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Four meditation techniques to try

Meditation shopping may be your best bet to finding a style you truly like and will stick with, claims new research. ©Pavelis/shutterstock.com

(Relaxnews) – Meditation shopping? While it may seem strange, it is perhaps the best approach to finding a technique that works for you, at least according to a new study from San Francisco State University’s Institute for Holistic Health Studies.

Published on July 7 in the journal Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, the findings reveal that by finding a form of meditation that works for you, you are less likely to quit. The result of sticking with it? Research-backed benefits of reduced stress, lower blood pressure, and help with addiction problems.

While meditation styles vary, you’ll want a comfortable, quiet room, perhaps a cushion to sit on, and anywhere from five to 20 minutes for beginners. Here are a few traditional seated meditation techniques used in the study that you may want to try:

Vipassana (or mindfulness) – This meditation dates back to the times of Gautama Buddha and translates to “seeing deeply.” You can start out by breath awareness and then advance to stages of being mindful of your perceptions and thoughts at any time, regardless of what you are doing. Some people attend 10-day Vipassana retreats, or “bootcamps,” to delve deeper into the practice.

Mantra - This style involves the repetition of a word, phrase, or sound, or repeatedly envisioning a specific image. In the San Francisco State University study, participants imagined a ball of light in the area of their heart. For sounds or words, basically every sound-vibration you can think of is a potential mantra, but one of the most popular ones is Om.

Zen - Zen is similar to mindfulness in its focus on presence of mind, but it involves a more general awareness, rather than a focus on something specific. The practice typically asks you to silently focus on breathing and posture with eyes open in a quiet place and to dismiss any thoughts that pop into your head, essentially “thinking nothing.”

Qigong visualization – This Taoist practice utilizes several techniques to help restore health and balance to the body, including the Inner Smile, visualizing “smile-energy” penetrating your internal organs; Moon on Lake, visualizing the moon’s reflection on a lake; and Holding Heaven in the Palm of Your Hand, imagining the energy of the galaxy in the palm of your hand. Other simpler techniques, such as those used in the study, involve imagining a beam of light running along the spine.

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