Here we will discuss the basics of mediation, its benefits, and how incorporating a morning meditation routine into your life can help you handle stress.
An Introduction to Meditation
Meditation is an ancient and simultaneously timeless practice of calming the mind. The word “meditation” has its roots in the Latin word “meditatum.” In English, it translates as “to ponder.” Practitioners of meditation tout its many psychological and physical benefits.
The practice of meditation is written about in Vedic documents from 1500 BCE. Later, both the Buddhist and Taoist traditions, originating in the sixth to fourth centuries BCE, adopted meditation practices of their own. Meditation is now a global practice. People in all regions of the world use meditation for therapeutic purposes.
1. Meditation Techniques
There are nearly as many types of meditation as there are people practicing it. We will explore some of the most common mediation types below. Keep in mind that within each general meditation style, there are sub types and other ways to practice.
2. Breath Awareness or Breathing Meditation
Breathing meditations are those that use the breath as the primary point of reference for calming the mind. In this practice, one sits with a tall, straight back with legs crossed in a comfortable position. Hands are usually placed palm up on the knees, and the eyes are closed.
A deep breath is inhaled through the nose. The breath is directed through the body as far as it will go. When the stomach inflates from the breath, it can be held there for a few seconds before exhaling. Depending on the type of breath awareness meditation, the exhaled air is either pushed through the nose or the mouth. Paying attention to breathing will naturally clear the mind and help ease tension.
3. Body Scan
Body scan meditation is the process of mentally observing the body for any feelings of discomfort in order to relax that area. To do a body scan meditation, a person lies down with legs slightly more than hip-width apart with the arms at the side (similar to corpse pose in yoga). Beginning with the feet, notice any sensations in the body. Send your breath into any areas that are holding tension; this will help relax the area.
Often people are unaware of the tension they are holding in the body. Body scanning help bring the tight and tender muscles to the person’s awareness. Just noticing the tension can help you instruct your body to release the tension and help you relax more deeply. Because of this, body scans are a good choice for a morning meditation.
4. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being present. This might sound intuitive, but often, we are running on autopilot throughout the day.
One example of this is getting halfway to work in the morning and not remembering if you locked the door to your home. You could be pretty sure you locked the door, but you don’t have any recollection of putting the key into the lock. Had you been practicing mindfulness, you would remember the seemingly mundane actions that are subconsciously performed during the day.
To practice mindfulness, all you must do is direct your attention to the world outside your body. Your inner dialogue stops, and you notice your environment. This can happen anywhere. At first, it might surprise you how foreign it feels to partake in activities without thinking of anything else. Start small. Try washing your hands or brushing your teeth with absolute awareness of what you’re doing.
5. Moving Meditations
Moving meditation is the practice of intentionally moving the body to ease stress and soothe the mind. There are several types of moving meditations:
- Tai Chi
- Martial arts
- Sama or Sufi whirling
6. Transcendental Meditation (TM)
TM is a form of meditation that combines deliberate breathing with silent chanting of a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase repeated continuously in meditation. Mantras in TM are given during initiation into the practice and are never spoken aloud.
To practice transcendental meditation, one sits comfortably with eyes closed and repeats the mantra for 20 minutes two times per day. Should thoughts stray from the mantra, one is to calmly and without judgement return to the process of breathing and continue to repeat the mantra.
7. Visual Meditation
The practice of visual meditation carefully introduces themes or stories for the meditator to visualize. These meditations are often guided by a speaker, but this isn’t required. The visualized material in meditation could be anything. It could be a peaceful meeting with a spirit guide or a mandala. To practice, all you need is to sit in a a comfortable position, close your eyes, and imagine your visual material.
Chanting is a popular form of meditation. A word, phrase, or mantra is spoken or sung repeatedly for a set timespan. Different mantras have different meanings and will represent the intention for the meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is not only a practice for those who are spiritually inclined. Meditation is a scientifically substantiated therapeutic practice. When people meditate regularly, there are several benefits that results. Here are the top scientifically backed benefits of meditation:
- Alleviates anxiety
- Improves attention span
- Balances emotions
- Can counteract addictions
- Creates compassion
- Decreases blood pressure
- Deepens sleep
- Improves age-related memory loss
- Improves self-esteem
- Reduces stress
How a Morning Meditation Can Make or Break Your Day
Morning meditation is the perfect way to start your day. Morning meditation can put you on track to establish, and then reach, your daily goals. By taking time in the morning to clear your mind, you prepare yourself for a rewarding day.
Here are the top reasons to begin a morning meditation practice:
1. Establish Your Intentions For the Day
Beginning each day with an intention or goal can help you focus during the day. Creating a little, yet massively rewarding, goal in morning meditation can make all the difference in how you go about your day. Maybe your intention is to be kinder to yourself or to smile more. Your daily intention is your choice. Make your intention something you’ll be happy to carry with you during the day.
2. Sort Out Dreams
In sleep we download lots of information from our worldly experience. Through dreams, the subconscious mind helps us process the stimuli around us and our internal reactions to that stimuli. Morning meditation is a good time to wipe the slate of your mind clean after a night of dreaming. Having a clear mind can help balance your emotions and keep you feeling balanced all day long.
3. Enjoy the Silence
Morning meditation is the best because the world is still sleeping. Take advantage of the silence around you by getting up extra early to meditate. It can be difficult to find a quiet place to meditate during the day when the world is awake. Give yourself the gift of peace with a morning meditation routine.
4. Ground Yourself
There is no doubt that mediation will serve as an anchor to the earth and provide helpful grounding that will keep you peaceful throughout the day. Grounding through morning meditation keeps us present in our daily activities. When we are grounded, we are much less likely to have accidents, disorienting moments, and even arguments.
5. Break Your Day
Practitioners and scientists agree that meditation, especially a morning meditation routine, can make your day; however, there are a few ways that a morning meditation could break your day. Here we will discuss a couple unpleasant things to know about meditation.
6. Meditation Can Trigger Dark Thoughts
This is especially true when first embarking on a meditation journey. Some dark emotions can come up, seemingly out of nowhere. This is because meditation trains the mind to observe every thought, feeling, and sensation within yourself. If you aren’t accustomed to processing your emotions in healthy ways, meditation can bring these emotions to come to the surface.
This isn’t a bad thing. To heal from our experiences, we must be aware of the feelings lurking within. If negative emotions arise during a morning meditation, they can have a lingering impact. Remember to be kind to yourself and try to fit in another meditation session midday to combat any repressed emotions that may have come up in the morning.
7. Keep Going
Many people become frustrated with meditation after having tried only one or two meditation techniques. What works for someone else might not work for you, and that is absolutely okay. Do not judge your progress or lack thereof as failure. It simply means you haven’t found what works for you yet.
Experiment with different styles of meditation to learn what resonates with you and your body. It’s okay to mix up the meditation techniques you practice. Meditation is a solitary practice with the goal of making you feel better. No one else can tell you what you should feel. Decide for yourself how and what your meditation practice is.
Meditation is a prevailing ancient practice with scientifically backed benefits. There are many types of meditation to choose from. Finding the right form of meditation for you will help you stick with a meditation routine. Morning meditation offers all the health and wellness benefits of meditation plus the added perks of starting the day with a solid foundation.