For people who are unfamiliar with meditation, the practice can appear to be just sitting with your eyes closed. People sometimes think that it’s about trying to clear your mind by getting rid of thoughts. Others perceive it as something that only religious or spiritual people do. These assumptions are incorrect.
Meditation is simply practicing being more mindful, more in the present moment. Becoming more mindful can have a profound effect on our mental wellbeing. It leads to lower levels of anxiety, increased focus, increased happiness and many more benefits.
There are lots of different types of meditation, all of which help you to become more mindful, usually by using an object of focus to keep you grounded in the present moment. Here are five different techniques that you can try. You can find guided meditations for all of these types of meditation, plus more, on Medito which can be downloaded for free on the App Store or Google Play.
1. Mindfulness of breathing
Arguably the most common type of meditation is mindfulness of breathing. This involves using your breath as the object of focus. You can start by taking a few deep breaths and paying close attention to the sensations of breathing. You might feel it most clearly in your chest, in your stomach or in your nose. Just notice how it feels. Then, let your breath return to its natural rhythm and just follow it as it comes and goes naturally.
If you’re a beginner to meditation (and probably even if you’ve been meditating for a long time), your mind will certainly wander. That’s completely natural. The important thing to remember is to not judge yourself too harshly when this happens. Just pay attention to the thoughts that have come to mind, and then gently return your attention to your breath. With time and practice, you will be able to keep your attention on your breath for longer and longer.
2. Mantra / Affirmation
Mantra meditation uses words as your object of focus instead of your breath. It involves repeating a word or a phrase over and over - either in your mind or out loud - and paying close attention to every small detail of the words.
Your mantra can become an affirmation, if you choose a phrase that is motivational, self-empowering or one that fosters a positive mental attitude. Research shows that self-affirmation motivates people to maintain a positive self-view.
3. Loving kindness
Loving Kindness meditation, involves directing warmth and positivity to ourselves and to others. This type of meditation cultivates a more compassionate and empathetic mindset, which has been shown to Foster empathy, increase happiness, decrease chronic pain, as well as enhancing our relationships with those around us.
It’s possible to introduce an element of meditation into any task. All you have to do is make an effort to remain fully focused on the present moment. Walking is perfect for this, allowing you to get some exercise at the same time as working on your mental wellbeing. You can alternate between focusing on your breath, on the sensations in your legs and feet as you walk, and on a wider awareness of your surroundings.
Walking in nature can be particularly conducive to mindfulness, as research shows that the sounds of nature can physically change our mind and bodily systems, helping us to relax. (If you live in a city, or don’t have access to nature, then you can listen to some ambient nature sounds on Medito).
5. Body scan
Body scan meditation involves focusing on bodily sensations, gradually and sequentially moving your attention through each part of the body. This type of meditation will help you to relax, to release tension and to develop a mindful awareness of both mental and physical feelings.
Body scan meditation can be used when you’re in bed, to prepare yourself for a restful night’s sleep and is particularly helpful if you’re having trouble getting to sleep.
No type of meditation is perfect for everyone - the key is finding the one that suits you. Medito is here to help you do just that, and it'll be free forever. Download for free on the App Store or Google Play.