Meditation is, in many ways, the ideal ancient practice for a modern world. Scientific evidence now supports benefits as widespread as reduced chronic pain and improved mental health outcomes.
If you are one of the many new to the practice, you probably have tons of questions on getting started. Here is an overview of the three most common types of meditation for moms and how to practice each.
Three Types of Meditation
What do you envision when you picture meditation? If you imagine someone sitting on a yoga mat in lotus, you aren’t wrong — but you don’t need to chant “om” or turn yourself into a pretzel to reap the benefits.
The three most frequently seen subtypes of meditation are mindfulness, guided and transcendental. Frequently, elements of one type overlap those of others. Each technique shares the same goal — freeing yourself from the thought spirals that often unconsciously guide your behaviors and influence your life circumstances.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation has the advantage of letting you practice anytime and anywhere. A quick internet search reveals scores of brief exercises you can do at the office or even while waiting in line at the grocery store.
Mindfulness entails becoming a neutral observer of your own life — including your thought processes. This impartial researcher doesn’t judge what they witness but rather documents and takes notes for further reflection and analysis.
To engage in this practice, you need to eliminate external and internal distractions and focus on what you are directly experiencing through your senses in the present moment. When you first begin mindfulness meditation, it helps to have a quiet room where you can surround yourself with soft cushions and dim lighting. Once you evolve in your practice, you’ll find it easier to slip into a distraction-free state anywhere.
Your toughest challenge comes from inside your mind. You can grasp the difficulty by trying not to think of a pink elephant for the next 30 seconds — what do you instantly envision?
Here’s where you need to bring on the impartial internal researcher. Try to focus only on your breath, drawing awareness to the way each inhalation makes your belly rise and send energy to your toe and fingertips. Consciously direct your muscles to relax with each exhalation. As thoughts arise — and they will — visualize your scientist jotting them down on a notepad and then turning to a blank page.
This type of meditation helps you see the “stinking thinking” that too often leads to self-destructive behaviors. Is it really true that if you make one mistake during tomorrow’s work presentation, you’ll get fired, never find another job and end up homeless? Probably not — but isn’t it interesting how that panic can drive you to the bottle, leaving you with the very hangover that makes you flub your speech?
2. Guided Meditation
Guided meditation is similar to mindfulness practices in that both use the technique of focusing on your breath to induce a calm, relaxed and receptive mental state. However, whereas mindfulness is like a hot spring, bubbling up deep truths from within, guided meditation is more like a river, washing away negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive suggestions.
Some therapists use guided meditation in their treatment protocol — you might be familiar if you previously worked with such a professional. Research indicates that regular practice can cause changes in the amygdala, the part of your brain responsible for your fight-or-flight response. This propensity makes it invaluable for those who have PTSD, whose physiological responses to repeated threats can make them act in maladaptive ways.
However, you don’t have to have insurance coverage or access to a therapist to take advantage of guided meditation. You can find plenty of videos on YouTube to help you on your healing journey.
3. Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental meditation (TM) is a slightly less well-known form of meditation for moms. It also starts very similarly to mindfulness — your goal is to induce a relaxed state of mind and body. However, with TM, you go beyond stimulating alpha brain waves and try to reach theta.
The result is a complete state of mental stillness that only a few can achieve. You get there by chanting specific mantras — you do not need to know what they mean. The repetition itself induces the dream-like mental state.
The most critical thing to remember is to be gentle with yourself. Don’t feel discouraged if you read tales of celebrities who swear how the practice changed their lives if you don’t see similar results right away. It’s like mastering a challenging yoga asana. There’s no substitute for time and daily practice with TM.
If you are interested in starting TM, once more, look to YouTube to get started. Listen to some of the sample mantras to see how they are chanted, then make yours unique to your practice.
Meditation for Moms: Can It Help You?
Now you understand the most common forms of meditation for moms and how to perform each one, you’re ready to start your practice. Begin reaping the mental and physical health benefits today.