Relax your mind with these popular meditation styles

Everyone can learn to meditateMost people can’t stand the thought of waking up any earlier than they already do, but it’s worth it to set your alarm five minutes earlier. Why? So you can add a little meditation to your morning routine!

Known for quieting the mind and keeping you relaxed, a few minutes of meditation before your day gets going could be just what you need to get off on the right foot. And research shows that meditation is full of mental and physical health benefits. A recent study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that meditation may help with anxiety, depression and pain. And a 2012 study showed that meditation can reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke.

If you don’t think meditation is for you, think again. There are many different types of meditation and the key is to explore the various styles until you find one that suits you best. Here’s a snapshot of some of the more popular styles:

Mindfulness Meditation: This is the most common type of meditation and it is all about being aware of the sounds and activities happening around you. Let your mind be fluid from one thought to the next and don’t focus on any one particular thing. So, if you live downtown Grand Rapids and hear cars outside and screaming children, let your mind become aware of the sounds without focusing too much one.

Focused Meditation: If the thought of clearing out your mind causes anxiety, this type of mediation lets you focus on a single sound, object, mantra or thought. It’s crucial to just continue focusing on these things and stay committed (in other words, bring your mind back whenever it begins to wander). Relaxation music can really help your concentration and there are guided meditations on iTunes and YouTube that can help beginners get used to this style.

Movement Meditation: Instead of focusing on an object or single thought like focused meditation, movement meditation is all about trying out different gentle, flowing movements. This may seem intimidating, but if you try it, you could be pleasantly surprised. Moving your body in a circular motion or swaying from side to side are just two examples of possible movements. Your mind is free to focus on what your body is doing (so if you’re walking while meditating, focus on each step you take).

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