If you talk to anyone who meditates consistently, it sounds intimidating. They might have a process, schedule, and discipline that feels hard to achieve. That’s most likely because we’ve been taught what meditation is or isn’t without being given the freedom to make it whatever it is we want. In this guide, we break down the stereotypes of meditation and encourage you to find what works for you, whatever that may look like.
The Benefits of Meditation
Regardless of what it looks like, meditation can help you experience benefits like:
- Increase focus and concentration
- Lower stress and give the adrenal glands a chance to rest
- Decrease inflammation in the body
- Improve sleep quality
- Reduce anxiety
- Improve energy levels
- Increase body awareness
- Enhance joy and self-esteem
- Explore and resolve your challenges and blockages
- Increase clarity and understanding
- Enjoy a renewed sense of purpose and direction
Why is meditation so intimidating?
From the moment we’re born, we are constantly going. Learning. Moving. Creating. Achieving. It’s common to fill the quiet moments with additional input and connection. The idea of sitting still without any stimulation can be foreign and uncomfortable because we’re never really taught how to enjoy the quiet, still moments.
Add in the challenge of our minds constantly going and who likes to be left alone with their thoughts? Not to mention, how do you get them to stop?
Life is complicated enough. We add complication because we think that means that we’re achieving more (as evidenced by the added stress and frustration). When we stop to be in the moment, everything shifts and changes. In that moment you say, “no, I’m going to breathe in for a minute.” You have created an intention: “I am doing this for me.”
What are the different types of meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is simply being mindful of the thoughts in your head as they pass through. On the one hand, your goal is to clear your mind and on the other you are aware of your thoughts, allowing them to pass through without dwelling on them.
Focused meditation is where you focus on something like the rhythm of your breath, counting prayer beads, soothing music, etc.
Moving meditation is demonstrated in things like Tai Chi, gardening, or walking.
Mantra meditations are chants of single words or phrases. They create a repetitive vibration.
Guided meditations happen as someone talks you through any thoughts, ideas, or experiences that may come up. Your eyes are closed and you just focus on the voice guiding you.
A body scan meditation is simply focusing on different parts of your body as you scan up or down your physical being. This can be a great meditation for when you feel disconnected from your body.
A simple Google search can help you find and expand on what works for you. Try them all. You may find (as I do) that different meditations work at different times and moments in life. If you find your go-to meditation doesn’t bring you the same peace as before, explore new ones and find your new favorite.
The Many Misconceptions of Meditation
Be honest – when you think of “meditation” – what comes to mind? Most likely it’s someone sitting on the floor in a perfectly still lotus pose breathing deeply and/or chanting. The misconceptions about meditation run the gamut:
- You may think that you have to sit criss-cross on the floor with your head straight up, eyes closed, and in perfect form.
- You may think it’s a spiritual practice only those in specific religions do.
- You may think it’s woo-woo and not for you.
Meditation can be a spiritual experience. You can use it to connect to your higher power and the energies that be. Yet, the real purpose of meditation is to find peace. It’s taking a moment to be present with yourself and tuning into your heart.
What if “traditional meditation” doesn’t work for me?
Anything that brings you peace can be a meditation. It’s more about giving yourself that moment to pause and breathe than anything else. I tell people to pay attention to the activities that clear their minds.
Perhaps the rhythm of sanding wood naturally clears out the world and you tune into the moment. Or going for a run and letting everything except your body’s movement melt away. How about “zoning out” while you’re sitting on your front porch listening to the trees, birds, and whoosh of cars going by.
As you pay attention to what already brings you peace, you can begin creating more of those moments in your days, weeks, and months. You’ll also notice how you already have meditation as a part of your life. The next step is adding a little intention behind it. You’ll be impressed by how things change.
How I Like to Practice Meditation
This answer truly depends on where I’m at in my SacredPulse®. Sometimes I love to sit and be present to the sounds around me. Other times, soothing mantra music helps me let go of the weights and pressures I carry. Truthfully, a walking meditation is often my go-to choice. Physically I need to move and walking a meditation labyrinth can bring me more present to my body and clear my mind as I focus on each step forward.
I used to run away from being quiet and still. The idea was uncomfortable and foreign. “Why would anyone want to just BE?” And yet now I find I enjoy allowing myself that time. I usually don’t have to schedule it. I can let it happen naturally. And yet, there are also times I find I’ve been going hard and fast, and recognize a pause would be the perfect way to shed the stress and come back to center.
Where to Find Guided Meditations
If you’re looking for guided meditations, my weekly podcast, “Breathe In, Breathe Out” is a great place to start. Each week, we release a brand new lesson or meditation focused on helping you navigate your life by giving You the tools to become your own healer. Our meditations cover a range of topics – from building your self-esteem and owning who you are to uncovering some of those not-so-pretty parts within us that hold us back from being our truest selves.
The podcast can be found on Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon, YouTube and any major podcast streaming platform. Here are a few of my favorite meditations I’ve released:
- Episode 64: Meditation to Create a Sacred Space
- Episode 45: A Simple Meditation to Just Breathe
- Episode 26: Meditation to Visualize the Change You Need to Make
- Episode 17: Meditation to Help You Fall Asleep Faster
- Episode 9: Meditation to Love Your Body (Even When You Don’t)
Regardless of the method you choose, meditation is a wonderful way to bring peace to your mind, body, and spirit.
I absolutely love this nugget of wisdom from my interview with meditation coach Tom Cronin. In the interview, Tom says “the thing with meditation is that it doesn’t just put peace and calm over the top of your existing state. The existing state actually has to clear out because peace and calm are already inside you at a deeper level.”
I pray you’re able to tune out all the noise and uncover the peace and calm that’s been inside you all along. Take care.