Posts Tagged ‘Tuesday tip’

Meditation 101

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

It’s no secret that meditation is good for the mind, but recent studies are beginning to show the positive biological effects of yoga and meditation as well. In addition to alleviating stress and helping to quell anxiety and depression, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Denniger has found a physiological component to meditation. “The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just the brain,” Denniger said of his study’s findings. With findings like Denniger’s proving time and time again that meditation provides myriad health benefits, the question has become not, ‘should I meditate?’ but, ‘what’s the best way to meditate?’

Spoiler Alert: there isn’t one right way to meditate. Some people like to meditate indoors, others prefer meditating outdoors. Some people find music relaxing, others distracting. While the picture of meditation might look like this:
meditation.png

The truth is there are tons of different ways to meditate. It is much more important to find what works best for you than to partake in the way you think you ‘should’ meditate. The most important aspect of meditation is that you are comfortable, whether that means sitting cross-legged on the floor, lying down, or moving around.

Focused Meditation. No surprise here, this kind of meditation requires you to focus your attention on an object, or “target” which stimulates one of your five senses, sound and smell being most common (incense, the sounds of nature or sound machines, metronomes, and fragrant candles are all excellent choices). The goal is to give yourself permission to let your mind be quiet; not to wander through your thoughts, but to simply be present in the sensations you are experiencing from your chosen object. Focus on your target and clear your mind for just a few minutes, allowing yourself to be present in your experience.

Mindfulness Meditation. Mindfulness meditation is probably the most well-known and popular form of meditation, and for good reason. Mindfulness asks the meditator to be aware and mindful of surroundings, asking us to be present regardless of our surroundings. Accept all the sensations around you, without critiquing or judging what you experience, simply experience who and where you are.

Movement Meditation. This form of meditation is ideal for someone who hates the idea of sitting still for more than a couple of minutes. Movement meditation ranges from yoga, to a serene walk through the woods, to gardening in your backyard, to painting in your living room. Again, the goal is to relax and be mindful of what you’re experiencing; whatever movement meditation you’ve chosen, focus on your breathing and the way your body is participating in the activity. This one more than any other technique is tailor-made to your personal tastes.

Guided Meditation. This is what I like to call an extrovert’s meditation. Guided meditation typically involves some other form of focused, mindfulness, or movement meditation, but is led by another person. This form of meditation often focuses on breathing techniques. Whether you’re meditating with another person or a recorded voice, allowing another person lead you through your meditation is often helpful for beginners.

You don’t have to alter your state of consciousness or leave your body to meditate. The ultimate goal of meditation is to relax and clear your mind, to learn to be present, and to experience your surroundings. Different people achieve these goals in different ways. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new techniques; see which mode of meditation works best for you. Meditation is simple, but it isn’t easy, so don’t get discouraged if you sit down only to find yourself feeling fidgety a few minutes later. Like any other exercise, meditation takes practice and persistence, but the wide array of benefits meditation provides is worth it for your mind and body.