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Inhale, Exhale

A mainstay in Eastern faiths such as Hinduism and Buddhism, meditation is a oft-touted method for inner peace. Guided meditation or on your own, it's a practice that's been around for millennia that has recently made a resurgence.

Meditation is interpreted as a simple breathing exercise, which it is, but it's also a way to connect with yourself. It makes you more aware of your body and how it's doing.

While it's been historically linked to faiths, meditation doesn't have to be. It can be practiced on its own regardless of faith. The same goes for yoga, which is a tradition stemming from Hinduism that is also practiced on its own.

While yoga focuses on balances, flexibility, and stretches, these are limited to your body. Emphasis is placed on form, smooth transitions, and breathing. This links it to meditation.

Your breath is what offers you life, bringing vital oxygen to your lungs. Thus focusing on it gives you the opportunity to focus on life.

Now that sounds cheesy, and it is! Cheese is stretchy when it melts, and stretches are involved in yoga and...I think I've entered a weird thought realm.

Back to meditation, the common thing said is, "But I can't get my mind to be clear. It just starts thinking about everything again."

But your mind doesn't have to be blank. In fact, filling your mind with a key phrase is an essential part of mediation. Catholics use rosary prayers and Tibetan Buddhism uses the phrase, "Om Mani Padme Hum." You can pick any encouraging, uplifting phrase you like. There doesn't have to be meaning to it for other people, as long as it means something to you.

Many find starting in meditation hard. We're all aware of the health benefits of deep breathing (as our Apple Watches infuriatingly remind us to breathe) but we live in a fast-paced world. There's not time to stop and meditate. In that sense, there's not always a way to stop and appreciate life.

Guided mediation apps can be found all over the internet. You can listen to soothing music or take a walk in nature. You can take time to enjoy a hobby and spend time learning something new.

Ultimately, meditation is a way to appreciate not only life, but yourself. Your mind can be full of thoughts and you can be still. After all, rushing water is constantly moving but immobile, yielding yet firm.

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