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Meditation

Based on this article from positivepsychology.com, meditation is as old and widespread as humans and cooking.

Why might I meditate?

There are many purposes for meditation, some reasons include:

  • To bring peace to your mind

  • To heal your body

  • To increase your energy

  • To focus your energy

  • To reach a higher plane

  • To discover yourself

One explanation of meditation:

Meditation is when you allow your mind to just be.

Your mind and body are allowed to relax so your spiritual self can come forward for a time.

What Is Meditation?

Who Meditates?

Anyone CAN meditate. It doesn't matter

  • what your spiritual practices or beliefs are

  • how proficient you are at focusing your mind

  • how old you are

  • what your culture, gender, or race are

  • or where you're located

Everyone can benefit from some form of meditation.*

* If you have suffered great trauma in your life, you may benefit from professional help getting started in meditation. Meditation can help those who have suffered traumatic experiences, but it's often helpful to have a professional nearby in case meditation triggers traumatic memories.

How Do I Meditate With a Cluttered, Busy Mind?

You're not going to jump from busy-minded, city resident to mountain temple dwelling monk meditation mind in a day, much less a year. Don't worry about deep meditation right off the bat. It took the monk years to get to where he is now.

Start slowly with simple practices like

  • breath-work 

  • coloring

  • mindful walking

  • mindful eating

  • gardening

  • running

 

Find something that keeps your hands busy and lets your mind relax. Then you can work on actually meditation in time.

 

**Don't fall into the trap that you need mind altering substances to meditate. That's a shortcut that will stunt your progress. Take the slow and steady course.

There are so many to types of mediation, they can't be listed completely.

  • Flame, Water, Leaf, Flower, Crystal Gazing

  • Walking, Seated, Standing, Dancing

  • Tai Chi

  • Chanting

  • Kundalini

  • Drumming

  • Loving Kindness

  • Breath Counting

  • Theraveda

  • Mantra

There are many, many more. You'll have to try some out and discover what works for you. To truly try one out, you should give it several sessions.

You'll know it's right for you, when you feel good when you're done.

How Many Types of Meditation Are There?

There is no one right way to meditate. Here are some simple options to get started on the meditation path...

Simple tasks - Gardening, Running, Coloring, Petting an animal, etc

These are simple tasks where you can let your mind relax while you let your hands or body do simple things. You can allow yourself to just focus on the task at hand. Think about the feel of the object you come in contact with. Think about the joy and freedom in what you're doing. Focus on the colors or shapes you see. Focus on the smells in front of you. Be aware of only the task. If you think about something else, it's ok. Let that thought drift by and think about the task in front of you again.

Gazing - Fire, Water, Leaf, Crystal, Flower, Feather, Tree, Sky Gazing

People are attracted to different substances. Choose the item that you have access to and interests you. Remove distractions as much as you can. Stand or seat yourself in front of your object. Look at it. Does it have lines to follow with your eyes? Does it have a scent? (Breathe deeply) Where did it come from? What was its life before you found it? How does it make you feel? Look deeper. What do you see? Allow your eyes and mind to relax a you look still deeper. Notice the color. Can you see the essence of the object? Spend time with this item, just taking it in completely.

Breath

Breath connects us to spirit. Through breathing, you can meditate. 

The simplest way is to count each breath, 1, 2, 3, 4 and then start over with 1. 

Another option is square breathing. Choose a count that is easy and manageable for you. Breathe in for the count, hold your breath for the same count, breathe out for the count, hold your breath for the count, and repeat.

Another option is to simply focus on your breath. Focus on the inhalation and exhalation.  Feel the breath come in and go out. 

Focusing on counting or breathing will take your focus off other thoughts that randomly float through your mind. Let any of those thoughts come and go and don't pay attention to them. 

  • You don't have to meditate for long periods of time. Start with a few minutes if that's all you have. 5-20 minutes a day will be enough to build your practice.

  • Experiment with sounds, scents, surroundings, styles, and times. Meditation is not a stagnant process. 

  • It will take time to get good at it. It's ok if it takes you days, weeks, or months to get the hang of it. And even when you're good at it, sometimes will be easier than others.

  • Using a ritual will help.

  • Meditation is part of being human. We all have the ability, but society has forgotten the practice. You are capable. Be patient.

Meditative Rituals?

When parents want their young children to sleep, they create a bedtime ritual--a bath, putting on pajamas, a story, a prayer, "goodnight," lights out. 

It's all geared to get the child to relax and prepare them physically and mentally for sleep.

If you create a meditation ritual, it can help you prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually to meditate. The time and place your choose will dictate some of what you do. If you meditate on your lunch hour at work, a bath or shower most likely won't be a part of your ritual, but they might be if you meditate at home. 

Your ritual might include:

  • putting on a necklace, jewelry or article of clothing

  • lighting a candle or incense

  • pouring water

  • giving an offering

  • breathing exercises

  • some sort of ceremonial washing

  • a special mat or chair to sit on

  • playing of an instrument or music or simple ringing of a bell

These are simply suggestions. There's no right or wrong way. It's about what works for you.

Meditation Worksheet

To help your meditation practice improve, it's good to journal your meditations. Worksheets like this one can help. 

After you meditate, track what you gained from your meditation; how you meditated; when and where; and how you can do better next time. Through this process, you will improve your meditations in time, and you will have a log of your experiences. 

Physical Meditation Helps

There are many meditative positions - laying down, sitting, standing. No matter what position you choose, you should keep your spine straight from your tail bone to the top of your head. The flow of energy through your body is an important component to meditation. 

Grounding is also an important part of meditation. You don't have to be in contact with the ground every time you meditate, but frequent contact with the earth is important. If you can't touch the earth, you can ground with a large stone, something large enough that it requires both hands to hold it. A piece of granite or marble counter top can be an inexpensive option.

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