Mind & Body

5 Paths To Peace

A surefire way to calm your mind, meditation is also one of the best things you can do for your body.
5 Paths To Peace
Pin it Courtesy of Shutterstock

Mounting medical evidence shows that meditation can boost the immune system, improve circulation, lower cholesterol, ease chronic pain, end insomnia, counter anxiety, relieve gastrointestinal distress, and actually extend your lifespan. Meditation is a wonderful way to reduce stress, says Timothy McCall, M.D., author of  Yoga as Medicine. Stress not only makes people miserable in their day-to-day lives, it also undermines their health.

The goal of most meditation practices is simple enough: Bring your attention to one thing in order to deepen your awareness of the present moment. For people accustomed to multitasking, paying attention to just one thing can be a challenge. The trick is to find a practice style thats right for you. If sitting and breathing is not your thing, perform a simple walking meditation. If you're not comfortable focusing on the noise inside your head, listen to the sounds outside it. If silence seems scary, repeat a mantra.

Here, we offer a guide to five beginner-friendly techniques, with advice from some of the worlds leading meditation instructors. Try each style on for size, and when you find one that fits, stick with it. Its like exercising a muscle, says teacher Richard Rosen; with each workout it gets stronger. Soon you'll carry the centered awareness gained from meditation into the rest of your daily activities, making everything more satisfying. As Rosen says, first it's a chore, eventually its a pleasure.

You can sit in the lotus position if you want to, but you can also be seated on a chair or sofa, lying on the floor, or even standing up and walking around. Don't get too hung up on form the best position is the one that helps you stay focused.