MEDITATION: 7 WAYS OF PRACTISING MEDITATION
- What is meditation?
- Benefits of a meditation practice.
- Ways of meditating.
This blog is not intended to be the definitive A-Z on meditation. I will discuss several different types of meditation, some of the benefits of meditation, and offer some suggestions that may assist you in setting up a regular meditation practice.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is not a competition and it isn’t about being good at it. Each time you meditate your experience may be different. There may be times where you feel it flows effortlessly for you, and at other times you may perceive it as being more of a challenge. Meditation is not about emptying your mind, rather, it is about focus. Your mind will wander, and that is not only perfectly O.K., it is completely natural. If you notice your mind wandering don’t judge this as a bad thing, instead congratulate yourself for noticing. When you find your mind wandering, gently yet firmly return to the focus of your meditation. There are so many ways of meditating. If you have tried meditation before, but didn’t think it was for you, perhaps try one of the few ideas listed below. You can begin with just 5 or 10 minutes a day.
Benefits of a Meditation Practice
There are many benefits of a regular meditation practice and I have listed only a few here. Meditating may assist with the following.
- Improve your sleep.
- Decrease anxiety and stress.
- Increase your emotional and mental resilience.
- Assist you in developing greater mental focus and clarity.
- Activates the parasympathetic response (the opposite of fight or flight response, if you would like further information on fight or flight, you can read my previous blog on anxiety).
*This is not medical advice. Always consult your medical professional.
7 Ways of Meditating
- Moving meditation
- Object visualisation
Meditation using your breath
There are several ways you can use your breath for your meditation. Below are 2 suggestions for you to try.
- Focus on the sensations of breathing. Feel the cool air entering your nose as you inhale, and the warm air as you exhale. Feel the movement of your chest as you breathe in and out.
- Counting your breath. There are a few ways of doing this. Perhaps begin with a count of 10. Counting backwards, you can count your inhalations and exhalations. For example, breathing in 10, breathing out 10, breathing in 9, breathing out 9 etc. If your mind wanders, begin at 10 again. There is no goal or getting this right, the numbers and the breath are only the focus for your meditation. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get to 1. If you do reach 1, begin again at 10.
The movement of your body can be used for your focus. Again, there are many ways of doing this and below are some suggestions.
- Walking meditation. This is best done with bare feet, but whatever works best for you is fine. You can choose to walk in your garden, at a local park, wherever feels comfortable and peaceful for you. Walk slowly and with awareness. Focus on the sensations of walking. Notice the pressure changing on each part of your foot as you take each step. Feel the movement of your arms, feel the sun or the breeze on your skin.
- Yoga. Meditation is an important component of a yoga practice. As well as meditation being a stand-alone practice, the physical movements of Yoga are a meditation within themselves. If you are practicing yoga postures and your mind is thinking about something else, it will only be a physical practice. If you remain focused on the movement and the sensations of your body, it becomes a meditation (and also a safer way to practice).
Sound can also be the focus of your meditation.
- Wherever you are, listen. What can you hear? Avoid naming or labeling what you hear, simply observe. Notice the sound coming into your awareness, and observe it leaving your awareness. I enjoy sitting outside, closing my eyes and allowing my mind to notice the sounds around me, from nature sounds to the everyday activities of my neighbourhood.
- Music. Preferably choose music without vocalisation. However, whatever works for you is fine. Close your eyes and listen, noticing whatever you notice about the music such as instruments, tempo etc.
- Sound meditation sessions have increased in popularity in recent times. Many sound meditation facilitators will use gongs, Himalayan and crystal singing bowls, chimes, etc. If you feel this may resonate with you, find a class nearby and see if it is for you.
Mindfulness meditation has become better known in recent times. In a nutshell, mindfulness is focusing on our present moment. You can achieve mindfulness in pretty much any activity throughout your day. Washing the dishes, showering, eating, the list is limitless. Whatever activity you are doing, such as washing the dishes focus completely on that task. When performing repetitive tasks such as this, our minds tend to wander. Mindful eating happens when you taste each bite of food, without rushing, savouring and noticing every flavour and sensation of your food.
Vipassana is also referred to as choiceless awareness as no particular object is the focus of your meditation. Instead, you focus on whatever you become aware of. Begin with your bodily sensations, your emotions and then your thoughts. Becoming an observer. As thoughts arise you allow them to enter your awareness without judgement and without holding tightly to them. You can choose to label each thought such as ‘worried thought’ or ‘work thought’ etc. This practice may be challenging, as you practice without resisting what enters your awareness.
Any object or image can be used for this meditation. It can be a beautiful flower from your garden, a geometric shape or, a beautiful place that you have been to. If the object is in front of you, gaze softly for a minute or two, then close your eyes and recall this object in as much detail as you can. If you are focusing on a beautiful place you have been to, bring this place to mind and recall every detail about this place that you can.
Mantra is the repetition of a word or phrase. If you are drawn to using a spiritual mantra, perhaps like Om then do so. However, it can be any word or phrase that you feel comfortable with. For example, ‘peace’ or ‘I am at peace’. Your word or phrase can be spoken aloud or silently to yourself. You can choose to synchronise your word of phrase with your breath if you wish, but this is not necessary if you do not want to.
Posture for Seated Meditation.
How to position your body if you choose a seated meditation will depend on your body and what feels comfortable for you. You don’t need to assume the lotus position. In fact, forcing your body into an uncomfortable position of any kind will work against you developing a meditation practice. If you are comfortable in lotus position, then by all means, do so. However, most people may find this uncomfortable if not impossible. Sitting on a cushion or blankets may be more comfortable than sitting directly onto a hard surface.
Here are some other suggested positions for meditation that may work for you.
- Sitting with legs crossed.
- Sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you.
- Seated in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
The most important thing to consider for a seated meditation, is that your spine should be comfortably neutral (not rigidly straight, not slumped forward). If you are choosing to sit on the floor, you may find it comfortable for your back to rest against the wall.
I am a Yoga/Meditation teacher, Counsellor, Hypnotherapist and Life Coach. Please contact me for an obligation free, confidential discussion as to how I may be able to assist you. Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger sessions and personalised Hypnotherapy MP3’s available.
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