What is meditation?
Meditation is a mind and body practice that takes many forms. Almost all involve focusing your attention on something—your breathing, a repeated mantra, an object or image, an aspect of your environment or the movement and sensation of your body. The aim is to clear your mind of everyday thoughts, worries and distractions and concentrate on the present moment or spiritual connection. Most involve relaxed breathing in a quiet and comfortable setting.
What are some benefits of meditation?
The benefits of meditation vary with the type practiced. These can include the following:
- Stress reduction—The goal of almost all forms of meditation is to induce a state of calmness and tranquility, so your stress is relieved while you are engaged in meditation.
- Improved health—Because of its stress-reducing benefit, meditation is being used more widely as a complementary treatment for certain health conditions, particularly those that can be aggravated by stress, such as high blood pressure, chronic pain and certain inflammatory conditions.
- Increased patience and acceptance—Kindness meditation focuses specifically on strengthening patience for and kindness toward yourself and others.
- Greater self-awareness—Some types of meditation, such as Zen meditation, involve a focus on self-awareness and self-understanding.
- Enhanced memory and attention span—The practice of focusing the mind during meditation appears to have a carry-over effect in improving short-term memory and lengthening attention span.
Try meditation for yourself
There are many types of meditation and no single “right” way to meditate. Some commonly practiced types include: Mindfulness, Zen, Mantra, Transcendental, Guided, Yoga, Tai chi and Qigong. It’s easy to find local classes if you want to get started. You can also try it on your own. There are plenty of online tutorials for each of the many meditation methods, and no special equipment is needed.
Trying a guided meditation is an easy way to get a taste of the practice, or you might prefer to experience the quiet and tranquility of meditation by yourself, with no one steering your thoughts.
Once you find a type of meditation that works for you, the next step is to build it into your daily routine. Many people meditate to start their day, others to take a break during or at the end of a busy day.
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