Meditation has become pretty trendy in the past couple years, and the concept has come to the attention of much of society. We have heard people ranting about the benefits of meditation, or how much their lives have changed for the better since they started meditating. But does meditation really work?
This past semester of school was really stressful for me, and I got very anxious to the point where I was occasionally unable to fall asleep at night for hours on end because I would worry about all the things I had to do in the next couple days and all the due dates looming ahead of me. After the 2nd grade girl I tutored every week asked me why my eyes were black and blue, I decided to look into meditation in the hopes it would help me sleep.
I am by no means a professional at meditating, but after doing a little bit of research, I feel comfortable enough to explain the basics.
The main points to follow for most types of meditation include:
1) Find a quiet space. Ideally, you should try and find somewhere you can be alone so you can be completely at rest.
2) Sit or lay down in a comfortable position. If your goal for meditation is to become more in-tune with your body and mind and organize your thoughts, then you might want to consider sitting up so you won’t fall asleep.
3) Close your eyes. Again, if you want to get the most out of your meditation, this is another reason why you might want to be sitting instead of laying down.
4) Focus on your natural breath. Do not try to change the way you are breathing, unless you are doing a breathing-specific exercise. Let your body breathe naturally, and you will be able to feel more relaxed.
There are many types of meditation, some of which include silently meditating on your own thoughts, journaling, coloring, and guided meditation. When I attempted to silently meditate and focus on removing any thoughts that popped into my mind, I found that I got very distracted very easily. Additionally, trying to get rid of all my thoughts and failing to do so made me even more anxious because it made me think even more about how I was not sleeping. I was a hot mess, but I’m sure others probably excel at this type of meditation! However, due to the intense concentration and willpower required, I would not recommend this strategy for beginners.
I found guided meditation to be much more helpful. Guided meditation is when you listen to someone talking you through the entire process of your meditation, and all you have to do is follow their directions. There are plenty of YouTube videos, podcasts, and playlists you can find just by doing a quick search on Google.
I am an avid Spotify user, and found a great playlist created by Spotify called “Guided Meditation.” It has a mix of many different types of meditation. Some of the tracks are longer, ranging from 20 to 40 minutes long, and some of the shorter tracks are between three to ten minutes long. Although I have not listened to the whole playlist (some of the tracks are a little too “weird” for my taste), I have found a favorite track in the playlist. It is the first one that appears on the list, titled “Guided Meditation: Deep Relaxation” by The Honest Guys. It is about 12 minutes long, and features a male voice with a British accent gently talking you through a relaxation exercise that focuses on listening to the sound of waves in the background. Although it was still possible for me to become distracted, his calm voice made it much easier to bring me back to focusing on the waves, and I found it much easier to relax.
Below I have included some links to help you getting started with your meditation practice, as well as two example guided meditations that I personally love to listen to!
Two amazing websites dedicated to mindfulness meditation:
A helpful article from Psychology Today that explains different approaches to meditating from a scientific and healthful perspective:
Stress Body Scan Guided Meditation (Podcast)
Beach Relaxation Guided Meditation (Podcast)