How can we find our way to reduce our stress, to find calm in a crazy world, to live a beautiful, balanced life, and to deal in a more skillful way with the challenges that we face each day?
It's as simple as creating a rupture in our daily schedule, taking a few moments of silence each day in contrast with the busyness of our lives, time to step away from our challenges, to rise above them, to see them from a different perspective, time to process our experiences.
Albert Einstein once said: “We cannot solve the problems we face with the same thinking we used when we that created them”. He may have been talking about solving mathematical problems, but this philosophy applies to everything in life. See things differently. Meditation is a valuable technique that allows us to do just that, it allows us to change our state of mind and our state of heart. It’s a way to find fresh solutions, see endless possibilities. A way to find more happiness, more creativity, a greater sense of fulfillment. A few moments of meditation each day will change your life forever.
And it has been scientifically proven. Studies in neuroscience have shown that meditation can literally “rewire” our brain, change it’s physical structure and it’s function in response to experiences. It’s called neuroplasticity. This opens up new perspectives and new pathways to a joyful, fulfilling life. The studies have demonstrated the physical and mental health benefits of meditation:
Reduction of chronic pain
Reduction of feelings of depression, anxiety, anger and confusion
Reduction of stress levels
Lower blood pressure
Increased immune response
Improved sense of peace and calm
The ability to respond to situations with choice rather than react automatically
Greater ability to recover from setbacks
Better emotional intelligence
In simple words, meditation can boost every aspect of your life including your health, well-being, your performance, and it can bring more happiness and sense of purpose to your entire experience of life.
So why wouldn't you want to try it? This 4 step methodology may help you to get started.
1. Time -Set aside a dedicated time each day to explore meditation, choosing the same time every day will help you build up a habit. Before you begin each time, determine the length of time you will practice, any amount of time is perfect. You may wish to set a timer so you can let go of the necessity to think about the time, so you can focus on the meditation.
2. Place -Choose a place that is quiet and free from distractions. Close down any devices that may interrupt you.
3. Posture -For best results, sit in a position that is conducive to an alertness of mind. The most typical recommendation is to sit cross-legged on a cushion. You can also sit on a chair straight-backed chair, not leaning against the back of it. Place a small cushion between your lower back and the chair in order to ensure this upright position.
4. Intention - Create for yourself a small ritual of setting an intention for each practice. This will give it more meaning. Your intention can change every time, depending on how you feel. It can be as simple as “I am calm”, “Everything is OK”, “I am open to any solutions that come my way”. It can be something you wish to cultivate in your life: more love, healing, creativity, courage, clarity, focus.
There is no "right" way to do it - you will know you are doing it right by the way you feel once you have experimented and settled into a practice routine - better focus, better sleep, more joy and happiness.Learn how to get comfortable sitting for meditation
There are hundreds of different meditation styles and techniques. These are 5 easy meditations you can try right now, in just a few minutes. They are pared-down versions of more complex meditations that you can explore when you are ready.
Start with 5 minutes and maybe work your way up to 15 or 20 minutes. Sit in a comfortable meditation position that you can hold for at least 5 minutes. And close your eyes.
If you find your mind wandering towards thinking, as it inevitably will, gently let go of the thoughts and bring your attention back to the focus of your meditation.
1. Mindfulness of breath - Take three deep breaths and then settle into your natural breathing. Begin by focusing your awareness on your breath as it flows in and out of your nostrils, notice how it feels as you inhale and exhale, notice the sensations in the nostrils. How does it feel? Is it warm, cool, rough, smooth, free-flowing? Is there any sound? Is there any sensation in your throat as you breath? Just notice, without judgment. Then bring your attention to the rise and fall of your chest, and to the gentle ballooning of your abdomen as you inhale and exhale. Notice how the your body moves to make breathing possible. Just notice, with curiosity and without judgment. Continue exploring the sensations of your breath for as long as you like.
2. "So hum" mantra meditation - This is a powerful, contemplative meditation, connecting your to the ultimate "am-ness" of humanity, to your own true self. "So hum" means "I am that". Begin by bringing your attention to the flow of your breath, in and out through your nostrils. When your focus has settled, begin silently repeating the mantra: as you inhale say "so" to yourself, as you release your breath say "hum". Continue breathing naturally and repeating the mantra with each breath. If you mind wanders, simply bring it back to your mantra.
3. Visualize a peaceful place - Think of a place where you have felt happy, peaceful and calm. It could be a beautiful place in nature you have been to, a beach, a forest, a mountain, it could be a room in your home. Then imagine yourself back there and remember all you can about it. Remember the sights, the sounds, the fragrances that you experienced. Think of all the details...the time, the season, all the colours that surround you, what colour was the sky, were there any clouds, was it warm, was it breezy, what was that scent... Remember how you were feeling in that place, remember the joy and the peace, the sense of bliss. Be there in those happy moments for as long as you like. And then bring all those beautiful sensations and feelings into the present moment. When you are ready bring your awareness back into the room.
4. Gratitude meditation - Sitting peacefully with your eyes closed, think about 5 things you have to be grateful for today, in this moment. Think of what surrounds you, think of the people in your life, think of what has happened today (or yesterday) remembering that even the small things and small gestures can bring us much joy. And for each of your 5 things, say thank you - to yourself, to another, to the earth, to the universe - with a deep sense of gratitude. When you've finished, open your eyes with a new appreciation or all you have in your life.
5. Just sitting - This is the un-meditation meditation. Simply sit still in your meditation pose with your eyes closed. That's it. Just sit and observe your breath, notice the sensations in your body, the emotions and feelings that may arise, the sounds you may hear. Just notice, without judgement. Try not to get distracted by thinking about what you are observing, just observe. If stories or thoughts arise, just let them go. And just sit ... in stillness and silence ... observing ... for as long as you like.