Health Advocate Blog

Meditation: What is all the buzz about?

People have been meditating for thousands of years as a form of relaxation, stress and anxiety relief, as a practice of self-improvement, to gain enlightenment, and in some cases, for religious purposes. In recent years, meditation has become more mainstream, largely in part due to the popularity of mindfulness meditation. However, there are many ways to meditate not limited to mindfulness. Keep reading to learn more about meditation, its benefits, and different methods of meditation.

Meditation 101

Meditation is the act of sitting quietly to calm your mind and focus your attention on your breath, thoughts, visualization or even a soothing phrase.

Benefits of meditation

Even a short meditation session can help relieve negative emotions, quiet racing thoughts, clear your head, relax your entire body and improve your mood. It stimulates relaxation by reducing your heart rate and blood pressure as well as helps you feel calmer and more relaxed. Meditation can reduce stress, restores a sense of well-being and protect your health. People who meditate often experience better moods and less negative self-talk. Other benefits can include increased focus and mental energy from being “freed” from compulsive thoughts and worry.

Common types of meditation

Guided meditation

This type of meditation is great for beginners. An experienced person who calmly narrates will lead this type of meditation, often while set to music. It allows you to hone your skills as you’re directed every step of the way.

Deep breathing

Breathing is both a fundamental component of meditation and can even be a form of meditation in itself! Practice meditative breathing with slow, deep breaths that extend into your lower abdomen. Focus on each inhalation and exhalation and how they make you feel.

Mindfulness meditation

The focus of mindfulness is to be aware of the present moment, free from judgment and overthinking. As you meditate in this manner, the goal is to become aware of your thoughts through simple observation and noticing patterns.

Yoga or tai chi

Both are forms of “meditation in motion” because they involve focusing on breathing while performing slow, gentle poses. At the same time, they help build strength, improve balance and count as important sources of exercise!

Mantra meditation

Mantra meditation focuses on a word, sound or phrase. During a meditation session of this type, you slowly chant your mantra. You can chant your mantra aloud or in your head. A common mantra used within this form of meditation is “Om.” Learn more about the meaning of Om here.

Transcendental meditation

This form of meditation is similar to mantra meditation in its form and mindfulness mediation in its popularity. In order to practice this type of meditation, it is necessary to select a personal mantra. This mantra is repeated in silence with a strong focus on relaxation and entering a restorative meditative state. Many people often take classes with an instructor when beginning this practice to develop a truly personalized experience.

If you’re looking for more ways to meditate or additional resources to help you in your practice, please visit our Resources to help you meditate post.