I was first introduced to meditation when I was about twelve to help combat regular headaches. My parents took me to a brother/sister doctor team practicing alternative solutions to common medical problems. They prescribed a series of guided meditation cassettes they had recorded. I would listen to a tape each night in bed before drifting off to sleep and it definitely helped.
My headaches lessened in frequency, and I felt far less stressed, anxious and self-conscious. I began to get a real sense of optimism and to understand the possibilities of being ailment free from this one simple daily act.
Do you meditate regularly? Have you ever tried it? Does it sound too frou-frou and psychedelic or hippyish for you? Maybe you feel like you already meditate when you’re driving, daydreaming or staring off into space. Let’s dive into this mystical practice and find out why it truly is one of those life changing things, however menial and simple it may seem. Really.
Quieting the Mind
Any meditation practice starts with quieting the mind. This act alone - even within the first 30 seconds - can have profound affects on your psyche and emotional well-being. Stopping all thought about what you need to accomplish, the life problems that plague you or even fun thoughts about upcoming plans is incredibly relaxing, centering and peaceful. It’s like stopping the madness, which by the way, is only happening in your mind.
Sitting on the floor vs. in a comfy chair or couch
“I can’t sit cross legged, so I don’t meditate.” Excuses, excuses. As a health coach, boy do I hear a lot of excuses throughout my work week. Guess what? You don’t have to sit cross legged on the floor to meditate! Yay! You can prop yourself up in bed with lots of pillows, you can sit in a comfortable chair or even lie in shavasana (corpse pose) on the floor. But the goal here is to stay alert the whole time, so if you’re super sleepy, best stick to an upright position.
Like I said earlier, 30 seconds of stopping what you’re doing and turning off the noise in your head can be greatly beneficial. A good session can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 45. In zen centers and ashrams, some sit for as long 2 hours, but this is certainly extreme and intense and difficult and therefore not recommended.
What am I supposed to be doing?
Closed eyes is standard practice. A relaxed position, even lying down is ok, so that you’re not too distracted by any discomforts in your body. Then you can begin to release any thoughts you’re having. One technique is to point your awareness to the present moment: any sounds you’re hearing either in the room or in the distance. You can also focus on your breathing, watching the inhale and exhale and focusing on the sound of your breath. I use this technique mostly to calm down after some anxiety feelings or when I can’t sleep.
Alternately, you can point your awareness to your thoughts. Even though we cleared our mind at the start of the session, new thoughts are bound to creep in. So watch the thought enter your mind, take note of it and then let it go. Do not indulge in the thought and build upon it and sink down that rabbit hole. Simply acknowledge the thought and let it go. And the last technique I’ll mention here is using a mantra. So pointing your focus to a sanskrit, or even english, term or phrase that you repeat in your head slowly until the end of your session. This can help keep your mind from wandering.
What if I fall asleep?
That’s perfectly ok! Obviously your body needed the rest if you notice that you fell asleep. If you feel yourself getting drowsy and drifting off to sleep, you can either go with it and enjoy a power nap, or revert to one of the aforementioned techniques to keep yourself present and alert. It’s totally up to you. Likely this won’t happen every time.
Should I listen to music or follow some kind of guided voice?
Again, this is a personal preference. Some like a completely silent environment in which to mediate and others like a little guidance. Some soothing, slow, instrumental music can be just the thing to relax your body and mind together into a blissful state. Others find music distracting and agitating. If you’re new to meditation, I highly recommend ‘Deepak & Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation’ series available for purchase at chopracentermeditation.com.
What’s happening when we meditate
When we meditate, our vibration, or habits of thought, is raised to a higher frequency, or level, to a more positive state of being, and we begin to attract (because we are now a vibrational match to) all kinds of wonderful things into our experience.
This may sound like religious jargon, or perhaps you’re less familiar with these terms. It’s not imperative to understand everything right in this moment. The main thing I want you to hear is that meditation puts you in tune with all that you want, so that those things/people/situations can more easily become tangible for you.
We all want to feel good as much of the time as possible, and we all want what we want, whether it’s a new car, a loving relationship, peace of mind or even more money. “You mean, meditate and I’ll win the lottery?” Hey, nothing’s impossible, my friend!
How else can this work to your benefit?
You may run into an old friend you admire. A check may arrive in the mail. You might receive a phone call offering you a long awaited work opportunity. The list is endless. Meditation actually helps get you what you want. I know that sounds like a cheat and also far fetched. But by releasing the chatter in your head, which often includes several negative, worrying thoughts, you’re allowing all of the good that surrounds you to move closer and become part of your tangible reality, without exception.
Why NOT meditating is keeping you from everything you want to be, do and have
Continuing with negative thinking, out of alignment actions, interactions with others that don’t flow properly, worry and stress, you’re keeping most of what you want to be, what you want to do and what you want to have in your life at bay. It’s like holding up your hand to all that you’ve fantasized about and put into your virtual wish box, and saying no, not now, I don’t deserve you.
It’s time to let all of that go by adopting this simple practice into your everyday life. Start with once a week for 10 minutes and gradually build to everyday. You’re going to love the way you feel! To learn even more about meditation and download free guided audios, visit hayhouse.com.
Let me hear from you. Comment below and share some of your meditation experiences or preconceived ideas about what it is. Do you enjoy meditating? Have you developed any tricks for staying in the moment and learning to enjoy the process? We’d love to know!