Meditation is nothing more (or less) than emptying your mind of all distractions and focusing it on the here and now – your breath, the way your body feels, the feeling of the air around you, the sounds you can hear, any fragrances you can detect. It’s clearing your mind out and anchoring yourself in the present moment in a way that reminds you that this is what’s real, that all else is merely the machinations of an active mind. You can do it for a few minutes and on an as-needed basis, and you’ll definitely find it helpful – but even better is to develop a habit of meditating (in whatever way you like) twice a day. Doing this regularly is like having a training program for your mind – as with your muscles, you get better at it and achieve greater benefit from meditation with regular practice.
Methods of Meditation
Here are four common and popular modalities of meditation. Try them all to see what you like best!
Walking Meditation. A great meditation strategy for multi-taskers or anyone pressed for time, walking meditation allows you to mindfully combine two activities in one. While stationery, take a couple of cleansing breaths and then, as you begin to walk, focus on the sensation of putting each of your feet down – heel first, then settling your weight in and pushing off your toe as you take the next step – again and again and again. Synch your breathing with your steps. You can do this while you stroll for relaxation or exercise, as you walk from a parking lot to your office or the supermarket, even as you go from one business meeting to another.
Mantra Meditation. A popular technique (and the one used in TM), this form of meditation utilizes the repetition of a single word or sound – over and over – as a way to push all other thoughts from your brain. Some people like to choose a word or phrase that’s motivational or inspiring (“clean and clear” would be a good one) while others believe a meaningless sound (“ohm” is classic) is better because it carries no thought-provoking associations. Do this for a set period of time and begin and end with cleansing breaths.
Mindfulness Meditation. Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your full attention – thoughts and senses – to the present moment, slowing down and noticing all that is associated with it in a way that keeps your mind from wandering down unproductive and irrelevant paths. It’s not only cleansing in a meditative sense but mindfulness teaches us to experience life more fully, bringing greater appreciation of life’s small gifts. Beginning with a deep, cleansing breath to clear your mind, go through each of your five senses one by one, fully experiencing what you see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Now, breathing in a slow but natural way, allow yourself to integrate the five senses and experience the whole moment. You can do this anywhere (even in a meeting!) and for however long you like.