judgment.
Loving-Kindness and Compassion Mindful Meditation
Often, we treat others better than we treat ourselves. Our self-talk tends to be more critical while we are quick to support and bolster others. But keep in mind that all anyone really wants is happiness, even if we disagree with how they are acting.
A loving-kindness meditation can help you be gentle with yourself and others. The goal with this type of meditation is to cultivate compassion, beginning with yourself and bringing it out into the world to others.
How to Begin
As with most meditations, find a comfortable position. For this one, it can be either seated or lying down. You can also do a simple loving-kindness meditation as a walking meditation or while driving.
Take note of how you are feeling. Let go of trying to feel one way or another. You can’t force yourself to feel nonjudgmental, relaxed, or anything else, really. Just let yourself feel how you feel in that moment.
Choose someone you want to focus on: your child, relatives, a person who you may not get along with.
If focusing on your child, picture them in your head. Imagine what you wish for them the most. Repeat to yourself things like: “May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you feel safe.” Use any phrases that reflect your most profound wishes and repeat them to yourself at a pace timed to your breath.
Do this with whoever you choose for your meditation. If it is a co-worker or friend, you can use something like this: “May [name] have loving-kindness in their life. May they have strength, peace, and love. May they overcome all obstacles.” You can tailor it to the person or situation as needed.
Some people like to use this for their family: “May we all be happy, may we all be healthy, may we all feel safe.” Others like to extend their wishes to everyone. If this feels natural to you, try to send the wishes above to anyone you imagine, anywhere.