If you live in America chances are, you’re stressed. You may be stressed if you live elsewhere too but sadly, America has, in recent years, surpassed other countries in terms of terrible work ethics. It’s become the norm to work twelve hour days for years without a day off or a vacation. Not to mention all the hate and anger we’ve been taught is normal.
There are ways to combat stress with supplements, any adaptogen will help. There’s also diet and exercise. But one of the best ways that you can start today and it won’t cost you anything is to learn how to meditate.
Here are 6 easy techniques for beginners:
First - sit in a comfortable position either crossing your legs on a cushion on the floor or sitting comfortably on a chair, the bed or the couch.
1.Zen Meditation – Counting your breath
Close your eyes. Breathe a normal breath in and then out - count it. One. Another breath in and out. Two. Do this until you reach 10 and then start again at 1.
2.One type of Vipassana Meditation (there are a few) is focusing on what’s around you.
This meditation starts with being aware of everything that’s happening around you. Close your eyes and become aware of your environment. If you hear a plane, muffled voices, your pet breathing or a door slam, focus on those sounds. If you feel pain in your body, focus on the pain. If you smell something, focus on the smell. As soon as the sound, feeling or smell is gone search for the next one. You are attempting to become vastly aware of what is going on around you. The refrigerator hum, footsteps, a distant car alarm, etc. At some point the outer will fall away and you’ll become aware of the silence. Focus on that too. The advantage of this is two-fold, in this moment you can become aware of your mind and the ability to create your own expansiveness within the space itself. You may not be able to achieve this silence right away and everyone experiences it or interprets it differently. You can also use Vipassana meditation to become aware of the thoughts of your mind and then lovingly let them go, watching them like a movie without judgment. I like doing this form of meditation in an airplane when traveling as well as at my house. It keeps me quiet for quite a long time.
3.The Red Dot Meditation
This is the first meditation I ever learned as a 12-year old child. Close your eyes and imagine a red dot about an inch above the center of your eyebrows. Some people know this as the third eye. In acupuncture it is the point known as yin tang. In India this is where they put the bindi. Focus on that dot. When I was a kid I used to change it to different colors, which is fine as long as you remain focused on that area.
There are many forms of this. You can go see Amma, The Hugging Guru (for free) and she will give you a mantra. You can choose an Indian mantra from the internet based on your favorite deity. Or, you can make up your own. It can be a word or a phrase. It can be as simple as the word “love” or something like “peace and gratitude”. You can take a class in TM (Transcendental Meditation) where they give you your own mantra (it’s pricey it but can be worth it and significant student discounts are available).
Whatever mantra you choose (and you can change it up), the idea is to repeat it silently over and over. That’s it.
I love walking meditation! You walk slowly, eyes cast downward so you don’t trip and focus on your steps, you can count them or not. Or if you’re good at multi-tasking you can walk and count your breath or recite a mantra. Regardless, the idea is to walk very, very, very, slowly.
6.Exercise as Meditation
People who do extreme sports will find that their exercise is their meditation because if you don’t focus completely on what you are doing at every second you could seriously injure yourself. I have a friend who uses running as her meditation. I use aerial arts. Anything where you have to completely focus can be used. So for example if you’re riding your stationary bike at home and watching TV that is not meditation.
Overall meditation advice no matter which form/s you choose:
If your mind wanders that’s completely normal and just gently bring it back to your meditation (breath, sounds, dot, whatever). If you suddenly feel an inspiration or your mind is telling you that there are other things you need to be doing as soon as you’re done meditating, let it go. Those thoughts will still be there when you’re done. Don’t admonish yourself for having them. Be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge the thought and then go back to the meditation.
Remember that many forms of meditation are to help you quiet your mind. If you can practice even 1-5 minutes a day you will notice a huge difference. Your stress will lessen. You’ll be less reactive to your children, friends, spouse, other drivers… You’ll develop better planning skills, better organizing skills and a calmer demeanor. You’ll be able to relate more to the world and people around you.
There are dozens of types of meditation, more advanced forms can focus on listening to your mind and more. The point of this article though is to give you some simple tools to begin and find one that will work for you. This too can change over time. Like everything in life meditation is fluid, not static.
Set a timer if you have time constraints. After the meditation is over, don’t jump up and go, go, go. Allow yourself a minute or two to “get back into your body”. It can be a mind-altering experience and you want to honor that.
Start small, with just one minute and build your meditation muscle. After a week, move to five, then ten, etc. Ideally 15-30 minutes a day is a good number to strive for. You will be floored at the benefits you will receive but even one minute a day is better than zero!
~By Kimberly Anne©
Hi, I'm Kimberly Anne! (aka K.A.)
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