Meditation Series: Part 2
Welcome to part deux of my meditation series! You can catch up on the first part of the series right here and see why I feel like meditation is so important for me.
Just like yoga, there’s a ton of different types of meditation out there and if one doesn’t suit you then you can move right on and try the next. Although, I do suggest giving each type more than one try because sometimes the one you’re the most resistant to is the one you need the most. There are a lot of meditations specific to certain problems like forgiveness, loneliness, depression, etc., but this list is just meant to give you a very broad overview of what is out there and introduce beginners or those who are hesitant to the world of meditation. Let’s get started!
Just search guided visualizations on Youtube and you will find a myriad of videos of guided meditations on all different subjects. The world really is your oyster with this one and guided visualization is hands down my favorite type of meditation. This can be done in person as well, but the internet makes this one extremely accessible.
You begin with a guide leading you into a state of relaxation by helping you ease out of the thoughts bouncing around in your head that have been building up all day. The guide then attempts to evoke images within your imagination that inspire your senses. For example, the guide may have you envision a small stream of water and ask you to think about what sound the trickle of water is making or what the feeling of the cool water splashing on your hands feels like. As you create more in this meditative place you lose more and more awareness of your physical self. I love guided visualization for bringing my anxiety levels down, gaining energy and focus and….well, just about any issue I’m having at the moment! If you’re a beginner I highly suggest starting out with guided visualization.
Mindfulness is the hardest type of meditation for me and probably the one I need the most. This is the traditional type of meditation that most people call up in their mind’s eye when they hear the word meditation. This practice has you cross-legged with your back straight while you concentrate on your breathing. I choose to do this on a pillow that I chose specifically for meditating because 1) comfort and 2) it was an excuse to buy another pillow. Lay the backs of your hands on your knees and slowly breathe in and out as you pay attention to your breath. Thoughts my flit in and out of your mind, but gently push them aside as you focus back on your breathing.
I have a love/hate relationship with mindfulness because while I know I need it so that I can learn how to be more in the moment in my life I also have an extremely hard time sitting still with no distractions. So I make sure to incorporate this type at least two times a week into my meditation routine.
Learn more- How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
This is a type of silent meditation that was created and taught to others by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and concentrates on repeating a mantra over and over in your mind (more on mantras below) until you begin to just hear it rather than making yourself say it. The mantra is your own to create, but I suggest something simple that you can really focus on. This technique asks that you sit cross-legged with your hands on your knees and your eyes closed. The traditional method also requires 15-20 minutes of meditation, but I’m a firm believer that any meditation is better than no meditation so if you only have 5 minutes then do it for 5 minutes!
Learn more-Transcendental Meditation
I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory. Instead of being quiet while you’re meditating you are chanting or speaking a mantra out loud. If you’re having trouble thinking of a mantra can search online, but I feel like the best mantras come to you organically when you ask yourself what issues you’re having right now or what areas you want to become better in. For example, if you are feel helpless in life you can use the mantra “the universe will take care of me” or “I can handle whatever comes my way”.
If you don’t have something that you specifically want to chant you can always go with “om” or “aum”. The rhythmic chanting gives you something to concentrate on while everything else floats away. Chanting meditation has spiritual roots and many believe that chanting “om” or “aum” creates positive vibrations in your body. Do with that information what you will. For some people meditation is a spiritual practice and for others it’s just a way to gain perspective. It doesn’t really matter which you are.
Learn more- Om: What Is It and Why Do We Do It?
This will be a real winner for people who love to be outdoors! Just go outside your apartment, find a nice prairie path or go to your local Arboretum. Just find somewhere to go outside and walk! Walk at the speed you would usually stroll leisurely at and pay attention to the way your body moves. The rhythm of each heel strike as it lands on the ground and the way your body propels you forward. Do a complete body scan as you’re walking and notice if there’s tightness anywhere starting from your feet to the tippy top of your head. Let your belly be loose, your jaw be slack and your knees gently bent. Let go of any tightness you’re holding. Finally, you can then begin to take in the outside world. Notice the color of the trees and the smell of the freshly cut grass. Hear the neighbors mowing their lawn or the crickets chirping. Listen to that babbling brook even if it’s just the electric water fountain on your neighbor’s front porch.
Just like you are acknowledging your surroundings do the same for your feelings. Are you frustrated? Sad? Lonely? There is no judgement here. It’s just about noticing your state of being and learning more about yourself.
Learn More- How to Do Walking Meditation
Yoga meditation is another active meditation just like the walking one. Before you begin your yoga practice try picking an intention that will be reinforced through each movement. Your intention could be to achieve greater health, to learn to forgive or to ease your anxiety. Your intention can be anything you want or you could also pick a mantra that you just repeat to yourself through each flow. You can really practice yoga meditation with any type of yoga, but I prefer to do it with the slower types of yoga as it allows me to really let the intention or mantra resonate within me during each pose and I try to pick poses that really lend themselves to meditation like cat/cow, dancer and different variations on spinal twists.
Learn More-How to Do Yoga Meditation
Finding out what meditation type is right for you is an adventure in and of itself, but I suggest giving every type a try and seeing what works for you. The most important lesson I hope you learn from this series is that it isn’t what type of meditation you choose to do or for how long, but actually just doing it! Meditation has so many perks, which we’ll get into in part three of my meditation series, and I want everyone to reap the health benefits just like I am!
At the time I’m writing this, I just finished up with week 3 of my month long meditation experiment of meditating for at least 5 minutes everyday for 30 days and it’s definitely been an adventure. I love it but, i’ll be honest, some days meditating feels like a chore. The last thing I want to do is sit still doing nothing when there’s a million things I need to do for myself or for my job, but then I remind myself of all the benefits that come from meditation.
As I said above, I have a really hard time with mindfulness meditation, but I also know it’s what I need the most so I made sure to include it at least two times a week. I’ve found the easiest way to fit in my meditation is to do it on my lunch hour and it also helps me get over my afternoon slump and end the day on a productive note without having to use caffeine to power through the day. Don’t worry! I haven’t been possessed! I still love coffee as much as ever, however, I do try and limit my coffee intake after noon because I don’t want it to affect my sleep.
I also love taking walks on my lunch break and tried out a walking meditation one day. My workplace is located in an industrial section so there isn’t much in the way of scenery, but there is a small pond along my typical path and some geese that had just had adorable babies. Walking meditation made me really see the walk I take everyday in a new light. I could hear the speakers in the background from the nearby car dealership and the way the sun rays bounced off the pond was enchanting as the baby geese splashed in and out of the water.
I ended this week feeling pretty darn good because there were a couple days that I had actually been looking forward to meditating. I also realized I felt better on the days that I did at least 10 minutes than 5 because it takes me those first 5ish minutes to just start relaxing.
I continued to make mindfulness meditation a priority and actually managed to do it three times this week! The last one was a bit easier and I can tell it’s becoming easier for my brain to enter my meditation zone. Even when I’m at work and I start to feel my shoulders climb up to my ears with stress I can take a deep breath, relax my jaw and ease my shoulders back down and get this wave of calm that just washes over me.
I also did a yoga meditation off of YouTube for the first time since I started this fun challenge and was reminded of how enjoyable it can be. Each pose really does awaken different feelings in you and chanting the mantra to myself in my head “the universe is filling me with health and wellness” really did make me feel happier and lighter when I was done. Plus, when you’re focusing on the meditation part of yoga you stop thinking about how you did a pose more easily last week or that you’ll never be able to stay in dancer’s pose longer than a couple seconds. Your practice really becomes just about being in the moment.
All in all, I can tell that meditation is really helping me. My anxiety is lower overall and I’m better able to calm myself. I also feel more encouraged in my ability to overcome my health issues which is the best possible outcome I could ask for other than being miraculously cured.
I’ll see you with Meditation Series: Part Three very soon! Sound out below if you have any meditation questions, comments or stories!