In this beginner’s guide to meditation, we will take a look at the different types of meditation, the benefits of meditation, and how you can get started today.
We’re all stressed. This isn’t an understatement either, as the American Institute of Stress reports that 33% of people in the United States are currently dealing with extreme stress. Out of those surveyed, about 77% of them reported a direct correlation with their physical health, while another 73% indicated a significant impact on their mental health.
The point is, if you’re looking for ways to de-stress and take better care of your overall physical or mental health, you’re not alone. And, the good news is that meditation has been proven to help.
In today’s blog, we provide an overview of what meditation is, how you can get started, and which type may yield the best results for you. Breathe in, exhale, and let’s get started.
What is Meditation?
At its core, meditation is the practice of mindfulness. It includes a variety of guided practices that force you to focus on your breathing as you shut off your negative thoughts and feelings to focus on the space you’re in.
Types of Meditation
While meditation has the same goal, there are actually nine different techniques you can use to get started. It’s recommended that you give a few of these a try to see which technique works best for you, as everyone is different.
Here’s an overview of the different types of meditation:
Mindfulness Meditation is the most popular type of meditation, and it’s likely the one you’ll want to start with. It has its origins in Buddhist teachings and is done by paying attention to thoughts as they pass through your mind. In doing so, you don’t take part in the thoughts or judge them. You simply observe them.
Mindfulness meditation helps you practice awareness and concentration. You can easily perform this type of meditation by yourself, simply by focusing on an object or your breath while you observe your surroundings.
This kind of meditation seeks to bring one a greater connection to a higher power and is practiced in nearly every religion. Things like contemplative prayer and Jewish kabbalistic practices fall into this category and are often practiced in places of worship. However, you can easily practice them at home, too.
This kind of meditation is done by practicing one of the five senses. You simply focus on one thing to meditate. This can be anything from a nearby sound to your breath to focusing your eyes on the painting hanging in front of you.
This type of meditation can be difficult for the beginner but is a great way to increase your focus and attention, as you gain more experience. However, keep in mind that just because it’s not always easy for beginners, doesn’t mean it may not be the right technique for you. Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong way to meditate.
This form of meditation is fairly active. While most associate it with yoga, movement meditation can also include something fairly basic like walking or gardening. The idea is that you’re developing peace in performing an action and creating awareness of your body as you move it.
With Mantra Meditation, you focus on a single, repetitive word to clear your mind. That word is usually “om” but can be done with just about any word or phrase.
No matter how loud or soft you say the mantra, the idea is that you’re increasing your awareness by repeating it, allowing it to soak into your subconscious. This meditation technique is recommended if you hate sitting in silence.
This type of meditation combines a couple of different styles including the mantra method we mentioned above. Usually, this method involves sitting comfortably with your eyes closed for 20 minutes. However, it’s only taught by certified practitioners, so this style of meditation usually requires you to attend a class.
Several studies have shown that transcendental meditation actually yields the highest level of success compared to everything else mentioned on this list.
Also known as body scan meditation, this type of meditation focuses on tightening and relaxing one muscle group at a time to reduce tension and bring relaxation.
This kind of meditation is a great way to relieve stress during the day. Likewise, if you’re looking to relax before going to bed, give this easy method a go.
This type of meditation is geared toward those who hold common feelings of anger or resentment. It’s designed to increase kindness, compassion, and acceptance by getting you to open your mind and send and receive love to yourself and those in your life, even if these individuals hurt you.
Last but not least, we have visualization meditation. With Visualization Meditation, you need to imagine positive scenes and images in an attempt to increase feelings of peace, calmness, and relaxation.
While trying to visualize with all of your senses, the idea here is that if you can think of something relaxing, it will help you relax.
Physical Benefits of Meditation
There are many physical benefits to practicing meditation. Some of these include things like lowering your blood pressure, improving your heart rate and breathing, and even decreasing your metabolism. However, the physical benefits aren’t just limited to those few things.
Here are a few of the most common physical benefits of meditation:
Helps Your Immune System
In studies, it’s been shown that meditation can help improve your immune system, even increasing the number of antibodies you produce to fight off infections and disease. So, if you’re constantly under the weather, meditation may actually help you.
Improve Your Quality of Sleep
Remember back in high school when you had trouble staying asleep the night before a big test? Well, this still happens as we age.
Stress and anxiety can make it difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep because oftentimes, it’s the first time during your day that your body has been relaxed enough to start releasing those emotions.
The downside to this is that lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety and depression, feeding bad habits that cause you to stay in a heightened, stressful state.
Benefits to Women’s Physical Health
Women can reap several health benefits from meditation. One study has shown that regular meditation can improve PMS symptoms, breastfeeding, and even infertility problems.
In fact, PMS symptoms have been shown to subside with regular meditation. One study showed that women with infertility problems who tried a 10-week meditation program had decreased levels of anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Not only that, but 34% of those same women became pregnant within 6 months.
Benefits to Men’s Physical Health
Don’t worry, guys, you’re not excluded from the benefits of meditation. Men who engage in regular meditation over a 30-day period were found to have lower blood sugar levels, have grown new brain cells, and improved overall fitness and athleticism. In particular, meditation makes your immune system stronger, and may even boost male fertility rates.