Although the practice has ties to many different religious teachings, meditation is less about faith and more about altering consciousness, finding awareness, and achieving inner peace. It is not necessarily about freeing your mind of all thoughts.
These days, with a greater need to reduce stress created by our busy schedules and demanding lives working and/or parenting, meditation is increasing in popularity.
Although there is no right or wrong way to meditate, it is important to find a practice that meets your needs and complements your personality. Keep trying until you find one that works.
I was first introduced to meditation through yoga. I found it frustrating, at the end of the session, that I could not quiet my mind long enough to feel like I had meditated. It is for this reason I never sought out meditation as a solution to reduce stress and anxiety. I soon realized that at this particular time, I was experiencing anxiety. I thought I had A-Fib (a heart condition causing a rapid heartbeat) and made an appointment with my doctor. After speaking with me she simply said, “Honey, you have anxiety.” I thought, “What? No way! Life was good. A little stressful, yes, but we all have some level of that.”
She was right, of course. Now I needed to find a healthy way to refocus and change my thought process. Meditation? How? I was convinced it was not for me. I would not get the hang of it. Soon after this, a friend introduced me to Transcendental Meditation. I had heard about it before and read that many celebrities practiced and swore by it. I did some research and learned it was almost $1,000 to learn this style of meditation. That alone stressed me out. Nonetheless, I decided I would give it a try since it seemed to work for so many people. After listening to interviews, I thought maybe this can work for me. After a few days of meeting in a group meditation and individual coaching, it turned out this was exactly what I needed! I learned I would have to dedicate 20 minutes, twice a day, for it to be fully effective. I started to get anxiety just thinking about how I was going to find 40 minutes in my day to devote to something that would help me be a better person when I had so many other things to do. Does this sound familiar?
Fast forward…I did it! I committed to 40 minutes a day and I never looked back. I also incorporated other types of meditation into my lifestyle for different situations.
There are many types of meditation. You do not need to focus on just one:
- Mindfulness Meditation – good for people who do not have a teacher to guide them.
- Spiritual Meditation – for those seeking a deeper connection with your God or Universe.
- Focused Meditation – involves concentration using any of the five senses. This can be difficult for beginners.
- Movement Meditation - good for people who find peace in action and prefer to let their minds wander.
- Mantra Meditation - uses a repetitive sound to clear the mind. It can be a word, a phrase, or a sound.
- Transcendental Meditation - more ‘customizable’ than mantra meditation; uses a mantra or series of words that are specific to each practitioner.
- Progressive Relaxation - also known as body scan meditation; is often used to relieve stress and unwind before bedtime.
- Loving-Kindness Meditation - is intended to promote compassion and kindness; for those holding feelings of anger or resentment.
- Visualization Meditation - focuses on enhancing feelings of relaxation, peace, calmness, and success by visualizing positive scenes or images.