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Beginner's Guide to Meditation

Do you think the only people who can successfully meditate are Buddhist monks who sit on mountaintops? Do you think that because you have trouble shutting off your thoughts that you are a failure when it comes to the practice of meditation? If either of these ideas rings true for you, I have good news. You can meditate and do so successfully.

According to the Buddhist Centre, meditation is a means of transforming the mind. It's about training your mind and developing the ability to redirect your thoughts. Many people use it as a way to reduce stress, increase focus and concentration, as a mood enhancer, to develop a positive outlook and self-discipline.

Meditation doesn't require you to completely shut off your brain, as some believe. Following are some of the better-known methods of meditation according to this article.

Types of meditation

  • Metta meditation - the goal in this method is to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness toward everyone and everything, including one's enemies and sources of stress. This method is designed to promote compassion and love for others and for self.
  • Progressive relaxation - participants scan their bodies for areas holding tension. The goal is to determine where the tension is and allow it to release. One usually starts at the feet and works up to the top of the head. This method is good to use when trying to fall asleep.
  • Mindfulness meditation - this method encourages participants to remain present and in the moment without judgment of any experience. Mindfulness is often used in most forms of meditation.
  • Breath awareness - this is another mindfulness practice. Participants focus mindfully on their breath and ignore thoughts as they enter the mind.
  • Kundalini yoga - this method mixes movement, deep breathing and mantras. This practice can help reduce pain and increase strength.
  • Zen meditation - this practice is often under the guidance of a trained teacher because it includes specific postures and steps.
  • Transcendental meditation - during this practice, participants focus on a mantra and the goal is to rise above or transcend the person's current state of being.

No matter which method you choose, if you meditate regularly you can have a significant positive impact on your health and well-being but any meditation is a benefit. Meditation is a skill, and like any skill, will take time to master. The key is patience with oneself and to practice without judgment. The effect will be a more peaceful and happier life.

As part of a heart healthy practice, meditation can support you in so many ways, by helping you to reduce and manage stress. Start with just five minutes a couple times a day and work your way up.

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