Meditation & Mindfulness practices are a wonderful way that can develop awareness and mindfulness of our body, our senses, our minds and how we live our daily life. Mindfulness is about simply observing yourself without judgment in all situations, watching how are. It is about “tuning in” to ourselves as opposed to tuning out. It's about accepting all that is human about us!
Through a regular practice, we may notice that we are calmer, clearer and more relaxed in how we relate to life around us. The benefits build quickly over time and a "little and often" is the key to reaping the rewards of a daily practice, even 10 minutes a day. Just as we exercise the body to keep it strong and healthy, we also need to take care of the mind to keep it nourished! There are various traditions and methods to meditation which we will look at later.
It is nice to approach meditation with an element of curiosity to find out what method appeals to you along the way. Meditation is a practice that anyone can learn at any stage of life's wonderful journey. Remember, there is NO wrong way to meditate but the only wrong one is the meditation practice that we don’t show up for! This is about our awareness of experience in any given moment.
A short daily meditation practice is proven to transform the mind and how we perceive our life. We learn to appreciate the even the small joyful moments in daily life so becoming more content within ourselves. Meditation is not about clearing the mind but learning to shift awareness from busy thoughts to the breath and present moment.
Meditation has been proven to reduce in size the part of the brain known as the Amygdala that is responsible for how we respond to stress and fear. Over a period of 6-8wks, the grey matter of the brain changes due to the affects of Meditation.
Meditation has been around for a few thousand years and these ancient practices have been rediscovered and brought to the Western world in the early 1970s. There are many types of Meditation practices and some have been adapted to the modern life we have today. The most popular practice was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of modern Mindfulness practices. Based on the ancient Buddhist practice of Meditation, Jon Kabat- Zinn developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction or MBSR as an 8wk programme that he designed to meet the search of a modern population in search of inner growth and healing. This programme was successful implemented in many hospitals and Psychological Therapy centres over a time and studies have shown a great improvement on the mental and emotional wellbeing of many patients. Those who were living with daily pain episodes showed an improvement on how they managed their pain. He stated that it’s our perception of the stressor that causes our resistance and turbulence in the mind and not the stressor itself. This is where daily meditation can really be a transformational tool in our lives. For further reading on this, see “Full Catastrophe Living” Jon Kabat-zinn.
In our busy lives, we tend to believe that we have no time for a meditation practice and that our lives don’t depend on it. But with all this scientific research now, we need to meditate like our lives depend on it because they do! Just like we breathe our air and digest our food.
There are many Meditation practices and each one is a as amazing as the other. It’s so wonderful to try different ones over time. In general, if you are beginner to the practice, it is recommended that you begin with Formal Practice known as “Mindfulness of Breath”. It may just be a simple counting of inhale and exhale in your mind for a few short minutes.
There are also other practices such as:
Loving Kindness or Metta Bhavana Meditation - A meditation designed to promote feelings of compassion for oneself and others. It may increase positive emotions and let go of negative feelings of anger, frustration or resentment.
Visualisation Meditation – Guided through visualising in the mind with breath awareness. This can also be focussing with a soft gaze or “drishti” as it is known externally upon an object, image or even a candle.
Mantra Meditation – This maybe a word or a phrase and it maybe in an ancient sacred language such as Sanskrit. This is repeated in your mind over and over as your anchor to the present moment.
Body Scan Meditation – Guided through the body focussing on the body’s sensation.
Chanting Meditation – Repeating a sound or phrase out loud and brings you into a relaxed state of being as with silent meditation
Energy Meditation -This is a meditation practice that uses visualisation and intention through the energy centres or chambers known as the “Chakras or Wheels” in the body. They are the energetic map or anatomy of the body guiding our awareness through each with intention.
Walking Meditation – This is a practice where you place your awareness on each step that you take while aware of breath in and breath out. You are aware of the sounds of nature outside and fully residing in the present moment of your surroundings as you slowly walk.
We start by:
Creating the Habit - Takes 6 – 8 weeks to create a habit. So practice, practice …. and yes practice no matter how good, bad or indifferent your day is going. Your wellbeing will really thank you for it!
Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Get comfortable as possible. If you are comfortable, you will come back to meditate. If you are not, you won’t!
Light a candle or your favourite incense!
Begin with a short 5 min practice and build from there. Set yourself up for success!
Try Beditation! The moment you awaken, don’t hit that snooze button! Why not plug in your favourite guided meditation even for 10 mins on your phone while you are still snug and warm. Your brain will be showered with positivity for your day ahead. A really positive habit.
Keep it really simple and build it into to YOUR life. Check out our regular Mindfulness based classes at Yoga Essence.
With gratitude, Sonya Harnett
Insight Timer App - Free Online Meditations
Davidji.com - Free Online Meditations
“Where ever you Go, There you Are” – Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life J
“Full Catastrophe Living” Jon Kabat-zinn
“The Miracle of Mindfulness” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“The Secrets of Meditation” – By Davidji
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