Cindy Hoard

Inspirational Author and Psychologist


Oh my, so many terms that actually overlap and are based on the specific orientation of an individual’s philosophy and/or practice. Today I want to suggest that there are some basic ideas that are common across practices.

There are many practices of meditation which have various philosophies. As you explore different approaches, notice the common threads among them. Make time to focus on specific types and try them out for at least a month to get a real feel for your comfort level. Some examples include: Contemplation, Buddhism mindfulness, Self-compassion, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Movement Meditation, Transcendental meditation, Progressive relaxation, Loving-kindness meditation, Visualization meditation, Centering prayer, Spiritual meditation, etc.

Common threads across meditation practices
Concentration with awareness is a core component. In a recent presentation Jon Kabat Zinn proposed that every moment and event in our life is a meditation. In addition, simply Being with Awareness is another way to consider meditation. Choosing a focus for meditation is essential in all instances. Breathing is perhaps the most frequently recommended focus (there are many different ways to go about this), however choosing to focus on an object, a mantra, physical sensations, thoughts and or feelings are also options to consider. Various religions and spiritual traditions have suggestions for practice. Connection with a higher power, God, spiritual force or Nature is often proposed. Formal research has found that the experience of these various practices can lead to relaxation, relief, redirection of troubling thoughts, improved health, visualization, and focus.

How much time should I spend on meditation?
The amount of time you choose to engage in meditation can range from just a few minutes to hours or even days. In general beginning with even 5 minutes at a time is beneficial. It is interesting to note that the more you practice and develop your personal practice, the amount of time gradually increases without a lot of parameters. Small increments of 5 or 10 minutes may naturally increase and/or you can choose to use a timer if you prefer an external cue. Twenty to 30 minutes is seen as an optimal time to move toward. Consistent daily practice is seen as essential and over time you may even find a few short meditations over the course of your day can feel amazing.

Have a journal available
There may not be anything you want to write about after or during a meditation, but you may also be surprised of thoughts, ideas and wisdom that come to you in the process of meditating. You may find something emerged during your meditation that you want to return to during another meditation. This is just your personal record of your amazing, healing practice.

Choosing an approach
Meditation is a personal process and some approaches will feel appealing and others will feel impossible or completely overwhelming. Google can be a resource to learn about some of the different practices and explore something that at least initially feels like a good starting place for you. Especially when you are first trying to establish a practice, you can use different free apps that will guide you through meditation practices. You may find that you even want different types of meditation for specific topics such as rest and relaxation, relationships, staying present in the moment, grief and loss, and even Just Being.

MAKE the time to rejuvenate and take care of yourself!

Photo credit: Nguyen Dang Hoang (