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3 Interesting Ways To Meditate

Types of Meditation
Calm your mind to find yourself.

Several of you have asked why I haven’t written a blog for some time…  Well, I made space so that I could do some other interesting things, alongside teaching yoga and working with great clients, I also had a couple of gigs, attended a jazz vocal course in London, went to some yoga days, explored foreign shores, partied with friends and picnicked with family… I’ve also had some nice mediations…

I’ve talked before about the importance of mediation for a happier, calmer mind. Give yourself  just a few minutes each day to begin meditating and enjoy the amazing benefits!

Getting in the groove

Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting too big a goal, my approach is a little and often until it develops into a disciplined practice.

Discipline

Where’s your commitment? On a daily basis will you honour yourself with say, SEVEN minutes a day? Fantastic! That’s a great start.

The next important thing is to choose your time – morning or evening? How about both? 7.00am or 6.15am or 9.30pm. Set a time and stick to it.

Space to breathe

Set up a space to meditate and ALWAYS meditate in that place Ensure it’s clean and tidy, you don’t want any unnecessary distractions.  If you only have one room, make a corner of the room your mediation area and sit there.

Don’t Be Flaky

Make yourself physically comfortable, whether thats cross legged on the floor or sitting on a chair and once your time starts, close your eyes and make a deal with yourself to remain still. DON’T fidget, ignore any itches or irritations, they will go away but if you keep scratching and fidgeting you’ll never get into a good practice. If you have to cough, of course do so – it’s common sense to be comfortable then just sit still and be. This is your training.

Rinse and repeat

I always say repetition is the mother of all skill and as you repeat the daily meditation you’ll build up a reservoir of inner peace. As you become familiar with the stillness it will become easier to hook into it at other times during the day.  You’ll notice after time, an ability to step back and observe your thoughts, feelings and reactions  and in this way you can begin to choose  whether to ‘play’ in the dramas of life or whether to quietly step back sometimes and choose a different way to be.

When you’re regularly and effortlessly meditating for seven minutes each day, you can  extend that time to ten minutes, then fifteen, twenty and so on.

In no time at all you’ll be meditating effortlessly for 30 minutes a day and enjoying the amazing benefits that come as a result!

How Do I Know Which Meditation Style Is Right For Me?

1. Breath Focus

It’s particularly good if you are more kinesthetic, you can focus on the feeling of breath in your nostrils and follow its journey into the body.

This is the simplest method (taken from Power Tool 9 in the book ‘I Just Want To Be Happy’).

Start with a regular daily practice of two or three minutes. Sit quietly where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes, and take your awareness to your nostrils. Be aware of breathing in and out through your nose for a few breaths and then silently count 1,2,3,4 as you breathe in and 1,2,3,4 as you hold your breath then 1,2,3,3 as you exhale and 1,2,3,4 as you pause.

Do this for 10 breaths. If it helps imagine your are breathing around a square.

Your mind is likely to wander, this is true for all of us since the nature of the mind is to be constantly moving. When this happens simply go back to ‘one’ and start again. This is a mental discipline and the ultimate aim is to get to ten breaths uninterrupted by thoughts.

2. Mantra

Mantra isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but useful if you’re very auditory – i.e. very tuned into sound – or if you really have a poor attention span!

So which mantra? It could be something from any faith, for example the Lord’s Prayer, or it could be a Buddhist Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, or a yogi’s Om Namah Shiva, or even the  repetition of a western word such as Peace, Relax, Be  or I am Still.

Repeat your chosen mantra slowly mentally and silently over and over for the duration of your mediation.

3.Trataka

Technically trataka is a kryia ( a purification process) but can also be used as a meditation especially if you’re very visual. It’s also a great approach  if your eyes are tired from too much computer work.

You do need to be sitting still and  best done in the privacy of your own home.  Light a candle about two  feet away from you at eye level. Relax your body, sit up straight and soften your gaze to one of receiving the light into your eyes rather than staring. As soon as you blink or your eyes water, gently close your eyes and hold the image of the candle flame in your inner eye. As soon as the image fades, open your eyes and begin again.

NB Remove contact lenses prior to trataka

My favourite is No. 1 – Breath Focus. It can be done open-eyed, and even standing in a queue or sitting on a train. It can be done in addition to your regular practice and used any time you need to control your mind, emotions or body.

You could also try to develop a system. Something like this: bring your awareness to your breathing on the hour every hour – or as near to it as possible.

The most important thing is once you have found a method that works for you, STICK to it. If you keep chopping and changing you’ll never establish a discipline, and that’s the key.

So, don’t take my word for it. Do it yourself. Commit to a month and see the benefits for yourself.

If you have any questions  about mediation post them on the ‘Ask Sue’ section and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Contra-indications

Take guidance from your Doctor or health practitioner if you have been diagnosed with any personality disorder or mental illness, before practising mediation.

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The No. 1 Peaceful Retreat

“Just what I needed, really great” ” … completely relaxed and enjoyed the practice, venue, food and great company…  such great organisation” is just some of the  feedback received after last weekend’s yoga retreat. (Book there for the next one in February.  

Being Versus Doing
Being Versus Doing

Do you want peace in your life? What are you doing to achieve that state?

Even if you’re new to yoga get on your mat and breathe then begin to stretch, you’ll be surprised how quickly you will remember a couple of yoga poses you’ve enjoyed in the past and just do them. Listen to your body. If it hurts don’t do it!  Apart from that enjoy!

Be the peace you want to see.

Feeling anything but peaceful? Are you feeling stressed and uptight?

Even 5 minutes of yoga can give you a break from the incessant dominance of the ego mind. You’ll recognise your ego mind as the part of you that labels, criticises, judges, demands and has big expectations. Sound familiar?

Yoga means union or to join,  try taking a few minutes this weekend to tune into your breathing. Go on I dare you to take up my challenge and simply follow 10 whole breaths without allowing your mind to wander – good luck with that!

Oh and by the way this is a whole breath. Breathe in. Notice the natural holding of the breath. Breathe out. Notice the pause before you breathe in again.

Enjoy and let me know how you get on. Also remember there’s the ‘Ask Sue’ page if you have a yoga related or counselling question.

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF YOGA

Do you constantly repeat the same patternsJoin me and millions of other  yogi’s and yogini’s across the globe celebrating International Day of Yoga and be sure to do something on Tuesday 21st June.  At 5.00am I will be joining colleagues from the British Wheel of Yoga on the 69th floor of The Shard  to welcome the sunrise as guests of the High Commission of India.

There are many events taking place across the country most of which are free go to http://www.bwylondon.co.uk to see what’s taking place in London.

If you want to be a part of something huge and peaceful on the day why not practice a couple of rounds of the Sun Salutations, it’s said to exercise every muscle in the body! click here to print off and download for free salute to the Sun. Alternatively meditate with 8 Moments of 8 moments of mindfulnessMindfulness.

ENJOY!

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Why Change Channels?

As we approach International Women’s Day I bathe in the reflected glory of 22 powerful women that I’ve just spent a weekend yoga retreat with. These women whose ages span several decades are creators, mothers, movers and shakers of our world. Just being in the presence of these women who uncomplainingly and capably reinvent themselves over and over to fit with the different demands and phases of their lives is both energising and inspiring.IMG_2793

I was impressed with how quickly these women were able to power down and effectively ‘change channels’ to release and relax into yoga. This was facilitated by the fresh sea air of the Sussex Coast, plenty of rest, delicious vegetarian cuisine and a mixed bag of yoga tuition from Sarah www.practiceyoga.co.uk and myself – see here for my www.breezeyoga.co.uk class.

Though no-one’s a bigger fan of versatility than me – in 2013 I launched a jazz album and released a co-authored book – I believe it is equally important to be able to switch off and completely relax. In fact I think it’s essential to good health and wellbeing to experience regular periods of relaxation though I gather that just doesn’t come easily to most.

Do you recognise when you need to change channels and properly chill out?

Back in my late twenties when one of my lungs collapsed three times as a result of stress! I was told if it happened again the consequences would be dire. Since I’m a type-A personality I trained in hypnotherapy so that I would be able to put myself into a deep state of relaxation whenever I felt the stress mounting. Nowadays with yoga as part of my life I’m generally calmer, though I do listen to Stress Free with Confidence on a regular basis if I’ve got a lot going on, since I designed it specifically to deal with daily stressors. So I’m wondering…

What do you do to relax?

that doesn’t involve copious amounts of alcohol or slumping in front of a screen for hours on end?

We’re always interested to know. Have a great weekend and RELAX

 

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Is Your Sedentary Lifestyle Killing You?

I’m keeping it brief and focussing on the body again this week, specifically the hips. Hopefully you’ll have your own hips for your entire lifetime so healthy hip tips are coming up!

I teach hatha yoga a couple of times a week at Breeze and Virgin Active. So you’d think I’d know better than to sit for long periods of time. But sometimes when I’m feeling less than inspired, writing a blog can take me a bit of time and boy do I pay for it! When I stand up my hips can feel really stiff.

There’s no question about it,  sitting for too long is bad for our health.

When we sit for long periods of time our hip flexor muscles are not working against resistance, they’re in a relaxed position. As gravity does its job and our upper body becomes heavier this weight then bears down heavily into the pelvic floor. Because our legs aren’t moving, our circulation and sometimes even nerve responses can be adversely affected because our legs are so inactive.

To keep the pelvic region healthy, move it!

If you work from home and are spending long periods of time at your desk, try sitting on a big exercise ball for some of the time, that way you’re engaging your core and moving around  in order to stay balanced.

The Stresshacker’s Healthy Happy Hip Tips

  1. Get up and move around a minimum of once an hour if not more frequently (set the alarm on your phone if need be).
  2. Go for a short walk, perhaps up and down the stairs a few of times.
  3. Stand with feet hip width apart and come up onto tip toeimages-1s then down again in a balance, do this about ten times and focus on good breathing.

It’s also important to keep our hips mobile and since they are a ball and socket joint, they like to be gently rotated. If we only stand up and sit down, we tend to use them more like a hinge joint and this can make them stiff and tight. (unless you’re a kick boxer or salsa dancer!)

  1. Stand feet hip width apart and circle your hips in both directions. Next gently move your hips in a figure of 8 about ten times then back in the opposite direction.

At home in the morning and before bed:images

Lay on the floor put a small cushion underneath your head, bend your knees to your chest and with one hand on each knee take the knees wide apart. Gently circle them in one direction 10 times then the other. Aim to keep your lower back (sacrum) relaxed to the floor.

Enjoy!