Wondering what meditation is or how it's beneficial...I'll even let you in on my favorites.
There are several types of meditations out there with many fantastic benefits. When starting meditation, I believe it’s important to try as many different kinds as you can to see which ones fit you and your lifestyle the best. Some benefits of meditation include managing symptoms of Anxiety, asthma, cancer, chronic pain, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep problems, and tension headaches. It also assists in gaining sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit your emotional well-being. These benefits of well-being can include gaining a new perspective on stressful situations, building skills to manage your stress, increasing self-awareness, focusing on the present, reducing negative emotions, increasing imagination and creativity, and increasing patience and tolerance among others (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
One of my favorites types of meditation is yoga. Many people would not think of yoga as meditation and of course not everyone does yoga with the intention of meditation. Some do yoga strictly for the movements/postures known as asanas. But for the greatest benefits, using the asanas and breathe flowing together while tuning out all of the outside noise of the day and focusing on being in the moment. Most yoga sessions will end with Savasana (Sanskrit for corpse pose) which is the pose of lying down flat in a comfortable position for several minutes to meditate. The purpose of the asanas is to prepare the mind and body for this meditation.
Mantra meditation is another form of meditation which I enjoy. This meditation is preformed in a comfortable seated or laying down position, often with eyes closed and quietly or silently in your head repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts (Mayo Clinic, 2017). Mantra meditation can also be preformed in a group when there is a common intention for the mantra meditation such as promoting self-love, kindness to all, or raising energy. Often mantra meditation is used to assist in changing undesirable thoughts to more intentional positive thoughts, to promote other desired changes, increase awareness or mindfulness, or in worship of God or other beliefs.
Walking meditation or nature meditation is my one of my favorite forms when the weather is cooperating. It is one of my husband's favorites as well, he travels for work often and the first thing he does after getting settled in is find an quite outdoor space where he can meditate before work in the mornings. Walking meditation can be done walking calmly and slowly with intent in each step with eyes open or closed, it's completely up to you and the type of space you are in (and if you are safe). Focusing on each step and how it feels while listening to your breathe or the nature sounds around you. I feel I get the most benefit when I walk barefoot and really connect with the energy of the earth. If walking takes your focus away from your intent, sitting in the great outdoors and meditating will get you the same results. There is always something about connecting to the natural world that renews the body, mind, and soul. Many people have little interaction with the outdoors these days, that it's refreshing to take sometime to reconnect.
In conclusion, there are several ways to meditated. There are many more that I did not even scratch the surface. Try a few to see which fits you and you lifestyle best. Be patient and with yourself, if you have never meditated before. It is hard to quiet the mind at first, it's natural for it to wonder. The goal is not to sit in silence but to bring awareness and to focus on one thought, slowing the mind. Often the thought is on the breathe or a desired mantra. If your mind wonders, kindly bringing your focus back. Start with just a few minutes of meditation daily and gradually add to it over time.
Mayo Clinic. (2017). Meditation: A Simple, fast way to reduce stress. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858.