There are a million and a half things you need to do, try to do, and think about trying to do every single day. Finding time to meditate is probably not one of them. But if you care at all about your emotional and physical well-being, you probably carve out some time. In one analysis of research, scientists at John Hopkins University reviewed nearly 19,000 meditation studies and found mindful meditation can help ease anxiety, depression and pain. There’s also evidence it may reduce blood pressure, help fight insomnia and improve sleep, and one small, preliminary study out of UC San Francisco suggests mediation could help people control their eating habits and lose weight.
There are different types of meditation techniques—those that include repeating mantras, others that focus on mental images, and the increasingly popular mindful meditation, which is based in having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. That said, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate—it can be formal or informal, you could dedicate an hour a day or even just a few minutes, whatever fits you and your life best. To help you get started, here are some everyday ways to practice meditation, according to the Mayo Clinic:
Perfect for beginners, focus all your attention on breathing slowly and deeply, feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. When your attention wanders, gently refocus on breathing.
2. Do a body scan.
Concentrate on different parts of your body, becoming aware of various sensations, such as pain, tension, warmth or relaxation.
3. Repeat a mantra.
Some may prefer religious mantras, such as the Jesus Prayer in the Christian tradition, the holy name of God in Judaism, or the om mantra of Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions. Others create their own secular mantras, using calming words or phrases that help relax them.
4. Walk and meditate.
You can do it anywhere—in a park, on a sidewalk or even at the mall. Don’t focus on a particular destination; instead just slow your pace and concentrate on the movement of your legs or feet. Repeat action words in your mind as you lift each foot, move your leg forward and place your foot on the ground.