Did you know May is National Meditation Month? If you haven’t tried already, now’s the perfect time to start your own meditation practice or even try a new technique if you’ve been meditating for years.

What is Meditation?

Simply put, meditation begins with concentration – trying to focus the mind on one point. The purpose of meditation is to quiet the incessant, monkey chatter of the mind and to clean and calm the mind, so it can clearly reflect our true self, without distortion.


The Practice of Meditation

When many people think of meditation, images of people sitting cross-legged and chanting om are called to mind. The truth is there are hundreds of ways you can meditate and this is just a style that’s commonly depicted.

Where should you practice meditation? Meditation is best practiced somewhere quiet and free from distractions, and in a moderate temperature. This may be in your home or outside in a natural setting.

What do you need to practice?  Meditation is practical and portable. You don’t need any special equipment, all you need is the desire to expand your horizons and draw the mind inward.

What are the postures of meditation? You can either sit in a comfortable cross-legged position on the floor with the body straight and head erect (a firm cushion or folded blanket placed under the tailbone will help with posture) or you can sit on a chair with your feet touching the floor and slightly apart.

How do I meditate? Many people find meditation challenging, especially at first. Some feel like they just “aren’t doing it right” because they have trouble calming their mind or relaxing. The good news is there is no “right” way to meditate and it gets easier the more you practice!

Start by developing your own personal meditation routine:

  1.  Create a space – it’s best to meditate in the same place every day when you are starting out.
  2.  Schedule it – it’s helpful if you can find a consistent time each day in order to build routine. However, if one day you shift to an alternate time, that’s just as good, too!
  3. Choose a technique – There are many different techniques to choose from (outlined below) once you find a technique that works for you stick with it and practice it regularly, it’s through regularity that the habit of mediation can be cultivated.
  4.  Start small – Begin by sitting comfortable and closing your eyes. Relax and observe your thoughts for a few minutes. If you have trouble clearing your mind, an easy technique is focusing on your breathing, or even the sensation of your chair against your skin, without attaching yourself to these things. As thoughts enter your mind, and they undoubtedly will, just acknowledge them and let them pass. This is a part of the meditation process and it’s nothing to worry about. Repeat this process a few times a week and work your way up to meditating daily, for about 10 minutes each day. Don’t put pressure on yourself to become a Zen master — like meditating for a hour every day — only to abandon it. Starting slowly and keeping at it is the best way to work a meditation practice into your daily life and enjoy the rejuvenation, clarity and relief.


There are many different types of meditation techniques that are practised by people from all walks of life. Here are some great styles of meditation you can try in order to bring a little peace and well-being into your life.

Mantra meditation: This is one of the simplest techniques and encourages stress relief as well as confidence. To try it, just sit somewhere comfortable in a quiet room, away from any distractions and choose your mantra. This is a phrase or word you’ll repeat to yourself and it may be anything simple such as, “I feel at peace,” or “I am loved.” Close your eyes and repeat the mantra to yourself, focusing only on the sound and feeling of the mantra. Try with 5- to 10-minute sessions in the beginning.

Mindfulness Meditation: This is one of the most well-known forms of meditation and it’s about remaining aware of the sounds around you, letting your mind flow from one thought to the next with no focus.

Spiritual Meditation: This type of meditation is for those who regularly participate in prayer, as it’s based on communicating with God. Just like the other styles, you must become calm and quiet and then begin to focus on a question or problem you might have. This style of meditation can feel not only relaxing, but rewarding as well.

Focused Meditation: If the idea of clearing your mind of all thoughts stresses you out, focused meditation is great because you can focus on a sound, object, mantra, or thought. The key here is to just focus on one of these things and stay committed to that one thought or object. This is when relaxation music comes in handy.

Guided Meditation: This is a technique of meditation using a guide, this form is particularly well suited to beginners. This is a popular form of meditation that involves concentration upon an image or imaginary environment and can help you reduce stress, alleviate pain and more and it can be done in a group setting or at home using guided meditation audio.


Why Meditate?

Alright, so we all know we should meditate. Regular doctors now recommend meditation to their patients, but what are the benefits of a regular meditation practice? Meditation offers a number of health-enhancing benefits along with some other perks that might surprise you, including building self confidence and creating changes in your body at the genetic level to make you better equipped at handling stress in your daily life.

Here’s a taste of some of the benefits you can enjoy by taking up meditation today:

  • Learn to focus on the here and now, not the past or the future.
  • Builds self confidence.
  • Increases serotonin which influences moods and behavior. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, headaches and insomnia.
  • Enhances energy, strength and vigor.
  • Helps keep blood pressure normal.
  • Reduces stress, anxiety and tension – meditation doesn’t just reduce your feelings of stress, it decreases the level of the stress hormone cortisol in your body.
  • Creates a state of deep relaxation and general feeling of well-being.
  • Increases concentration and strengthens the mind.
  • Helps reduce heart disease.
  • Increase brain activity in the area associated with happiness, positive thinking and emotion.
  • Meditating improves cognitive function and working memory for better test scores.
  • Meditation and guided imagery have been shown to improve your ability to cope with stress and heal from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Lessen the pain and stress of chronic migraines, IBS and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Increase signaling connections in your brain for protection against mental illness.
  • Improve your brain’s control over processing emotion and pain.
  • Meditation increases our compassion and it’s been linked to virtuous behavior by researchers at Harvard and Northeastern universities.
  • Lessen the stress of cancer.
  • Lessen feelings of loneliness.
  • Reduce your health care costs by encouraging whole-body wellness.
  • Meditation reduces depression among pregnant women and teenagers.
  • Meditation supports healthy weight loss and helps you reach your goals.
  • If you suffer from insomnia or sleep problems, meditating can improve the quality and length of your sleep at night.


Still not convinced or don’t think you have the time to meditate? How about starting really small? When you finish your yoga class and it’s time for some “me time”, don’t pack up and leave now. Savasana is just as much part of your practice as any other pose.  It’s not a nap, it’s your meditation time, think of it as a break from the world and a time to quiet your mind and just be free. If you find it difficult to “clear your mind” or if “letting go of your thoughts” makes the little voice in your head relentlessly repeat “let go, let go! Go away thoughts. Think of nothing.” Then you may need this time more than anyone. The more you practice the easier it will be for you to disconnect and just be. You’ll also be able to use this new found ability to explore other meditation techniques anytime you need a moment of calm.


Well, there you have it! What are you waiting for? Celebrate National Meditation Month and get into an excellent new habit today.