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Finding The Right Kind of Meditation for You

Try these different ways to develop your inner Zen.

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Meditation is like kale: you know it’s good for you, but sometimes it feels hard to make it part of your weekly routine. If you’ve tried a few techniques before and none seem to stick, don’t stress (that’s the whole point, after all)! When it comes to achieving your inner peace, you don’t need to stick to one practice. Try a few methods and see what works for you. Similar to kale, sometimes it’s the idea of switching it up that can make it more appealing.

Yoga

 

The list keeps growing for the benefits of yoga. A recent study by the National Institute of Health found that practicing Bikram yoga helped reduce stress and curb binge eating associated with times of stress in women at risk of obesity.

 

Good for: Multitaskers! You get a good workout and get to zen out at the same time!

 

You might want to try: Vinyasa, Hatha or Ashtanga classes.

Guided Meditation

 

This is all about visualization as a way to help you relax. In this practice you’ll be letting someone else guide you through the steps.

 

Good for: According to a team lead by the Massachusetts General Hospital, guided meditation is great for improving focus and concentration. Anybody who needs help finding silence might also benefit from this type of meditation. You might want to try: Best part is, there’s an app for that!

 

You might want to try: Headspace, Omvana , or OMG I Can Meditate!

Walking

 

While this might not be the most obvious form of meditation, walking (specifically in nature) can have healing powers similar to that of other types of meditation. A recent study from Stanford University found that walking in the woods for 90 minutes might lower your risk of depression.

 

Good for: People who do not enjoy class activities or anybody looking for something a little more adventurous. Also great for people in cities who have been looking for an excuse for a weekend getaway.

 

You might want to try: Leaving your phone at home! Looking for a trail? Find one at American Trails.

Concentration Meditation

 

This is where you focus on your breathing, a single word, or simply your attention. It can be as simple as counting each inhale and exhale until you reach 10 -- repeating the pattern for 10-15 minutes.

 

Good for: People suffering from pain. According to a study conducted by the University of Montreal, found that zen meditators have lower pain sensitivity compared to non-meditators. This form of meditation is also useful and easy to practice during those moments when you want to put your head down on your desk at work and cry.

 

You might want to try: Sitting on the ground with your left foot touching your right thigh and your right foot under your left thigh. Or, sitting straight up in a chair. Just concentrate on your breath.

Mindful Meditation

 

The key is focusing on the present moment -- sights, sounds, thoughts and emotions -- that come up for you. Instead of pushing these thoughts away, you’ll acknowledge them (without judging) as they pass through your brain. Focus on breathing as you allow the thoughts to come in and out. According to a recent study at Harvard, this type of medication can really help with stress and anxiety.

 

Good for: People who spend a lot of time worrying about past events or future ones.

 

You might want to try: Labeling your thoughts when they arise so as not to allow any one to dominate. E.g., “sound” instead of ambulance sirens or “memory” instead of reliving every second of that meeting you had the other day.

Transcendental Meditation

 

Dubbed ‘TM’ for short, this specific practice focuses on a personalized mantra. Celebs like Gisele Bundchen and Jerry Seinfeld have touted it, but in order to do it, you have to pay to learn from a certified TM instructor.

 

Good for: People who are looking to take their Zen to the next level.

 

You might want to try: Taking a cue from yoga and adopting the phrase “Om” as a mantra if you like the idea of TM but don’t want to pay for it.

Sound Meditation

 

The latest to pop up on the yoga and meditation circuit, sound baths focus on using instruments like chimes, tuning forks and gongs to help people achieve a state of relaxation. Research has shown that music can help boost your immune system.

 

Good for: People that want to improve their immune health OR People who aren’t quite sure how to quiet their mind.

 

You might want to try: A sound bath channel on YouTube if you don’t happen to have a studio offering it in your neck of the woods just yet (it has been taking off in LA and NY).

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About the Author

Kendall Bryant

Kendall Bryant is a freelance journalist living in Boston, MA. She's an expert avocado eater, a mediocre curly hair wrangler, and a novice vintage cookbook collector. 

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