4 -7- 8 Breathing
This is a great breathing exercise if you are just starting with meditation but feel overwhelmed. This is a breathing exercise you can do just about anywhere and it can help steady your heart rate. That in turn calms the body and the mind. It’s also excellent if you struggle with falling asleep at night or have anxiety. Also, because it requires you to count your breaths, your focus will be on the counting, instead of the wandering mind.
Tip - If the counts are too long, you can modify, such as 3-6-7. The main goal is to inhale through your nose, hold for a longer count and exhale through your mouth for an even longer count. Work on letting the belly rise and fall with the inhale and exhale.
This is a good mindfulness exercise if you have a lot of energy and sitting meditations are too much. A walking meditation is simply taking a walking but mindfully. Often when we walk our minds are wandering. When we are in a walking meditation, we try to be fully present in the experience. We do this by using our five senses.
Engaging a mindful activity is another great exercise if you are new to meditation and mindfulness. Just like with walking, when we are doing a mindless task it becomes just that: mindless. With a mindful activity, we want to become fully present in the experience. This means keeping our focus on the task at hand and our breath.
Mantra meditations can be a positive meditation practice as well changing negative thought patterns. Our brains are hardwired for the negative, this is why we have an “inner critic” and it can be difficult to let go of negativity. Meditation helps us recognize our negative thought patterns and eventually change them. Mantra meditations can help increase positive thoughts and reprogram our subconscious. Think of it as retraining the brain. The more and more the brain gets a positive message, the more it starts to believe it. We do this by creating a mantra.
A mantra is a short, present tense statement that is meant to be positive and encourage feelings of well being, such as “I am a kind and compassionate person” or “I am at peace.” For this meditation, identify a mantra that resonates with you. Think about your own negative self-talk and a mantra to challenge it. For example, if you struggle with perfectionism, your mantra could be “I am enough.” It can be helpful to have two mantras, one for your inhale and one for your exhale. So when you breathe in, silently say “breathe in peace” and as you breath out say silently “breathe out love.” You can do this meditation anywhere but it’s helpful to be in a quiet space where you can sit and practice for a few minutes.
This meditation is the more traditional practice people often think of when discussing meditation.