Meditation is a hot topic. It’s everywhere. The research seems pretty clear. You should do it. It has benefits in reducing symptoms of anxiety, it can help stave off depression and can make it easier to cope with pain. There is also more and more research that says mediation can make physiological changes in both your body and brain.
Both the blessing and the curse is this: there are a million ways to get into meditation and many different kinds of meditation practices. Today I want to share 4 ways I’ve experimented with meditation. Hopefully you might be able to come away with a way to start meditating if you aren’t already, or ways to expand your practice and explore new options if you already are.
1. Headspace: Headspace.com is a web-based service that teaches you how to mediate using very simple, concrete animations to explain concepts and a structured, daily practice. Andy Puddicombe, site founder, walks you through all the basics and the program gets longer and longer and more in depth as time goes on. This was bar none the easiest way to get started with mediation. It makes the process fun, and the more you get into it the more options you have for focused mediations (like focusing on performance or creativity). The downside? It can get expensive. On a monthly program it can cost $13 USD / month. If you sign up for a year it gets significantly cheaper ($7 USD / month), but that can still be a significant cost. There are alternatives (Calm) but I have no personal experience with these.
2. Meditation Oasis: Another online service, Meditation Oasis has a lot to offer. Where Headspace is a subscription service, you can buy the meditation course from Meditation Oasis for a one-time cost of $45 (I’ve not done the course). There is an app, and they also have a podcast, which is free, and they have a TON of different meditations that you can focus in on. I found the Inner Child Meditation to be personally, very powerful. This site is probably particularly useful for those who have some experience with meditation already and want to make it more personalized. The options were a bit overwhelming at first and I didn’t feel like I was able to come up with a structure for my meditation, which might not bother some people, but it did for me. I still routinely use the sight though and I think the meditations themselves are very high quality.
3. Inspired Living Medical: We, of course, have our own meditations page here. The advantages? They are short, they are free, and they are very specific. Chances are good that you may have been present for the original recording. This can often make the guided meditation more meaningful and might help you recreate the space that we always strive to create in our group setting. A safe place where transformative work can occur. The downside? Because they are so specific they may not be as useful for those of you who weren’t present. Even though I’ve facilitated these groups, listening to meditations from other groups was definitely not as impactful, but it depends on the person.
4. Moving Meditations: I’ve experimented with both walking meditation and more formal moving meditations such as Tai Chi. The benefits for me is that you more fully engage both your body and mind in the process. If you have experience with more traditional sitting meditations, then walking meditation can be pretty straight-forward. According to some, walking meditation may actually be an easier way to get started? I found I couldn’t get as deeply connected with it. However, I might not have given it a really good chance… because I’ve found Tai Chi to be an immensely helpful meditative practice. The downside is that there are 108 movements in the Tai Chi form and it can take quite a while to learn the form. For some that could mean months before they feel like it’s a meditation. I know I often got stuck in mastering the details of the forms. On the other hand, even when I didn’t know all 108 movements, I was able to get lost in the flow of the forms that I did know and when I finished the forms I knew, I would feel relaxed but focused, and fully present to my personal experience. These were very powerful moments.
5. Doing it on your own: Meditation is a very personal experience and having the ability to make your meditation your own is very important. The practices I’ve experimented with have mostly been guided; even the moving meditations require instruction. As you gain more experience and get comfortable with the forms that work best for you, moving away from guided meditations can make for more personally meaningful practices. I know that I have used my meditations to process my emotions about my past experiences and to send my intentions out into the world for my future (imagining your life how you want it to be). I’ve also unexpectedly found myself in a meditative state while playing guitar!
Hopefully these are just a few ideas about what you can do if you are considering starting meditation or if you are thinking about ways to expand your meditation practice.
What works for you? Let us know: @DrAdrianaWilson or @kryanwilson on twitter or drop us a line here firstname.lastname@example.org! Send us any other resources you have found useful and why and we will post them on an upcoming post. Have a great week!