It’s safe to say we are living in a stress-filled era. We don’t really need to list all of the stressful things in your life because … that’s stressful. That said, yoga class enrollment has soared, countless numbers of “relax” stations can be found Spotify and Pandora … and wine sales are up.

You don’t need a mat or a wine opener or even an hour a day to get some relief from the never-ending “monkey mind” that our fast-paced existence creates.

At its simplest, meditation and mindfulness are about creating more presence. How you can do this is simply by noticing. Meditation and mindfulness are about slowing down a little too ‘tune in’ to your physical response and emotional responses. Like, pausing to notice that you are breathing or listening to the rain fall. Or (gasp) even pausing before you hear your Tinder notification or answer the phone.

All this breathing and mindfulness have a purpose. Studies have shown that even spending 25 minutes a day can reduce the psychological impact of stress. Not only does it make you feel less stressed, but it also represents more active coping and greater engagement with the task.

meditation and mindfulness

Other benefits of meditation, include controlling anxiety, improving emotional health, enhancing self-awareness, lengthening attention span, reducing age-induced memory loss, helping with sleep and controlling pain. Some experts believe it’s helpful in small ways – like improving your ability to be kind – too big ways – like fighting addiction.

There are two major styles of meditation that you can check out on one of these free, guided meditation exercises offered by UCLA and Head in the Clouds:

  • Focused-attention meditation in which you concentrate on a single object, thought, sound or visualization. It emphasizes ridding your mind of attention and distraction. Meditation may focus on breathing, a mantra or a calming sound.
  • Open-monitoring meditation encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of your environment, train of thought and sense of self. It may include becoming aware of thoughts, feelings or impulses that you might normally try to suppress.

Once you identify the style of meditation that’s right for you, you can explore these online “guided meditations … There are even some specifically created for women!

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