Gisele Bundchen joked during an appearance Friday on The Tonight Show that her meditation practice helped the New England Patriots win Super Bowl 51.
“I channeled some great energy and, really, I feel like a little responsible,” Bundchen told host Jimmy Fallon. “I brought love and peace and clarity and calmness into the game. It shifted after that, I must tell you.”
The supermodel said that, in addition to helping relieve anxiety of Super Bowl proportions, her regular meditation practice helps relieve daily stress.
Of course, meditation isn’t just for the rich and famous. The practice has become more popular as scientists study the ways in which meditation can generate changes in the brain’s physical structure, leading to positive changes in mood, stress levels, and mental focus.
Gena Bean, founder of local meditation center Mindful Boston, said her center serves people from all walks of life.
“People often come to me looking for a break from hectic times,” she said, “especially in Boston, where there are so many people with type A personalities.”
Mindfulness meditation might sound like something that requires a guru, but there are ways to experience the benefits that don’t require a lifestyle change.
“With meditation, we work on building the foundation that holds us up every day,” Bean said.
She had some suggestions for people who are curious about the practice but aren’t sure where to start.
Practice a body scan
Bean said the body scan is a popular meditation method for all levels of meditators, and it can be practiced anywhere—even sitting in your cubicle.
To start, find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. (It’s important that your body is supported so you’re able to relax your muscles.) If it’s possible to remove distractions from your environment, go for it, but it’s OK if the only time you can find is at the office or while your kids are napping. You can leave your eyes open or close them.
Once you’re comfortable, the practice is as the name suggests: Starting with your toes, slowly work your way up your body, focusing on the sensations in each region. If your mind wanders, gently steer it back to the body scan. Breathing deeply helps increase relaxation for some people, but it isn’t necessary.
Body scans can last anywhere between one minute and 45 minutes, according to Bean.
The great thing about the body scan is that the results are often immediate; afterward, you should feel a sense of calm and relaxation.
Get some tech assistance
If you have trouble directing your own body scan, Bean guides one on YouTube:
Using tech for meditation might seem counterintuitive; however, Bean said apps can be great tools for beginners and regular meditators alike. She’s particularly fond of Insight Timer, a free app offering guided meditations from some of the world’s most well-known meditation experts.
Find a group
According to Bean, group meditation offers more than just a social dynamic. She believes so strongly in the benefits of group meditation that she names it as the reason she chose to start Mindful Boston.
“To know you’re not alone – you’re not the only person who ever wanted to jump out of their skin – that’s the best way to get involved,” Bean said.
Some meditators say they experience a deeper sense of relaxation when practicing in a group versus alone, and meditating in a group can help beginners feel more relaxed.
To help get beginners started, Mindful Boston offers occasional free, non-religious Community Meditation Nights, during which participants engage in guided meditation together. Mindful Boston’s upcoming Community Meditation Night will be held on Wednesday, May 17 at the Boston Marathon Adidas RunBase in Back Bay. The meditation will last between 15 and 25 minutes, and the event will include a brief discussion about meditation during which participants can ask questions. All ages are welcome, and the event usually includes around 40 participants, though Bean has aspirations to grow the event to around 200 people.
“Community meditation nights are the best way for people to learn about meditation in a low-key environment,” Bean said.
Don’t judge yourself
“Meditating isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution,” Bean said.
It might take beginners a while to find a practice that works for them, and some people might find that meditating doesn’t help them as well as it helps others.
Bean uses a food analogy to help dissuade people from judging themselves (and others) when it comes to meditation:
“Sushi might be weird at first, but there’s no way to know you like it until you start eating it,” she said. “Meditation doesn’t have to be any more judgmental than what you choose to eat. Sushi isn’t for everyone, and meditation isn’t for everyone.”