Quiet the mind. Slow down your breath. Awaken your chakras. It's time to meditate! I'll be the first one to admit that I used to be like Ms. Paltrow, in that I didn't have the slightest idea how to meditate. I would dim the lights, make sure the apartment was quiet, and try to focus on my breath. Problem was, I was so focused on "conquering meditation" that my mind couldn't relax and just "be." After hearing about all the health perks associated with meditation — including stress reduction, a heightened self awareness, and being able to tune out distractions — I knew I couldn't give up. The good news is, I realized that there are many different types of meditation. This is key, because once you explore the various meditation styles, you can choose one that suits you best.
Keep reading to find out what they are.
First things first, you need to find a comfortable and quiet place to sit. Some people like to lie down while meditating, but I find it tempting to fall asleep, so I prefer sitting up. Next step: choose a meditation style that interests you. Here are five that I feel are best suited for anyone new to meditation.
- Mindfulness Meditation: The most well-known type of meditation, mindfulness meditation, is about being aware of the sounds and activities happening around you. It's almost a flow-like type of meditation, because you literally just let your mind be fluid and flow from one thought to the next, not really focusing on one particular thing. For instance, if you live in a noisy city, you don't have to block out the outside sirens and screaming children, you let your mind be aware of the sounds without becoming too focused.
- Spiritual Meditation: This type of meditation is for those who regularly participate in prayer, as it's based on communicating with God. Just like the other styles, you must become calm and quiet and then begin to focus on a question or problem you might have. This style of meditation can feel not only relaxing, but rewarding as well.
- Focused Meditation: If the idea of clearing your mind of all thoughts stresses you out, focused meditation is great because you can focus on a sound, object, mantra, or thought. The key here is to just focus on one of these things and stay committed to that one thought or object. This is when relaxation music comes in handy. Even though you're essentially using your mind, you'll be amazed at how rejuvenated you feel afterwards. In our day to day lives, our minds really are in 10 different places at once!
- Movement Meditation: Movement meditation may seem intimidating, but if you're by yourself and you really get into it, it can be extremely uplifting and relaxing at the same time. Sitting with your eyes closed, simply focus on your breath and try out different gentle, repetitive flowing movements. Rather than focus on a sound, object, or thought, just turn your attention to your movement. I find a slow left and right swaying motion to be therapeutic, or you could try moving your entire upper body in a slow circular motion.
- Mantra Meditation: Mantras are words that are chanted loudly during meditation. It may seem odd to be making loud noises during a meditation session, but it's actually the sounds that become the object being focused on. In yoga, the mantra Om is regularly used since it delivers a deep vibration that makes it easy for the mind to concentrate on that particular sound.