Meditation provides a wide range of benefits to you. It’s no surprise meditation can help with stress, and along those lines it also has positive effects on blood pressure and mental health. For example, meditation can improve anxiety and depression. Some studies even suggest that meditation can help with focus and lessen chronic pain. And the good news is meditating just five minutes per day five days per week is enough to see some benefit!
Despite all the good stuff we know, it can still be difficult to commit to a meditation practice. If you’re struggling to get started or just looking to change up your current routine, check out these different meditation types to find one that fits you just right.
1. Walking Meditation
For this type of meditation, you walk slowly while paying attention to your body, its movements, and any sensations you notice. You often see people walking through labyrinths for meditation, but the truth is you can start anywhere: your backyard, a trail, a path, or a park, for example. Be mindful while you walk. Instead of thinking about where you’re going, think about what each step feels like. If you’re able to go barefoot, even better—notice your connection to the Earth. You can even work on doing this when walking to work or through the parking lot—instead of letting your mind race ahead or obsessively go through your to do list, pay attention to your body as it moves you through your day.
TRY THIS MEDITATION…if you find it difficult to sit still long enough to meditate.
2. Mantra Meditation
Mantra meditation involves taking a specific sound or word and quietly or silently repeating it to yourself. “OM” is often used, but you can choose whatever you like. You may choose to repeat a specific trait you’re working on, like “love,” “joy,” or “kind.” As you comfortably sit and repeat your word silently to yourself, the quiet sound creates subtle vibrations through your body. These vibrations can be healing; they can even lift your mood. You don’t have to do this for long to benefit either—try it in your car before you head into work for the day or while in the shower.
TRY THIS MEDITATION…if you are an auditory learner or have specific things you’re working on and can use as a mantra.
3. Guided Meditation
When doing a guided meditation, you listen to someone read a script that walks your imagination through a peaceful scenario while you calmly breathe. Thanks to the internet, guided meditations are easy to find. Often, they’ll involve walking you through a forest or along a beach; water is a frequent feature. Try different ones and see which evokes the most calmness in you. Science has shown us that many times your body will respond to imagery in your head, even if your physical body isn’t experiencing it. This meditation utilizes that theory to help instill in you the peacefulness of a beach on vacation even when you’re in the midst of a hectic work day.
TRY THIS MEDITATION…if the thought of an “empty mind” is too daunting or you like to think in pictures.
4. Body Scan Meditation
For this meditation, you start at your feet (you can start at your head instead) and progressively go up through each body part, focusing on releasing tension and noticing sensations in each part as you proceed. You may find it more helpful to tense and then relax each body part, if “just relaxing” is too difficult. Don’t forget the jaw, tongue, and scalp—if you make it that far without falling asleep, that is. (This is a great meditation if you’re lying in bed with a racing mind and sleep eludes you.)
TRY THIS MEDITATION…if you battle chronic pain or have trouble feeling fully in your body.
5. Loving-Kindness Meditation
The idea behind loving-kindness meditation is to work on cultivating a feeling of compassion, love, and kindness towards all other people. You focus your mind on opening to receive loving-kindness, and then you focus your mind and heart on projecting loving-kindness out into the world. You can visualize specific people in your mind and image projecting loving-kindness on to them—your loved ones are easy, but work on doing the same for colleagues who cause you stress or people you dislike.
TRY THIS MEDITATION…if you find you have a short-temper or have trouble connecting to other people.
6. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness really just means being aware of your Self in the present moment without judgment. This means you focus on your breath and notice your thoughts and feelings but you stay an observer, withholding judgment. Mindfulness meditation can be especially useful if you find it difficult to empty your mind and then beat yourself up over it, which causes more thoughts to invade your mind and entirely derail your meditation session. Instead of spiraling or applying judgment to that thought or feeling you have, just notice it. Let it float into your head, give it a nod, and then let it float out. If it hangs out for awhile, that’s ok; just notice it hanging out there and don’t apply any value or judgment to it. It simply is. The good news about this meditation is you can do it anywhere and for any length of time—sometimes 90 seconds is enough to interrupt your thought patterns and reset your mood.
TRY THIS MEDITATION…if you harbor a lot of self-criticism or consider yourself “too busy” to meditate (you can do it anywhere, anytime!).
How To Squeeze Meditation Into Every Day
You might think there’s no way you can squeeze meditating into your already busy schedule—but you’re wrong! Here are some ways to incorporate little spurts of meditation into your day.
- When you’re stuck in line somewhere, try a quick loving-kindness meditation. Send loving-kindness to the employees, the other customers, etc. Imagine love and compassion radiating from your heart to them.
- When you’re brushing your teeth, try a quick body scan meditation. Notice the movements of your hands and wrists, the taste of the toothpaste, and the feel of the toothbrush on your teeth and gums. You can also go beyond the toothbrushing act—scan down through your arms to your torso and down to your feet.
- When you’re doing the dishes, try a quick mindfulness meditation. Focus on how the warm, soapy water feels on your hands, the scent of the dish soap you’re using, the texture of the dishes.
- When you’re running or on the treadmill, try a quick mantra meditation. You can time it with your stride so that you’re repeating the mantra in rhythm with your footsteps to further emphasize the vibrations and repetition.
- When you’re commuting or folding clothes, try a guided meditation. Note: Only try this during your commute if you’re not driving! Put on your headphones and pull up a guided meditation to ensure that you’re in full-on relax mode by the time you get home. Alternatively, when you’re facing down some laundry that needs folding, turn on a guided meditation. You’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nature instead of a pile of laundry.
- When you’re walking your dog or waiting for your kid to finish practice, try a walking meditation. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy…start walking and simply notice the sensations and movements in your body. Walk as slowly or as quickly as you like.