No matter who you are, in recovery or not, young or old, man or woman, odds are, you deal with stress. It’s also likely you deal with it on a pretty regular basis. The level and extent to which you deal with it may vary from person to person, but nevertheless, stress is a part of life. A great way to manage stress and live a healthier lifestyle is by engaging in meditation. We’ve heard it time and time again, meditation is good for you! But how so? And with all the different styles of meditation available on the market, just how can we narrow it down to the style right for us?
How Can Meditation Help Me?
Meditation is not just a Millennial thing. It is a practice that has been employed by humans around the world since the beginning of time. Something that has stood the test of time and survived across countless cultures has to have some validity to it, right? Essentially, meditation is transforming the mind. It is entering a state of deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm and silent.
So, what can meditation do for you? Some of the benefits from any of the styles of meditation available are:
- Stress reduction
- Improved Concentration
- Encourages a healthy lifestyle
- Increases self-awareness
- Increases happiness
- Slows down the aging process
- Benefits the cardiovascular and immune systems
With all these benefits, engaging in meditation is the obvious choice! But there are so many options out there. Before starting down the road of meditation, having a solid understanding of the styles of meditation available will vastly help you decide the best method for you!
The first of the styles of meditation we’ll talk about is Zen or Zazen meditation. Known as seated meditation, it began in the 6th century with Indian Monk Bodhidharma. To practice this style of meditation, one must be seated on the floor on a mat or cushion with crossed legs. You can also be in a chair. You must keep your back completely straight, mouth closed, and eyes lowered toward the ground in front of yourself. You keep focus on your breath and count your breaths. It is fairly easy for beginners and is widely popular.
Gaining much popularity over the past few years compared to all the styles of meditation, mindfulness meditation is extremely useful. The entire goal of mindfulness is to remain intentionally focused on the present moment. You pay no mind to any sensations, thoughts, or emotions that arise, and instead allow them to pass through your mind. You focus on your breathing and anytime you find yourself distracted, bring yourself back to breathing. Mindfulness can be practiced during daily activities as well. You remain aware of what is happening around you rather than remaining on autopilot.
Loving Kindness Meditation
Also known as Metta Meditation, loving kindness meditation is intended to teach an ability to empathize with others, love oneself, and increase self-acceptance. While seated in a meditation position, close your eyes, and begin to generate feelings of kindness in both heart and mind. You start by focusing these feelings on yourself, then progress to turn them outward to friends, then neutral people, enemies, and the entire universe. Over time, you will begin to experience more joy and positivity in your life.
Mantra Meditation, or OM Meditation, is one of the more recognizable styles of meditation. It involves the use of a syllable or word, without particular meaning that you repeat for the purpose of focusing your mind. You must be sitting with a straight back and closed eyes. You will repeat the sound or mantra, silently. Combined with the awareness of breath, this is one of the styles of meditation effective in improving the ability to focus.
One of the newest styles of meditation, Transcendental Meditation or TM was first introduced in the 1950s. A very popular style of meditation, it is currently practiced by over 5 million people worldwide and has hundreds of scientific papers published verifying its effectiveness. Unlike the other styles of meditation, this one comes at a price. It cannot be practiced on its own. It requires a licensed instructor to teach you, and at a hefty cost. Essentially, however, it is practiced for about 15-20 minutes twice per day using a mantra.
This style of meditation is all about “life energy cultivation.” It is a body-mind exercise for health and martial arts training. Originating in the 20th century, today there are thousands of difference Qigong exercises currently available. A simplistic, seated form though is as follows: sit in a comfortable position, relax your whole body, regulate breathing to deep, long, soft breaths, calm your mind, place your attention to you center of gravity (two inches above your navel), and lastly, feel the qi (circulating life force) flow within your body.
Probably the most well-known of the styles of meditation, yoga is a very complex form of meditation. With countless styles of yoga available, a brief overview is best. Yoga literally means “union” and dates back thousands of years. The goal of yoga is spiritual purification and self-knowledge. It is divided into postures, breathing exercises, and contemplative practices of meditation. It promotes a healthy body and mind.
Another one of the more popular styles of meditation, Guided Meditation is great for beginners. Typically, a guided meditation is listening to either a live or recorded meditation recited by a proctor, who gives the listener step-by-step directions. Often it involves guided imagery and employs the use of breathing exercises. The benefit of guided meditation is that it is very flexible. They have guided meditations specifically designed for different purposes and often vary in length, making it easy to always fit into your schedule.
While most styles of meditation are associated closely with Eastern religions, Christian Meditation is often overlooked. The main purpose of this style is moral purification and a deeper understanding of the Bible resulting in a closer intimacy with God and/or Christ. It is done by contemplative prayer, or silent repetition of sacred words, contemplative reading, or deeply thinking about teachings of the Bible, or merely sitting with God which involves focusing our mind, hearts, and souls on the presence of God.
The ultimate goal of Taoist Meditation is the generation, transformation, and circulation of energy. Mainly intended to quiet the mind and body, unify body and spirit, find inner peace, this style of meditation can help improve health and longevity. There are several Taoist Meditations you can choose from, but all are performed seated, cross-legged on the floor with a straight back. Eyes are kept half-closed and should be fixated on the point of the nose. It is great for people connected with body and nature.
At the end of the day, when it comes to the styles of meditation, there is no right or wrong answer. Whatever style appeals to you is probably what’s best for you. Everyone can benefit from meditation, but as with all things, seeing these benefits will require commitment. Continuous practice is vital no matter what style you employ. Give yourself a chance to see how meditation can transform your life and recovery!
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