Making Meditation Work for You
While meditation can be a prolonged activity, it doesn’t have to take hours of your day. Even a ten or fifteen minute session of meditation can provide some benefits of relaxation.
The following list serves as a reference for different kinds of meditative practices. Choose one or two that you think you might enjoy and incorporate them into your schedule. Many people prefer to meditate early in the morning before starting their day to help them start with a positive outlook.
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Others choose to meditate just before bed to help them relieve anxious thoughts and drift off to sleep peacefully. A few meditative exercises are detailed later in Chapter 3: The Practice of Meditation.
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Deep Breathing or Breath Focus: Involves closing your eyes and focusing all of your attention on the experience of your breath filling your lungs and leaving your body. This is the basis of most meditative practices and many methods build upon this.
Body Scanning: This method is used primarily for relaxation. It involves paying attention to different parts of your body in sequence, allowing yourself to tense and then relax each part, paying attention to how each part feels during the process.
Energy Focus: Focusing your attention on the energy that flows through you and finding a sense of being “centered” or “grounded,” meaning a place of relaxed and empowered wholeness. May also involve the use of “chakras” or centers of energy as dictated in the
Hindu traditions meditation.
Gazing: This is a variation of the Breath Focus technique. Instead of having your eyes closed, you can choose to focus your gaze on an object.
Visualization: Entails closing your eyes and focusing your attention on an image of a peaceful place, such as a beach, a mountain, or a favorite hiking trail.
Guided Imagery: Involves listening to a teacher or a pre-recorded track to guide you through peaceful images and engage your senses.
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Mantra: Involves repeating a word, syllable, or phrase many times, either in your mind or out loud.
Music: Involves listening to soothing sounds of bells, harps, stringed instruments, wind instruments, and nature sounds while focusing on your breathing.
Yoga: This exercise is actually a form of meditation, as each movement is carried out slowly and methodically, paying attention to the breath and energy in the body. It is especially effective when paired with a beautiful setting in nature or meditative music.
T’ai Chi: A form of meditative martial arts that allows the user to focus attention on the inner energy flowing through the body.
Qi Gong: Combines relaxation, meditation, movement, and breathing exercises to restore and maintain a sense of balance. Focuses on the Chinese concept of Qi, or energy, particularly concentrated around the spine, torso, and forehead.
Walking Meditation: Walking can be used as a form of meditation when the user focuses attention on the feeling of movement, allowing all other thoughts to pass by. This is one of the most versatile practices because it can be completed while walking down the hall at
work, on the sidewalk, or out in nature.
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Insight or Mindfulness Meditation: Involves practicing mindfulness on the random stream of inner thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they flow by. It includes a focus on the present state of being as opposed to future or past events.
Positive Affirmations: Entails focusing on the positive thoughts that will help you accomplish your goals. Examples include, “I am successful,” “I am loved,” “I am able to do this,” or “I can do anything I set my mind to.”
Reading Reflection or Quiet Time: Involves reading a poem, sacred text, or scripture and reflecting upon its meaning or personal impact. Can also be paired with spoken word, sacred music, or journaling.
Movement Meditation: Involves attaining a sense of groundedness or centeredness and then allowing your body to move in various ways, focusing on the feelings of your body.