It’s no secret that meditating has some seriously fantastic effects, so it’s a no-brainer why individuals and especially us college kids should – no, NEED – to take to meditation regularly. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH), meditation can help to alleviate anxiety and depression as well as lower insomnia, high blood pressure, and even help reduce acute respiratory illnesses like the flu.
Even with a variety of types of meditation, there are four fundamentals that are shared among all types of meditation, according to the NIH.
- Location, location, location! Before you begin meditation, try to find a quiet and serene place to meditate without distractions or interruptions.
- Pick a position to meditate in and stick with it. Whether you are sitting up or lying down, in a chair or on the floor, walking around or stationary, pick your posture for meditation for that day and stick with it throughout the duration of your meditation session.
- Focus your attention on a certain idea and carry that through until you have completed your meditation. This might be a word (such as “peace”), a set of words (such as “I am whole”), an object (such as a flower or a pond), or a breath (such as in through the nose, out through the mouth).
- Lastly, be sure to go into meditation with an open attitude. Be sure to allow yourself forgiveness as you meditate, perhaps when your mind begins to wander or you start fidgeting. As the NIH put it, allow for distractions to “come and go naturally without judging them.”
Now that you’ve learned the basics, it’s time to get your meditation on! We’ve broken it down for you and described five of the most rad forms of meditation for you to try out. Namaste!
Also known as Metta meditation, loving-kindness meditation focuses on improving one’s kindness, acceptance, positivity, and empathy, towards both oneself and towards others as well.
Traditional loving-kindness meditation has five platforms where love and kindness are sent to various types of people.
The first platform is oneself, focusing on loving your flaws and imperfections as well as praising your accomplishments and successes.
The second platform is sending loving-kindness to a loved one or a friend in your life. This can be appreciation towards them and gratitude for their influence in your life.
Next, sending loving-kindness to a neutral person in your life. This could be a classmate or co-worker as long as he or she is an impartial portion of your life.
The fourth platform is sending loving-kindness to a difficult person who is in your life. This could be to an ex-boyfriend, a professor, or even a sibling or parent that you are having trouble getting along with. The final platform to send loving-kindness to is the universe as a whole.
There are many aspects of mindfulness meditation, including:
- Mindful breathing,
- Awareness of body, and
- Releasing tension.
Mindful breathing can begin with a simple breath-in and breath-out and recognizing what the difference is between the two. By focusing on your breath, your mind is attentive toward this, and all else fades away.
When you are participating in mindfulness meditation, as your breath comes in and out, distractions disappear and your attentiveness can concentrate on your breath. By concentrating on your breath, the happenings of daily life can disappear and your level of inner peace can rise.
As awareness of your body increases, you can better understand the needs of not only your mental health but your physical health also. Knowing that your mind and body are connected can make you feel whole. Usually, our body is in one place (i.e. in class) but our minds are in another place (i.e. texting our friend, thinking about what we’ll do after class lets out, or the amount of homework we still have to get done tonight). By combining our mind and our body to function as one, it makes us feel more alive. This is how we can truly thrive.
Throughout time, tension is built up in our bodies, causing stress and a lack of relaxation. By learning how to release tension from oneself, you will not only feel better physically, but mentally/spiritually/emotionally as well. No matter what posture you are taking (sitting, standing, walking, driving, etc.), you can learn how to release tension. Do this first off by being conscious of the tension you are experiencing (awareness!) and then by releasing that tension, perhaps through mindful breathing (awareness of your body and concentration on each of your breaths).
Body Scanning Meditation
With so much to do and so little time to do it, our minds are sometimes in a jumble and, therefore, our bodies are neglected. With loads of stress and without paying much attention to our bodies’ needs, it becomes easy to get sick. This type of meditation helps the mind to focus closely on the needs of the body.
Beginning at the top of your head, slowly work your way down your body, experiencing each and every aspect of your body, one at a time: your head – your forehead, your eyes, your ears, your cheeks, your jaw, your mouth, your lips, your chin, etc. With every measure of your frame, don’t just stop at visualizing your body parts, but notice them. Don’t move them.
After you complete the scan of a portion of the body, be sure to remove it from your awareness, letting it fade away as you transition to the next part of the body. To conclude this meditation after you reach your toes, scan your entire body, connecting it all together as one unit.
“‘At the very end, we’re lying with the awareness of our wholeness in that moment. We’re not thinking about what’s right or wrong with us, our state of health, but just that sense of physical wholeness,’ Magyari says.”
A mantra is a phrase or a word used repeatedly to focus one’s mind. Some meditation instructors believe the word that is chosen needs to be specifically selected to have the proper vibrations related to the sound and/or meaning of the word. Other instructors believe that it is the word that gives thought and perspective; the word itself does not matter.
Regardless of the case, a mantra is used in meditation by repeating the word or short phrase over and over in the mind and in the heart the entire time one is meditating. This practice creates awareness in the mind and separates you from the world as you allow your thoughts to be taken captive by your mantra.
Creative meditation, also known as visualization meditation, focuses on the strengthening of certain characteristics (opposed to the weakening others). Some characteristics that it seeks to strengthen include: joy, love, patience, tenderness, gratitude, appreciation, and fearlessness.
Creative meditation begins with deep breathing and muscle relaxation. It then goes into an inhaling of the positive and exhaling of the negative. Soon after, one should begin concentrating on a certain image, focusing on that image with every breath in. This image should become as detailed as possible in your mind with comprehensive specifics outlining answers to the five senses – what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you taste, and what you touch/texture.
Creative meditation is helpful because it aids you in truly visualizing success and positivity, which can be carried out in action steps after you are done meditating. Also, creative meditation helps to remove the difficulties or negativity in your life, leaving you with a visual of a stress-free and joyful reality.