Meditation can be defined as a set of techniques that are intended to train yourself to achieve a deepened state of awareness. It can also help with focused attention. These techniques have been shown to have a wide number of benefits on mental well-being by encouraging a psychologically clear and emotionally stable state. There is no doubt that you have probably heard about all the benefits of meditation on a regular basis- many studies have found that meditation supports the immune system and can lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
To effectively experience all the benefits of meditation, it is important to choose a meditation technique that resonates well with you, so that you are inspired to meditate on a daily basis. In this article, we will discuss four techniques of meditation that you can try, and at the end, introduce you to a simple, 3 minute Heart Based Practice. Let’s get started!
Meditation Method #1: Walking Meditation
If you are a highly energetic individual or maybe have certain pains/aches that don’t allow you to sit comfortably, consider trying walking meditation! This involves focusing on the physical experience of walking by bringing awareness to the specific elements of each step you take. As you are walking at a comfortable pace, mentally focus on what is happening to your body as you are lifting your foot, moving it forward, and then placing it back down on the ground in front of you. Track your movement as a way of staying in the present moment by focusing on the components of each step you take. Try to do walking meditation in a clear, open space, with your arms relaxed and keep your eyes focused in front of you. If you notice that your mind is getting distracted, bring your attention back to focusing on lifting, moving, and dropping your foot again. Allow for the practice to be as simple as possible.
Meditation Method #2: Mantra Meditation
In this technique, you can focus on a word, syllable, or phrase to repeat during meditation. The word mantra is derived from two Sanskrit words: “manas,” which means mind, and “tra,” which means tool. Mantra can be defined as “a tool for the mind.” Some people find that focusing on a certain mantra that resonates with them can boost concentration, helping them stay focused and leading to improved results from meditation. Your own personal mantra can be spoken out loud, chanted, whispered, or simply just silently recited in the mind. Search for a quiet space without too many distractions and where you feel comfortable taking a seat. Recite your mantra, and relax into the delight of the practice. Repeating a mantra over and over again to yourself can help you when ripples of other thoughts or emotions come to mind. When something other than your mantra comes up, simply pause, take a breath, then go back to repeating your mantra. Consistency is important!
Meditation Method #3: Visualization Meditation
In visualization meditation, your mind will focus on an image- making meditation more effortless. Images from nature are ideal for this method of meditation, as they are calming to your senses and help us focus on the present moment. Picture something that is soothing to you, whether that be water, the sky, a beam of light, clouds, or the mountains. Start your visualization meditation by being in a comfortable, distraction-free space while being seated. Begin to visualize what you feel is soothing to you- maybe it is a ray of light coming through the leaves of a tall tree. Focus on your image and allow yourself to become more relaxed as you sit for a couple minutes of meditation. This method is great for visual learners.
Meditation Method #4: Sitting Meditation
Sukhasana is the name of a beginner-friendly meditation pose that you can try. Sit comfortably on the floor and cross your shins for your base of support. You can sit on the edge of a cushion, pillow, or blanket for extra support. Relax your shoulders, lengthen the back of your neck, and rest your hands on top of your knees with your palms facing up. If you have knee or hip pain, you can find extending your legs in front of you can help. Please allow yourself to take a few moments to make sure that your head, neck, and torso are completely relaxed and correctly aligned. Again, rest your hands on your lap with your palms facing up. This meditation method also works while sitting comfortably on a chair. Plant both your feet on the floor and make sure your thighs are parallel to the floor. Sit up straight, drop and relax your shoulders, and rest your palms facing up on your thighs. For the most comfortable positions for sitting meditation, find a placement where your hips are higher than your knees.
A Simple 3 Minute Heart Based Practice Meditation
The heart based practice embodies this simplicity, and it has become a fundamental piece of my healing protocol because of its ability to shift our experience in just a moment- allowing us to opt out of old, outdated patterns and choose anew. Over the years, I have found this exercise to be one of the most practical ways to interrupt patterns of distress and rewire the nervous system to a more relaxed, calm and connected state, where we can begin to heal in a direct way. Here, I will walk you through each step so that you can begin to tap into your own heart’s center and reconnect with this space to process, reflect and increase awareness around your own unique journey, desires, and life experiences. Here are the steps:
RECONNECT: Place both hands over your heart and feel your heartbeat. Inhale and exhale through your heart.
RESET: Intentionally, return home to the present moment, where you belong. Allow yourself to observe what comes up with your conscious awareness and loving attention.
REMEMBER: Remind yourself of who, what and where you are. From here, you can re enter any moment realigned, recommitted and renewed.
The Heart Based Practice can be your reminder to reconnect, reset and remember who, what and where you are. You can reset and return home any time, anywhere.
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