At work, in our relationships, even sometimes in our visions of the future, stress is present. These days, for some, it can be more familiar than the beauty of calm. We often stress over our failings and losses and may feel anxiety over our attempts to succeed.
Stress and anxieties can begin through fear, and unfortunately, this often cannot be avoided. So, what we need is something to help us through the struggle.
Many people are turning to meditation – with the hope that for a few joyful moments there can be more serenity or clarity in their lives. (1)
Questions For New Meditators
Before entering into a regular practice it’s important to think about which style you’ll be able to commit to long-term. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you find sounds calming or annoying?
- Are religious beliefs important to you?
- Does guidance help you concentrate?
- Do you benefit from breathwork?
- Is posture improvement needed for you?
- Do you want to focus more on feeling nourished, energized, or purposeful?
- Would you like others to benefit from your practice?
Different benefits are to be experienced, depending on the type of meditation we engage in. The great news is that with just 30 minutes a day devoted to practices, we can significantly and positively change our thoughts and behavior. (1, 2)
Studies have shown social qualities—from feelings such as compassion to cognitive skills like perspective-taking, can be altered by meditation. We can even change the structure of our brain. (2)
Make Meditation Personal
One challenge is to make meditation habitual. By setting up an inviting environment, with subtle cues of relaxation we can give a warm welcome to ourselves.
Meditation can be practiced anywhere, however when starting out, at home may be ideal. Floor cushions, a chair, a sofa, or a bed are all great options depending on the intention of your practice, and with the correct lighting, you can really personalize your meditation practice. Plants or flowers can enhance relaxation, and aromatic candles, incense sticks, or essential oils can also provide a calming atmosphere.
Crystals and stones are small accent pieces that provide an earthy touch to your space, and it’s believed their presence can deepen meditation. One way they do this is by providing a focus object. (12)
A meditation space can be a key to resetting to the mind, so it’s important to make it a haven.
Well-practiced rituals are repetitive and predictable and they give our brains the sense of control and structure that we crave. (3)
When rituals are good, they give a sense of order amidst the chaos of life, and make days a little more manageable – perfect for banishing stress or anxiety. (3)
Before meditating, sipping tea, reading a poem, or playing a particular piece of music can get relaxation started. Applying a topical calming product on temples and wrists, such as https://www.be-serene.com/instant-relief/ can ease the transition into calmness effectively, introducing positive thought patterns.
Mala necklaces or Buddha beads are something tactile for the fingers during meditation, and wearing and holding them has been shown to help slow respiration, and encourage well-being, by redirecting the mind from daily obsessions. (13)
Types Of Meditation
Here are 6 popular and well-known practices for you to choose from:
#1 Hatha Yoga
Surprise! Essentially yoga can be meditation, and the Haṭha Yoga Pradipika text dedicates almost a third of its verses as such.
Through inner mystic sounds, physical postures, and controlled breathing to activate various chakras, this Hindu practice encompasses both the pursuit of physical health and spiritual enlightenment. (4)
Those who partake, say it can boost the quality of meditation by doing the active practices first. The postures followed by meditation culminates silence and tranquility, accompanied by blissful rest and rejuvenation. (4)
#2 Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation originates from Buddhism. Attention is paid to thoughts as they pass through the mind; not judged but simply observed, and the practice combines concentration with awareness.
It can be easily practiced alone, and within the present focus, stress and anxiety are released. By mindfully bringing our attention back to the present moment, we stop our thoughts from drifting into concerns about the past or future, places where we have no control. (1,5)
#3 Spiritual Meditation
Spiritual meditation is similar to prayer, in that meditative reflection is based on the silence around, seeking a deeper connection with one’s God, or the Universe.
When people have a spiritual practice they often feel encouragement toward the exploration of the mysteries of life, find purpose and direction for themselves, and even arrive at answers to existential questions they have long held. (5,6)
#4 Loving-Kindness Meditation
This meditation is used to reinforce feelings of compassion and acceptance towards oneself and others. Usually, it includes opening the mind to accepting love and then giving well-wishes to all. It’s ideal for those holding feelings of resentment. (5)
Tonglen meditation is a good example. Tonglen interchanges the logic of avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure. By reversing the norm, with each in-breath, the suffering of others is envisioned, and by sending out thoughts of compassion on the out-breath, an experience of unity is desired. (7)
#5 Mantra Meditation
A mantra is a syllable, word, or phrase that is repeated during meditation. The most well-known being “Om”. It has been found that sounds of some chanted mantras can cause the left and right hemispheres of the brain to synchronize. Chanting helps oxygenate the brain, reduce heart rate and blood pressure, and assists in creating calm brainwaves. (8)
The practice acts as a mental defense against unwanted feelings and it can help combat sleeplessness, or help to deal with fears. Positive affirmations of choice can be used and intentions can be set.
Mantra meditation can become second nature, and many say it’s something they look forward to at the beginning or end of the day. (5,8)
#6 Transcendental Meditation
Perhaps the most elite, this is for those who like structure and are serious about maintaining a practice. Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a non-religious method for relaxation, stress reduction, and self-development. (9)
The person practicing TM sits in a comfortable position with eyes closed and silently repeats a Vedic mantra, to focus concentration.
According to supporters, the ordinary thinking process is “transcended.” It’s replaced by a state of pure consciousness where the meditator achieves perfect stillness, rest, stability, and a complete absence of mental boundaries.
In modern times, the movement has grown to encompass teachings in schools and universities, with the 1970’s technique remaining relatively unchanged. (9)
Meditation With Meaning
As you can see from this small sample, there are many different types of meditation. Others include body scan meditation to help with pain, walking meditation to help with stress and anxiety, and even laughter meditation for nothing but good feelings. (10,11)
Every type offers health benefits, but to reap them, practice is key. It’s enlightening to try a few different meditations, so there’s no need to stress over which one to choose right away.
Bringing meditation into your life will undoubtedly help to infuse it with meaning.
So breathe in, breathe out and smile.