It took me almost two years to start meditating, because I was under the misconception that I couldn’t do it. I held the ideal that I had to sit perfectly still for hours on end. This scared me. With a quiet mind, I was fearful of what I would find deep within me – either from my spirit guides or subconscious or distant memories. I was afraid to sit still with myself and just be. In reality, I found out that meditating just a few minutes a day can dramatically decrease stress, relax my mind and give me a fresh perspective. After a few guided meditations during yoga classes, I was hooked.
People have different meanings of what it means to meditate. The outcome is usually the same – for your mind and body to be calm, refocused and centered. How you go about doing this is up to you. There are plenty of articles, books and classes out there to teach you how to meditate. Below are techniques to help you start meditating or help you get refocused while meditating.
Focus and Purpose
There are people who can just sit down and fall into a meditative trance. I envy these people. I tend to need a focus of some kind and a purpose. For the purpose, decide what you want to accomplish in the meditation. If it’s to relax, then you might start with deep breathing. This will calm your mind and your nervous system. Your body will be able to relax, and you can transition into your meditation. If your purpose is to connect to a higher power, you might want focus on an image, statue, idea, or use a mantra. By looking intently at the image or statue, your breathing will slow, again, allowing you to slide into meditation. Mantras are my favorite. By repeating a phrase over and over (usually in multiples of 108), the body relaxes, the breath becomes regular and fluid and your mind can focus on the mantra.
Exercise, Then Meditate
Part of the purpose of Hatha Yoga is to calm the body so that that mind can connect to a higher power (usually through meditation). Instead of just plunking yourself down to meditate, do about thirty minutes of yoga or other exercise beforehand.
While the picture of someone sitting in perfect lotus position is an ideal, it isn’t the most comfortable position for many people. Find your own comfortable position by sitting or lying down. If you can sit in lotus (sitting crossed-legged) that’s great, but not necessary. If you’re just starting out, sit in a chair or on a couch where your back will be supported. Sit up tall, and try to maintain this position throughout your meditation.
A River Runs Through It
The mind has a lot of thoughts that just run through it. Add to that the stresses of the day, lingering issues you may have and the constant checklist tallying what needs to be done. If these thoughts persist and distract you, imagine a gently flowing river. Pluck the thoughts from your mind, place them into the river and watch them float away. You no longer need to interact with them. However, if the thoughts return, imagine a large waterfall some ways down the river. Watch the thoughts tumble over the falls. They’re gone and will no longer bother you in your meditation (or the rest of your life, if you choose so).
This one is good when you know you need to meditate, but can’t turn your mind off. Inhale for a count of three (one angel, two angel, three angel). Exhale for the same count. On your next inhale increase to the count of four, and exhale for the same count. Continue in this manner adding a breath at the beginning of each round until you reach a count of ten. Then reverse the order. After counting to ten, on your next inhale count to nine and exhale for the same amount. Continue until you reach three again. In essence, you have slowed down your nervous system, your breath and your mind.
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