Meditation Techniques: 6 Ways to Quiet Your Busy Mind
Meditation has so many benefits! Studies have proven its effectiveness in improving concentration, anxiety, stress, focus, depression, and the list goes on. The best part is it’s 100% completely totally free. But wait, there’s more, you can meditate anywhere with no special equipment! If meditation is so amazing and totally free why do so many people have trouble committing to a consistent practice?
Even though meditation is beneficial and free, meditation isn’t always easy. One of the biggest obstacles during meditation is the constant battle against your wandering mind. This was definitely my biggest struggle. I’m the type of person that has a million thoughts swirling around all the time. Don’t let this frustrate you. I’m going to give you six meditation techniques to give your mind an anchor, and allow your mind to focus.
The bonus here is that you will see this newfound focus spill over into your everyday life.
Visualization is a meditation technique where you create a detailed mental picture of a particular item, event, person, or place. Visualization has long been used by athletes as a performance-enhancing technique. The benefit of using visualization during meditation is that your mind is occupied with your mental image, instead of any distractions.
During your meditation practice try visualizing a bright ball of light traveling from the top of your head to the base of your body as you inhale, and as you exhale visualize it traveling back up. Don’t overthink the mental picture, relax, and let the image flow naturally. The more vivid you make your visualization the better anchor it will be, and the less your mind will wander.
2. Body Scan Meditation
Body scan meditation is a mindfulness technique that brings our awareness and focus to our body. This is a great technique if you need to focus on relieving stress, releasing tension, and reducing aches and pains. This technique can help you to find and release areas of tension you didn’t even know you had.
While meditating mentally scan slowly and methodically through the body. Start at the top of the head and slowly move down through the toes. You want to break the body up into regions and scan each of them. For example: lower legs, upper legs, torso, arms, and neck/face. As you focus on each region note how the body feels in that area. Notice any sensations, tension, pressure, discomfort, etc. The goal isn’t to try to change anything or label the feeling, but to build awareness and mindfulness.
3. Mindful Breathing
Mindful breathing is another one of our meditation techniques that focuses your attention on the body. This technique uses your breath as an anchor for your mind. It allows you to focus your attention fully on your breathing. You pay careful attention to both the inhale and the exhale. The goal is just to observe the breath, not to try to change it in any way. If it’s helpful you can focus on the rise and fall of your abdomen. Practicing mindful breathing can make it easier to cope with stressful situations by being able to return to this anchor at any time during your day.
While meditating focus your attention on your breathing. Feel it rolling in and out, like waves on a beach. Feel the expansion of the rib cage with each breath. Notice the sensations in your abdomen, throat, and nostrils. Notice the length and depth of each breath. There’s no need to make any changes, just notice. Count breaths if it helps you maintain your focus. Count to 10 and start over again.
4. Mental Noting
Mental Noting is a mindfulness technique you can use in conjunction with any meditation techniques. To use mental noting, when you notice you’ve gotten distracted during your practice simply acknowledge the distraction, label it, and let it go. Don’t worry about trying to note every single thought or feeling, just when we find ourselves really caught up with a thought and have lost focus on the meditation. This practice teaches us that we can pause, not get caught up in the storm of our thoughts, and then mindfully return to our breathing.
To integrate mental noting into your meditation practice pay mindful attention and If you realize your mind has wandered during meditation, just take note of the distraction. You can choose broad category labels like “thinking” or “tension.” We don’t need to get involved with the distraction or force it away. Acknowledge it, release the distraction, and return to the meditation practice.
5. Loving Kindness Meditation
A loving-kindness meditation, also known as metta meditation, is a particular type of visualization technique where you visualize sending and receiving love to specific individuals. This technique is the perfect practice if you’re working on improving your overall happiness and satisfaction.
During your meditation, you will visualize sending compassion, kindness, well wishes, and gratitude to others. Visualize sending your kindness to the following people: someone you love, someone who inspires you, someone in need, and finally an enemy. Create a vivid mental picture of what that is. Maybe it’s a beam of rainbow light touching that person’s heart. Imagine a vivid visualization that carries personal meaning for you. Next, you will visualize the effect as it absorbs into each person.
6. Mantra Meditation
During mantra meditation, you choose a word or phrase to repeat to yourself, silently in your mind. Focusing on the sound is the anchor for your mind. If you do realize that your mind has drifted away, just retrun to the sound of the mantra.
Mantras are sounds that help recalibrate our intention. So’ham is a great mantra to bring our attention inward. Because the mantra isn’t in English it doesn’t come with any preconceived notions or triggers. Since this is a silent practice, really focus on hearing the sound vividly in your mind. Focus on the breath. On the inhale silently focus on the sound “so.” On the exhale silently focus on the sound “hum.”
Transcendental meditation is an especially great choice to help with an overactive mind because the mantras have a neutral meaning. If you need help selecting a mantra to use during your meditation I have an article all about Transcendental Meditation and the mantras that are used in this practice.
Be Kind to Yourself
Take your time practicing these meditation techniques and remember to be patient with yourself. Meditation isn’t really about relaxing, it’s a workout for your mind and a skill that takes time to develop. Take a gentle and relaxed approach and your skills will get better each time you practice.