By Kristen Donia

Meditation. This word seems to be popping up everywhere these days. From Deepak to Oprah, you hear this term dropped regularly. Its list of benefits is long and can be hard to believe, but does sitting quietly and embracing stillness have THAT many benefits for your mind, body, and overall health? What does that actually mean?

When did meditation begin?

While there is much debate on the origins of meditation, archaeologists and historians agree that people have been practicing for about 5,000 years.

What exactly is a guided meditation?

A guided meditation involves an instructor navigating you through the experience. There may be an overall theme of healing or release, or a specific affirmation or mantra to help you focus on your intention or desire for that particular session.

 What is a mantra?

A mantra is a word or phrase whose purpose is to enhance a meditation by bringing a clearer focus and sense of peace from the stillness found during your practice. The quiet repetition of mantras can help to quiet your mind and move you through all the thoughts that will inevitably present themselves.

You can learn more about mantras here.

 How can meditation help anxiety?

Life is full. Taking the time to find a deeper sense of calm enhances many areas of our lives, especially how we see the world and process our emotions. When you focus your attention on the “in” and “out” of your breath, you bringing your awareness to the present moment. The moment that is happening right here and right now. It keeps you from worrying about whatever has happened in your past and takes your mind off of whatever you have to do in the future.

When you encounter stressful circumstances, as all of us do, your mind will be able to call on the stillness found during your mediation practice, helping you relax more quickly. Adding a quiet meditation ritual to your routine helps to cultivate more peace in your life, which leads to more happiness and peace throughout your whole day, not just during meditation.

I’ve never meditated before. Where should I start?

Just remember that meditation can be whatever you make it. Start small, maybe sitting on the floor in your bedroom with your legs crossed for a few minutes to a song without lyrics. At times your new practice may look like you lying in bed quietly after waking and simply thinking positive thoughts about your day. The important part is just to find some stillness. We spend a lot of time interacting with peers, texting, on social media, and doing homework. Look at meditation as your time to just – be. “You time” is very important, even if it’s just a few minutes a day!  

 Where can I find meditation resources?

Luckily there is an abundance of meditation tools out there. From apps to websites you can find some anywhere.

  • Headspace: This app offers 10 free days of short meditations that ease you into the concept, guided by Andy Puddicombe, a former Tibetan Buddhist monk and the co-founder of Headspace.
  • Ananda: This app from author, speaker and alternative medicine advocate, Deepak Chopra, allows you to choose the focus of the meditation (morning, midday, inspiration, etc), select the type of music that plays along, and customize your own volume settings.
  • Oprah & Deepak’s 21 Day Meditation Experience: Offered quarterly, listen as these two influential people motivate with inspiring, relevant messages and guided meditations to encourage growth and stillness in this busy age.
  • YouTube: A great free resource full of guided and unguided meditations.
  • Spotify: If you are a subscriber, you can find Meditation Playlists and Guided Meditations by simply typing “Meditation” into the search bar.
  • Itunes: Does your family subscribe to iTunes music? Family plans for $14.99 include access for up to six people! Here you will find albums and playlists full of meditation options.

This is information only – NOT medical advice