How to: Meditate for beginners

By Katy Nielsen

In a fast-paced world it can be hard to find time to relax. Not everyone can afford a yoga class, but we can all take a few minutes to calm down. Studies have shown the positive effects of meditation on the mind and body.

“I think meditation is something that can help us experience life better,” said Nate Guadagni, manager of the Northbrook Body and Brain Yoga Center’s West Linn Studio who teaches yoga and tai chi. “Meditation can be done as an activity by itself—sitting—it can be done within movement, through eating, walking or talking. I think with practice meditation can be applicable to anybody to improve their experience doing anything.”

According to Guadagni, there are three kinds of meditation techniques for people with active minds, are physically energetic or highly emotional.

The first type of meditation involves reciting a mantra and can be especially helpful for people with busy minds.

“Repeat one word over and over or count the breath,” Guadagni said. “For instance, a four count inhale and a four count exhale can be very beneficial because the mind is engaged.”

People with a highly emotional temperament can benefit from experiencing a feeling while they meditate.

Guadagni suggests holding positive thoughts in your mind and practicing breathing with these feelings.

Physically active and restless people may benefit from movement meditation. Yoga, tai chi and walking are a few ways a person can meditate while keeping his or her body in motion.

1.        The sitting posture

“Having a firm pillow to sit on can be help,” Guadagni said. “It can be done in a chair, it can be done sitting down. Elongating the spine is important because it is a high conductor of energy.”

It is important to find a position you can be relaxed in and continue to concentrate. Make sure you can sit comfortably for a long time.

2.        Relax your body

Once you are in a comfortable position, close your eyes and touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Allow the muscles in your face and feet to relax. This is the hardest part for many people. The more you practice relaxation, the easier it becomes.

3.        Breathe

Guadagni recommends doing a four count inhale and four count exhale. “Simply doing that for a few minutes has been shown to reduce brain waves and reduce blood pressure,” he said.

4.      Repeat ‘‘Ohm” or another mantra

The word “ohm” is considered a calming word. If you find your thoughts wandering and counting is not your thing, replacing your thoughts with “ohm” can steady your mind “The word ‘ohm’ is great; any vowel you can sustain and create a vibration with is good,” Guadagni said.