Meditate Your Way to a Calm Mind
By Robyn Fadden
Stress and an overwhelmingly busy mind don’t have to be a constant reality: meditation can bring relief and tranquility, and help you put stressful situations into perspective.
As with committing to an exercise routine, sticking to a meditation practice can be challenging, especially when the day is already filled with work, activities, and a busy home life. While techniques vary, all are about carving out dedicated down time. If you choose a practice that suits your personality and lifestyle, then meditation not only becomes possible, but something to look forward to. These five forms of meditation address some of modern life’s issues:
- Need to slow down? Never underestimate the simple act of purposely sitting still in a quiet room. Shamatha meditation suggests that our natural state of mind is calm and clear, not overrun by busy thoughts and feelings. Practicing this kind of meditation is much like strength-training the body, with a stronger mind resulting in tranquility.
- Searching for a healthy daily ritual? Most forms of Buddhist meditation focus on the path to enlightenment, yet the definition of enlightenment remains grounded on this earth and in our bodies. Meditation at the same time and in the same place every day acts as a constant reminder of the mind’s self-calming abilities.
- No time for yourself? Even during a busy day, time can be carved out for meditation. Vipassana meditation takes our ever-changing daily situation into account and encourages us to observe it without judgment, even if we only have 15 minutes to sit still.
- Can’t sit still? Yoga isn’t all stretching and folding; in fact, one of yoga’s main purposes is to quiet the mind even when the body is in motion. After a few sun salutations and downward dogs, practice some yogic breathing, called pranayama, including breathing deeper – not just from the lungs, but from the diaphragm – and alternate nostril breathing.
- Want to connect with others? Meditation doesn’t have to mean solitary confinement. One of the main purposes of meditation is to remind us that we’re not alone in the world, increasing our capacity for compassion, at the core of Metta meditation. Zen Buddhist meditation centers and some yoga studios feature daily public sittings, from 30 minutes to over an hour, letting people close their eyes and focus not only on themselves, but on the well-being of others.
Whatever your circumstances, there’s a form of meditation out there to suit you, using fundamental techniques of conscious breathing and silence to melt stress away.