One of the best ways to reduce anxiety and wipe away the day’s stress is through meditation. What was once synonymous with Buddhist monks or nineteen sixties-era hippies has now gone mainstream. The same goes for yoga, which incorporates meditation and breathing techniques into the practice to achieve inner peace and relaxation.
Today, there are an amazing variety of options to get you started in the meditation space. Don’t worry—you don’t need to lock yourself in a dark room for ninety minutes, or fast for twenty-four hours, or know how to do a headstand. The awesome thing about meditation is that you can practice it at any time, in any setting that is most comfortable for you. You are in complete control. And while there are any number of local yoga classes you can join, if you don’t have the time, money, or desire to do so you needn’t worry. You can get started right at home. The list below includes a number of options to choose from—including apps you can download right to your phone.
(Note: While a smartphone “app” may seem completely counterintuitive when thinking about decompressing and detaching from the real world, the studies show it can work just as well as traditional in-class meditation.)
Get Started Now – Quick Meditation Guide
Find a soft, quiet spot to sit in, preferably with a door if others are home.
Set a timer. Start with 5 or 10 minutes and work your way up to 15, 20 or even 30.
Sit up straight, and start with a few deep breaths.
Count your breathing. In and out.
Focus on your breaths, from your nose to your abdomen. Mentally scan your body and note how it feels. When you notice your breathing stray (as it will), gently bring yourself back to the breath. Continue until the timer goes off.
Emotional Benefits of Meditation
(from the Mayo Clinic – read more about the types of meditation here)
Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations.
Building skills to manage your stress.
Focusing on the present.
Reducing negative emotions.
Increasing imagination and creativity.
Increasing patience and tolerance.
Yoga classes on-demand (via your cable provider or on YouTube)
Yoga classes in your neighborhood (live or virtual*)
(*Since the onset of COVID-19, many yoga studios moved to live-streaming classes, and/or offering on-demand replay options that you can purchase online. Google yoga studios in your area to see what the options may be.)
HeadSpace – I use this and highly recommend it.
Insight Timer has it all—meditation music, guided meditation, and a customizable meditation timer.
Aura provides three-minute daily meditations and allows you to track your mood and help you figure out optimal times to meditate.
Stop, Breathe, & Think allows you to practice breathing and learn mindfulness with this helpful app.
Also check out 25 Options on PsyCom.net, an awesome resource that includes info for beginners, music and podcasts.
Begin with a small goal, something that is both realistic and attainable for you. Maybe it’s ten minutes each morning before the kids wake up. Or fifteen minutes before bed. The important thing to remember is that you are building a practice, something you should keep up with as many days of the week as possible. I started out with a yoga class two days a week. Within the space of the quiet, dark room I found I could clear my head of anxious thoughts and rumination over my mother’s debilitating condition. Today, I meditate both during yoga and outside of it, finding ten to fifteen minute blocks where I listen to meditation music and breathe in stillness. You choose the path that works for you. The sooner you can get into a rhythm, the sooner you can reap the benefits, finding inner peace and calm.