Meditation is a practice you can begin at any time in your life. I was called to meditation almost 2 years ago. This happened around the time I was diagnosed with cancer. It was a time of overwhelm and swirling thoughts of shock, fear, uncertainty and vulnerability.
Meditation helped me to slow down and observe the madness. It supported my ability to take control of the mind and to let go of the unknown. It supported me to take an objective look at my current state of being so I could make more clear choices that served my highest good at a time of immense stress.
Meditation can be described in many different ways. I like to think of it as the time you take to cultivate the presence of the NOW. It's a time to take a pause between thoughts. It's a time to be a silent observer and to allow the thoughts that arise to float on by like painted clouds in the sky. Just like we have new unique clouds each day, we can rest assured that each thought and moment is temporary. Each breath we take in brings us new air and rejuvenation. We do not hold onto this breath. We invite it in and allow it to nourish us. We then breath out and let it go.
Meditation can also be used as an effective tool to cultivate a specific focus, concept or energy. This can be done by using mantras or chanting. Using a single word or phrase and repeating it over and over in your mind can help to edge out other thoughts. This method can assist with practicing mind control by providing a single focus. It's important to remember, what we think about expands. The more you think about it, the larger it will appear to you in your inner and outer worlds.
So, how do you meditate? The simple answer, place your awareness on your breath and let go! If that's not enough direction for you, try out some of these basic tips:
1) Prep your body for rest: We are quite a busy bunch of human beings and it can be a challenge to sit still. Before you meditate, take a few moments to stretch out your body, shake out some stress, circle your neck, let out some sounds, breathe deeply in and out. Did you know that yoga is a movement-based practice, which was originally designed to stretch and calm the body for meditation? Prepping the body is an important practice!
2) Find a quiet uninterrupted space: Seek out a space in nature or in your home that is most likely to support your cultivation of quiet and stillness. If you don't feel you have a good space to go to, you can always plug in some soft relaxing music with headphones as an alternative.
3) Find a comfortable place to rest your body: It's often recommended to find a comfortable seated position with a straight back. Keep your hands and arms uncrossed. It you need to lay down instead, please do! Being comfortable is more important so your mind will able to relax and let go. If you are focused on your leg falling asleep because of your seated position, it will create a pain distraction.
4) Close Your Eyes: Closing your eyes allows you to naturally turn inward towards your own inner wisdom. Meditation serves your ability to close out all the external focuses of the world.
5) Observe and Slow Your Breath: Once you are in your comfortable space, comfortable position, and you have closed your eyes, then you can begin to observe your breath. Just notice how you are breathing without judgment. Notice if you are breathing fast, slow, shallow, deep. Take a moment to focus on slowly deepening your breathe in and out. Take a pause at the top of your breath (after you have taken a breath in) and take a moment to pause at the bottom (after you have breathed it all out).
That's it! You are meditating. As thoughts enter and arise, let them pass by like those painted clouds in the sky. Remembering it's all temporary. The thoughts can dissolve and transform if you want them too. You can let them float on by without attachment. Don't worry if you attach to thoughts and your mind wanders, just return to a focus on your breath. Simply breathing slower and deeper will improve your overall health and well-being. The breath is the key to our life force. It adds nourishment to our cells, slows your heart rate, and it helps to calm the mind and body.
You can also try out this Guided Joy Cultivation Meditation to get you started:
This can guided meditation can be as short or as long as you would like. Begin with a few minutes if that feels right. Meditation works because you give it a try!
Begin by settling into your comfortable space. Invite a slow deep breath in and send it to any unsettled parts in your body. Let out a deep slow breath, envisioning it carrying away any pain or tension. Continue to breathe in deeply for 2-3 more breaths. Feel this fresh renewing air fill your body, mind and soul with healing light. Continue to breathe out slowly and deeply for 2-3 more breaths. Allow these breathes out to carry away and dissolve any worry or pain. Let it all simply melt away as you let your breath go. Continue to breathe in deeply, letting it fuel your healing light. Continue to breath out, letting go of any impurities still present within your body temple.
NOW, focus on the word JOY. Repeat this world several times over in your mind. See the word in your mind; send it to any place in your body, mind, soul and heart that needs this JOY. Transform this word JOY into the most healthiest cell you could ever imagine floating in your body. Instill this JOY cell with a bright healing light. Let it be any color you wish. Allow its shape and size to come to you naturally. Allow this nourishing bright healing JOY cell to grow stronger and brighter with each breath in. With each deep breath in, you provide it with the nourishment it needs to grow strong and heal within your body. Allow yourself to feel this JOY all throughout your body. Continue to let it grow bigger, stronger and brighter. Sending it to the places it is needed most. When you are ready, bring this bright beautiful healing JOY cell to your heart. Allow it to rest there and fill your heart completely. Spend time here with your heart and this JOY, breathing and receiving anything and all that arises without judgment. Stay here as long as you like. Breathe in and cultivate and care for this healing joy. Breath out and let go. Feel the JOY fill you up completely.
When you are ready to let go of the meditation, simply invite small movements in with your body. Wiggle your toes or fingers, circle your neck. Before you get up, make sure to thank yourself for taking this time to go inward and to cultivate your joy and light. Remember this bright beautiful healing JOY is always floating within you. You can call upon it at any time.
~ Liz Myers, MA, Wellness Coach
Liz Myers, MA, RYT200
Spiritual Life Coach, Yoga and Meditation Teacher.
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