Life is relentlessly stressful sometimes. We have bills to pay, laundry and other household tasks to do, difficult coworkers to deal with, and a host of other daily challenges. What if your car breaks down on your way to work tomorrow? What if your lights are turned off next week? What if you have company coming and notice that your baseboards need a thorough cleaning? To deal with the intimidating stress in life, you need to slow down and re-center yourself regularly. With this rundown of five key meditation tips, doing this may come almost as naturally to you as breathing.
Meditation has never been more relevant. Our lives are more hectic and stressful than ever, and much of that stress is self-created. Meditation is an ancient tradition and a no-cost source of relief, Keep reading to learn about five important meditation tips to help you achieve the inner peace that will make your daily life much more manageable.
What Are the Different Types of Meditation?
There are six widely recognized types of meditation. These are spiritual meditation, mindfulness meditation, movement meditation, focused meditation, visualization meditation, and chanting meditation. While many of these meditation techniques are deeply rooted in religion, you do not have to be religious to benefit from meditation. Furthermore, you are not limited to only one method of meditation. It is quite common for people to use two or more types of meditation based on their individual, current needs.
Spiritual meditation is not exclusive to Eastern traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. It is also practiced in many Judeo-Christian traditions. Often, these traditions incorporate such elements as chanted, spoken, or silent prayer.
Non-theistic spiritual traditions such as Taoism and Buddhism use meditation as a way of achieving self-actualization and self-awareness. In simpler terms, they are intended to help you become the best, most spiritually fulfilled person you can be. Theistic traditions like Christianity are primarily focused on bringing you closer to God. For many, the ideal locations to practice spiritual meditation are in nature or a house of worship.
Although it is very popular in the western hemisphere today, mindfulness meditation applies a range of techniques rooted in Buddhist teachings. Self-knowledge is positioned as the bedrock for overcoming intolerance, impatience, dissatisfaction, and other habits that stand between us and living complete, fulfilling lives. Mindfulness meditation can help you:
- Learn to rest in and appreciate the current moment
- Recognize your reality, starting with mindfulness of your thoughts and body
- Observe your mind and recognize every thought that arises without judgment or manipulation
For a successful mindfulness meditation session, maintain a disciplined posture with a straight back and strive to be fully honest with yourself. Find a comfortable position, whether that is seated on a pillow or in a chair or lying in bed or on the floor. Choose something to be mindful of. Deep yet controlled breathing is a common focus for mindfulness meditation.
Another key area of focus is the physical sensation of your body. Focus on every surface your body is touching. Feel your arms across your chest or on your lap. Recognize your cold hands or the hard chair you are sitting in. If your mind wanders from the focal point of your meditation, acknowledge the shift and then, without judgment, return to your meditative state.
Movement meditation involves intent focus on your body in motion. One of the most common forms of mindful movement is walking meditation. Other forms of movement meditation include yoga and certain martial arts such as tai chi. Once you master the technique of being mindful of your motions, you can expand your awareness to nearly anything you do. This is an excellent alternative to seated or prone meditation because many people concentrate their best when they are in motion.
Focused meditation instructs us to concentrate exclusively on a single act or task. With laser-like focus, concentrate on drinking a cup of hot green tea. Smell the tea as you bring it to your lips. Feel the warmth and weight of the mug in your hand. Focus on the aroma of the tea and how it feels on your tongue.
If you find your mind wandering to your unchecked e-mails or what you are buying at the grocery store tonight, recognize this shift and then return your thoughts to your tea. Focused meditation will help you recognize stress-inducing thoughts and return your attention back to the present.
This technique is extremely common in various other meditation disciplines, but it can be a discipline unto itself when you are stressed. Remember a time in your life you felt at peace. Maybe you were riding a bicycle. Maybe you were sailing on a lake. Wherever your happy place is, close your eyes and go there.
Visualization meditation originates from the Tibetan tradition of visualizing a meditation deity, or mandala. It was used to give practitioners a foundation for developing such inherent qualities as wisdom and compassion.
Visualization is an extremely powerful technique for establishing positive personal transformation. Nearly all of our thoughts, both good and bad, are based on memories or thinking about fears and/or hopes for the future. If you have difficulty shutting out such thoughts, replace them by creating a mental image and environment that will bring peace and joy into your life.
Chanting and mantra meditation are central components of many spiritual paths ranging from Hindu and Buddhist traditions to Western religions such as Christianity and Islam. While chanting, focus on the sound of the melody and words intoned. Eastern traditions often involve repeating a certain phrase, sound, or word that helps you clear your mind. This may or may not be accompanied by a melody.
In contrast, some Western traditions encourage contemplating the meaning behind the words being chanted. Whether you are chanting to establish a deeper connection with your personal deity or you just want to slow your spinning wheels, this is an excellent approach to relaxation through meditation.
What Is the Best Environment for Meditation?
Before you apply our meditation tips, you must first create the best environment for meditation. But what does that look like? Each of us has our own idea of what the perfect environment for meditation is, but there are some common characteristics among the viable possibilities. Try to find a room void of any electronics distractions like televisions, computer monitors, and cellphones. Experienced meditation specialists suggest that these devices create negative energy in the room.
Remember Your Sense of Smell
People often focus on their senses of hearing and sight when trying to create the perfect environment for meditation. While it is important to remove potential visual and auditory distractions, scents greatly affect how receptive you are to unwinding and meditation. Try adding lavender essential oil to a diffuser to relax you when you prepare to meditate.
Meditation Tips to Help You Calm Your Mind
Many of us find ourselves stressed to the max with our brains running a mile a minute. You may feel like a prisoner in your own mind, crushed under the weight of your relentless thoughts. You have the power to change that. With the following five meditation tips, you can set about freeing yourself from your "mental prison" and recovering inner peace.
Focus on the Positive
Focus on the positive aspects of your surroundings and yourself. To retrain your brain to think positively, simply focus on things you are grateful for or what makes you happy. This will help you find more peace and tranquility since you no longer think as much about the negativity you perceive in yourself and your life. This is arguably the most important of all meditation tips because your energy flows in concert with your attention. By making a conscious effort to think positive thoughts, you will find an inner peace you may not have felt in years.
Repeat Positive Affirmations
Take a moment right now to observe your thoughts. What are you thinking about? Many obsessions and preoccupations revolve around what you need to get done today, something that happened to you that made you angry, or self-deprecating thoughts. It can be difficult to maintain a positive outlook with so much negativity around us. However, repeating peaceful words to yourself goes a long way in countering negative, anxiety-inducing thoughts.
Whenever you feel signs of impending anxiety, repeat calming words to yourself. These can be words such as light, love, calm, peace, tranquility, or relaxation. Some people find it helpful to repeat words such as "park" or "mountains," visualizing a peaceful scene. Words carry a great deal of power and meaning, so use this to your advantage.
Meditation is a means of curbing the constant flow of thoughts barraging your consciousness, taking you to a place of stillness instead. You do not have to turn your brain off to meditate. However, many people find that meditation enables them to slow their thoughts drastically. They are also able to observe themselves much more clearly with closed eyes and controlled breaths. Meditation is all about being aware of your body so you can cope with daily struggles more easily.
The more frequently you meditate, the easier it will become. In fact, you may find you automatically begin to meditate when you start to feel stressed. For more peace and tranquility in your life, try to sit quietly and focus on nothing but your breath for 10 minutes a day. Breathe in and out of your nose and focus on nothing but the feeling of the breath flowing in through your nostrils and out of your mouth.
Live in the Present
If thinking about the bills you have to pay tomorrow or all the chores you have to complete after work stresses you out, strive to take breaks from thinking about them at all. According to the National Science Foundation, the average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts each day. Of these thoughts, 80% are negative and 95% of them are the same thoughts that may have occupied us the day before.
Ruminating on future problems can lead to chronic stress, depression, anxiety, and hypertension. Most stress is caused by focusing on a time other than the present. If you bring yourself back into the current time through meditation, you may find life becoming much more manageable. Flow from one moment in time to the next, and you will find you have recaptured the true peace you felt as a child.
Reconnect with Nature
Whether you take a vacation to the mountains or just visit the local park, it is important to take some time away from the hustle and bustle of your daily life and reconnect with nature. This is one of the most important meditation tips of all. You will never find peace in possessions or numbers, so separate yourself from the material world whenever you can. Feeling at one with nature will remind you that most of the stress you feel in your body and mind comes from within.
Meditation has been used for millennia and it is absolutely relevant today. There are many types of meditation, including chanting meditation, movement meditation, and focus meditation. Just as important as finding the right meditation style and technique for you is creating or finding a space that is truly conducive to concentration. To recap briefly, the five most important meditation tips we can recommend are living in the present, reconnecting with nature, meditating frequently, repeating peaceful words to yourself, and focusing on the positive aspects of your life.