Meditation is a simple practice that can revolutionize your life. While it might just seem like some sort of hippie buzzword, science shows that it’s got a range of benefits. But its naturally fluid definition means that it can be a tricky concept to grasp and master. Knowing just where to start and exactly what you should be doing can seem vague and undefined.
Maybe you’re thinking about a quick morning meditation to get your day started right. Or perhaps you’re just looking to clear your mind with meditation. Whatever your situation, we promise there’s a style for you.
Learn how your mind and body can benefit from meditation and find the meditation program that works best for you.
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What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a simple practice that can help you bring awareness to those (sometimes subtle) subconscious thoughts swirling around in your head. While it’s similar to mindfulness – they’re not identical. Meditation is a much deeper, more routine mindfulness focused on achieving a greater understanding of yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings.
Sometimes it’s not all about the warm-fuzzy feelings. Other times, it’s about calling out those thoughts and subconscious feelings that might be pulling you down or distracting your focus.
Remember: meditation looks different for everyone – and it should! It’s a highly personal process.
Here’s how to know if you’re meditating right: it’s not about focusing on perfection – it’s about embracing the process and giving your mind grace when it wanders or loses focus. There is no absolute right (or wrong) way to meditate.
It’s about showing up for yourself on good AND bad days. It’s about using regular practice to uncover all of those unnoticed thoughts and feelings. So even if you’re still in your morning workout clothes, find a comfortable meditation position and jump-start your morning routine.
Benefits of Meditation
Science has shown that there is a wide range of mental and health benefits to meditating regularly. Plus, it can help drive your momentum forward and keep you focused on both your long and short-term goals.
Meditation is a form of mindfulness-based stress reduction. Actively and deliberately acknowledging your stress and distractions empowers you to release them.
Goodbye, eye twitch, and so long, sleepless nights! You won’t be missed. Hello, reduced blood pressure and better sleep – all thanks to regular meditation.
It can also help you get to the why of things, which can help reduce anxiety and tension. If you’re stuck or feeling blocked in your life, meditation can help bring a sense of clarity and calm to everyday chaos or confusion.
Some studies have even shown that meditation might help relieve acute and chronic pain. While it might not eliminate the root cause of the pain, it can serve as a very effective coping mechanism that can distract you from the pain.
One way to make it easier to stick to a routine is to find a meditation program that works for you. That makes it easier to meditate for longer periods of time regularly. Like anything, it just takes commitment to practice.
Some apps, like Headspace, offer a variety of guided techniques. But for most of these, you can practice meditating without guidance, too, if that’s more your style.
Here are just a few of the many techniques you can use to meditate.
The Do-Nothing Meditation Technique
The do-nothing technique is just that – doing nothing. The goal is to diminish or forget about our “sense of doing.” Think: to-do lists, emotional burdens, or personal blockages.
But if the thought of doing nothing seems impossible, the reality is that you’re doing just a little bit of something. This one’s all about letting go. If you find yourself getting distracted by thoughts, let them go. When emotions of yesterday’s work meeting float through, let them go. And embrace doing nothing.
Why it might work for you – This technique can be tricky for beginners, but with a bit of practice, you can master it. The main benefit of the do-nothing technique is that it teaches you the skill of freeing up your mind to let it calmly exist. Traditional Buddhists believed that this freeing of the mind allowed your truest self to shine through to reach peak existence. A calm mind can help you increase your focus and productivity by eliminating all unnecessary thoughts that flow through every day.
Fixed Point & Focused
Also known as trataka, traditional methods of fixed point meditation involve fixating your gaze on a single point, usually a candle flame. Then, when your eyes begin to water, blink and close your eyes and gaze inward towards the center of your forehead.
You can also focus on your breath. When you notice that your mind starts to wander, return your focus to your breathing to recenter and refocus your busy mind. This is one of the most common techniques.
Why it might work for you – While it might not provide deep insight, it can help calm a busy mind with a simple and easy technique that you can do anywhere. If you’ve been dealing with stress, anxiety, or tension, this technique can help reground you and calm anxious nerves.
Instead of focusing on the breath, visualization is when you place an image in your head and focus on that. It can be anything, from a beloved pet to a dear friend – or even one of your favorite places.
Take note of how your mind and body respond to this visualization. Again, if you notice that your mind begins to wander, refocus on your visualization and bring it back to the center.
Why it might work for you – If your busy mind needs a little more to focus on, visualization can help give you a more concrete visual to stay focused on. This can be helpful, especially if you’re just getting started and struggling to maintain focus throughout your meditative session.
Instead of focusing on the breath, the resting awareness technique doesn’t have a single focus. Instead, as you sit calmly, just focus your awareness on thoughts and feelings that come into focus as you relax.
This technique helps to bring underlying tensions and worries to the surface. You might be surprised just how easy it is to surface these tensions once your mind is quiet. Acknowledge them as they pass through, then release and refocus.
Why it might work for you – It’s not uncommon for a busy mind to cover up what’s really going on below. Resting awareness can bring about a greater sense of peace and calm by allowing you to identify anything that’s going on just below the surface.
This self-guided technique uses a question to guide the mind’s thoughts into one, focused chain.
Here are a few questions you can ask while meditating:
- At what point in your day is your attention most unfocused?
- What are you grateful for today?
- Where can you create relaxation and calm in your body, day, or life right now?
- What are you holding onto? Is this serving you or limiting you?
- What’s lying just below the surface that you might be subconsciously holding onto?
Why it might work for you – You might be standing in your own way, but you might not realize it. Reflective meditation is perfect for gaining a deeper understanding and insight into what might be holding you back from getting to the next level – personally or professionally.
Noting is very similar to the do-nothing technique – but it’s focused more on the reality that thoughts will wander into the mind. As they do, you take mental note of these thoughts. Acknowledge their presence, but don’t assign them an emotion or judgment. Just let them be and release them to drift out of your mind again.
This technique isn’t exactly intuitive, and it takes practice to get the most out of it. It’s natural for us to want to rationalize or explore thoughts as they come into the head. The noting method isn’t about ignoring those thoughts. Rather, it’s about understanding when they do and acknowledging them for what they are – just fleeting thoughts that will pass with time.
Why it might work for you – Noting acknowledges what you might be holding onto. It gives you the power to work through and release it, but at a later point in time. This technique is considered an insightful one because it can provide a deeper understanding of your inner thoughts and feelings.
For beginners, it can often help when you meditate on something specific rather than letting the mind aimlessly wander. That’s why the body scan technique is one of the best techniques if you’re just getting started.
Sometimes, our bodies distract our minds by holding tension, stress, and aches. The body scan technique focuses on identifying and releasing all of that stored energy, so your mind and body can align in calmness and focus.
Why it might work for you – You might be holding onto tension in your forehead, jaw, or even legs. But you might not be aware of that. Next time you’re having a hard time focusing at work, do a quick body scan to see if your body is ready to tackle your to-do list.
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Conclusion: Meditation Might Be the Intentional Mindfulness You’ve Been Missing
Using a positive meditation to start your day and get your focus right can help set you up for success. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that you should only meditate in the morning. There are a variety of meditation techniques that can help reduce stress and keep you balanced.
Successfully making meditation a part of your routine all comes down to finding a meditation program that works for you personally. Then, before you know it, you’ll be meditating without even trying.
Ready to get started? Grab your comfy, high-quality activewear and dive into the world of mindfulness training and meditation.