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