One of the best ways to practice mindfulness and calm anxious thoughts is through meditation. This is common knowledge these days, but perhaps you were unaware. The Upanishads, the canonical Hindu philosophical texts, provide some of the oldest written accounts of meditation (dhyana), and both Buddhism and Hinduism make extensive use of meditation as a contemplative practice.
Guided vs. unguided meditation
The first step in beginning a meditation practice is typically deciding between guided and unguided meditation. Whether in-person or via a meditation app or video, guided meditation entails having a teacher walk you through the fundamentals of the practice.If you're new to meditation, having a trusted teacher guide you through your first few sessions can make all the difference in getting the most out of your practice. A typical guided meditation will have the guide describe the mind's behavior in meditation, demonstrate a meditation technique, and then offer suggestions for incorporating the practice into daily life. Unguided, or silent, meditation entails sitting quietly by oneself without any external instruction. For some, meditation is as simple as finding a peaceful place to sit and paying attention to one's body and thoughts for a predetermined amount of time. For others, it means putting into practice knowledge gained through earlier instruction
Calming vs. insight meditation
Both "calming" and "insight" meditation are common descriptors for meditative practices. The goal of meditating to relax is to train the mind to be more at ease and focused. Most forms of meditation work by training the mind to remain focused on something other than the present moment, whether that be the breath, a mantra, an image, an object, or even sensations within the body.
In contrast, the goal of insight meditators is often self-improvement through the cultivation of virtues like wisdom and compassion. Insight meditation entails paying close attention to one's breathing while also becoming attuned to and recording any and all internal or external sensations.
Types of meditation
The most well-known and extensively studied type of meditation in the West is mindfulness meditation, which has its roots in Buddhist teachings.
Mindfulness meditation involves actively monitoring one's internal mental processes. There is no evaluation or identification with the thoughts. You only keep an eye out for repeating details.
This method incorporates both focus and self-awareness. If you're having trouble keeping your attention on the present moment, trying focusing on anything external, like your breath.
This form of meditation is helpful for those who lack access to an instructor because it may be performed independently.
Almost every major world faith and spiritual tradition incorporates meditation into its practice. Spiritual meditation comes in as many forms as there are religions in the world. Spiritual meditation could be defined as any of the methods described in this article. The goal of spiritual meditation, according to a study published in 2017, is to strengthen one's faith in and relationship to a higher power. Some instances are:
Christian contemplative prayer
Sufi dhikr (remembrance of God)
Jewish kabbalistic practices
You don't have to go anywhere special to have a meaningful spiritual meditation experience. Those who are interested in developing their spirituality and strengthening their bond with the divine can benefit from this method.
The practice of "focused meditation" includes solely focusing on one of the five senses.
You can train your mind to pay attention to an external stimulus, such as a mantra, or you can train it to focus on something internal, like your breath. Some instances are:
counting mala beads
listening to a gong
staring at a candle flame
counting your breaths
While the concept behind this technique is straightforward, beginners may struggle to maintain concentration for more than a few minutes at first.
Simply bring your attention back on the exercise if it wanders.
Anyone looking to improve their ability to concentrate and pay attention will benefit from this exercise. Dedicated concentration. Using our breath as a focal point, an anchor for the mind, and a source of sustained awareness makes this style of meditation very easy to practice. Feel your thoughts beginning to wander? Focus on the breath again.
Although most people think of yoga when they hear movement meditation, this practice may include:
other gentle forms of movement
This is a moving meditation that helps you become more attuned to your physical self and the here and now.
If you're the type who finds fulfillment in physical activity and self-improvement, you might benefit from practicing movement meditation.
Mantra meditation is widely used across religious and philosophical lines. This mindfulness practice involves listening to a steady tone in order to calm the mind. It can be anything from a word or phrase to a sound, the most common of which is "om."
The volume of your chant is up to you. After repeating the mantra for a while, you'll find that you have heightened awareness and sensitivity to your surroundings. This opens the door to more profound states of consciousness.
Mantra meditation is popular among those who would rather concentrate on a word than on their breathing. Some people like to really feel the beat of the music in their chest.
Those who have trouble with stillness and find comfort in routine will benefit from this as well.
The meditative practice known as Transcendental Meditation (TM) has been the focus of extensive research.TM is an approach developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to achieve mental stillness and tranquility. It is best learned from a trained TM practitioner, as it requires the use of a mantra. This method is for individuals who seek a more approachable way to tap into meditation's profound benefits.
Progressive relaxation, often called body scan meditation, is a technique for relieving stress and unwinding the body. This type of meditation typically entails progressively tensing and relaxing every muscle in the body. Imagine a soft wave washing over your body and easing any stress you may be feeling. Relax and unwind with this type of meditation before night. Performing a full body scan. Often, our bodies are performing one task while our minds are engaged in something other. This method involves conducting a mental scan from your head to your toes in an effort to bring your body and mind into harmony. Sense any pain, unease, tension, or anguish on your body as if a photocopier's light were slowly moving over your skin.
Loving-kindness Compassion, generosity, and acceptance of oneself and others are bolstered by meditation. Common practices include making yourself more receptive to the affection of others and then sending positive vibes out to those you care about.If you're struggling to let go of anger or resentment, you might find that this form of meditation helps. generosity and compassion. It is essential to this method that we concentrate on the visual representation of various individuals, irrespective of our familiarity with or feelings toward them.To release any negative emotions we may be experiencing, we must first focus on ourselves before spreading our good vibes to others. The video below provides additional guidance on practicing loving-kindness meditation.
With the help of good mental images, the meditative practice of visualization can help you feel more at ease and peaceful. The goal of this activity is to visualize a scenario with as much sensory information as possible, employing all five senses. It can also mean visualizing an admired person and aspiring to take on their traits. Focus and motivation can be improved by another type of visualization meditation by visualizing oneself achieving one's goals. Many people find improvement in their disposition, tension, and emotional stability via the practice of meditation on mental images. Visualization. To practice this form of meditation, you are asked to focus your attention on a mental image rather than your breathing. Although it may seem difficult at first, remembering someone's face after a long time is much like seeing them again for the first time. The same can be said about meditation. We can watch the mind and pay attention to any bodily feelings by imagining a certain scenario.
Noting- as practicing mindfulness of the breath or just sitting in silence, this method requires "noting" what thoughts and feelings arise as attention wanders away from the breath (or the object of focus).We "note" the idea or feeling to reawaken ourselves, make some mental room for it, release our grip on it, and gain insight into our habits of thought and emotional reactivity.
Intelligent sympathy.-Focusing on a person you know or love and paying attention to the feelings that come up in your heart is a form of meditation very similar to the "loving kindness" method. When we put our focus on helping others, we give ourselves the chance to feel good on the inside.
Consciousness at rest -This method is different from those that require you to concentrate on your breathing or create a mental image of a peaceful scene; instead, you're encouraged to simply let your mind rest.
Reflection -This method prompts you to inquire of yourself: "What are you most grateful for?"(Remember that when you address your own thinking in the second person, your reasonable mind is less likely to try to come up with a solution.)Focus on how the question makes you feel rather than how you think about it.
Alternative Methods of Meditation
The aforementioned categories of meditation are not comprehensive. If you're interested in learning more about this age-old technique, here are some variations to consider. (Please note that many of the following methods are best effectively acquired from an experienced and, in some cases, qualified instructor.)
This ancient Buddhist practice entails taking a seated position, focusing on one's abdominal breathing, and allowing one's thoughts to "just be." The intent is to increase awareness and focus.
Mantra meditation is a form of concentration meditation in which, rather than concentrating on the breath, the practitioner concentrates on a mantra (which may be a single syllable, word, or phrase). The goal is to achieve a deeper state of meditation by using the subtle vibrations associated with the repeated mantra to inspire positive change, such as a rise in self-confidence or a heightened sense of compassion for others.
There are several varieties of yoga, with Kundalini yoga in particular focusing on nervous system strengthening so that practitioners can better deal with the stresses of daily life. However, savasana or Shavasana, also known as corpse or relaxation posture, is essential for integrating the neuromuscular changes that occur throughout yoga and reaping the full benefits of the practice.
Another ancient practice, this one encourages introspective scrutiny of one's life in the hopes of effecting positive change. Vipassana encourages us to get "insight into the true nature of reality" through meditating on four universal human experiences: "suffering," "unsatisfactoriness," "impermanence," and "emptiness."
This kind of meditation is designed to maintain healthy functioning of the primary energy centers (chakras) throughout the body. Meditation on the chakras can help alleviate the distressing physical and emotional symptoms that result from blockages or imbalances in the chakras and realign them.
This is a powerful and ancient Chinese technique that includes channeling one's internal energy through unblocked meridians. During meditation, it is possible to direct this energy inside to aid one's own health and functioning, or outward to aid the healing of another.
In this practice, sound vibrations produced by bowls, gongs, and other instruments are used to concentrate the mind and induce a sense of calm.
How to get started
Jokes aside. Taking a moment to sit quietly and concentrate on your breathing is a great place to start. Five or ten minutes at a time is a good starting point; from there, you can gradually increase the time commitment.
Well.org founder and "The Urban Monk" author Pedram Shojai recommends a daily 20-minute meditation practice for 100 days. "Add in another two to five minutes of meditation every now and then to break up the chaos, and you'll start to see the benefits in no time.
Why meditation is beneficial
Numerous studies have shown that meditation has several positive effects.
The benefits of meditation extend well beyond the realm of the mind and body.
lower blood pressure
improved emotional regulation
healthier aging process
a greater sense of empathy and connection with others
One review in 2017 found that non-transcendental meditation was a "promising alternative approach" to reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and another review in 2019 found that mindfulness-based interventions reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol in employees participating in workplace mindfulness programs.
Additionally, research shows that it helps people be more helpful to others, has a favorable effect on their mood, lessens their anger, and promotes healthy coping mechanisms while under stress.
According to a 2018 study, meditation may help with healthy aging.
Meditation may also aid with the symptoms of certain diseases, such as:
depression and anxiety disorders
cardiovascular disease, such as arterial hypertension
dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Positive effects of mindfulness-based meditation for depression were found to last for at least 6 months, according to a 2019 review. According to the same review, the lack of side effects makes mindfulness-based therapies a good complement to standard treatment for mood and anxiety disorders. A study published in 2018 found that meditation improved quality of life, social connections, and brain blood flow while decreasing cognitive decline and felt stress.
The bottom line
There is a meditation practice for everyone, whether you want to alleviate stress or achieve spiritual enlightenment. Don't be scared to branch out and try new things. It often takes some trial and error to find the one that works. Meditation should not be pushed; if it is, it becomes a chore. Gentle, consistent practice becomes sustaining, supporting, and joyful with time.
Allow yourself to be surprised by the possibilities. There are so many different types of meditation that if one isn't working or feels uncomfortable, try another. Do any of these methods of meditation strike a chord with you? Keep in mind that any approach will do the trick in the long run. It is important, though, to pick a method that will allow you to carry over the feelings of serenity, compassion, and awareness that you develop from meditation into the rest of your day
some items that will greatly enhance your meditation
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