Three meditation techniques to try at home.
Moving towards Mindfulness and Meditation – part two.
“The quieter we become, the more we can hear.” Ram Dass.
I finally committed to a ten-week meditation course at the start of this year and I can honestly say it is one of the best decisions that I have made. Meditation teaches us to focus inwards. The practice trains the attention and awareness, helping to build a state of mental clarity, compassion, and emotional calmness.
There are many different kinds of meditation, each offering particular techniques to achieve this peaceful state, giving plenty of scope to find a style that resonates perfectly with you.
Guided meditation is a great place to start for beginners, if you don’t have a teacher, there are plenty of apps, such as Headspace, or Insight Timer, which offer a good variety of styles and techniques.
Many people begin a meditation practice to reduce stress or increase their peace of mind, however there are a multitude of benefits, now backed up by scientific research, including
· Reduced anxiety and depression
· Improved sleep
· Improved posture
· Lower blood pressure
· Boosted immunity
· Enhanced focus and decision making
· Increased clarity and calm
· Increased compassion
· Improved reaction to emotions, due to a shift in the way we relate to our thoughts and feelings
One of the main revelations I have come to find, is that rather than teaching us to completely bypass the restless, or negative mind state that we may encounter, meditation teaches us to accept and attend to what is happening, without reacting to it. We may gain insight into the restless nature of the mind, where it seems that the mind has a mind of its own, but through training and non-reaction we uncover a sense of true freedom, which brings a deep state of calm and tranquillity, once you have glimpsed this state, you will be keen for more. There will be days where the mind is busy and you are easily distracted, but don’t let this put you off, patiently return your focus and continue.
The good news is that it doesn’t take a huge commitment, consistency is key, a regular, short practice will bring great results.
Five minutes a day, every day, is better than no practice at all.
Think of meditation as another form of exercise and resolve to keep going.
Try to make a regular time and place for practice, such as immediately upon waking, or just before bed, once you start making it a regular habit, you will find that you want to sit for longer.
Also, there is no such thing as perfection, this is why we call it meditation practice, the small insights into the sense of a liberated mind-space build over time.
You will soon see the benefits spilling out into your everyday life.
Meditation is most often performed in a comfortable seated position with the spine straight and the head well aligned, this can be cross legged on the floor on a cushion, or, if preferred, supported in a chair with the feet flat to the floor; some forms of meditation can be done standing, walking, or lying down, although the temptation to drift off is greater when lying flat!
Here are three different meditation techniques for you to try at home.
Make sure you practice in a peaceful location where you are not likely to be disturbed or distracted.
Switch off your phone and prepare to journey inwards.
Meditation with Focus on the Breath using Mantra.
Mantra can be described as a tool for the mind, it gives us something to focus on, calming the excess of thought and fluctuation in the head space.
Many mantras are ancient Sanskrit words, or phrases, said to be infused with healing frequencies and vibrations.
The literal translation of ‘So’ means ‘that’, and ‘Hum’ means ‘I’, so by repeating this mantra we affirm ‘I am that’, many Vedic scholars take the ‘that’ to mean the universe, we are all connected by universal energy, supporting our sense of connection and being ‘at one’.
Find a comfortable seated position and take time to settle the posture, attending to good alignment of the spine and head.
Begin to relax the muscles and allow tension to release from the body, and excess thoughts from the mind.
Let the attention rest on the natural, easy flow of the breath, noticing the rise of the inhale and the fall of the exhale.
As you become comfortable with the breath, we begin to introduce the mantra ‘So Hum.’ Breathing in, silently repeat ‘So’, breathing out, ‘Hum.’
Continue the repetitions for five minutes, or longer.
If the mind becomes distracted, patiently return the focus to the mantra and continue the repetitions.
You might like to set a timer to mark the length of your practice.
Once the time is up, release the mantra, taking the awareness back to the rise and fall of the breath, and then to the sounds in the room around you, as you begin to open your eyes and return to the present moment.
Metta Meditation – Loving Kindness Practice.
Metta meditation increases our sense of compassion, for ourselves and for others, it’s a real ‘feel good’ practice. For a longer version of this practice, I like to repeat three rounds for each focus group.
Arrange the body into a comfortable position for meditation.
Allow tension and excess thoughts to gently drift away.
Let the attention rest on the peaceful, natural rhythm of the breath, as you begin to journey inwards.
Call to mind a time when you have felt deeply loved and supported, perhaps it’s the feeling of being held by a loved one, receiving a special letter, watching your child as they sleep, a deep connection with a treasured pet, whatever it is, let those warm, pleasant feelings fill the whole body and mind-space as you silently repeat
“May I be filled with loving kindness, May I be peaceful and at ease, May I be happy, May I be well.” Next, call to mind a loved one, someone you hold dear to your heart and extend the blessings to them. “May you be filled with loving kindness, May you be peaceful and at ease, May you be happy, May you be well.” Now choose a neutral person, perhaps someone who works in a shop you visit, someone you pass in the street and extend the blessings to them. “May you be filled with loving kindness, May you be peaceful and at ease, May you be happy, May you be well.” Next choose someone with whom you have a difficult, or strained relationship and send the blessings on to them. “May you be filled with loving kindness, May you be peaceful and at ease, May you be happy, May you be well.” Finally, extend the same blessings for the health of the planet and all life, to all living beings in all corners of the universe. Take time to rest in the expansive after-glow of this practice, before slowly returning the focus to the breath, beginning to wiggle fingers and toes and returning to the present moment to go about your day.
This practice is one of my personal favourites, it asks that we arrange our body into a comfortable position, this may be done lying down for extra comfort.
We take our focus to the natural rhythms of the breath and then allow our ears to receive the instructions of the guide as we journey to an almost limitless array of possible scenarios, encountering a sense of deep peace as we travel.
Enjoy this guided visualisation that I wrote earlier in the year.
There is an old saying which states “Meditate for one hour every day, unless you are very busy, in which case, meditate for two hours”!
Find a space in your life for meditation and reap the rewards in peace and clarity.
By Bek Lord.