Almost everybody heard of meditation and many have been doing it for years, enjoying its amazing benefits. Some of you though, are like me, quiet hesitant to try and discover it and feel like this is a “not for you”!
In today’s busy and stressful world, with many items on your “to do lists”, always multi-tasking and rushing from one place to another, we tend to forget about our own self, real desires and the purpose of our lives.
The accumulation of so much information and the stress makes the mind too noisy, loss of memories and issues with willpower, patience and inner peace.
Meditation is simply about concentrating and being able to focus the attention to one point. You might think that it is very easy yet being able to sit or even lie down still and focusing on one point is such a challenge for many of us.
However as my teacher Sanjeev Bhanot says, “everybody needs to do 1 hour of mediation everyday and if you are very busy then you need to do 2 hours”.
During the meditation you reach to a place of “no thoughts”, a bit like a “gap” in the mind. And like everything in life, the mind needs that gap to recharge and re-energize itself.
“Meditation is an essential part of the yoga tradition…. Through meditation, the mind becomes silent, the illusory impressions fall away and the truth of our being naturally rises to the surface of the consciousness”
(Yogalife, Yoga Teacher Training Manual 2017).
Thousand of years ago meditation was identified as the path to ultimate enlightenment and those yogis who could stay in meditation for long looong periods (along side with other abilities), could reach the “Samadhi” the ultimate enlightenment. These developed meditation techniques take the practitioners to a higher state of awareness and a state of no-thought in order to gain spiritual mastery and intimacy with the Self.
You don’t have to go that far, lets start with 5 minutes!!
But first, as I know we modern humans need some justifications and solid reasons to motivate ourselves, let me give you a few that helped me!
Meditation can help you:
Increase your concentration in your daily life which many of us suffer
Support willpower that can help you in your weight loss, healthier living, quit smoking, etc efforts
Increase your patience, to deal with everyday issues especially with your children or at work!
Reduction of stress, improved focus and memory
Achieve emotional balance and happiness
Regular practice strengthens the immune system, helps you to build strength against ageing and diseases
If these are good enough reasons for you too, then lets start!
Where to start with meditation?
There are many different techniques of meditation each with a different approach but with more or less the same result. You need to find the one that suits your character and background and it is advised to stick with that method until you really master it rather than changing it frequently.
One very easy start is using the application for meditation. I have been using Headspace for while and very happy about the style-tone and techniques. It helps you to follow progress, choose different themes like stress, focus, creativity, sleep, etc. I also use the kids section for my 10 year old son for sleep.
There are other applications like Calm so please go ahead and explore if you want to be guided at first, which I think is a good idea for beginner.
Here are some simple suggestions to start with if you are a beginner:
* Choose a comfortable, quiet place with the temperature you feel good (not too hot, not cold). If you mediate in the same place every time and maybe having some anchoring like same (comfortable) clothing, a small statue or candle, beads, a blanket or shawl will make you concentrate easier.
*Make sure you are comfortable in your position, being able to resist to temptation to move. You can use pillows, chairs, mats..whatever you need to make you feel steady for a while. Your back must be erect-tall, shoulders are relaxed. You can place your hands on your lap or knees and use some mudras if you know any. Make sure your feet are not squeezed by each other, otherwise you’ll have to suffer the pins and needles!! I first started sitting on a chair with a cushion behind my back. Then I moved to the floor with a cushion support against a wall. And finally I am doing it crossed legged in an easy sitting position.
*Start with a very short relaxation of your neck and shoulders, make it slow and with conscious breathing.
*Close your eyes (you can also use a blindfold) and bring your awareness to your breath, observe your breath in-out.
*Breathe into your belly for some extra relaxation. Imagine you have a balloon inside the belly and as you breathe in, the balloon gets bigger and so your belly goes outwards. As you breathe out, the balloon gets smaller and so your belly goes in. This way you’d be using your diaphragm in the correct way, letting lungs to get more air and oxygen and nervous system to calm down.
* If this is your first trial, try 5 minutes of just focusing on your breathing. This will help you to avoid the thinking part! If thoughts come back, make no judgement, just see them, be an obersevant and send them in a corner and tell them to wait until you finish your meditation. Only 5 minutes!
*Set your alarm to 5 minutes so that you don’t have to think about the time.
* In meditation, we are trying to find the gap between the thoughts and even between breaths. As you slowly breathe in-out, search-find and stay with that gap. As you inhale give a small pause before you exhale. And when you exhale give a small pause before you inhale again. You can imagine at this point a big and nice ocean wave. When you inhale the wave comes up and takes you up, you stay at the top without a breath and then the wave slowly comes down and you exhale with it, feel the bubbles of the wave gently caressing the sands and you stay there again, giving a pause before you inhale again.
* If concentration on your breath is not enough to keep the thoughts away, you can visualise a simple object (like a ball) or something that relates to you, like an ocean, tree, mountain, sun, etc.
*Always remember that mediation is “non-doing“. You are neither in action nor inaction, it is not something you need to “do”. It is more of a “being”.
*Coming back from the meditation, after you hear the alarm, slowly start moving your fingers-hands-feet; turn head side to side and gently wake up your body.Make a short stretching, doing the movements that your body needs (and for that, listen to your body).
Give yourself the luxury of doing this everyday and as you get comfortable, increase the duration to 10-20 and as much you need. Remember that busy minds need a lot of time to re-charge!
During this process be gentle to yourself. Instead of judging like “I can’t focus, I keep thinking, I am restless”, see yourself thinking and say “how interesting! I judged myself again”.
The ideal timing would be first thing in the morning as you can easily concentrate before the day’s tempo gets in. Yet, if this is not possible, you can try different times of the day and see when you feel better.
And during your daily life, everyday, do something in full awareness. When you cook, just cook; when you drive, no phones-music, just drive; when you walk out in nature, just walk – no music-talk-thoughts. This is also meditation. When you wait in a cue, just wait! You got the point! 🙂
After a week of meditation, you will start seeing the difference in your calmness, peaceful mind, patience and willpower. It is a magical.
A magic that only you created and which requires nothing but you and your breath!
Please send me a message if you have any questions and if you have started and see some effects!
Some good books I can advise if you want to go deeper, are