There's more than one route to a meditative state and its accompanying health benefits (stress relief, reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure). If you've tried basic meditation—sitting quietly, focusing on your breath—and didn't find success, you might want to try something different. Check out our sampling below and get started on your path to peace.
ESPECIALLY GOOD FOR: Those who prefer to receive information or instruction through images. Visualization allows you to study an item in the room or create an image in your mind as a guide. It's typically practiced without any background music or noise, says Stephan Bodian, a spiritual teacher and author of Wake Up Now (McGraw Hill, 2007).
HOW–TO: Follow these steps to start visualizing today.
- Sit comfortably and think about relaxing your body.
- Choose an object as your focus, or just close your eyes and picture a tree or flower.
- Focus on the object or image for five to ten minutes, or longer. When your mind wanders from the image, simply bring it back.
SOURCES: Go to meditationsociety.com to find visualization and meditation exercises.
ESPECIALLY GOOD FOR: Finding your heart and your voice. "Chanting helps you express feelings. Once you sing, they release, and speaking them becomes easier," says Jai Uttal, a San Francisco–based instructor of kirtan, an ancient Indian chanting meditation.
HOW–TO: Here's a simple mantra meditation from Uttal:
- Sit on a chair or the floor and simply begin singing—go with anything, just to get started and release tension.
- Start repeating "rahm rahm rahm," a simple mantra that means god, Uttal says. Say it quietly or loudly, depending on how you're feeling.
- Repeat the chant for two minutes every day for two to three days, then extend the duration of your practice.
- Close your eyes if you find yourself distracted by visual stimulation.