Meditation is a set of techniques that are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention.
It can teach practitioners to focus on the present moment, breath by breath. Studies show that meditation can help people sleep better, improve mental health and help with cognitive function.
Anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression will affect many Americans at one time or another. Psychology Today says mindfulness meditation in particular can improve depression and anxiety disorders. A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that meditation can reduce anxiety and depression significantly. Researchers also found that the practice was relatively easy to maintain and continue, even after the study ended.
Anyone can practice meditation, the Mayo Clinic said, and you can practice it anywhere. Ways to meditate include:
Guided meditation. You form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing. Maybe it’s a picture of the beach, with the waves lapping at the sand, or maybe it’s a crisp high mountain meadow, covered in a tapestry of wildflowers. While you’re meditating, use as many senses as possible. Smell the salt air, hear the hiss of the waves on the sand, see the startling blue of the water. Feel the rush of the waves past your fingertips.
Mantra meditation. Silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to yourself to prevent distracting thoughts.
Mindfulness meditation. This practice involves being mindful or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. You broaden your conscious awareness by focusing on what you experience during the meditation, such as the flow of your breath. Observe your thoughts and emotions, but let them go by without judgment.
No matter what kind of meditation you choose to practice, remember that there’s no right way to meditate. The right way is the way that lowers your stress level, suits your lifestyle and helps your situation. It can be an hour or a minute, it can be in a formal class or on your couch in your PJs.
Don’t let the worries of meditating properly add to your stress.