The physical act of meditation, sitting still and quieting the mind by focusing on your breath or a phrase, sounds so simple and delightful. But in a day full of email alerts and deadlines, surrounded by open offices at work, or obligations at home, it can be a challenge to come to a halt for even a few minutes.
But it’s worth trying because the benefits of meditation to our health are undisputed. Rodale cited six ways that we can all benefit from 15 minutes of meditation:
- It can improve your working memory and make you more productive
- It’s good for surly teenagers (and thus good for you, if you’re a a parent of one)
- It can lower your sensitivity to pain
- It will keep you happy
- By reducing stress, it will help your cardio-vascular system
- It will help with menopause symptoms like hot flashes
Every January, I put “five minute daily meditation” at the top of my list of New Year resolutions but life happens and my good intentions fade away when my calendar begins filling up. That’s why I was excited to discover so many excellent online guided meditations. They really make it easy to squeeze in some decompression time during a busy day whether you’re working at your computer or tethered to your smart phone while you’re out and about. There are lots to choose from, but here are a few that I tried out and recommend:
I particularly liked the guided relaxation sessions at Calm.com. On the home page, you first select the amount of time you have for a “pause in your day;” then you’re instructed to choose your preferred nature scene, (I love the sight and sound of rain, but you might prefer a babbling brook, or breaking waves) and wear headphones if you have them. The female guide has a nice, soft voice that doesn’t compete with the relaxing sounds of nature that you’ve selected.
I also liked Stephen Cope’s Body Scan on You Tube. Cope is a psychotherapist and author of Yoga and the Quest for the True Self. He’s on the staff at the beautiful Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, where he is the executive director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living. (Their website offers several at home yoga classes too).
The Mayo Clinic offers a relaxing, five minute guided meditation on their website, with a virtual candle flame to gaze at.
Finally, you’re likely to find a meditation that suits you on the website of The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. Included among the 15 different meditations is a thirteen minute body scan for sleep meditation and thirty-three minutes of Tibetan Singing Bowls with Michael Perricone, founder of Omstream.com, a website that offers “music that fits your moods.
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