Meditation means different things to
different people, and there are many ways to do it. This topic focuses on a
kind of meditation called mindful meditation. This
practice may help you relax and relieve stress.
The goal of mindful meditation is to focus your
attention on the things that are happening right now in the present moment. The
idea is to note what you experience without trying to change it.
Meditation can help you relax, because you are not worrying about
what happened before or what may occur in the future.
need any special tools or equipment to practice this meditation. You just sit
in a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor. Or you can lie down, if
that is more comfortable for you.
If your mind wanders, don't worry
or judge yourself. When you become aware that your thoughts are wandering,
simply focus again on the present moment. One way to do this is by paying
attention to your body. For example, is your breathing fast or slow, deep or
Meditation may bring up certain feelings or emotions. If
this happens, don't try to rid your mind of these feelings. Just focus on what
you feel at the present moment. Don't get lost in the thoughts that those
feelings might trigger.
How do you practice meditation?
Choose a time and place where you can meditate
without being interrupted. Try to find a quiet place, but don't worry if there
are some noises, such as traffic. That kind of noise is just part of the
When you start, try to meditate for only 10 minutes
at a time. Then you can increase the time bit by bit. You can also try
meditating for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.
Before you sit down, remind yourself that you are there to focus
on the present moment. This may help keep your mind from wandering. Your daily
routine and other distractions will all be waiting for your attention after
your meditation session.
Sit in a comfortable position, either in a
chair or on the floor. Or lie down, if that is more comfortable. You can close
your eyes, or you can look down, keeping your gaze a few inches in front of you
on the floor.
As you sit, start to pay attention to your breathing.
This is a good way to focus your attention on what is happening right now.
Don't try to change your breathing. Just notice how it feels in your lungs and
If your mind wanders, don't worry or feel bad about
yourself. Try to notice your thoughts, such as "I wonder what I will need to do
at my 10 a.m. work meeting." Then let the thought go, and bring your focus back
to the present moment and your breathing. You may do this over and over again
during a meditation session. That's okay.
During your meditation,
you may feel certain emotions, such as anger, impatience, sadness, or
happiness. Don't try to hold on to or let go of these feelings. Just notice them. They are part
of your experience of the present moment. Keeping your attention on your
breathing will help you stay focused and not get lost in the thoughts that your
feelings may trigger. For example, if you feel impatient to finish the
meditation so you can start the laundry, see if you can focus on the feeling of
the impatience rather than thoughts of the laundry. Where do you feel the
impatience in your body? Does it feel tight? Does it affect your
Other Works Consulted
Anspaugh DJ, et al. (2011). Coping with and managing stress. In Wellness: Concepts and Applications, 8th ed., pp. 307–340. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Freeman L (2009). Meditation. In L Freeman, ed., Mosby’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach, 3rd ed., pp. 158–188. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerPatrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerChristine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral Health