Meditation and Mental Health
We’re all in need of a healthy sense of perspective on ourselves and our relations in the world. The best way to cultivate that – and keep it in check – is by bringing awareness to the present moment and doing the work to consistently show up as the best version of ourselves. If you’re in need of a strategy to support yourself in this, give meditation a try.
Meditation is a tool that helps clear your mind so you are present and aware. It’s a way to soothe your nervous system, in order to cultivate patience, presence, focus, and reduce stress. Ever find zen on a run or by staring at the moon? Do you ever finish weeding a garden bed and think, “where did the time go?” To become lost in a task, while still remaining focused and present within your movements or senses, is a form of mindfulness & meditation.
By integrating even just a few minutes of a meditative activity into your day, you’re one step closer to unlocking a more grounded, positive and, powerful version of you – which then ripples into your relationships. Meditation has been proven to reduce blood pressure, create a greater sense of adaptability, improve emotional regulation, enhance mood, and reduce aggression.
What type of meditation is right for you?
Before setting off on your meditation journey, it’s important you find a type of meditation that works for your unique self. From there, it’s up to you to firmly decide to put away the distractions and bring forth your self-discipline. Here are a five types of meditations you can try on for size:
1. Movement Meditation
If you’re someone who doesn’t like to sit still, movement meditation might be for you. Movement meditation integrates physical movement with concentration to help your mind into a state of focus and awareness of the present.
Running, walking, dancing, cycling, tai chi and qi gong are popular forms of movement meditation and great options for those who enjoy the outdoors. Energetic bodies may enjoy these activities, as they can keep their mind anchored in the present while maintaining awareness of movements and sensations.
While some runners or movement meditation practitioners have an easy time getting into the zone, it can take a little time for others. Follow along with these Tips for Walking Meditation.
2. Guided Meditation
Guided meditation is when someone else leads you through imagery, sounds, words, or instructions. The internet is an incredible resource for finding guided meditations that you can put on during a morning commute, when you’ve got a quick five minutes away from the kids, to help fall asleep, or in anticipation of a stressful situation.
Guided meditations are usually well-structured and can be practiced within a short span of time, so perfect for those who like to fit meditation into busy or rigid schedules. They often incorporate breath awareness with muscle relaxation, positive visualization, and mindfulness.
Insight Timer is one of my favorite platforms for finding a meditation that fits my current situation’s needs and is worth scoping out if you’re on the hunt. Check out their list of topics and see if you find something that’s right for your needs.
3. Loving Kindness Meditation
If you find that you’re holding onto feelings of anger toward someone else or yourself, a loving-kindness meditation might be what you need. This meditation strengthens feelings of compassion and kindness by asking you to send out love & positive energy to yourself, others, and/or a specific person.
I’ve found this type of meditation helpful for healing and in cultivating an awareness of all your relations. Additionally, it can help you to concentrate on the positive affirmations your mind can circulate rather than any negative self-talk or worry.
Develop a greater sense of empathy by engaging in a loving-kindness meditation today. Click here to read more about Loving-Kindness meditation and stream a 40 minute meditation from Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life (a great read if you’re interested in learning more!)
4. Focused Meditation
A focused meditation means you fixate on an object with removed thought. While this could mean staring at a candle or the moon, it could also be counting breaths or tangible items, such as mala beads. What counting or focusing does is help your mind to remain in the present moment. When you lose your count, you’ve let your mind wander and must begin again.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a step-by-step guide: How To Do Focused Meditation Anytime.
5. Mantra Meditation
Similar to focused meditation, mantra meditation is when you concentrate on a word or saying in repetition. This style can help ward off the babbling brook of your mind when it gets caught in a negative feedback loop or is being fed by feelings of stress. Mantra meditation can help bring more awareness to the present moment.
By choosing words or sayings that help you feel empowered and promote healing, you also internalize the sentiment. This is a good practice for those who don’t enjoy silence or want to overcome monkey-mind nonsense. Mantra meditation will require you to strengthen your awareness muscle as your mind drifts to and from your mantra. It’s important to see you’ve drifted, and then come back. Here are some tips on How Beginners Can Get a Grip on Mantra Meditation.
To become lost in a task, while still remaining focused and present within your movements or senses, is a form of mindfulness & meditation.
While meditation can be a life-enhancing spiritual experience, it can also be practiced in a way that simply seeks to unite mind and body with clarity and presence. There is no one size fits all when it comes to meditation, as we are all unique in our needs, and whatever type you decide on should make you feel supported and leave you with a greater sense of awareness and concentration. Best case scenario, you find what works for you and wonder what you were ever doing before. Worst case scenario, you were attempting to meditate.