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Meditation – A Beginner How-To Guide

Meditation – A Beginner How-To Guide

One of the biggest trends out there right now is meditation and mindfulness!

These words get thrown around like confetti, and you may wonder what the big deal is. Perhaps you want to try meditation but don’t know where to start!

“Did I do the laundry?” “Are those papers filled out at work?” “I wonder what he’s doing right

now…”

These thoughts are totally normal and happen to everyone!

A common misconception about meditation is that it must be free of thought and done in silence, in a so-called comfortable seated position.

For many people, the seated position just isn’t comfortable-and I speak from experience! When I

first started meditating my back would throb as I forced myself to sit with proper posture and

attempt to quiet my mind.

I always left my meditation sessions feeling frustrated, like a failure, and nowhere near calmer!

So, what changed? My perspective. As a yoga teacher, meditation and mindfulness coach, I have learned and tried many ways of meditating!

What I have learned is that it is a different process for every single person. You may need to do a workout before being able to meditate as you have a lot of energy moving in your body. You may need to lie down comfortably and have silence, only listening to the sound of your breathing. You may even need to listen to a repetitive mantra and sit in a chair…

The HOW TO of meditation is really HOW TO relax your body, mind and soul-and this all depends on what works best for YOU.

Thoughts are going to come through the mind because humans are designed to think!

A thoughtless mind is not a human mind…therefore, when in meditation, one practices the witnessing of thoughts. This means that you allow the thoughts to come in, witness them, and release them with no attachment.

For instance, “I can’t believe I forgot to bring that container today” could be looked at with nonjudgement, a smile and an invitation to bring the focus back on your breath.

The goal of meditation is to pause the stream of thought and continually bring awareness back to the present moment. Focusing on the breath or a sound can help you come back to the moment of NOW.

There are many other meditation techniques and tricks that you can learn by participating in yoga classes, exercise regiments and even dancing! The mindfulness that you bring to any focused activity is the same mindfulness that you bring to your meditation!

Here’s an exercise you can try today for your own simple 5 minute meditation

Body Scan Meditation

Sit, lie down, stand, curl up, whatever feels best!

Begin to focus on your breath and notice the inhale and exhale flowing through the body. As you focus on your breath, start to notice your feet, beginning with each toe. Then travel up the leg, noticing how that feels, and continuing up through your stomach, back, arms, hands…and finally coming to your chest and head, making sure to relax all your neck and facial muscles as you breathe.

Allowing yourself the space to notice any thoughts that come through and simply watch them continue on, focusing back on your body and the parts that you are bringing awareness to.

Don’t feel bad if you fall asleep…that means you did something right!

 

How to find peace through meditation and mindfulness

For the last 10 years,  I’ve searched for ways to feel better — to rid myself of countless episodes of anxiety and depression, and to obtain the same sense of contentment I saw in others around me. From prescriptions to counselling, it seemed that nothing worked. I was permanently stuck in my distressed state. Thankfully, I discovered meditation and mindfulness.

In late August of this year, I decided to attend a two-hour group meditation class provided by the Consciousness Explorer’s Club (CEC). The club offered a generous pay-what-you-can option. The first hour of the class was spent in personal reflection, while the second half included a group exercise.

I experienced a multitude of emotions during that first group meditation session. I felt pain, sadness, anger, euphoric joy, and then finally peace. Peace — the feeling I had searched for through doctor’s offices and clinics to no avail. I was elated and began to seek out more meditative opportunities immediately.

I found a meditation-mindfulness group that focused on a combination of yoga and mindfulness meditation in a setting facilitated by qualified therapists. Combined with the CEC, exercises as directed by my counsellor, I started to feel better. I felt increasingly aware of the deep power of these practices in combatting physical and mental issues of all kinds.

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The reason I decided to share my own story is to demonstrate that, with the right tools, focusing on the self and the present moment can take one from a purgatory of self-doubt into a life of conscious exploration. I’m not saying that every problem can be magically solved by a few chants and a breath or two, but the practice itself does promise heightened awareness of the world around you. A study written by psychologist, Sara Lazar, assessed several people who meditated and it was discovered that “the e cortex — the outer layer of the brain that contains our thinking, reasoning, and decision-making functions — were significantly thicker in the meditators”.

But, where to start? Here are a few of the different types of meditation techniques:

Sahaja Yoga Meditation involves concentrated breathing practices for 15 minutes twice a day. This practice is good for people that don’t have a lot of time and are able to focus quite easily. Establishing good breathing is essential to the heart of meditation.

Transcendental meditation is when a person uses mantras, repetitive phrases that employ a positive message, during meditation and is normally a 20 minute exercise. Mantras can be a helpful tool to focus if the mind wanders. Deepak Chopra, an Indian-American author and public speaker, uses mantras in his meditations in the form of dharmas. Dharmas are a Buddhist practice involving different pockets of the bodies that need help through the form of meditative practice and can help heal physical ailments. Chopra’s guided meditations are easy to download and he supplies a 21-day meditation challenge that is great for beginners.

Vipassana meditation consists of using mindfulness practices to calm one’s thoughts. This helps bring a person into the present moment and objectively consider life’s problems. Mindfulness is a great practice that helps people experience exactly where they are at each point in their lives and brings greater meaning to daily existence. Jon Kabat Zinn writes an amazing book called Wherever You Go, There You Are that has small chapters embedded with meaningful quotes that explore various easy-to-learn topics concerning mindfulness practice in daily life.

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Chakra meditations is a deeper form of meditation practice that delves into the spiritual. There are seven chakras, or energy centres, in the body that explore different elements of being. With concentrated practice, any concerns within the chakras can be felt in the hands at various points of meditation practice and can help people manifest Kundalini, also known as creative power, which is the root of the chakra system. There are free online courses which explore Chakra meditation in depth.

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May meditation and mindfulness help you find the peace you seek and as always, Namaste.