If regular meditating is not on your ‘good things to do’ list for 2018, WHY NOT? Meditating is a majorly beneficial and life enhancing habit, expounded by the great and the good as well as the keystone to many a multi-millionaire who swears by their daily kick. So why is such a simple thing as shutting out the world and going inwards for a few minutes every day, so difficult? The struggle is definitely worth it, so here are my SEVEN tactics to increase your chances of making a meditation habit happen this year.
- Comfortable Seated Position: The ancients did not lie down to meditate and neither did Buddha, as countless statues testify. The more scientific schools of meditation allow you to lie down, but essentially this is too close to sleep and we want a level of alertness within the body to get into the right zone, otherwise, why not just sleep? Fancy cushions, puffed up pillows, favourite chair, anything to help you get in a comfortable position where you can essentially forget about your physical body. Yoga discipline creates the flexibility to sit in seated lotus (cross legged) position where the spine is supported by the open hips and does not require props, but you can leave that classic posture to the regulars for now and get majorly comfy sitting up, propped up, whatever it takes.
- Soft Deep Breath: The doorway to any relaxed state is the breath and slowing the breath down to a minimum of four counts inhale and four exhale, whilst involving the soft movement of the belly is the first step to a meditative state – and if all you did is just elongate and soften your breath, you would be winning. When the mind starts to wonder onto other thoughts, you just bring yourself back to this breath which is ever present for you to connect to. To really get in a meditative zone, the yogis use breathing techniques called pranayama and the most well-known is the alternate nostril breathing or ‘nadi shodhana’ and doing this at the beginning of any meditation flips you out of daily conscious ‘noise’ and into a slower, internal focus. I highly recommend this to improve the whole experience tenfold, so see a description for this type of breathing here in the first two minutes of this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=395ZloN4Rr8
- Eyes Tuned Inwards: The next thing you have to do is close your eyes (if you haven’t already). Note I say the eyes are ‘tuned’ to an inward focus, rather than actually held looking at some point inspecting your inner eyelids. Taking the occasional peak is quite disruptive to your practice as it takes you straight out of the zone which hopefully you have just created. You want to stay ‘inside’, eyes shut for the duration and those fancy eye masks for sleeping are a good trick to block out any flickering lights that are tempting your eyes to open and will keep you in the dark, alone with your breath. Audrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast At Tiffany’s set the bar quite high with her exotic sleep mask and she is where I take my inspiration for this.
- Perfect Timing: Five minutes every day is better than hour once a week, just as brushing your teeth is better as a daily habit. Whatever amount of time you choose, a timer is a an essential tool to allow you to let go and go deep. When every two minutes feels like half an hour, you won’t need to check and re-check. And when the opposite blissfully occurs and 20 minutes feels like two minutes, the timer can bring you back to present time and moment. I set my own timer to every 10 minutes after the first 20, so I can keep going if I have only got into ‘the zone’ just before the gong. I use the fabulous app i-Qi clock http://www.i-qi-clock.com/ which has a selection of singing bowls and gong sounds to bring your mind back to the present moment gently and beautifully. The Transcendental Meditation method recommends 20 minutes a day but you can pick your own time, be that five minutes or 60, however 20 minutes does seem to be the golden number for daily regular practice which feels natural and still gets results. The Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique also uses mantra…
- Mantra: Mantras deepen any meditative practice, not just for their repetitive nature; they open the mind to other states of consciousness which can be incredibly powerful. Even if they do feel alien at first, the Sanskrit mantras are ancient and sacred sounds carrying vibrational messaging and as there is a mantra for almost every purpose, be that drawing in money, love or removing negativity and obstacles, they are worth exploring on YouTube. Just by googling ‘mantra for …’ your chosen purpose and using in any meditation repertoire. The Gayatri Mantra or Om Namah Shivaya are failsafe regulars and my personal favourite is Om Hreem Kleem Namaha for drawing in the Goddess or feminine heartfelt aspect of any situation which is explained and demonstrated here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N--ee1NhT4
- Mala Beads: Mala beads have multiple uses, not just ‘spiritual’ jewellery; essentially they help you count out rounds of pranayama breathing or sets of mantras so that you complete a set of 108 protestations or recitals. 108 is a special number signifying the levels one needs to release to break the karmic cycle in the Buddhist tradition. Sliding a bead along at each repetition acts as the counter so you can say focused on the meaning, sound or just your breath in your meditation rather than count. They also act as a stylish reminder to complete your practice and you can get them in most mystical shops and online. Satya jewellery have a beautiful selection of malas made of semi-precious stones if you want to treat yourself: https://www.satyajewelry.com/collections/malas
- Invite Friends: Meditating with other people enhances the meditative experience extraordinarily whether in a yoga centre or temple or at home with friends; Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra are on to this. They know how the group energy can exponentially activate conscious transformation to develop ‘profound peace and deep fulfilment’ worldwide and they want to encourage everyone and anyone to meditate and have made it super easy with their Oprah & Deepak 21 Day Meditation Experience. They regularly pick a subject, be that abundance, love or being present in the moment and invite hundreds of thousands to join them on a 21 day online programme. For beginners it is simple to follow and for regulars, joining such a huge global group is exhilarating. Sign up here for the alert for the next one https://chopracentermeditation.com/
Prayer is when we are talking to God, meditation is when we are listening and receiving…is it about time you took the call?