Finding it hard to stick to a meditation practice? You are not alone! Despite its increased popularity, many still find meditation difficult to practice. What I hear most often from people regarding the reasons they gave up on meditation is that it’ boring or that they are too restless to sit still and meditate. I am happy to share that there are different variations of meditations that one can experiment with to make the experience less “boring”, and to help calm a restless body or mind. Bringing a sense of playfulness and curiosity to finding the best fit for you can make the meditation journey fun and, ultimately, successful.
When It Comes to Meditation, One Type May Not Fit All
What I have found helpful when I teach meditation classes, is to make use of the various ways in which my clients prefer to learn new information (i.e. their learning preferences). Learning preferences fall under three main categories: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Some people prefer learning by using visual aids (visual preference), while others learn best when the “learning object” has an auditory element (auditory preference) or involves a physical or tactile experience (kinesthetic preference). While we can learn via any of these styles, many of us prefer one learning style over the others. Based on your learning preference, some types of meditation might work better for your than others. Choosing the ones that make the experience better for you, might make the difference between quitting or continuing the practice.
Discover A Breath Awareness Meditation That Works For You!
One of the most widely practiced meditations that many beginners start with is breath awareness meditation. Breath awareness meditation involves observing the natural rhythm and sensation of your breath in your body and using the breath as an anchor or focal point during the meditation. When your mind drifts away, you bring your attention back to your breath. For some people, this is an easy meditation to practice-whether it is for a few minutes or longer. Others find it difficult to quiet their mind and body and keep focus on the breath. Below are some ways that illustrate how this practice can be enhanced and perhaps made more interesting, based on your learning preferences.
Visual Learning Preference
For visual learners, adding visual elements to the breath awareness meditation can help. Here are some examples:
- Mountain breathing: Visualize breathing up one side of a magnificent mountain while you inhale and breathing down the other side on your exhale.
- Fountain breathing: Imagine a fountain of light rising inside you each time you inhale and falling as you exhale.
- Wave breathing: Imagine your breath as a gentle wave receding into the ocean with every inhale and splashing onto a beautiful shore with every exhale.
Auditory Learning Preference
For auditory learners, adding sound elements can make a difference between a boring meditation and an interesting one. If you are an auditory learner, try these approaches:
- Listen attentively to the sound of your breath. You may exaggerate your inhale and exhale a bit to help you focus on the sound.
- Add a mantra or words to repeat during your meditation. You may try mentally repeating “in” with the inhale and “out” with your exhale. I also like breaking up the words “peaceful” and “joyful” into two syllables: “peace” or “joy” on the inhale, and “-ful” on the exhale.
- Try a guided meditation. Nowadays you do not need to find a meditation teacher or class to experience a guided meditation. There is a plethora of guided breath awareness meditations available online or on meditation apps.
Kinesthetic Learning Preference
For those of you who have a really hard time settling down and sitting still, walking meditation might be your best bet. However, breath awareness meditation can also be modified to add some movement:
- Add a slight finger movement: Curl your right forefinger slightly toward your palm with every inhalation and uncurl it away from your palm with every exhalation.
- Touch your face: Place your right index finger under your nostrils, touching your upper lip. As you breathe, feel the coolness on your finger as you inhale, and the warmth as you exhale.
- Exaggerate your breathing: Try expanding your belly like a balloon as you inhale and deflating it as you exhale. Notice the breath moving through your abdomen.
These examples of modifying the breath awareness meditation to suit your learning preferences might just be the answer to finding what works for you! Once you identify your learning preference, you can seek out other meditations that incorporate the elements you like the best. Remember, it is all a process. Relax, experiment and tailor your practice to YOU!
Marianna Giokas is a certified Mindfulness, Breathwork, and EFT/Tapping coach and founder of Zen Den Wellness, LLC. She offers customized self-care programs for individuals, couples, and groups. Her goal is to empower her clients to use effective, self-help tools for stress relief and self-awareness, allowing them to lead fulfilling, healthy, and productive lives. Visit her website to sign up for her newsletter or to book a free consultation.