Meditation is an activity that can calm and focus the mind, bring the awareness into the present moment, and generate an experience of deep relaxation. There is lots of information about how mindfulness techniques, relaxation, guided visualizations, and other meditation techniques can affect the body in positive ways. For instance, a regular meditation practice is associated with lower blood pressure, less physical pain, and feelings of calm and serenity.
The great thing about meditation is that no special tools are required to get started; you do not have to take a class or invest in any special training. There are many meditation techniques that anyone can try for themselves. Consider giving any of these five strategies a try for yourself before beginning each day. You will soon find that the benefits of meditation are more accessible than you ever imagined.
1. Do a quick mindfulness check-in
Meditation can help you become more aware of your body’s changing conditions throughout the day. Noticing how you react to various situations lets you take a mental step back and adjust your responses. This has the power to give you more control over stressful, anxious, or angering situations. Practice this short mindfulness exercise first thing in the morning and then repeat it throughout the day anytime you wish to. It uses the acronym STOP:
S – Stop. Pause what you are doing, take a little step back from the situation you are experiencing.
T – Take a breath. Allow a calm, cleansing breath to enter your body. Let it gently leave.
O – Observe. Bring your attention to your body’s activity. How are you physically reacting to the situation that is currently surrounding you? What is your emotional state?
P – Proceed. Continue about your day after checking your reactions and making any helpful adjustments to your attitude or mindset.
2. Stretch, then sit
People sometimes struggle with morning meditation because their body might feel stiff or even a little sore upon first waking up. This can make seated meditation an uncomfortable proposition. Instead of simply sitting down on the floor after waking up, take some time to stretch the body before beginning your meditation routine. Deep, regular breathing in time with stretches will start to move oxygen and blood around in your body, making you feel a little more limber and aware. Lift your arms over your head, bend forward at the waist, and lean to the left and right to stretch your sides. Stretch your legs with some light lunges. No matter which stretches you choose to do, keep them gentle and relaxed. Once you feel a little better, place a cushion on the floor and begin your practice.
3. Focus on a phrase
Mantra meditation is one of the traditional forms of meditation practice but it is not one that appeals to everyone. The idea of using arcane phrases in another language might seem silly or simply irrelevant to you. Nonetheless, you can experiment with the principle of this practice by selecting a word of simple phrase to focus on during meditation. Affirmative, optimistic, and accepting phrases tend to work best. You can pick a short passage from scripture to contemplate quietly for a few minutes. Bring your attention to the word or phrase you have selected. Repeat it slowly and gently with each inhale and exhale. When your mind wanders from the phrase, just bring your attention back.
4. Focus on a shape
Visualization is another traditional meditation skill, but one that many new practitioners find difficult to achieve. Instead of trying to imagine complex scenarios, focus on a simple shape in a primary color. A green circle, red triangle, or blue square is all the visualization needed to practice this type of meditation. Do not worry if the shape you have chosen is challenging to visualize at first. Being present at your morning practice is the important part.
5. Focus on your breath
The simplest (and as some would argue, the most challenging) meditation technique of all is to simply focus on the breath. Bring your attention to the entry of air into your body; feel the way your rib cage moves as your lungs expand. Let your diaphragm move freely in the inhale and to gently release as you exhale. This practice aims to bring you fully into your body and to make you aware of the importance of simply breathing.