When you hear the word “meditation,” maybe you picture a monk in a quiet monastery, or someone relaxing at a mountaintop retreat. While people may meditate in those settings, meditation can happen anywhere, and studies show it can be a beneficial practice. Originally, people would meditate to gain deeper spiritual insights. Now, meditation is also used to reduce stress and help with relaxation, and the Mayo Clinic notes that it’s considered one type of mind-body complementary medicine.
In addition, meditation is a way to train your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts and to develop healthy sleep patterns and other positive habits and feelings, according to Healthline, which highlights these other benefits of meditation:
- Lowers your stress
- Helps control anxiety
- Generates kindness (via metta, or loving-kindness meditation, in which you develop positive feelings toward yourself and then to others)
- Enhances your self awareness
- Decreases your blood pressure
- Promotes emotional health
- Boosts your attention span
- Possibly reduces age-related memory loss
- Possibly helps fight addictions by developing willpower and mental discipline, and by helping avoid triggers for addictive behaviors
- Helps control your pain, when you use it as a supplement to physical therapy or medical care
But before you start meditating, it’s important to talk with your doctor if you have any of the health conditions listed above or other medical problems. The Mayo Clinic notes that for some people, meditation might make symptoms worse if they have a particular physical or mental health condition. It adds that you shouldn’t use meditation to replace traditional medical treatment.
There are several types of meditation as well as relaxation techniques that include meditation. They include guided meditation (or visualization), mantra mediation (repeating a “calming word” to prevent distractions) and mindfulness mediation (increasing your awareness and accepting living in the moment). Other practices include qi gong, tai chi, Transcendental Meditation® and yoga.
Meditation takes practice and features different elements, including relaxed breathing, focused attention, an open attitude, a comfortable position and a quiet setting. Here are a few suggestions from the Mayo Clinic on how to meditate on your own anywhere:
- Breathe deeply
- Scan your body (focus attention on your different body parts)
- Repeat a mantra
- Walk and meditate
- Read and reflect
- Focus your love and gratitude