10 Ways To Meditate To Uplift Your Mood
10 ways to meditate to uplift your mood
So many different types of meditation – so little time. In our Well + Kind community, we’ve been experimenting with meditation. Which means, we’ve faced both the frustrations and the excitements of being new at something.
Between apps that break it down and spiritual gurus who have been practicing for a lifetime – the list is long of meditations one can do. We’ve tried to make it easy for you - because you have to start somewhere! Here are 10 types of meditation that you can do to uplift your mood.
We’re choosing to start here, because the name says it all. It’s a straight-forward practice to get in touch with yourself and your breath. Breath Awareness is a type of Mindful Meditation that encourages mindful breathing.
A Harvard Medical Study says, “Simply observing the breath can damp down stress and open a door to a more healthy and mindful lifestyle.”
To do breath awareness, breathe slowly and deeply, counting and focusing solely on your breath. By drawing attention to the breath, you can quiet your thoughts and connect with your body.
If the mind wanders, as it does for us all, observe this moment away from the breath, before kindly inviting it back. Compassion for yourself, is a keep step in any of these practices, as not all days and not all meditations will be as easy as others.
Originating from Buddhist teachings, Mindful Meditation is the most popular meditation technique in the West, and is a good continuation from the techniques we learned in breath awareness.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that urges you to remain aware and present in the moment. This practice combines concentration with awareness.
You might find it helpful to focus on an object or your breath while you observe your surroundings, your bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings. This type of meditation is good for people who don’t have a teacher to guide them, because you can easily practice alone.
In Mindfulness Meditation, you pay attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind. Crucial to this, is a lack of judgment. So, rather than reflecting on the annoyance of a thought, you will simply take note.
By noting your thoughts and patterns of thoughts, Mindfulness Meditation can be instrumental in helping us understand how our minds work. This self-knowledge serves as a foundation for overcoming dissatisfaction, impatience, intolerance and many of the other habits that keep us from living fuller, happier lives.
You can also do it almost anywhere. While waiting in line at the DMV, for example, you might calmly notice your surroundings, including the sights, sounds, and smells you experience.
Research has found that mindfulness can reduce fixation on negative emotions, improve focus, improve memory, lessen impulsive emotional reactions, and improve relationship satisfaction.
While most forms of meditation require you to remain in one rigid position, Movement Meditation encourages the body to be in motion – think yoga and tai chi. This is a good practice if you have trouble sitting still for long periods, or if you find it easier to concentrate while you’re moving.
Once you are able to be present in your body during Movement Meditation, you can expand your awareness to include just about anything that keeps you moving: gardening, walking the dog, playing golf, etc. In each case, the movement of your body is the object of the meditation.
At its core, Spiritual Meditation is the mindful practice of connecting to something that is greater, vaster, and deeper than the individual self. Spiritual Meditation is used in Eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Taoism, and in Christian faith. It’s similar to prayer in that you reflect on the silence around you and seek a deeper connection with your God or Universe.
Essential oils, which of course we love, are commonly used to heighten the spiritual experience. Popular options include: myrrh, sage, cedar, sandalwood, and palo santo. Spiritual meditation can be practiced at home or in a place of worship. This practice is beneficial for those who thrive in silence and seek spiritual growth.
Loving-kindness Meditation is aimed to promote feelings of compassion and love, both for others and yourself. While breathing deeply, you open your mind to receiving loving kindness. You then can send messages of loving kindness to the world, to specific people, or to a loved one. In most forms of this meditation, the key is to repeat the message many times, until you feel overwhelmed with loving kindness.
This type of meditation may increase positive emotions and has been linked to reduced depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress or PTSD, and may be ideal for you if you struggle with holding on to feelings of anger and resentment.
Progressive Relaxation / Body Scan Meditation
Progressive relaxation, sometimes called Body Scan Meditation, is meditation that encourages you to scan your body for areas of tension. The goal is to notice tension and to allow it to release.
During a Progressive Relaxation session, you will start at one end of your body, usually your feet, and work up to your head. Some forms of progressive relaxation require you to tense and then relax your muscles. Others encourage you to visualize a wave, drifting over your body to release tension.
Either way, Progressive Relaxation can help to promote generalized feelings of calmness and relaxation. It may also help with chronic pain. Because it slowly and steadily relaxes the body, you can use this form of meditation to help drift off to sleep.
Visualization Meditation is a technique focused on enhancing feelings of relaxation, peace, and calmness by visualizing positive scenes or images. With this practice, it’s important to imagine your scene vividly and use all five senses to add as much detail as possible.
Another form of Visualization Meditation involves imagining yourself succeeding at specific goals, which is intended to increase focus and motivation. Visualization is a technique that uses this powerfully creative aspect of mind for positive personal transformation.
Focused Meditation involves concentration using any of the five senses. A good way to think about Focused Meditation is that it's the anti-multi-tasking. Jumping around between many thoughts and activities leads to a scattered mind and a lot of dissatisfaction.
One traditional kind of Focused Meditation involves drinking a cup of tea. Here, you train in stopping all other forms of activity – no checking your cell phone, no jumping up to let the dog out, no adding to the shopping list – and focus your attention exclusively to drinking your cup of tea. You might notice the sensation of warmth, the citrus smell, the weight of the cup in your hands. Whenever the mind wanders, you come back to drinking tea.
Whatever the object of your meditation, you should focus your entire attention on it. When you’re eating, you’re aware of the sensations connected with eating; when you’re exercising, you’re aware of the sensations connected with exercising. If you notice that your mind is wandering, you simply acknowledge that and bring your focus back to what you’re doing. With commitment to the practice, your ability to concentrate will improve and you may rediscover the joy of being present.
Other activities that are good for Focused Meditation is: counting mala beads or staring at a candle flame.
Many spiritual paths, from Western religions to Buddhist and Hindu traditions, recommend chanting and Mantra Meditation. While chanting, the mind should be focused on the sound of the words and melody. Western traditions also encourage contemplation of meaning. In Mantra Meditation and other Eastern traditions, a repetitive sound, word, or phrase is used to clear the mind and allow our spiritual strengths to reveal themselves. Mantras are sometimes accompanied by a melody, but not always. “Om” is one common sound used in Mantra Meditation.
Some people enjoy Mantra Meditation because they find it easier to focus on a word than on their breath. This is also a good practice for people who don’t like silence and enjoy repetition.
Transcendental Meditation is a spiritual form of meditation where practitioners remain seated and breathe slowly. The goal is to transcend or rise above the person’s current state of being.During a meditation session, you focus on a mantra or a repeated word or series of words. If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like Mantra meditation, Transcendental Meditation is more customizable than Mantra Meditation, using a mantra or series of words that are specific to each person.
A teacher determines the mantra based on a complex set of factors, sometimes including the year the practitioner was born, and the year the teacher was trained. People who practice Transcendental Meditation report both spiritual experiences and heightened mindfulness.
Meditation is a process-oriented undertaking that focuses on the moment, not on the results. So enjoying the moment is key to successful meditation. Remember, that not all two meditations are alike and sometimes it will be harder to focus. Be kind to yourself – you are doing amazing!