If you care about your mind, you must have meditated – at least once in your life. Dig back into that memory and tell us what type of a meditator you are.
- The fidget: you just can’t sit still! Hasn’t it been ages already?
- The sleeper: did you just snore?
- The planner: this sitting idle is killing you! You might as well plan for tomorrow!
You know that meditation is a technique to calm the mind, intensify focus, and improve brain function. But it just doesn’t seem to be made for you. How would you ever get these benefits if you find it so difficult to meditate in the first place?
But here’s a thought: maybe, you find it so difficult to meditate because you aren’t doing what’s right for you. Surely a technique that helps the planner focus won’t be the same as what helps the sleeper. We’ll help you find the right type of meditation suited to your metabolic personality – the factor that defines your thoughts, actions, and reactions.
Start with keeping a slot for meditation in your daily routine. Let your mind get adjusted to the idea. Persevere. Like every good habit, this too needs some discipline.
No time for meditation? You can start with just 1 minute of meditation a day. But be diligent about that 1 minute. Slowly, you can build it up to a few more minutes over the next few weeks. The upper limit is yours to set. Something tells us, you’d like to push this limit soon!
So, get set, meditate!
Meditation for the Fidget
As is typical of a light and quick metabolic personality, on most days, you are a scatterbrain, lost in your own world of tangled thoughts. Wouldn’t you feel much more sorted and much less anxious if all these thoughts could connect and form a clear pattern? How about you didn’t have to worry about every little thing at all?
Meditation could help center you. It could also tone down your stress responses. Research has found that it makes changes to areas of the brain (the medial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala) which spark off stress signals and hence keep your body on constant alert. Meditation could also help you resist your impulses.
However, meditating is difficult for you since your imaginative mind and restless body makes sitting down in one place nearly impossible. So meditation has to be a comfortable experience for you. Otherwise you’ll find yourself worrying about the temperature, frequently changing your posture, and checking your watch.
- Sit in a comfortable position, on the floor or on a chair. Take support from a backrest. Keep yourself warm and comfy.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Notice your breath slowly entering and exiting your body.
- Now chant a mantra – anything that has an emotional value for you. It could even be an affirmation like “I am centered.”
- Initially, your thoughts may be running wild and free. Focusing on the chant and hearing the repetition will moor your thoughts to the sound.
- Anytime you feel your mind wandering, gently bring it back to the sound.
You may also like to experiment with guided imagery to relax. Think of images of natural things that are more static – say a calm blue lake in the middle of a lush green forest. Visualize yourself in this scene and take stock of the tiniest details. Your mind will soon be free from all other thoughts.
Meditation for the Sleeper
We know what you are thinking. Why do you who are already calm and composed need to meditate? And if your natural tendency is to be dull and slow, wouldn’t it be counterproductive to engage yourself in an activity that is all about being slow? Wouldn’t it lull you to lethargy and sleep?
The slow and steady metabolic personality needs to meditate not to stay calm but to become more alert and less attached. You could be unhealthily “attached” to anything from your comfort zone to your sadness, something that makes you an ideal prey for depression. Meditation could lift your serotonin and norepinephrine (mood-boosting hormone) levels. It could also help lower your stress responses.
The best part is that meditation doesn’t need you to be still. You could focus your mind even when your body is on the move. Try walking mindfulness meditation.
- Gear up in comfortable clothes and shoes.
- Take a short walk in nature.
- Experience each aspect of the environment through your sense organs, giving equal weight to all. Be mindful of what you see, hear, smell, touch, and even taste all at once.
- There’s another thing you could do. Align your step with your breath and notice both the breath and the sensation on the sole of your feet as you walk.
- If you are meditating in a seated position, do not take a backrest. Sit erect. Intersperse the meditation session with pranayama like the bellows breath. It will keep you from being too comfortable and dozing off.
- If you would like to utter an affirmation, it could be something like, “I am free.”
If guided imagery is more your cup of tea, visualize anything with motion. You could imagine a bird flying in a wide blue sky or a raging fire. Visualizing still bodies like a lake or a mountain could on the other hand make you sleepy.
Meditation for the Planner
As an intense personality with a fiery constitution and a goal-driven lifestyle, you probably think meditation is a lot of idle sitting around. You need to see quick results. So when a meditation session or two fails to create a visible effect, you lose interest. Or even as you sit to meditate, you can’t help plan for things that are more important. You need to feel you are using your time productively.
But here’s the thing. Stress can damage an area of the brain concerned with memories (hippocampus), making you less productive. Meditation can be an antidote. A study found that regular meditators had more grey matter in their hippocampus, which indicates less age-related memory loss. Moreover, meditation could relieve you of anger and aggression.
- Sit down in a comfortable position and perform the cooling breath (sheetali).
- Now take deep breaths and simply focus on your belly. Feel it filling up and emptying with each breath you take in and leave.
- If you’d like to use a positive affirmation to keep your thoughts gathered, utter something like “I am at peace.”
If you want to meditate with guided imagery, imagine anything that has a cooling vibe – a green meadow, a forest, an ocean, or a cloudy sky.
When should you meditate? Before starting your day, anytime you feel stressed, and before bed. You choose what suits you best.