Meditation is one of those things that people talk about, but most people don’t really understand. You’ve probably heard of it as a way to ease stress or anxiety, but it may seem too foreign and strange to be a realistic option for you. Why sit with your eyes closed to ease stress when studies show that you could just as easily listen to music, spend time with friends, or exercise for similar results? The answer lies in the ability of meditation to connect your body and mind. Unlike other stress relievers, the point of meditation is to control your mind and focus on the present moment. This means that you can’t obsess over family drama or stress about your presentation that day — you have to harness your mind and control your thoughts.
You don’t have to be a holy person or sit atop a mountain to meditate; it can be done at home, before a workout, on public transport to work, and even on your lunch break. Meditation can be difficult, but half of the battle is finding a type of meditation that works for you. Regardless of the meditation you try, always sit straight up in a comfortable seated position. Try these types at home and utilize the tools for an easier, beginner-friendly experience.
1. Mindfulness breathing
If you have trouble focusing your mind this will help you concentrate. All you have to do is bring your attention to your breath as it rolls in and out naturally. Your mind will still scatter to worries or to-do lists, but every time it strays, bring it back to the breath. Mindfulness breathing provides a calming effect to combat restlessness and anxiety, while relaxing your mind and body.
There are a few ways to do this. You can count your breath internally to maintain focus. Count one with every exhale until you reach 10 and start over. If it’s more natural for you, you can also count with the inhale, anticipating the breath that is coming. If you’re able to maintain focus, try just observing the breath as it comes in and goes out without counting.
2. Mantra meditation
A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated over and over again during meditation. It can be said internally or out loud, and by focusing on the words, you keep your wandering mind in control. Not only does mantra meditation help calm and focus the mind, but the mantra itself makes a powerful statement or life affirmation to set the tone for the day. At first it may sound repetitive, but after a minute or two, the meaning of the words will melt away and you can focus on the sounds and vibrations of the mantra.
Eastern cultures have holy ancient mantras and Westerners have created some of their own. The key is finding what speaks to you. You may be drawn to the meaning or just the vibration or sound of certain mantras.
- Om – This is one of the most well known, basic mantras. It may look simple enough, but this mantra packs a punch. Om is the sound of the universe and the beginning, middle, and end or the past, present, and future.
- Om Mani Padme Hum – This is a Buddhist Tibetan mantra that originated in India. Each syllable has its own meaning, but as a whole the mantra helps to remove attachment to qualities like jealousy, desire, ego, and hatred while used in meditation.
- “Love is the only miracle there is” – This mantra derived from Osho, who was an Indian guru and spiritual teacher.
- “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – These infamous words were said by Gandhi, who inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
3. Music meditation
In this form of meditation, you listen to and focus on the vibration and sound of instrumental music. Focusing entirely on the sounds will flood your being with the music’s vibrations. Anytime your mind wanders, bring it back to the music. Like with any meditation when your thoughts leave the present moment, calmly bring them back to focus on the sounds in the present moment.
4. Color and chakra meditation
This meditation is slightly more difficult as it requires knowledge of the body’s seven chakras. A chakra is used in yoga and meditation and refers to seven points in the body where nerves and energy meet. Each chakra holds certain qualities like stability, creativity, and love, and is attached to a certain color. For example, if you want to open your heart to love and connection, you would focus your mind and breath on your heart chakra or the chakra’s corresponding color, which is green.
5. Guided meditation
A guided meditation can be great if you have trouble focusing on breath, color, chakras, or music, as a professional leads you into the meditation. Having someone guide you will help you control your wandering thoughts, and thanks to Headspace you can access various types of meditations in time durations that fit your schedule. You can pick a meditation session that fits your current mood or compliments an area you want to focus on. Download the app or use this service on your home computer.