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Meditation is a practice and a technique used to help a person have greater control over their mind and their ability to stay in the present moment. In meditation, we become aware of the inner workings of our minds: our thoughts, our emotions, and the sensations that we experience. There are many different types of meditation, each with a different goal; some of our favorites are Mindfulness Meditation, Loving-Kindness Meditation, and Guided Meditation.
Mindfulness Meditation is used to increase self-awareness, presence, and to practice reacting with more intention and less instinct. Although it can be practiced a few different ways, it usually focuses on connecting mind and breath or by simply becoming aware of what is happening outside ourselves. For example, any one of the pranayama breathing exercises that we touched on in our previous blog are mindfulness exercises. Another way to practice Mindfulness Meditation is for the practitioner to sit in stillness and to listen to the sounds around them while also sensing what is going on inside their body. Through this practice we become more aware of our external world and how we experience it.
Loving-Kindness Meditation is a Buddhist meditation that is used to grow in compassion for ourselves and others. The practitioner decides on a mantra that they repeat multiple times in their head. They start by “saying” the mantra to themselves. Then, when they’re ready to move on, they say the mantra to a loved one (and remember, they’re “saying” this mantra in their minds, not out loud). Then they repeat the mantra to an acquaintance. Next, they repeat it focused on someone they have a hard time getting along with. And finally, they repeat it while visualizing a complete stranger and saying it to them. This technique has been shown to tangibly impact the compassion, love, and kindness that a person has to these various people in their life.
In a Guided Meditation, the practitioner listens to a pre-scripted meditation. These meditations often involve visualizations and/or reflection questions. Guided Meditations are used to boost self-confidence, decrease anxiety, and once again, to help the practitioner stay in the present moment. Some people find that guided meditations are a good type of meditation to start with because they break the typical stereotype of meditation (that it’s all about not thinking about anything and having a blank mind). Not all meditation is about transcending your human thoughts and connecting with your deeper essence. And that’s especially true for Guided Meditations! On the contrary, this type of meditation allows the one practicing to intentionally process and reflect what’s going on in their inner and outer worlds.
There are many many reasons to practice meditation: to lower stress levels, to focus your mind, to reduce brain chatter, to connect better with your loved ones, to increase calmness in your body, to help relax, to decrease anxiety, to increase self-esteem, to reduce blood pressure, to sleep better, and to boost your mood.
If you’re interested in trying out meditation for yourself, check out these free guided meditations
(ranging from 1 to 15 minutes) from our partner organization, A.G.A.P.E. Wellness.
This article was written by Haley Lovejoy of A.G.A.P.E. Wellness