Experience the Life Changing Powers of Meditation

When you practice meditation, you clear away the information overload that builds up every day. You clear away anything that may stop you from achieving your goals. When your mind is clear of distracting thoughts, you gain new perspectives and new ways of handling stress and other problems. You become more self-aware. You focus on the here and now and you are fully present in the moment. You have the mind of a Genie!

While there are many different ways to meditate, the goal is the same - inner peace and a quiet mind. You may have heard about different kinds: transcendental, Zen, movement, and other forms. But don't let the thought of meditating the "right" way add to your stress. Sure, you can certainly attend special centers or group classes led by trained instructors to practice such forms such as Yoga, Tai chi & Qi gong.

But you can also practice easily on your own. You can find everyday opportunities to meditate wherever you happen to be. You can also make it as formal or informal as you like - whatever suits your lifestyle and situation. Some people build meditation into their daily routine. For example, they may start or end each day with an hour of meditation. If you're short on time, all you really need is a few minutes.

Everyday Ways to Practice Meditation

Here are some ways you can practice on your own, whenever you choose. Take a few minutes or as much time as you like.

Breathe Deeply This technique is good for beginners because breathing is a natural function. Focus all attention on your breathing. Concentrate on the feeling of energy moving thru your body as you inhale through your nostrils and out thru your mouth. Breathe deeply and slowly. Make your in breath quicker than your out breath. When you feel your attention wander, gently return your focus to the feeling in your body.

Scan Your Body When using this technique, focus attention on different parts of your body. Become aware of your body's various sensations, whether that's pain, tension, warmth or relaxation. Combine body scanning with breathing exercises and imagine breathing heat or relaxation into and out of different parts of your body.

Repeat a Name or Phrase A mantra is the name of a sacred deity or a sacred phrase that you repeat silently or aloud. You can create your own mantra.

Examples of religious mantras include the Lord's Prayer in the Christian tradition, the holy name of God in Judaism, or the Om mantra of Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions.

Walking A walk is an efficient and healthy way to relax. You can use this technique anywhere you're walking - in a tranquil forest, on a city sidewalk or at the mall. When you use this method, slow down the pace of walking so that you can focus on each movement of your legs or feet. Don't focus on a particular destination. Concentrate on your legs and feet, repeating action words in your mind such as lifting, moving and placing as you lift each foot, move your leg forward and place your foot on the ground.

Engage in Prayer Prayer is the best known and most widely practiced example of meditation. Spoken and written prayers are found in most faith traditions. You can pray using your own words or read prayers written by others. Check the self-help section of your local bookstore for examples. Talk with your rabbi, priest, pastor or other spiritual leader about resources.

Read or Listen and Take Time to Reflect Many people report that they benefit from reading poems or sacred texts silently or aloud, and taking a few moments to quietly reflect on the meaning that the words bring to mind. You can listen to sacred music, spoken words or any music you find relaxing or inspiring. You may want to write your reflections in a journal or discuss them with a friend or spiritual leader.

Focus Love and Gratitude In this type, you focus your attention on a sacred object or being, weaving feelings of love and gratitude into your thoughts. You can also close your eyes and use your imagination or gaze at representations of the object.

Practice Your New Skills Be kind to yourself as you get started. It's common for the mind to wander during meditation, no matter how long you've been practicing and that's OK. If you're meditating to calm your mind and your attention wanders, slowly return to the object, sensation or movement you're focusing on. You can use an image to bring yourself back to your focus if you'd like.

Try this: Picture balloons floating away with your thoughts, or imagine your thoughts as pigeons and mentally clap your hands to get them to fly away.

Experiment, and you'll likely find out what types of work best for you. Adapt any techniques you learn to your needs at the moment. Remember, there's no right way or wrong way! What matters is that meditation helps you clear away whatever may be holding you back from creating the life of your dreams.

Some content provided by the Mayo Clinic

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