How to Find Peace in Your Sunset Years
Meditation is an umbrella term that’s used to describe a state of relaxation and peace. Doctors and researchers know that meditation is effective. They recognize that meditating can help patients deal with stress-related conditions and chronic pain. Some effects are even more clear-cut. As a 2016 study showed, meditation can also cause physical changes in brain volume. After eight weeks of mindful meditation, patients gained brain volume in areas associated with learning and memory and saw decreases in areas associated with fear, anxiety, and stress.
There are countless ways of meditating. Many will share similar features or components, but they’ll also have different approaches or philosophies. Generally, the goal of reaching inner peace is what unites them. There is no wrong way to meditate. What matters is selecting a strategy that works for you.
A form of traditional Chinese medicine, qi gong uses a focus on simple, flowing movements, breathing, and balance to help practitioners feel centered, calm, and strong in their minds and bodies.
Another type of moving meditation, tai chi is actually a gentle, noncombative form of Chinese martial arts. When doing tai chi, you move through a series of forms in slow motion. By coordinating the movements with your breathing, you improve focus and cognition, boost body awareness, and reduce pain.
Mindfulness meditation is a matter of being fully aware and engaged in whatever activity that you’re doing, and it’s trickier than it seems. Most people choose to start by focusing on their breathing. They sit in a comfortable position in a space with minimal distraction. Then, they focus on the sensation of their breath as it travels in and out of their body. This type of meditation takes practice. Getting distracted is normal, so don’t be disheartened if it happens. Instead, refocus.
Body Scan Meditation
Body scan meditation requires you to conduct a mental review of your body. If you’ve ever struggled with insomnia, you may have encountered a similar exercise. Here, you start with your feet. Think about how they feel against the floor as you breathe in and out. Then, try to relax the muscles there. Next, move up to your lower legs. Repeat the process there. Continue to move up your body, scanning and relaxing as you go. This type of mediation may be particularly useful for people who struggle with chronic pain.
As the name suggests, mantra meditation involves repeating a specific word or phrase over and over again. You can say it silently or out loud. You can repeat it for a specific length of time, say it for a specific number of times, or simply repeat it until you feel like you’ve achieved the effect that you need. Some people find a mantra and stick with it. Others use a mantra for a week or a month before swapping to a new one.
Guided meditation uses imagery or visualization. They often prompt you by engaging the senses to help you imagine that you’re somewhere relaxing.