How Do You Actually MeditateThis coronavirus outbreak thing is totally stressful! And now that you're spending more time indoors, this presents the perfect opportunity to learn how to meditate. Not only is meditation a huge stress buster, but it also improves your quality of sleep, lengthens your attention span, and helps control anxiety.

What is meditation exactly?

The word "meditation" means to reflect upon, ponder, or contemplate. It also denotes a devotional exercise of contemplation. While you might meditate on a specific course of action, for instance, in your everyday life, in the yogic context, meditation is defined more specifically as a state of pure consciousness. Even though you need to be able to concentrate to meditate, meditation is more than concentration — it evolves into an expanded state of awareness.

So how do you even meditate?

Usually, the easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath. But different types of meditation are suitable for beginners:

Concentration meditation

This kind of meditation involves focusing on a single point. You could follow the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, listening to a repetitive song, or staring at an object. Because focusing the mind is challenging, if you're a beginner, you might only meditate for a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.

Each time you sense your mind wandering, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention. When random thoughts pop up in your head, you simply let them go. This will help improve your ability to concentrate.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation encourages you to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through your mind. The goal is not to judge the thoughts, but merely to be aware of each thought as it arises. With mindfulness meditation, you're able to recognize patterns of thoughts and feelings, which better help you to understand your emotional reactions and thought processes. An inner balance will develop with more practice.

Visualization meditation

With this type of meditation, the aim is for your mind to concentrate while your body relaxes. When your body is relaxed, you can begin by visualizing images and ideas. You can combine this approach with a relaxation script. For instance, you can say to yourself, "Breathing in, I relax and breathing out, I smile," while visualizing yourself smiling.

You can always start with deep breathing

If meditation still seems too intimidating, you can always start with deep breathing. It's just as effective as yoga in promoting relaxation. All you have to do is close your eyes if they're open and then take a few big, deep breaths. Imagine that your lungs are filled with peace. Repeat a few times in a row. Do this whenever you feel stressed.

References
  1. "A Beginner's Guide to Meditation," Yoga Journal, April 6, 2017.
  2. "Meditation for Beginners," Mindful, February 14, 2019.

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