Meditation isn’t just for monks. It’s for everyone. Studios like Unplug in Los Angeles have sprouted up and have classes to help guide you. Authors like Light Watkins (check out her book The Inner Gym ($9)) are also helping breakdown the walls, making this ancient practice more approachable.
Recent studies suggest that meditation decreases stress levels while increasing happiness and compassion. Tangible health benefits include improved immunity, lower inflammation, and decreased pain. Furthermore, brain-imaging studies show meditation increases grey matter, sharpens attention, and improves memory.
Looking to give it a try? Scroll through—there’s a technique for everyone!
This is the “gateway” to all forms of meditation. It’s great for beginners and can be done anywhere. The intention is to bring focus to and release tension in the physical body through your breathing.
First, close your eyes and bring your attention to the inhalation and exhalation of air. Focus on each breath. Then, start a body scan. As you continue to breathe, focus your attention on your toes and slowly work your way up your body, thinking about each part with heightened awareness. Release tension on exhales and send love on inhales. Give each body part 30 to 60 seconds of attention. Get comfortable and sink into the moment. You can do this seated or laying down.
Focused meditation can be described as an "attention meditation technique" where we choose to focus on one thing to the exclusion of all else. The singular focus allows us to quiet our busy minds and feel peace. The object can be a person, place, thing, idea, or mantra. Start by choosing something simple and bring your mind back to focus when you find it drifting. The goal is not to “fight” your thoughts, just refocus when you drift.
Zen meditation is practiced by observing the breath and the mind, and through interaction with an instructor. It’s a traditional Buddhist practice that sometimes involves chanting, where scriptures and doctrine are taught through interaction with an accomplished teacher. There are a number of YouTube videos you can use to interact with a teacher online if a studio or practitioner isn’t available in your area.
Made popular by famous followers like the Beatles, TM uses “mantras” (and not just your breathing) to help you focus and meditate. Mantras are purposely meaningless Sanskrit sounds. By using meaningless sounds, you avoid focusing on word meaning and instead can transcend (or going beyond) that level. Examples of chanting words include eng, ema, and sham. Try Googling a sound for your age and gender, and spend three minutes repeating your sound.
PSM may be the most “difficult” for a new practitioner because it requires you to obtain the vibrational sound the universe was creating at the time and place of your birth. It’s calculated following Vedic mathematic formulas and is very personal and specific to you. Founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon, this meditation is focused on comfort and helping enter deeper levels of awareness by taking you away from the intellectual side of the brain.
Have you ever tried meditating?
Be Well. Be Beautiful. Be YOU!