Image: Gisele Bunchen knows the value of meditation (via Instagram)
There’s a secret every good meditation instructor should tell you – but very few do. It’s that meditation isn’t meant to be easy. Your mind will wonder. You will get bored. You will hear over and over in your head “When will this be over?” and it’s all totally okay.
In fact, drifting off is part of the experience. In some forms of meditation, that drift is central to the experience.
Feeling uncomfortable is also a big part of the meditation experience – but it’s a reason to continue meditating, not a reason to stop.
With that in mind, meditation should never feel like a cocktail of emotional agony and annoyance, and if it does, you might be practicing the wrong style.
This doesn’t mean you should give up on meditation altogether though. You should just find something that works for you. Because when you get it right, meditating is really, really good for you.
It can help you deal with stress and get outside your own head, leading to lasting positive consequences for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Listening to a woman with an American accent telling me to relax my fingers – which is what you’ll get in a guided body scan meditation – is my idea of hell. Meanwhile, using my breath as an anchor for concentration while I hold a series of poses – as is done in Yin Yoga practice – works really well for me.
Figuring out which style of meditation will work for you is a matter of trial and error. Give a few different forms a shot, and then deepen your practice with the one you liked the most. Here are a four of the most prevalent kinds of meditation, and what they involve.
Secular, scientifically proven and beloved by psychologists everywhere, mindfulness meditation is all about achieving a state of detached awareness. There are plenty of great guided mindfulness meditation sessions available online, like these ones from The University of Sydney. If you want to deepen your mindfulness practice, most clinical psychologists are now trained to do mindfulness exercises.