Meditation is the most popular self-care method in modern times, with nearly every company and school offering their own meditation program. But many beginners still have questions regarding what meditation is and how to get started. Thankfully, meditation is a remarkably simple practice that people from all backgrounds and ages can try to start their own self-care journey.
What is meditation?
Meditation is any practice that can be used to focus your mind into a singular point of awareness, allowing you to achieve a peaceful and equanimous state.Nearly every religion and culture have their own form of meditation in its unique form. But the most commonly practiced form of meditation originated in India from the practices of Buddhism. The exact history of meditation is difficult to track down, but many believe that the practice of meditation can be dated back to primitive cave drawings made around 5,000 B.C.E. But the practice of meditation has likely been around for much longer than that. Traditional practices of meditation mostly center around breath awareness, mantra chanting, or silent contemplation. However, these days there are countless varieties of meditation to try! The advantage of this great diversity of practices is that each person can find the meditation style that suits them the best.If you have a hard time sitting still and being silent, there are so many other styles of meditation that might be better suited for you.
See below for a brief summary of the most popular styles of meditation:
- Mindfulness Meditation – a style of meditation focused on breath and body awareness
- Mantra Meditation – a style of meditation focused on chanting a single word or phrase often called a mantra
- Transcendental meditation – this is a unique style of mantra meditation that involves the use of a personal mantra with a special method for mantra chanting
- Walking Meditation – a style of meditation involving conscious movement and deliberate walking which often incorporates elements of mindfulness meditation as well but in a more active way
- Ecstatic Dance Meditation – another conscious movement style of meditation that involves allowing the entire body to move in a free and blissful manner
- Chakra Meditation – a style of meditation focused on opening the energy centers located in your body from the base of your spine and moving all the way up to the top of your head
- Loving-Kindness Meditation – a style of meditation that involves generating love internally and then extending that love and kindness out to others
- Yoga Nidra – a style of meditation involving visualizations in a dream-like state
Plus, so many more!
The ultimate self-care method
Why should you start a meditation practice?
Meditation is accessible to people from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter what your background, your physical ability, or your mental state is, meditation is for everyone! Meditation is also a simple and risk-free practice, making it the ultimate self-care method.
See below for the top 10 benefits of meditation for self-care:
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Relieves stress
- Increases empathy
- Improves sleep
- Enhances focus and concentration
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Relieves symptoms of physical pain
- Boosts the immune system
- Decreases blood pressure
- Reduces age-related memory loss
Plus, so many more
Mindfulness meditation can also be easily practiced on your own.
How to Practice Meditation for Self-Care
Although there are many styles of meditation, the most commonly practiced form is mindfulness meditation. This meditation style is very easy to learn as well, making it a good practice to start with for complete beginners. There are many YouTube videos, phone applications, and yoga studios that offer guided meditation, but mindfulness meditation can also be easily practiced on your own.
To begin your self-care practice of meditation, follow the 8 simple steps below:
- Find a quiet and peaceful area where you can be without any distractions or disturbances.
- Sit comfortably on the ground, in a chair, or lay down on your back. Find any comfortable position for your body.
- Place your hands by your sides or rest them on top of your knees.
- Close your eyes. If you are not comfortable closing your eyes, you can also keep your eyes slightly open and gaze a few feet ahead of you.
- Take in a few deep breaths through your nose, bringing your full concentration onto your breath.
- With every breath, try to slow down and deepen your breathing, bringing your body and mind into a more relaxed state.
- Continue to focus your awareness on your breath. You can also count your breaths to help you focus your mind initially and then gradually let go of the counting and just focus on your breath alone.
Whenever you are ready to complete the meditation, slowly move your body, wake yourself back up, and open up your eyes. It is best to try to meditate for at least 5-minutes and then gradually try to extend the time of your practice.
The benefits of this self-care practice are innumerable.
There are numerous styles of meditation in existence, so it is important to investigate and find out which one works best for you. But to get your self-care journey started today, just follow the simple steps above and start practicing mindfulness meditation. The benefits of this self-care practice are so innumerable, there is no reason not to try!