Meditation is often credited with being one of the most effective relaxation techniques out there. It is a fantastic way to relax both your body and your mind and reduce the pressures of daily life.
With so many styles to choose from, getting started with meditation can be a daunting prospect. It is important to find a technique that suits your personality and fits in with your lifestyle, and the best way to do this is to experiment. Start with short, simple meditations and gradually build on them over time. What works well for one person may not necessarily suit another, so don't be hard on yourself if it takes a while to click.
As with all things, practice makes perfect, so here are a few of our favourite simple meditation techniques to help you get started:
1. Mindful Breathing
Becoming aware of your own breath is key to meditation and this quick exercise is a good way to introduce you to this. Practice the exercise for two or three minutes to begin with and gradually build up to longer as it becomes easier.
- Find a quiet space and sit or lie in a comfortable position
- Close your eyes and place your hand on your stomach
- Breathe normally, but pay close attention to the sensations in your body as you do so
- Notice how your chest, ribs, shoulders and belly move with each breath
- If your mind begins to wander, just turn your attention back to your breath and continue
2. Moving Meditation
If you are the kind of person who finds it hard to sit still, you can try a moving meditation. These can include activities such as tai chi, qi gong and some forms of yoga, but one of the simplest moving meditations you can try is a walking meditation.
- Put on a comfortable pair of shoes and step outside
- Walking in a park or other natural setting is ideal but if this is not possible, any quiet street will do
- Walk at a steady pace and pay close attention to your feet
- Notice the sensations in every part of your foot from heel to toe as they touch the ground one by one
- If you feel your thoughts drifting, just return your attention to your feet
- Try this walking meditation for a few minutes the first time and gradually build up to longer as you feel more comfortable
3. Gratitude Meditation
Focusing on the positives of life is a great way to help you feel happier as well as more relaxed. This meditation is best practised first thing in the morning when you wake up, but you can also give it a try any time you have a few minutes to spare.
- Sit or lie comfortably in a quiet space
- Close your eyes and take a few deep, relaxing breaths
- Think about a person who has a positive influence on your life
- Picture their face in your mind, really focusing on every detail
- Think about why you are grateful to them, and thank them
- Start by focusing on just one person and as the exercise becomes easier you can move onto a second, third or fourth person if you wish
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