Many people find the idea of meditation daunting. They may feel hesitant to set aside the time to meditate, due to a dislike of being “unproductive,” having difficulty sitting still, or the mistaken belief that meditation only works for certain types of people. The truth is that health experts around the world tell us that meditation is actually an extremely valuable and constructive habit!
Here are some of the benefits of meditation practice:
- Manage and reduce stress levels
- Improves focus, memory, and planning capacity
- Increases creativity and imagination
- Because many illnesses are exacerbated by stress, meditation may help to control symptoms of myriad conditions. Some notable examples are anxiety, high blood pressure, IBS, asthma, depression, and sleep problems
- Increases energy and stamina throughout the day
- Increases your self-awareness
- Helps you to access learned coping skills when experiencing unwanted emotions
- Increases patience and tolerance
Different Styles of Meditation
When you’re used to constant activity, the idea of sitting still and “clearing your mind” can seem impossible. Luckily, that’s far from the only way to meditate! As a whole, meditation is not the practice of forcing your brain to be silent. It’s an exercise in exploring and learning how to harness the processes of your mind.
Here are a few different styles of meditation:
This is perhaps one of the best ways to begin a meditation practice, because it can be done anywhere, at any time. Whether you’re sitting on your couch at home, out for a walk, or in the middle of an important meeting, you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation is the practice of increasing your objective awareness.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, including just taking moments throughout the day to notice how you feel, and what’s going on around you. To help you get started, here is a quick mindfulness technique called “S.T.O.P.” that can help you deal with stressful moments. It allows you to pause, take in what’s happening objectively, and then act with more awareness and wisdom.
Stop what you’re doing.
Take a breath and pause.
Observe what is happening in your mind, body, and external environment. Notice any emotions such as fear or sadness, and try to name them without falling into them.
A lot of meditation styles don’t even require you to sit in stillness. If you’re a very active or fidgety person, you may find that moving meditations are best suited for you. Some popular examples of these are Yoga and Tai Chi. These styles work by concentrating your focus onto your physical body, thereby decreasing the noise of the outside world.
Having a guide is another way to make the foray into a regular meditation practice a bit easier. Recorded meditations are widely available online or through various mindfulness and meditation apps, and they can be just as beneficial as an in-person instruction. These sessions typically consist of a spoken narration that is meant to become the primary focus on the meditation. Whenever you find your thoughts beginning to wander, you gently return your attention to the words and voice of your guide.
Here at Release, we offer several guided meditations every week. Try an in-studio or livestream meditation with one of our phenomenal instructors: Gina Mandella, Rebecca Dybala or Carole Williamson.
Mantra Meditation & Pranayama:
Since meditation is a practice of learning how to guide your thoughts, many techniques are based on a specific focal point where the mind is intended to return whenever it begins to drift. Mantra meditations do this by focusing on the repetition of a single word or phrase, whereas pranayama makes the breath the focal point, using various techniques for breathing.
Use this as a guide to help you choose a style of meditation you might like to try. There are many styles out there, but the few mentioned here are good gateways into exploring this essential daily practice. Keep it simple and have fun with this process! You will know when you have found a style that resonates with you.
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