In a world of chaos, information, misinformation and confusion we are all looking at new ways we can help ourselves.
Government advice is telling us to wash our hands, social distance and only leave home for exercise, work and shopping. Many of us are reading conflicting apocalypse main stream media news, whilst we frantically search for some information as to an end date of our house arrest. Our anxious minds are caught up thinking about the future and all we really have to work with is right now. Understanding all that we have is “right now’ is a fundamental lesson I learnt at All Yoga, during my Yoga Teacher Training. This has been more invaluable to me now, than ever. We must ground ourselves, keep healthy and boost our immunity to this Covid 19 and fear.
We all know the benefits of healthy eating and exercise. We’ve heard of this thing called meditation that’s really good for our well-being but we tried that and decided it was too hard, we didn’t know if we were doing it right. I couldn’t get my mind to shut up! Guess what you probably never will get the mind to “shut up” but you can still meditate and here’s how.
“I can’t meditate because I have to sit cross legged in the middle of a floor, or levitate”.
Yogi’s will sit crossed legged because they trained their bodies for that purpose, that is a key purpose of yoga, to find stillness and coming to that stillness in meditation, cross legged on the floor. I’ll forgive you if you are an Instagrammer and thought Yoga was just for exercise and wearing thongs. For a new meditator any comfortable laying down or seated position can be used.
“I can’t meditate because I can’t stop thinking”.
Most people have overactive minds and this will be more present at certain times in people’s lives, days or week. Again it really isn’t relevant to meditating and all the more reason to try.
“I’m too depressed to meditate”.
Although meditation can be very helpful at relieving anxiety and depression the act of focussing inwards can heighten this state of being. If this is the case then wait until you are in a better place of mind before trying meditations 1-3 below. Please try listening to meditation music in number 4 or any of the ideas in meditation 5 below.
“I don’t have time”.
It’s about making the time, just like we make time to brush our teeth. People who regularly implement a mindfulness practice may find lasting physical and psychological benefits such as:
Isn’t that just great to hear right now!
I have written five really simple meditations below and I do not want you to try any of them. Trying implies that we need to do something, we are not doing here, we are non-doing. Understand meditation is about creating awareness of ourselves, our thoughts and our emotions. We must not try to stop our thoughts or our emotions, this is where so many go wrong.
When we suppress our thoughts and emotions they become trauma in the body like a trying to overfill a ballon which will eventually have to burst. These stored trauma’s will also release themselves into the physical body causing stress related health diseases such as skin disorders, low immunity and digestive problems.
We need our thoughts and emotions, they are there to guide us, the problem is they become unbalanced, that’s where meditation comes in as a tool, a guide, a connection to something greater than ourselves. Meditation is a way of creating awareness of these thoughts and emotions and instead of getting caught inside them and allowing them to consume us where they seem to get bigger and swallow us up. Instead we step outside them, like an observer, we feel them, we look at them, we acknowledge them, we accept them, we are grateful to them then we can let them go.
So for guidance to these meditations I want you to follow these simple rules:
1. Each time you realise you have wondered off in thought, label that thought as ‘thinking’. Also be aware that when you realise you are ‘thinking’ you observe it softly, like “oh that’s thinking” be very relaxed about labelling it.
2. Each time you realise that you are feeling an emotion the rules are pretty much the same. So if you feel anxiety you can label it something like “oh hello anxiety” and the same for happiness, joy, excitement, sadness, anger, guilt etc. You can decide your own label, whatever works for you, remember this is your own practice.
3. For meditations 1-4 below you can lay down, sit resting against the wall, sofa, sit on a chair or cushion, legs crossed, knees bent or straight legged. Whatever position your are most comfortable in.
4. For each meditation start with five minutes for a week. Adding on more minutes each week as you feel you would like, working up to 20-30 minutes.
By following the rules and being the observer you are mediating. It cannot be done wrong. There will be many times your mind may wonder and if it’s only once you notice it wonder, you have been the observer. With each practise comes more awareness, with more awareness comes a healthier mind and with a healthier mind comes a healthier body.
1. Breathing meditation
Come to a comfortable position. Relax the face, jaw, shoulders and scan the body for any signs of tension and relax. Make sure your neck is inline with your spine and close the eyes gently. Breath in slowly through the nose and count in the mind 2,3,4 pause for a second, exhale through the nose and count down 7,6,5,4,3,2,1. If you find it too difficult to breath out the nose, use the mouth instead until you get used to breathing out the nose. Be aware of the gap between the breaths or what is known as “kumbhaka”. Whenever the mind wonders or you feel an emotion label it using the rules and come back to the breath.
2. Coloured Dot Meditation
Come to a comfortable position, relax the face, jaw, shoulders and scan the body for any signs of tension and relax. Make sure the neck is inline with the spine and close the eyes gently and come aware of the breath in and out the nose. Imagine a dot in any colour you choose between the eyebrows, remain focussed on the dot. If the mind wonders or you feel an emotion label it and come back to the dot.
3. Guided Meditations.
You might like to listen to someone guide you through a meditation and this is great for anyone who is new or well practised in meditation. There are plenty of free guided meditations on YouTube and several Apps you can pay for.
4. Music Meditation
Meditating to music can feel really powerful, try going to a sound bath where you will hear energetic sound waves made with gongs & singing bowls which will work with the bodies energetics giving healing. There is lots of free meditation music to choose from on You Tube. Try this one in a comfortable position following the breath and practising the labelling or even in the bath. You can also try dancing to it too as you follow the breath and label.
5. Alternative Meditation
Maybe sitting or laying down in a comfortable position is just not for you, so what else can you do? Well the good news is meditation isn’t just about sitting still. Walking mindfully by paying attention to each step amongst nature, painting, crafting, playing an instrument, riding a bike, doing yoga or swimming are also all forms of meditation. They are other ways we can also bring ourselves into the moment by being focussed within that moment and with practise can still create the awareness and label our distracting thoughts and feelings.
Life has its ups and downs, its rocky shores, it ebbs and it flows and it sometimes blows us down. But we are in control of our ship and when we make a small adjustment to the settings of the sail, life will flow freely again.
By giving yourself just five minutes a day can lead to a huge shift in making your world as you perceive it a better place. A lot can be achieved by doing nothing.