Learning how to meditate can be very simple, and is one of the best things you can do for your health and overall well-being. Meditation is an especially effective technique for stress relief because it enables you to relieve stress in the moment, and to create changes in yourself that will help you to be less reactive to the stressors you face in the future. Learning how to meditate can be fun, as there are a variety of meditation techniques that can be effective--if one style meditation doesn't feel right, another style will. Learn how to meditate several different ways, and see what approach works best for you!
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Mindfulness meditation may be one of the more challenging forms of meditation for those just learning how to meditate, but it is a rewarding form of meditation that brings many benefits, both for the beginner and for those who practice regularly. For those just learning how to meditate, mindfulness meditation requires no props or preparation (no candles to light, mantras to choose, or techniques to learn); long-term practice can bring a calmer mind and less reactivity to stress! The key feature of mindfulness meditation is a focus on the present moment. Rather than focusing on something outside of oneself, mindfulness meditation requires a focus on "now." Learn more about mindfulness meditation and mindful living.
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Learning how to meditate with a walking meditation is simple, and provides some of the relaxation benefits of exercise as well as the standard benefits of meditation. They key to a walking meditation is not just the walking itself, of course, it's the frame of mind in which you walk. Walking meditations can be fast or slow, can be practiced with a clear mind or with the aid of music or a mantra. Walking meditation is especially useful for those who like to stay active and may feel stressed with the silence and stillness of some of the other methods, like mindfulness meditation. Learn how to meditate with this simple walking meditation tutorial, and alter your pace or focus as you discover what feels right for you.
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Mantra meditation is another simple technique for those learning how to meditate. If keeping your mind completely quiet feels like too much of a challenge, mantra meditation might be easier. It combines some of the benefits of positive affirmations with the benefits of meditation with the repetition of a single word or sound. Some people feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of repeating "om" or humming, but you can use whatever mantra you like. As with walking meditation, the key ingredient with mantra meditation is the meditative state you achieve and not necessarily the mantra you use, though it's a good idea to choose a mantra you're comfortable with. Learn how to meditate using mantra meditation.
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While mindfulness meditation typically involves keeping the mind completely clear of thoughts, and maintaining that state, mindfulness can be cultivated in many ways throughout the day. Basically, staying fully present with whatever you are doing and maintaining a focus on the physical experience of the present moment can help you maintain mindfulness as you go through your day. There are ways to cultivate mindfulness, and as you're learning how to meditate, I would recommend that you cultivate mindfulness as well--it can help you practice meditation more easily, and can fit into a busy schedule relatively easily. Learn how to cultivate mindfulness, and use this skill for stress relief.
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When you're looking at how to meditate, here's a relatively quick and savory technique to try. The chocolate meditation
is a form of mindfulness meditation that's often used in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR
) classes, is simple for beginners, engages several senses, and has a built-in reward of making the taste of chocolate feel more intense. Using dark chocolate
for this exercise brings its own benefits. If you're looking for something simple and new, try the chocolate meditation.
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Breathing meditation is one of the most popular forms of meditation because of its ease and simplicity, as well as its convenience (breathing is always occurring, so it's a convenient anchor for meditation). The breath provides a natural focus that's unobtrusive, but always there, and creates a natural rhythm to get lost in. You can practice breathing meditation for a few minutes, or for longer, and always find relaxation.
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One soothing method for those looking at how to meditate is the bath meditation. A bath meditation combines the standard benefits of meditation with the benefits of a soothing, hot bath, which can relax tired muscles, provide a relaxing atmosphere, and allow a temporary feeling of escape from stressors. Being in the water can also help you to stay awake, something that is important but sometimes challenging if you're learning how to meditate when tired. Try a bath meditation, and be clean, relaxed, and ready for bed (or a low-stress day) when you're finished.
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For those who feel they don't have time for full-length meditation sessions (20 minutes is a good average amount of time), or for those who would like to experience some of the benefits of meditation between longer sessions, mini-meditations (meditations around 5 minutes in length)are a great technique to try. Mini-meditations are very simple, and fit in well with even the busiest of schedules. Learn how to meditate in shorter bursts, and work up to longer sessions, or just use this technique for quick and convenient stress relief.