Beginner's Meditation: 3 Styles to Try Today
The physical health, emotional health and general wellness benefits of a regular meditation practice are astounding. As a tool in your self-improvement journey, it can boost your results and help you along your life’s path. According to hundreds of studies, (1) the science-based benefits of meditation include (but aren’t limited to) the following:
Lower Stress: A study on more than 3,500 adults found that meditation reduces levels of cortisol (your stress hormone) and general stress itself, leading to an improvement in mental clarity, a reduction in mood disorders like depression and anxiety, and improved sleep.
Improved Emotional Health: Two studies, covering nearly 5,000 adults, found that meditation reduced inflammatory hormones in your brain, leading to improved mental and emotional well-being.
Enhanced Self-Awareness: Meditation helps you upgrade your thought practices and can help you identity thought patterns that are sabotaging your goals and success.
Starting a meditation practice for the first time can feel daunting. While there are many “expert” level meditative habits and practices, you don’t need to sit next to a yoga guru or attend a silent week-long meditation retreat to begin to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness. If you’re new to meditation, consider one of these four beginner-friendly meditation styles.
If you’re having trouble focusing your mind, and find that even attempting to be mindful and meditate is too much, you may enjoy being led through a guided meditation. Your guide may look different depending on your approach. You can choose from options like listening to a pre-taped audio recording, attending an in-person meditation session or meditation class, or even following along to an app on your smartphone.
When choosing a guided meditation, you often have the option to choose a specific theme, topic or life circumstance to focus on. For example, popular guided meditation topics include topics like finding love, manifesting financial abundance, or cultivating inner peace and contentment.
Meditation doesn’t have to always be about sitting in a candlelit room or swaying to a chant or any others of the many cliched stereotypes out there. Meditation can also be about being mindful and fully present as you carry out your daily tasks.
Mindfulness is about turning your full awareness and conscious presence to the task at hand, without letting your mind wander or be distracted. For example, meditation teacher and author Eckhart Tolle poetically describes the meditative practice of simply washing your hands with soap. (2)
“Do it consciously,” Tolle says. “For example, [when] you wash your hands, feel the water. Smell the soap. Becoming acutely conscious of sense perception means looking, hearing, touching. It brings you into the present moment.”
The effects of mindfully accomplishing your tasks are the same as meditation, and in fact is a form of “moving meditation,” although the approach may seem quite different from traditional meditation. It will help you to refocus your attention, build and strengthen your self-awareness, and reduce stress while uplifting your overall mood and emotions through the spiritual practice of simply being in the here and now.
If you are someone who thrives on structure, or whose mind wanders very easily, mantra meditations may intrigue you. A mantra is simply a tool to focus your mind. While traditionally it refers to words or chants from various Eastern religious practices, such as Hinduism or Zen Buddhism, a mantra can also be a simple sound or syllable.
By silently or even verbally repeating the mantra, you bring your awareness back to your breath and the present moment. If your mind starts to wander or get distracted, the mantra anchors your attention and brings you back over and over again to the presence of the mantra.
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