The past week has been a very stressful one for me, personally. I am having a lot of things going on in my family and have been relying heavily upon meditation, journaling, and exercise to elevate mood and keep myself centered. These are techniques learned through trial and error and through many different teachers that have come to be a solid basis of self-support for me.
This would be an incredibly long blog post if I ran through all three, so we will zero in on meditation today.
I have never trained formally in meditation, but I do practice regularly. Scroll all the way to the end for sources of additional information on meditation and resources to help you find your own path.
Meditation is incredibly easy in concept and difficult in practice. It comes in different forms. It can be guided. It can be mediated by the inhale. It can focus on the exhale. It can even be focused around the space in between the breath- that little moment between inhalation and exhalation where stillness takes place. Below I am outlining 3 of my favorite kinds of meditation techniques.
Self-guided meditation (envisioning your greatest self)
I learned about this type of meditation at the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s Freedomfest in 2014. Dr. Joe Dispenza spoke about the power of the brain and about his book, You Are The Placebo. I am about 1/3 of the way through this book and am learning a lot about how we make our thoughts become a reality. But I digress…
Each morning, I take 9 minutes (the time between my alarm and my snooze) and meditate. Before my feet touch the ground. Before I check my email. Before I let the world take me away from the peace of rest. I meditate. I begin by remembering back to a time when I was truly, completely, sincerely joyful down into and out from the core of my being. Once I have that moment, I allow that feeling to surge through my body and make its way all the way from the crown of my head to the tips of my fingers and toes. Thus embraced in a moment of pure joy, I picture my physical self in total fitness. My best self. I choose the facial expression, the shine of my hair, the tone of my muscles- you get the picture. And I let these two things come together. The Joy and the Best Physical Self.
This lets me step backward and see myself as I truly am.
Some days this is incredibly easy and I can slip right into that state of joy and gratitude and wellness. Other days I have just found the joyful moment when the alarm sounds. No matter what, I accept what my practice was and take it forward into the activities of the day.
Meditation with Outside Guidance
A couple of years ago, I did a series with Deepak Chopra and Oprah about mindfulness. It was a series of guided meditations and journaling from Deepak. I had never done meditation guided by another person before- and have discovered that it is a great way for me to get to meditate when I am having a hard time finding my own quiet. Deepak has a ton of meditations (even on Spotify and Pandora) that you can listen to and follow along. He walks you through your meditation from what to do with your feet and hands to your breathing. It is incredibly helpful, especially for the crazy busy type A person. When I am having trouble stepping out of my life and into my heart space, I turn to Deepak.
“To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitudem which most people are afraid of because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.”
– Deepak Chopra
Silent, Breath Focused, Meditation
I am not really sure how to describe this one. Breath focused meditation is exactly what it sounds like. You are aiming to find stillness with focus on nothing except the breath- be it the inhale, the exhale, or the pause. This is not to say that there will be no thoughts in your head and that you have to reach a place where you are totally blank. It means, that we acknowledge the thought and let it pass without our focus. I generally prefer to focus on the space in between the breath because otherwise I find myself trying to control the tide of my breathing. (Type A much?) I have found that this type of meditation does not at all come easily to me and that I do best with it after yoga or a good workout. As though I have to get out the physical energy before I can bring my focus internally. I have also found that practicing in a group/structured setting helps me with breath meditation. To improve my skills in this, I have visited many Buddhist temples for meditation practice.
I still find that I do my best meditation in nature (see the photo at the top of this post). Something about the stillness of the forest makes it easier for me to find my own stillness.
What all of this boils down to is this: We as humans have an incredibly hectic and chaotic way of life. We focus so much external energy that we often deplete ourselves. There are many ways to take care of yourself. Some people schedule resort vacations where they can recharge their batteries with sun, sand, and tropical drinks. Some people work out. Some people camp and hike. I would suggest, though, that we take a second to assess ourselves and make sure that we are taking care of ourselves routinely. Meditation is an excellent way to stay centered and focused.
For years my mom told me that I needed to meditate or at least take quiet time for myself. I brushed her off and coped in different ways. It wasn’t until I was sitting on the floor after work one day crying and feeling so far away from myself that I began to pursue meditation as a technique to come home to me. Now, my husband will sometimes look at me concerned and say, “Have you been meditating lately? You don’t seem like yourself.”
I hope you find something of use in this post that you can apply to your life- or even that it inspires you to research another form of self empowerment and fulfillment. If you want to chat about it or learn more about any of the practices that I do, please feel free to contact me through my website!
Dr. Joe Dispenza‘s webpage where you can see his books. I also recommend following him on Facebook!
Some tips on meditation for beginners. They broke this down a lot more succinctly than I could!
Bold Tranquility is a Yoga Nidra meditation designed for women. I have had many patients rave about her work!
Deepak Chopra‘s website for a 21 day meditation experience (I love just about everything he does…)
So many more resources are out there! What is your favorite meditation practice or resource?
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