Easy Meditations to Add to Your Day
Why should you add meditation to your daily routine? I imagine when you heard the word meditation you started imagining people seated with legs crossed saying “OMMMMMMM” for incessant periods of time. You may feel intimidated and perhaps a bit skeptical. However, meditation is so much more than this eccentric scene.
Meditation can have many positive health benefits—it can help increase your body’s resilience to stress, decrease anxiety, and help focus your mind.
So how does one begin a meditation practice? There is no one correct way to meditate. Your meditation practice will depend on personal preference and finding what works best for you. The best approach to beginning a meditation practice is to start small, try 3-5 minutes. Make it consistent—same time, same place. Don't worry about doing it 'right'! And when you find your mind wandering, don't be hard on yourself, instead greet the arising thoughts and feelings as friends and then re-center your attention. Finally, always smile at the end of your practice!
Meditation practices come in all different styles and forms. Try different practices and figure out what works best for you! In order to incorporate meditation into your daily routine, you need to find what resonates with you.
You can try guided meditations—these often come in the form of podcasts or some may even include a video feed. These meditations typically use guided imagery or the guiding voice of a teacher to direct your thoughts and focus.
Or you can try a mantra meditation. Remember our slightly eccentric scene from earlier? Well, perhaps it is not so eccentric after all. Choose a word to focus your attention on. Sit with spine erect and eyes closed and repeat your chosen word to yourself—silently or whispered—focusing your mind on it. Your goal is not to convince yourself of anything, but rather to bring awareness and focus to your mind.
A gazing meditation fixates your attention on an external object. First, concentrate on an object with eyes open. Then, close your eyes and visualize the object, keeping its image in your mind. Try this with a candle—We recommend a scented one! Focus your attention on the candle, the flame, and then close your eyes and picture the candle, imagining the flicker of the flame as it burns.
Metta meditation works on cultivating “pali” or kindness, benevolence, and goodwill. This meditation practice works on developing these feelings towards one’s self and towards others. Begin by sitting with the spine erect and eyes closed, then focus positive energy towards yourself, progressively moving outwards in these feelings, directing them towards a good friend, an acquaintance, a person you find difficult or hard to get along with, and gradually the entire world. This practice helps you to wish for the well-being of all and to remind yourself of your place in the world. A variation of the Metta meditation is a practice in gratitude. Try taking the first two minutes of your day, or the time spent standing in line at the grocery store or stuck in traffic, and think of someone you are grateful for. Picture their face, the color of their eyes, and then send them a silent message of gratitude.
Mindfulness meditation is a practice that you can engage in anywhere at any time. It focuses on the breath, cultivating awareness of breathing in and breathing out and the sensations associated with each. The breath is the anchor for when thoughts wander. Eventually, as you become more comfortable with this practice, try focusing on the sensations, thoughts, and feelings that arise with your breath.
If the idea of sitting silently for minutes on end sounds rather repulsing to you, fear not! Meditation is not a purely stationary practice and there is a plethora of walking meditations, different techniques to use to engage your mind as you move. Most important to any walking meditation is finding a relatively secluded place away from traffic and noise. The goal is not to achieve anything, but rather to be present as you walk, noticing the roll of your feet and the sensations of your feet touching the ground.
The Thich Nhat Hahn’s Walking Meditation incorporates a phrase into your walk. Walk slowly, being aware of each movement you make and each step you take. Choose a phrase and breathe this in and out as you walk. You can also incorporate a mindfulness practice into your walking meditation. As you walk, notice the sensations in your body—focus your breath on areas that feel stiff or sore. An important aspect of any mindfulness walking meditation is an awareness of your surroundings, your mental and emotional states, and the process of walking.
If you find yourself counting as you walk, you may want to try a Yoga Walking Meditation. This practice coordinates the breath with your step. Inhale for 4 steps (or adjust this to your personal preference), hold your breath for 4 steps, exhale for 4 steps, and hold again for 4 steps before inhaling.
You may be skeptical about what meditation can do for you, but you will never know until you try. Start small—aiming for a few minutes rather than hours on end—and with a practice that resonates with you. Then, as you become more experienced, try branching out and experiment with new and unfamiliar practices.
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- Carrico, Mara. “A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation.” Yoga Journal. Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc., 28 August 2007. Web.
- Babauta, Leo. “Meditation for Beginners: 20 Practical Tips for Understanding the Mind.” Zen Habits. Web.
- Dientsmann, Giovanni. “Types of Meditation: An Overview of 23 Meditation Techniques.” Live and Dare. Web.
- McMullen, Laura. “3 Meditation Techniques for Beginners.” US News. U.S. News & World Report, 30 July 2013. Web.
- Dientsmann, Giovanni. “Ultimate Guide to Walking Meditation.” Live and Dare. Web