Top 5 Meditation Practices and Their Benefits

The world is hectic: you have a million thoughts careening through your head at a time — each one demanding attention, time, and energy. What happens when your metaphorical gas tank is on empty? Refuel with meditation.

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Meditation can seem intimidating. Not to worry. These five meditation practices can help you… well, practice.

 

  • Mindfulness. This is a hot “trend” as people seek to enjoy the present and avoid “secondary suffering” (e.g. worrying about the future, regretting the past). The goal is to focus on your breath – on bringing awareness in and intrusive thoughts out. But start at a manageable place. For example, go into the shower and concentrate on the feeling of the water hitting your skin, the smell of your shampoo, the sensation of the soap. Be fully present.
  • Walking meditation. Nature can help center us, and it can make meditation easier. Take a walk, focusing on the bounty in front of you: whether it’s a country field or an urban park. Feel your connection to the ground, and again, notice and savor every detail.
  • Mantra meditation. Find a quiet, comfortable place. Relax and breathe deeply. Repeating a mantra helps keep intrusive thoughts at bay. There is always “Om,” but you will find there are countless mantras, from the ancient (Namo AmitaBha – homage to Buddha) to the modern (“I change my thoughts, I change my world.” – Norman Vincent Peale). Or feel free to create your own.
  • Mala bead meditation. Mala beads are wooden and usually come on a strand of 108. The goal is to repeat your mantra on each bead with intention and mindfulness. Don’t restrict yourself to “traditional” tools though: use a rosary, a simple beaded necklace you made, etc., and again, be free to create your own mantra or select a short, empowering quote.
  • Wine meditation. Choose one of your favorite healthy wines. Like mindfulness, the goal is to use your senses to savor the experience. This heightened awareness will help you stay in the moment and disengage from negative or distracting thoughts.

Your brain is not a machine you can switch off: you will have thoughts when meditating. You’ll plan your grocery list (don’t forget to pick up a bottle of Natura Chardonnay) or think about work. But as you progress, you’ll find fewer distractions and more restorative energy. It takes practice — that’s why they don’t call it “meditation perfections”!