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Feeling Chronic Stress? Try These 10 Forms of Meditation

Jan 7, 2022 | Blog, Cognitive Health

We live in a world filled with chronic stress! Chronic stress is bad for us. Our bodies are perfectly designed to handle ACUTE stress, but the chronic stress we are under wreaks havoc on us. This leads to feeling poorly AND is a precursor to many, many chronic diseases.

 

It is important to do something each and every day to let your body know it isn’t being chased by a tiger. Doing this once won’t create much of an obvious difference. But, repeating this over time can lead to huge results.

 

One of my maxims to live by is “Small consistent actions repeated daily lead to huge results over time.” It can be challenging because it takes time to see the results, but it is so worth it.

 

What is Meditation?

 

One way I regularly signal to my body that all is well is by daily meditation practice.

 

According to the Headspace app that I use regularly: “Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.”

 

The goal of meditation isn’t to get better at meditation. It’s to get better at life. With meditation, we strive to create a sense of calm and inner harmony which is so important in today’s distracted, busy world.

 

No one does it perfectly. Every time you sit down to meditate, your mind will wander off. It’s ok! It’s all part of the process. Mine does it every single time–still. Focus is a skill to practice and every time you notice you have been distracted and consciously bring your mind back to the present moment you’ve exercised your awareness muscle. It’s getting stronger and that is a good thing.

 

It’s just like your bicep. If you lift a dumbbell 1x, you don’t see a huge difference. But, if you lift dumbbells repeatedly over time, the bicep becomes strong. Your mindfulness muscle is being exercised every time you bring yourself back to the present moment. This IS doing it perfectly!

 

Mediation helps you live in the present moment. There are no problems in the present moment. Problems occur in our worry about the future and our rumination about what happened in the past. In the present moment, everything is fine. The more you can live here, the more peace you will find.

 

There are many different types of meditation. I mostly practice mindfulness meditation, which is a mental training practice that teaches you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity and calm your mind and body.

 

Here are 10 types of meditation I find helpful:

 

1-Guided vs. Unguided

Guided is led by a teacher. Often the teacher will share some wisdom at the beginning teaching you how the mind works, followed by guiding you through a meditation technique. This is great for beginners and I highly recommend starting here.

I’ve been meditating for several years now and this is still my go-to. Unguided, on the other hand, is silent meditation. In unguided meditation, you meditate alone without someone else explaining the process.

 

2-Calming vs. Insight
In calming meditation, you focus on a particular object: your breath, a mantra, a visualization, a physical object, or a sensation in your body. Every time your mind wanders, you bring it back to the object of your focus.

 

Insight meditation, also called Vipassana meditation, is intended to transform your mind by developing wisdom and compassion through moment-to-moment mindfulness and sustained observation of the ever-changing mind.

 

3–Focused attention

This aspect of meditation teaches one to focus on the breath. It encourages better focus and increases sustained attention. This is helpful for those of us that get distracted easily.

 

4-Body scan

The purpose of a body scan meditation is to sync your body and your mind. Often they are not on the same page. Simply start at the top of your head and notice every part of your body–moving from top to bottom. You are not trying to change anything. Instead, you are simply noticing what is.

 

5-Noting

I think of this like a cloud passing through a blue sky. Note your thoughts or distractions as they come up. The blue sky is still there underneath. When I’m meditating and become distracted, I simply say, noting, dismiss the thought and get back to the object of focus.

 

6-Loving and kindness

I love this type of meditation. We first direct goodwill to ourselves then extend it to others. We are much more able to extend love to others when we first learn to love ourselves. This is harder than it seems.

 

7-Visualization

In this form of meditation, instead of focusing on the breath, you focus on someone or something. It is helpful to Incorporate all 5 senses. You can also use visualization meditation to work on your future focus, where you can imagine yourself succeeding at specific goals to increase focus and motivation.

 

8-Mantra

For this meditation, instead of focusing on the breath, or someone or something, you focus on a mantra. This can be helpful and learning to believe new thoughts.

 

9-Transcendental

This is a mantra-like meditation, however, you use a meaningless sound to help settle the mind down. This meditation includes a 20-minute session 2x per day. I’ve practiced this some too and find it to be very calming. It’s a great way to get into a gamma wave brain state, which can help improve your cognition and problem-solving ability.

 

10-Yoga

A form of movement meditation. This is good for the body and the mind. I love killing two birds with one stone! Even though I love to meditate, I’m still an achiever at heart.

 

Give One, Or All, A Try!

 

As you can see, there are many forms of meditation. Similar to exercise, pick a form that sounds appealing to you and give it a try. One isn’t better than the other and there is no right or wrong answer here.

 

The benefits of meditation are immense. First and foremost, we are signaling our bodies that we aren’t being chased by a tiger and in any immediate danger. This helps calm our adrenals, balance our hormones and tell our body that we don’t need to store body fat.

 

Additionally, meditation leads to decreased blood pressure, decreased pain, decreased depression and anxiety, and improved sleep. Meditation also increases BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which helps facilitate the growth and maintenance of nerve cells.

 

The main predictor of health outcomes is what people DO. Getting healthy lifestyle habits like mindfulness right can add 12-14 years to your life. What are you waiting for? Start your meditation practice today!

 

According to an old Chinese Proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now.”

 

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