Meditation is a simple way to relax, relieve stress, boost your immune system, and create more balance and happiness in your life. The method of meditation you choose is not as important as achieving the desired result ~ a quiet mind to promote inner peace and relaxation. If you’re not very familiar with meditation, here are a few different styles:
General Meditation. Find a quiet place and time when you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and clear your mind of any thoughts. Sit like this, attempting to eliminate all thoughts and experience total peace. If you have never meditated before, consider starting your meditations in intervals of five minutes. When you feel comfortable, increase your intervals to ten minutes, and continue like this until you feel a length of time that suits you.
Focused/Conscious Breathing. Focused breathing is another popular, yet simple, meditation. As in general meditation, find a quiet time and place where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and clear your mind of any thoughts. From there, focus on your breathing. Focus on the in-breath, and the out-breath. This is also commonly known as conscious breathing, because as opposed to our normal breathing which we do not focus on or attempt to control, “focused breathing” is consciously monitored and controlled. By focusing on your breath, you draw your attention to that, and eliminate random thoughts, which creates a feeling of inner peace. To help focus on their breath, people will often draw their attention to the air entering their nose and leaving their mouth. You can similarly draw your attention to the rising and falling of your chest. As for controlling the pace of your breath, some people count a certain number of seconds between each breath and attempt to maintain this slow, rhythmic, controlled pace.
Visualization. Visualization can be used to achieve a variety of results. One simple visualization is to first quiet yourself and begin as you would in general meditation or focused breathing, then visualize yourself inhaling healing white or golden light, and exhaling gray, stale, old energy. The white or golden light represents new, fresh, rejuvenating energy, while the gray energy represents any stress, anxiety, unhappiness, worries, anger, or other negative emotions you may be holding inside of you. If you have a specific ailment you are trying to relieve yourself of, visualize the same white or golden energy surrounding the area of your body which is in need of healing. Focus on that white or golden light healing and energizing the afflicted area of your body.
Transcendental Meditation. There is much to be said about Transcendental meditation, but I will just cover it briefly here, as there are many sources of information on this topic. Transcendental meditation uses a mantra (a word or phrase which is repeated throughout the duration of the meditation) to focus oneself on that one word or phrase, thereby allowing all random throughts to be released. To begin, prepare yourself as you would doing any of the other meditations listed here, then find a mantra which feels good to you and repeat it either out loud or silently.
Yoga. The word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word ”yuj,” which means ”to unify.” Although many people think this refers to the union between the mind and body or mind and spirit, the traditional acceptance is union between the Jivatman and Paramatman, that is between one’s individual consciousness and the Universal Consciousness. Therefore Yoga refers to a certain state of consciousness as well as to methods that help one reach that goal or state of union with the divine. Yoga increases strength and flexibility, improves circulation, promotes well-being, and provides relief for common postural and chronic pain problems. Anyone can practice yoga. Each individual works within her/his own level of comfort listening to their own body’s messages. One comes away feeling energized, rejuvenated and at peace.
Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that is primarily practiced for its health benefits, including a means for dealing with tension and stress. Among the martial arts, there are two basic types: the “hard” martial arts such as karate and kung fu and the “soft” or “internal” martial arts such as ba gua and tai chi. Tai Chi emphasizes complete relaxation, and is essentially a form of meditation, or what has been called “meditation in motion” as it is characterized by soft, slow, flowing movements that emphasize force, rather than brute strength. Though it is soft, slow, and flowing, the movements are executed precisely.
Image credit: Earth Quarterly