The New Year offers a fresh opportunity to form healthy habits.
If you are thinking about starting a regular meditation practice, what better time?
There is a lot of information on the internet nowadays about how to meditate and practice mindfulness but the truth is you don’t have to do anything specific in order for meditation to work – you don’t need to be an expert, you don’t need a special cushion and you certainly don’t need to make a special sign with your hands.
You don’t really need to form a specific position, although there are positions which help with alertness and comfort.
Meditation is a lot easier than you think.
The techniques shared with you in this article are specifically designed to help you move from your body and down into your breath.
Another myth we need to dispel is that meditation is about getting rid of thoughts.
The goal of meditation is not to get rid of your thoughts.
The goal of meditation is to become aware of your thoughts.
Through this awareness, you are able to sit in a space where you don’t need to be wrapped up in your thoughts. You can let your thoughts drift by like clouds in the sky, bubbles in the air or cars on the road.
Continued practice leads to a calmer mind and fewer thoughts. Of course this wont be the case all of the time but, like anything, the more you practice the better results.
There are two key practices discussed in this article that are well worth trying…
One is a form of mindfulness meditation and the second is a meditation technique taught by, the highly regarded meditation teacher, Sally Kempton.
Practice 1 – Mindfulness Meditation With Seated Sun Salutation
This mindfulness meditation sequence is perfect if you have had a busy day and need a bit of help to wind down.
The entire sequence takes around 15 – 20 minutes.
You can do this meditation cross-legged on the floor, you can do it sitting on a chair or you can do it on your bed.
Practice 1, Step 1 – Deep Breathing To Centre
- Get into your seated position with a strong, straight spine (legs can be crossed or straight).
- Take a slow, deep inhale for 8 counts and feel the breath moving into your lungs.
- Pause for 2 counts.
- Let the air release and feel the air pass out.
- Repeat this 3 times.
Focus on your breathing technique to calm your mind and clear your head of thoughts. If you find yourself thinking, let the thought drift by and bring your attention back to your breath.
It is important that you don’t fight your thoughts! Just let them go naturally!
If you spend your time meditating, thinking “clear mind, clear mind, clear mind,” you will find yourself thinking about not thinking and then stressing over thinking when you shouldn’t be thinking!
To make this easier to understand, think about when you go to sleep at night. The harder you try to sleep, the less likely you are to actually fall asleep. Then when you find out it’s really late and you’re still not asleep you start worrying about not being able to sleep, which makes it even more difficult to sleep!
Practice 1, Step 2 – Seated Sun Salutation
- Once you have got into your breathing rhythm, take your hands and place them either side of you with your palms facing up and only your fingertips touching the floor.
- Breathe in as you bring your arms up above your head in a big overhead clapping motion (like your hands are following the outline of the sun) and connect your palms above your head into prayer position (looking up slowly as your hands go above your head).
- Bring your arms down into prayer position in front of your heart while exhaling (your gaze following your hands).
- Interlace your fingers.
- Bring your arms up above your head while inhaling (again your gaze following your hands).
- Let the interlace go and bring your hands down to your sides again while exhaling (gaze follows hands down).
- Repeat this movement as many times as you want – remember, the more you practice the better your results.
Just focus on your movements or breathing during this stage of the meditation. Again, if a thought pops into your head, see it as it is – just a thought – and let it drift on by, bringing your attention back to your movements.
Practice 1, Step 3 – Mindfulness Meditation
- Place your hands in a comfortable position either on your knees palms facing down or clasped in your lap.
- Take a slow, deep, inhale through your nose for 8 counts and feel the breath moving through your nasal passage and into your lungs. Does it feel warm, cold, smooth or tingly? Does our body rise, tense or feel refreshed?
- Pause for 2 counts.
- Exhale through your month and again notice how it feels as the air empties from your lungs and passes out through your mouth.
- Repeat this 3 times.
- Just notice the sensation of air passing in and out of your body.
- Repeat for as long as you like. Try for 5 minutes to start with and extend the time as you progress.
The goal is to notice if your attention gets taken away by thoughts. When you notice your attention has drifted, return back to the sensation of breathing.
When you have completed your mindfulness meditation, end with a BIG SMILE to release those feel good hormones – dopamine, endorphins and serotonin.
The beauty about this mindfulness practice is that you can do it anywhere without looking like your crazy! So go ahead, use this in your day to day life to relieve stress and clear your mind!
Practice 2 – Goddess Shakti’s Meditation by Sally Kempton
This Goddess Shaktis Meditation taught by Sally Kempton is very powerful for healing and transforming negative energy.
Practice this meditation last thing at night or just after you have experienced a negative event. It’s great for comforting yourself.
Watch the whole talk if you can, it is very powerful.
If you are strapped for time, watch from 16.35 onward for the main medittion.
The main thing is to enjoy you meditation!
Your decision to start a meditation practice is a very important one for your mental, spiritual and even physical health!