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Happiness and Well Being Meditation

Meditation practices in some form are part of every religious and spiritual tradition whether Christian, Buddhist, or Humanistic. All of these practices are associated in some way with ‘living a better life.’ Science also has identified brain behaviors that are linked, some positively, others negatively, to well-being. Now, researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) at the University of Wisconsin, have suggested categories of meditation based on the brain behavior that is affected. Discover the best happiness and well-being meditation practices below to improve your spiritual life.

Meditations to Improve Attention

meditation for well being

We could call meditations to improve attention the ‘Be here now’ meditations. They help us increase our ability to pay attention and be present. The meditation may be tightly focused or it can be open. A focused meditation hones in on a single object or aspect of experience. An open meditation follows the flow of bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotions. Both teach us to open up, sustain and expand our awareness of what is happening internally and externally in the moment.

This ability to observe our thoughts and feelings contributes to mental health. Studies have shown that the inability to observe oneself plays a role in depression and anxiety. When individuals with depression learned mindfulness meditation, their symptoms decreased. Further, experienced meditators show less response to negative emotional input than typically healthy people. However, when individuals with anxiety disorders learned mindfulness meditation they, too, remained calmer in negative situations. The ability to observe our thoughts and feeling helps us to be conscious of our immediate experience yet provides ‘distance’ as well. We are not so likely to be lost in an emotional reaction and more likely to maintain greater emotional objectivity.

These meditations also aim to reduce ‘mind wandering’, the constant state of thinking about something other than what is happening at the moment. Research indicates most of us spend over half our time mind wandering. This unfortunate habitual behavior has been shown to have a negative effect on our wellbeing and happiness.

Attention meditations are great for a beginning as well as a long-term meditation practice. Examples of these include Mindfulness, and Watching the Breath. Both of these plus another favorite of mine, a Listening Meditation, are recorded on my website and available for download. I’ve also written about Counting Your Breath (aptly named the easiest meditation). Zazen or Zen sitting meditation is also in this group and may prove challenging for a beginning practice. If you happen to smoke and want to quit, there is a wonderful meditation focused on the throat. I used it for myself 35 years ago and it can work for you today: Quit Smoking Meditation.

Meditations to Strengthen Positive Thought Patterns

what is real happiness

Another category of meditation is designed to develop positive thoughts and emotions and we might call them ‘cultivation of virtue’ meditations. Attention meditations are about monitoring but not changing the flow of thoughts and feelings. These Virtue meditations aim to change our underlying thoughts and feelings. Some focus on developing harmonious relationships, others on evaluating priorities and values. Overall they seek to shift our perceptions of reality and our self-image.

From the scientific perspective Virtue meditations affect well being in two ways. They replace unhealthy self-perceptions with a greater sense of self-efficacy. A strong or capable self-image alleviates fear and worry. Some of these meditations address our viewpoints as well. They encourage us to reappraise situations and consider how another person might feel in a given situation. This can alter our social responses and affect our relationships positively.

Very little study has been undertaken of the effects of Virtue meditations. However, preliminary studies have shown an association between compassion training and a reduction in inflammatory biomarkers, a positive factor in physical health. Further, learning the skill to reappraise situations has been shown to reduce social anxiety in typical people as well as those with social anxiety.

happiness through meditation

Examples of this type of meditation are Loving Kindness (also called Tonglen) which cultivates compassion. Contemplations of Mortality focus on the finite nature of life and what is of importance in this brief existence. Christian Centering Prayer focuses on being present to the presence of God and the Word of God within oneself. This is the oldest form of Christian meditation practice, taught by the mystics of the early church.

Other meditations in this group also aim to reveal the nature of reality and the emptiness of material forms. Some, such as deity visualizations, focus on seeing oneself as the embodiment of a deity. The purpose is to internalize divine-like behavior. Some of these meditations support supra-natural experiences.


If you’re looking for Scottsdale spiritual coach, reach out and contact Dr. Sandra Egli at Center of Intention to start your holistic journey. Call (480) 860-0400 today!

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Meditation: Sandra Egli
Music: Torey Ronhovde

The wisdom of a thousand generations guides you today. Only listen. Without a sound their voices reverberate in your cells. Settle within and choose your path.

All of us come from strength, fortitude, perseverance. No matter how difficult their lives, our ancestors made it through and passed on life for the next generation. Over and over, until it came to you. The intelligence that guided them has also come to you.

To Thine own Self be true.

If I could present you with a single blessing, it would be the gift of Mindfulness. Awareness of yourself: body, emotions, and self-talk, all the time. Our immediate experience is the ultimate exploration that only grows richer with time. What we do or don't do, and the roots of our behavior, are accessible with the simple practice of noticing immediate experience. It is this practice that makes it possible to know and be true to ourselves.


Sandra's graceful way of listening & non-judgmental demeanor allowed me to open up effortlessly. I was certain, as I left her office, that I had received precisely the healing I needed.

Female client, age 44
Phoenix, Arizona