By Dawna Stone
Senior Vice President
Did you know that you can go from stressed and feeling anxious to calm in under a minute? Meditation doesn’t have to take up long periods of your day. Don’t let your busy schedule or lack of time deter you from reaping the benefits of a regular meditation practice.
Meditation is any form of practice where a person focuses their mind in order to achieve a calm and clear state. It helps reduce anxiety, stress, depression, and even pain. Practiced since antiquity, meditation often has a connection with religious activities.
Some of the earliest records of meditation may be attributed to the Hindu Vedas of India, but China’s Confucianism and Taoism are also known to have practiced since the 6th century BCE. Nepal and India may also be cited, as their Hinduism, Jainism, and early Buddhism also practice some form of meditation. Today, many experts and scientific studies have analyzed the various benefits of this practice, and certain types of meditation have even become mainstream.
Meditation helps improve a person’s overall wellbeing. Here are just a few scientifically backed studies that prove its many benefits.
- Experts from the Society for Integrative Oncology recommend mind-body therapies like meditation to help relieve anxiety, fatigue, stress, and general mood or sleep disturbances.
- The American Heart Association has a literature review that revealed evidence supporting the use of Transcendental Meditation for lowering blood pressure in addition to standard medical treatments.
- A 2010 review of scientific literature suggests meditation-based programs including yoga and tai chi help reduce common menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, stress, muscle and joint pain, and sleep and mood disturbances.
- Another 2013 review of scientific literature found how meditation and mindfulness training improved the quality of life and relieved pain for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- While there are no conclusive studies or enough evidence to support these ideas, there have been a number of studies trying to identify and prove how meditation can help people who want to quit smoking, as well as help people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- A small study by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health observed how meditation-based programs can work as therapy for people with insomnia.
- There are also supporting studies to see how meditation helps alleviate chronic pain in teens, stress reduction for people with multiple sclerosis, and relief from headaches and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It Just Takes 60 Seconds
There is a misconception that meditation takes a long time to do and that there is a need for a guru or expert. Short sessions of meditation can however carry some of the same benefits as that of longer sessions. All you need is 60 seconds:
- Mindfulness – Complete a task mindfully, such as 60 seconds of focus while washing a dish. Instead of rushing through the task, slow down while moving on to the next one. Practicing this helps reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
- Breathing – Focus on your breath for 60 seconds, as this helps reduce tension and even lower the heart rate.
- Counting –Close your eyes and count slowly (either say it in your head or out loud). Doing this for 60 seconds with your eyes closed can help you concentrate on your breath, which can help calm you down.
- Mantra Repetition – Repeat a word or phrase that comforts you. It empowers the brain, slows your heart rate, and increases your calmness. This practice is perfect for when you are trying to fall asleep.
How to Prepare and Succeed
Having a rewarding practice is easy. There is a misconception that you can only meditate in a calming/quiet environment, but as you become more comfortable in your practice you’ll find that you can meditate just about anywhere. It can be on the subway, during your Uber trip, in the supermarket checkout line, waiting for your coffee, etc.
Start with just 60 seconds, and when possible, try to increase the amount of time to something that works best with your schedule like 5 or 10 minutes a day.
Types of Meditation
Meditation is a blanket term to describe a state of relaxation with the goal of accomplishing inner peace. There are many well-known meditation techniques including:
- Zazen or self-guided meditation – Literally translated as “seated meditation,” this is a Zen Buddhist technique used to clear negative energy while focusing on positive thinking.
- Guided meditation – Often called “guided imagery,” this is visualization, wherein you form mental images of anything you find relaxing.
- Mantra meditation – As mentioned above, silently repeat a word or phrase.
- Tai chi (TIE-CHEE) – A form of gentle Chinese martial arts, it is a self-paced series of movements and postures that combine with deep breathing.
- Qi gong (CHEE-gung) – Another part of traditional Chinese medicine, this is a combination of meditation, breathing, relaxation, and physical movement, that helps restore “qi” or “chi” (balance).
- Transcendental Meditation® – Silently repeating of a personally-assigned mantra in a very specific way.
- Body Scan – A powerful form of meditation, this method goes through the entire body, from the foot, up the legs, onto the torso, throughout the arms and hands, and up the head.
- Walking meditation – As opposed to traditional meditation done while sitting down and with eyes closed, walking meditation involves concentration on slow and small steps and with eyes open. It’s a way to develop awareness, connectedness, and calmness.
- Yoga – Although not typically thought of as meditation, yoga is a series of controlled breathing and postures that not only promote flexibility in the body, but also calmness in the mind.
- Heart Rhythm Meditation (HRM) – This form of downward meditation is focused on the heart and emphasizes breathing.
- Kundalini – This is a form of upward meditation focused on energy, rooted in Hindu and Buddhist teachings.
Each form of meditation has a different purpose, find the one that’s right for you.
Senior Vice President
Dawna Stone is the author of seven books, a business owner, certified health coach, motivational speaker, and creator of the 5-Day Detox and the 14-Day Clean-Eating Program. Dawna appears regularly on local and national television. She has appeared on the Today show, Martha, MSNBC, HSN, and morning news programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. Dawna is a highly sought-after speaker and has done speaking engagements for Chobani, Disney, American Heart Association, Mass Mutual, Wharton Business School, Women’s Entertainment Television, PGA Tour, Super Bowl Leadership Forum, Susan G. Komen, and many more.