Meditation has been proven to not only relax the mind, but also ease arthritis pain.
There is no magic formula for meditating. Unlike running a race, there is no finish line or world record to break. Getting the hang of it requires an investment of time and patience. Don’t have much of either? You can still meditate.
Try these four meditation techniques to get started:
Keep it brief: You might not have an hour a day to set aside for meditation, so take five- or 10-minute meditation breaks throughout the day.
“Aim to meditate for a total of one hour per day,” says Mark Thornton, a New York City-based meditation teacher and author of Meditation in a New York Minute: Super Calm for the Super Busy (Sounds True, Inc., 2006). “Meditating for a few minutes throughout the day to add up to one hour is just as effective as meditating for a full hour.”
Be consistent: Meditating is a lot like working out at the gym: You need to keep doing it to get results. According to Thornton, a daily practice is best. If the idea of meditating daily feels too overwhelming, aim to meditate every other day. The goal is to set a schedule that you can maintain long-term.
Try active meditation: Meditation doesn’t have to be done in a dark room while seated in the lotus position. You can meditate in the shower, standing in line at the supermarket or even washing the dishes.
To begin an active meditation, take slow, deep breaths and tune into your surroundings – feel the warmth of the dishwater as it covers your hands, watch the bubbles fill the sink, smell the fresh lemon scent of the dish detergent and hear the sound of the dishes clanking together – and continue that mindfulness throughout the meditation.
Adjust your focus. In order to reap the rewards of meditation, it’s important to follow one simple guideline for doing it right: Focus your attention. It’s meditating and not just a series of thoughts when you’re controlling your focus on something specific – a flickering candle flame, a simple mantra – and not your to-do list.
“You’ll know you’re doing it right if you continually notice when your attention has wandered and gently guide your focus back,” Hanley says. “It doesn’t matter how many times you have to redirect yourself, only that you do. It’s learning to steer your attention away from the endless stream of thoughts that quiets the mind and promotes relaxation.”