Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and involves focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to increase awareness of the present moment and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. Meditation can be practiced in different forms and can provide various benefits for mental health, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, and increasing self-awareness. A dedicated meditation practice can result in some interesting changes in the long term; such as changes in ability to response to experiences (learning) or in your default mood.
Meditation does not have to involve sitting in lotus position as the schema might dictate, but can also be done sitting comfortably, lying down, or walking. Eyes open or closed. Interestingly, the better you get at dropping into a meditative state the less time you have to spend doing it to achieve the same results.
Here are a few common types of meditation:
– Mindfulness Meditation: This type of meditation involves bringing one’s attention to the present moment and accepting thoughts and feelings without judgment. It can help reduce stress and increase focus and concentration.
– Walking meditation is a mindfulness practice that involves paying attention to the sensations of walking slowly and intentionally. It is a way to bring awareness and presence to the act of walking, allowing one to be fully in the moment and reduce stress and increase well-being.
– Loving-Kindness Meditation: This type of meditation involves sending positive and loving thoughts to oneself and others, promoting feelings of compassion and empathy. It can help improve relationships and overall well-being.
– Transcendental Meditation: This type of meditation involves the use of a mantra and focuses on transcending thought to achieve a deep state of relaxation and inner peace.
– Body Scan Meditation: This type of meditation involves focusing on different parts of the body, promoting relaxation, and reducing stress and tension.
– Breath Meditation: This type of meditation involves monitoring your breath by counting inhalations and exhalations. This is my favorite because it can be done anywhere, and we always have our breath with us.
Not all styles of mediation are suited for everyone. For example, if you are an individual who struggles with anxiety related to bodily sensations, then an eyes closed introspective type of meditation is not for you. Consider a eyes-open walking meditation, or a sitting practice that focuses externally – like on objects in nature.
The type of meditation can depend on the situation also. If you are feeling some sensory over-load like at a festival or busy mall, then some inward focus would be appropriate. Or, if experiencing rumination or unhelpful thoughts, outward focus would be the choice.
Consult your counsellor or therapist on what might be best for you by testing if whether you are more interoceptively (inwardly) dominant, or exteroceptively (outwardly) dominant; or under what conditions you want to change your mind-state.
Progress is determined by how quickly and easily you can fall into focus compared to previous. Like anything, this comes with practice. Remember that the process of focusing, becoming distracted, and refocusing is like doing reps at the gym. Every time you refocus, inwardly or outwardly, the better you get at focusing. In time you will be able evade distraction more easily and maintain focus longer -transferable skills that can be applied to non-meditative tasks like reading, writing, studying, listening, or being creative.
Meditation is a powerful tool for promoting mental health and well-being. By incorporating different types of meditation into a daily routine, individuals can experience a wide range of benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, improved mood, and increased self-awareness. As stated before, If you’re looking to incorporate meditation into your life, consider reaching out to a licensed therapist or counsellor who can guide you through the process and help you find the right type of meditation for your needs.