Meditation is a bit of a buzz word in today’s world. But, of course, it’s nothing new. Yogis have practiced meditation for centuries in an effort to raise self-awareness and boost mental processes. While meditation has become popular in recent decades, it’s actually been practiced around the world for at least several thousand years. If you’re interested in practicing meditation yourself, here are some things you should know before you begin:
Benefits of Meditation
While people who practice meditation generally experience the benefits immediately, they haven’t been scientifically proven until relatively recently. A series of Harvard studies show that meditation:
- Reduces stress and anxiety.
- Promotes clearer thoughts.
- Helps with empathy and compassion.
It can also lower your blood pressure, decrease or remove physical tension, improve immunity, and boost energy levels.
Styles of Meditation
There are many different types of meditation, and they each have special benefits. The type you practice may depend on your long-term goals. I will share very brief descriptions.
Mindfulness meditation has its roots in Buddhism. It’s the most popular type of meditation in the United States, and it’s quite simple to practice. You simply allow your thoughts to float through your mind, observing them as you would an object — no judgment allowed.
Spiritual meditation has religious ties and is often practiced by many types of religious believers, including Hindus and Christians. The main goal is to connect with God or Creation using silence to reflect. Many people use essential oils when they practice spiritual meditation.
Though most people sit when meditating, there are some types that involve movement. Yoga is one example, but any activity that combines mindfulness with slow, methodical movement can be considered meditation.
Mantra meditation is similar to mindfulness meditation, but people who practice this type of meditation believe that repeating a soothing sound is helpful for clearing the mind. A gentle “Om” sound is often used, though any calming, sound or word can work.
Focused meditation is also similar to mindfulness meditation, but instead of focusing on thoughts, you focus on your senses. You might count breaths or focus on an external object to help clear your mind.
Transcendental meditation is the most popular style worldwide, and it’s often considered the goal of all types of meditation. Transcendental meditation may use any combination of the techniques above, but the end goal is to have a mind that is completely clear of all thoughts, calm and at peace with the world.
With all of these different styles of meditation, don’t feel like you must commit to just one. You can experiment with different styles to find one (or several) that work well for your life. With meditation, the primary thing is that you start. 🙂
If you think you would like yoga as your form of meditation, check out my interview with Zoe Bray-Cotton, the creator of Yoga Burn 🙂