January 11 2018
A runner shares a personal essay documenting her years as "the runner" in rural South Dakota.
Meditation, simple as it is, can seem daunting. Do you need props? An instructor? Dead silence and blackout shades? A trip to Tibet?
Easing into this ancient practice is easier than you might think. You just need patience and an open mind. After all, there isn’t a right or wrong way to meditate and the experience is different for everyone.
The benefits are nearly infinite: Meditation can help you gain perspective and increase self-awareness. You can develop a more tranquil demeanor, become less likely to anger over petty things, gain a sense of calm, lose anxiety, become more focused and less distracted. The list goes on.
With no special equipment necessary and a compelling upside, there’s virtually no reason not to give meditation a try. Bliss out with one of the four most popular types below.
For those with a colorful imagination, guided meditation is a great option. This method involves picturing scenery you find relaxing. Incorporating different senses—like touch, smell and sound—can really encourage the process. If the beach puts you in a good mood, try lighting a tropical candle, sifting sand through your hands and listening to the calming sound of the waves for just a few minutes.
Many Buddhist practices are based on mantra meditation, where you repeat a word or phrase while you meditate to put a halt to the mind’s racing thoughts. This practice is particularly helpful when you have a lot on your mind, need to pull yourself away from a hectic situation and calm down. An ancient Hindu mantra—and probably one of the simplest—is the single syllable “om.”
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This type of meditation is centered on a more abstract concept, in which you increase the conscious awareness of your surroundings and experience. The goal is not to change how you are, but rather become aware of what is already true. Recognize what is happening around you; be open and inviting to it. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to become at peace with your thoughts and your condition.
Perfect for travel, transcendental is much like mantra meditation, wherein you choose a word or phrase to repeat, however you do so silently. If you are feeling unsettled on the airplane, car ride or even in your hotel room, try sitting down, closing your eyes and concentrating on a single mantra to create your own “island of calm,” as practitioner Paul McCartney put it.
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