While some of us have experienced a milder than normal winter, our subconscious knows better. It’s still February and a long way until spring. Just like any other February, the winter blues start to settle in and we look for an escape or any reason to take us away from our focus or goals we set at the start of the new year. Life takes over, one thing leads to another, and before you know it, we are right back where we started. How do we keep from getting caught up reacting to our lives instead of proactively directing our lives? 2016 is said to be a year of change and transformation and a good place to start is by taking control of how we “walk” in life. Meditation is a way to stay grounded and focused to achieve the goals we set, live proactively and experience a fuller life.
Meditation is the clearing of the mind, letting go of all the day’s stress and chaos, and in turn making space for happiness, peace, and calm. We all have things that pull us away into lower versions of ourselves, enveloped with negative energy. Our busy lives, jammed schedules, bills to pay, dealing with conditions beyond our control – it can create a huge amount of stress and suck the joy out of our life. Happiness, and I mean the kind that’s sustainable, is a challenge to achieve with a mind that is filled with to-do lists, schedules, stress at work, school, kids activities, Doctor’s appointments…you get the point. Not only do those busy schedules pull us away from being happy, but they also prevent us from living in the moment and experiencing the true beauty of life. With all that going on, how can we possibly be fully present for all of it?
When we take time to clear our minds, even if for a few minutes, a calm and peaceful inner strength surfaces that allows us to handle the dynamic nature of life and not miss out on all there is showing up in our day.
~ Meditation allows growth ~
It is so easy to get caught up in letting life just happen, and fall into a continuously reactive cycle to handle all that it throws at us. Practicing meditation is not only form of caring for yourself, but it allows us to grow spiritually and be the creative director of our lives. We can consciously create from a place of calm as opposed to allowing conditions to dictate our reality. It’s a way of deeply connecting with our self, our soul and our intuition. It helps us in approaching life in a mindful way, with care and attention, as opposed to passive happen-stance. Yes there will still be conditions out of our control where we will need to react, but having a clear, calm, and more focused mind will help us to approach them in a more positive manner, from a place of peace, and allow for more positive outcomes.
~ Meditation reveals ~
We all face challenges or hardships, or difficult situations at some point. There are times when we question if we are on the right path or we’re conflicted about a decision or change in our life. A lot of times we look externally to seek these answers. But on the contrary, we all have the answers within us. It is the distraction of our busy lives that inhibit us from hearing those answers from our inner voice, our soul. Quieting the mind through meditation can be amazingly instrumental in bringing those answers to light.
~ Meditation is flexible ~
Many may reject the idea of meditation due to lack of time in their day. Yes, you do need to take a bit of time out of your day to practice meditation, but that time spent will allow you to be more focused on your tasks, handle normally stressful situations with more ease, and ultimately be more productive. Meditation can be practiced alone, in the comfort of your home, at a park, at the beach, or with a group, at a studio or meditation center. Many colleges, universities, community centers and libraries also offer time and space for individual and group meditation practice. You can adapt it to your lifestyle and your schedule. Most importantly you will be amazed how life-changing practicing meditation on a regular basis can be.
~ Your meditation practice is unique to you ~
Wherever and however you choose to practice meditation, it is important to note that your practice is your own; unique to you. Letting the ego and self-judgement go is just as important. One day might be easier than the next to stay focused but just as no two days in our life are the same, no two meditation practices are the same. Allow yourself to let go and let the practice take its course.
~ Breathe ~
The key to meditation is focus on the breath. Ideally you want to breathe in and out through your nose, keeping your mouth softly closed. The position of your body during a meditation session is entirely up to you and your level of comfort. You can sit with knees folded underneath, in a crossed leg position or meditate lying down. It’s what ever is most comfortable for you. Being comfortable is important because discomfort will inevitably distract you from clearing your mind. It is totally natural for the mind to wander at times, and when it does, just come back to your breath. Even saying to yourself (in your mind), “I am breathing in” on the inhale and “I am breathing out” on the exhale is enough to bring you back to focus.
~ Meditation tools ~
There are many techniques, tools and resources you can use in your meditation practice that will help in attaining a meditative state. If you are new to meditation, a guided meditation is a great place to start. There are many free guided meditations on YouTube (search Guided Meditations). This is how I started my meditation practice, as it helps in keeping the noise out and bring the mind to a focal point even if it’s your very first time. There are general guided meditations that are simply about clearing the mind, and also meditations that focus on a single point or intention, such as career, relationships, or manifesting abundance for example. All are beneficial. Typically there is someone speaking throughout the meditation helping guide your mind through imaginary visualization and in the process, guides you to a place of peace and quiets your mind.
Another meditation tool is the use of sound vibrations created through various instruments, such as bells or chimes. A common example of this is a Tibetan singing bowl, which is a type of bell. The tone and vibration of each instrument varies and it is best to use one that holds a frequency attractive to your ears and to your energy. In other words, you’ll know it when you hear it. If you feel yourself sinking into the rings of vibration, deeper and deeper, that’s the one. In many meditation practices, the singing bowl or bell is simply used to signify the beginning and end of a silent meditation.
There are also mantras, chants and mudras you can incorporate into your practice depending on your specific goal or focus in meditation. A mantra is a word or group of words, with sacred meaning and believed to have spiritual power. One of the earliest mantras used in Hindu practice is the Sanskrit syllable Om (Aum, ॐ). It is difficult to translate into English, but essentially Om represents the seed of all creation; the Universe, your soul, the divine; beginning, middle and end. It’s the vibration created within your physical body when chanting the syllable, the “seed sound” that all else is created from.
Often Malas, or prayer beads, are used to count the number of times a mantra is repeated or the number of breaths taken. Malas are made from various materials such as rudraksha, sandalwood, and rosewood and healing gemstones such as Labradorite, amethyst, and tiger eye, each supporting a specific intention. Malas usually contain 18, 27, 54 or 108 beads and typically one larger guru bead. The mantra or breath is repeated as the thumb rolls around each bead, usually clockwise. Reaching the guru bead signifies the completion of that mantra and usual practice is to turn and go back in the opposite direction or start a new mantra or cycle of intention supported by breath.
Mudras are another way in which to bring forward your intention. A mudra is a hand formation, used in combination with the fingers and thumb. Each area of the hand correlates to a particular part of the brain and in forming a mudra, it locks and guides the flow of energy to the brain.
~ Make it your own ~
Incorporating mantras, malas and mudras are a way to strengthen the authenticity of your intention in practicing meditation, but they aren’t required in order to feel the benefits. Your practice can simply be finding a quiet place to sit for 10 minutes and quieting your mind, focusing on your breath. Breath is the only tool you truly need. As your meditation practice is unique to you, its up to you to choose how and when to layer the other supporting tools into your practice. Each day is different and each practice is your own. Even your own practice or level of meditative state can vary from day to day too depending on what you are feeling or what is coming up from within you.
~ Moving Meditation ~
Yoga is also a form of meditation. While many may initially be attracted to yoga for its physical benefits, it is actually a moving meditation, and has a deeper spiritual core. The focal point of yoga practice is the breath, or pranayama, and it is through the breath, that we clear our mind and deepen our yoga poses or asanas. While practicing yoga does have the benefit of strengthening muscles, it is able to do so through using the breath to aid and nourish us during a pose and keep the energy flowing so our bodies receive the benefits of our practice. The breath is also what connects each pose to the next, allowing for the entire yoga session to be one continuous meditation. Practicing yoga begins and ends with a relaxation “corpse” pose, or savasana, connecting to the breath, taking in all that is needed, and letting go of all that no longer serves us. Having practiced yoga on a regular basis for the past six months, I can attest to the spiritual and inner self benefits of practicing this moving meditation.
~ Meditation is portable ~
One of the nicest things about meditation is that you can meditate anywhere at anytime! Meditation won’t help eliminate the busy schedules, but will help you handle it with more peace as you make your way through. All it takes is a focus on your breath. Standing in a long line at the grocery store when you are pressed for time… you can let it irritate you (and let negative energy win) or you can find something to focus on, go through a couple cycles of breath and you can bring your mind back to a place of peace. It’s really that simple.
Meditation helps you arrive at a place of peace and calm, helps keep you grounded, and in turn have more creative control over your life. Instead of searching for answers externally, in other words, outside of ourselves, quieting the mind through meditation allows us to hear our inner voice and find inside of ourselves, the answers we seek. Meditation creates a foundation of peace within ourselves so that we can then project peace in our actions, in our words and in our connections with others. There will always be distractions, however, through practicing meditation, we can rise to our higher self in peace and calm, which allows us to be more focused on achieving our goals, experiencing each moment of our journey and living a fuller life.
INVIBE incorporates meditation practices into life coaching strategies and group workshops in corporate, academic and community group settings. If you are looking to evolve and reach that higher version of yourself and be the change that you want to see in the world, for yourself, or your company or group, contact INVIBE today for more information on our customized programs.