Updated: Jan 30, 2021
Take your personal practice to the next level...
Often times I listen to people who tell me, “I can’t meditate.” In this statement they are referring to the ability to keep the mind completely “quiet” for any given length of time.
The first thing people need to do to become good meditators is to find compassion for themselves and allow their mind to wander, recognize they have lost focus, and return their focus and intention on whatever they are using as a tool to meditate.
Most people use meditation to help calm their mind. In order to bring themselves to a meditative state they should start their practice somewhere free of distraction if possible. Finding a position that is comfortable for the period of time one wishes to maintain the practice. Choose what you would like to focus on. The options could be your breath, a mantra, a visualization, or an object such as a candle flame. I like to encourage those new to the practice of meditation to start with a shorter time period, maybe five to 10 minutes. I recommend setting your cell phone timer so that the person can remove this distraction.
If you chose to focus on your breath you may choose to practice a pranayama method such as box breath or diaphragmic breathing. Box breath is where you breathe in for a count of four, simply keep from exhaling for a count of four, and then exhale for a count of four. Then repeat these steps for the duration of your meditation period. If you find counting to four is too much for you then back off and only count to three. As you become experienced in this breathwork you may find that you are able to increase to five or six breaths with physical ease. For diaphragmic breathing the individual will breathe in through the nose, drawing the air through the body to the diaphragm experiencing a sensation of your belly ballooning out. Try to start by inhaling for a count of four. Then slowly release the breath from the belly, feeling the sensation of the belly collapsing towards the spine, slight rising of the chest as the air is released through the mouth. Try to make the exhale twice as long as the inhale. If you are able to take an inhale of 4 then try to control the breath an exhale to a count of 8. You can decrease or increase the number of counts as to what is comfortable and attainable for your body that day.
Some people find that repeating a mantra over and over is a great way to bring peace and stillness in the mind. I personally like to use two syllable mantras such as Sat Nam (I am truth) or Shanti (pronounced shan tee – to bring peace and serenity). Others find that single syllable mantras which create a physical vibration as a source to focus is very calming to the mind. For instance, saying “OMM” and feeling the vibration of your lips and throat is quite a powerful focus point.
Sitting still, focusing on your breath, start visualizing a place that brings you happiness whether it is real or imagined. Focus on the details of this place such as sounds, smells, how you feel in your body such as hot or cool, and what you can see. Maybe this place is a beach. You start to imagine hearing the sounds as the waves crash onto the beach, the sound the seagulls make as they soar in the sky above you. You may smell the ocean air and suntan lotion you applied to your skin. The sun is beating down on you, warming your skin. Though your eyes are closed you sense a brightness as the sun shines down above you. Sometimes it seems counter
intuitive to be focusing and thinking while meditating, but by visualizing something such as your “happy place” can lower your heart rate and bring a sense of peace and happiness to your mind.
Objects such as candle flames are also used as a focus point for meditation. Begin by sitting down in a comfortable spot with the candle out in front of a you approximately 2’and if possible, at eye level. Start to focus on the flame while trying to keep your eyes open and still as possible. Some people who find this a helpful mediation practice are able to keep their eyes open for an extended period of time, feeling tears developing in the eyes which refresh the eyes as they remain open and exposed to the air. This is often a helpful practice to those who find it hard to sit in stillness and to keep the mind from wondering. The practice of candle gazing is said to help increase awareness of your surroundings and encourage focus and attention.
It is important for mental clarity, physical health, and happiness to incorporate a daily meditation practice regardless of which of these methods you choose to use to bring stillness to the mind and body. People just starting this process may start by meditating for only five minutes, but with time and practice they are able to grow to increased amounts of time. There is much debate over the scientific optimal time for meditation. It’s still being studied, but all agree it is more about the quality of the practice versus the quantity. Most researchers agree that it is better to practice every day for 10 minutes a day versus one day a week for 70 minutes. Meditation is just like our physical asana practices in that the best yogis are those that listen to their bodies. Select the length of time and method is best for you! Namaste’ this space to connect with your readers and potential customers in a way that’s current and interesting. Think of it as an ongoing conversation where you can share updates about business, trends, news, and more.