The Benefits Of Meditation PLUS A Beginners Guide
Are you ready to drop to your butt and om?
Hopefully that is a big yes.
On the other hand, if you are feeling a little hesitation about the whole meditating thing I would like to assure you it's perfectly normal to feel awkward when you first start meditating.
“With every breath, the old moment is lost; a new moment arrives. We exhale and we let go of the old moment. It is lost to us. In doing so, we let go of the person we used to be. We inhale and breathe in the moment that is becoming. In doing so, we welcome the person we are becoming. We repeat the process. This is meditation. This is renewal. This is life.” – Lama Surya Das
I also have to say - one of the benefits of meditating is glowing skin. That's right, you heard me right! The breathe work during meditation works wonders at oxygenating the blood and feeding nourishment through the body including the skin.
You don’t have to be an instant guru to benefit from meditation. Thoughts will come and go throughout your meditation. Instead of getting frustrated, try to let them pass. Unfortunately for us humans we where born with busy little monkey minds that love to talk to us non-stop.
Meditation is a great tool for hushing that busy monkey mind PLUS it comes with an abundance of benefits for mind, body and spirit.
Over the past several years, meditation has come fully into the mainstream. There are loads of articles, apps and YouTube clips all dedicated to helping people meditate.
And yet, despite its rising popularity and proven health benefits so many people still resist the practice. A few common excuses for not meditating are, “I don’t have time,” “I can’t sit still,” "I just fall asleep," and “Meditation is for hippies.”
“Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realising that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves.”
Does this sound familiar? If so, then this challenge is here to remind you that Meditation is for everyone! It doesn’t have to take much time or effort, and everyone can sit still. Even if it’s just for a minute.
Truth is - meditation is fun and accessible for everyone.
Meditation Benefits And The Reasons Why You Should Meditate Today
It’s easy. You don’t have to spend years living in the mountains to achieve enlightenment. You don’t have to give up anything or spend weeks in silence. You don’t have to learn mantras or wear special clothes or even try to clear your mind. Meditation is about being united with yourself. It is a unique journey that your soul and mind go on. You can meditate absolutely everywhere. Choose to live your daily life as an ongoing meditation – its starts with self-awareness. Start by allocating a few short moments to just taking mindful breaths and bringing your attention to the ‘here and now’. The more you do this, the more natural it will become to breathe deeply and live mindfully, eventually you will be living every moment in a state of mindful meditation.
It’s free. You can drop and Om anywhere. You don’t need designer rooms and fancy studios, you just need yourself and a little space. You can meditate anywhere – in a quiet room or on a noisy bus; at the beach or while watching a movie. Meditation is just about mindful breathes and being aware of the present moment.
You get results. You will feel the difference from the first time you meditate. You will feel more calm, inspired and connected. Overtime you will want to advance your practice, so the great thing about meditation is that there is always something new to learn.
You create your own meditation rules. You meditate and discover at your own pace. You don’t have to keep up with others, or feel pressured into doing things your not comfortable with. You are your own teacher, your own light, your own wisdom. Just by going with the flow and letting your inner guidance guide you through meditation, you will empower yourself. Everything that you need to meditate is ultimately already within you.
It makes sense. All the wisdom you need resides within you. If you meditate you will find the answers in the same place that you found the questions. You no longer need to rely on the outside world for your answers, because you hold the key to your answers when you meditate.
You will feel amazing. Without fail, every time you sit down to meditate you will feel better. Whether you manage to have a deep meditation or not makes no difference. There will be more laughter, joy and contentment in your life, and your friends and family will reap the benefits.
It is good for your health. Meditation has been proven to decrease stress and anxiety. Research has shown that 20 minutes of meditation per day can increase your immune system and fight inflammation and disease in the body.
Increase your mental clarity. By spending a little time each day dropping all the clutter in the mind and replacing it with a little space brings with it great rewards. You will feel refreshed, energised and your mind will become razor sharp.
You will sleep better. Meditation works wonders at calming the frenzied body and mind that often keeps us awake at night.
Meditation Is A Tool For Finding Your Own Answers
Many of us search for our answers outside ourselves; we hope to have the answers revealed to us through asking friends, family members or therapists. We seek the mystical powers of fortune tellers, or we read books and listen to songs in hope of it unlocking the answers within our heart.
However; in all this seeking you need to first start with yourself and meditation. Meditation sends you looking inside yourself for enlightenment. There’s no need to search outside yourself for the answers; you can find the answers in the same place that you found the questions.
Seeking answers through others will never be the correct answer for you, the right answer for you must come from within.
By all means, use other people’s opinions as tools, they are reflection tools, tools that will open up your mind and give you a broader perspective, but they are not your answer. The answer lies in your own little heart, you just need to know how to unlock that key, and all the answers you seek will be yours.
The Basics Of Meditation
Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington attribute their accomplishments to their daily meditation practices. You only need to do 20 minutes of meditation every day to reap the benefits. To get you started lets first look at the various types of meditations available to you and then follow it up with a simple mindful meditation.
Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness meditation is based on stillness and calming the mind. Its about connecting with the here and now. Mindfulness meditation often involves sitting or laying comfortably and paying attention to your breath, your physical sensations and your environment. When your mind wanders, you gently bring it back to the present. Mindfulness meditations are great for experiencing the beauty in the here and now. They are certainly one of my favourites.
Kundalini Meditation: Kundalini is becoming extremely popular, during the meditation you use mantras, breath work, mudras (hand positions) and even physical movements. A mantra is a word or sound that you repeat throughout a meditation to help calm your body and bring focus to the mind. If you are someone that can't turn off your busy little monkey mind - no matter how hard you try - mantras can be a great help for you as they give you something simple to focus on. Your mantra can be any positive word that resonates with you, some simple mantras include "I am love" "I am courage" "I am divine light". My personal favourite is 'Om', this mantra is the sound vibration of god and all creation.
Transcendental Meditation: Transcendental Meditation is growing fast. It is often referred to as TM and can't be self taught. To practice the authentic version of TM you sign up with a teacher and they teach you the technique. There is very little to be found about the technique on the internet. The basics of Transcendental Meditation is that you you sit for 20 minutes twice a day and recite a unique mantra. This mantra is given to you by your teacher. It's a unique mantra created especially for you which is designed to deepen your connection to your own true nature.
Transcendental Meditation allows your body to settle into a deep state of relaxation and clears space for your mind to reach a state of inner peace.
Kindness Meditation: This is one of my all time favourite meditations. It stems from buddhist culture. The idea of the meditation is to breath healing light and love into all darkness and suffering. You focus on something that needs love and light - it can be your own pain, the pain of a friend or the collective pain of a world issue [think animal cruelty, homelessness, child labour, domestic violence, families effected by tragedy and so forth]. To practice this meditation on the inhale you breathe in the pain and suffering and on the exhale you send healing love and light. This can be difficult for some people as it does require you to feel a little pain when you are breathing in the suffering - however after a few minutes the pain turns to love. This has been proven to have a profound effect on cultivating world peace. Read this article on 3 scientific reasons to meditate for world peace.
Guided Meditations: These type of meditations are super easy and great for the beginner. During the meditation you are guided by the teacher and these types of meditations give your mind something to focus on, making it extremely helpful for slowing down the busy monkey mind. There are an abundance of free guided meditations on the internet and YouTube. A great free resource is Deepak Chopra + Oprah's 21 Day Free Meditation Course or you could do a few of my free guided meditations here >>>
These are just a handful of the different types of meditations. Experiment with a few until you find a couple that you love. For the purpose of today we are going to start with the basics of a mindful meditation. Light a candle, grab a pillow and throw on some comfortable clothing.
- Sit or lay in a comfortable position: Choose whether you are going to sit on a chair, sit cross-legged on the floor or lay down in a comfortable position. Use the pillow to get yourself comfortable. Whatever position you choose make sure that your spine is straight. If your spine is compressed your mind will drift. Mind and body are intertwined. If your body is well-balanced, your mind will also be in balance. To straighten up your spine, imagine that you have a piece of rope attached to your head and someone is pulling at it.
- Soften your gaze: Ideally you should keep your eyes open, however if this causes your mind to wander to much then gently close them. Open eyes allow you to be more present. Soften your gaze by not associating with and labelling objects that you see - ideally you want to look at objects and have no thoughts. A great tool to help you soften your gaze is to focus on the flame of a burning candle. Just experiment to find what feels best for you.
- Focus on the here and now: Our busy chattering minds cause us to hardly ever be present. For example, sometimes we drive the car on autopilot while being preoccupied with thoughts. Suddenly we arrive at our destination and don’t remember anything about the drive! Meditation is a wonderful tool for getting you in the here and now. Bring your awareness to your breathe and as you connect with your breathe pay soft attention to whatever is going on around you. Notice the soft sounds of the cars outside, the birds chirping, the colour of the sky and so forth [initially some of these sounds may not be so soft - but just go with it]. Your focus should be soft not concentrated. Eventually throughout the meditation these sounds and sights will soften as you become one with what is going on around you.
- Connect with your breath: Paying attention to the breath is a great way to anchor yourself in the present moment. Gently breathe in through your nose and in your own timing breathe out through your nose. Notice the rise and fall of your stomach as your breath streams in and out. There’s no need to regulate the breath – just let it be natural.
- Become an observer of you thoughts: When you notice thoughts, gently let them go by returning your focus to the breath. Don’t try to stop your thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated. Detach from your thoughts by imagining you are simply an observer to your thoughts, they hold no importance to you whatsoever. They are simply thoughts that come and go.
- Bring your awareness to your emotions: It’s difficult to settle into meditation if you are struggling with strong emotions. This is because some emotions tend to spark stories within our own headspace. Emotions like anger, shame, regret and fear causes us to feel uncomfortable, to deal with this uncertainty the ego likes to create elaborate stories that repeat over and over in our minds. This state of mind causes us to either future trip or rehash on past mistakes, it causes tension in the mind and body and does not serve us in any way. The way to deal with un-welcomed emotions in meditation is to focus on how the body feels when the emotions arise. For example, this could be a tight band of fear around the chest or a burning fire of anger in the belly. To let it go you first need to feel the physical sensation in the body, then move on to accepting the sensation and taking full responsibility for it, then forgive it and thank it for what it has taught you and then finally drop all attachment and judgement to the emotion and simply release it.
- Sit in silence: Silence is healing. When we sit in silence we get to experience the true nature of ourselves. Wisdom, love and acceptance rises from within when we spend time sitting in silence. With practice the outside world and the inside world collide peacefully - it is then in this exact moment that our own inner peace and contentment arises.
- The perfect timing: When meditating start with 10 minutes and only continue if you feel that you need more time. Don’t force yourself to meditate longer if you are not ready to do that. Over time you will start to reap the benefits of meditation and chance are you will naturally evolve your sessions to 20-25 minutes. Most importantly drop any ‘shoulds’ and do what feels right for you. Some people thrive on an hour of meditation a day and others find just ten minutes a day to be enough.
- Create your space: Something nice to do for yourself is to create a mindful space in your home that is quiet, uncluttered and tranquil - a sacred space dedicated to meditation. If space is tight or you travel a lot, no problem! Meditation can be done anywhere. You can meditate on the plane, sitting on a park bench, at your desk, in the bathtub and even on your daily commute to work. If you are able to create a sacred space then fill it with things that hold energy value to. Some old fashioned favourites include crystals, photos, stones, flowers, essential oils, seashells, plants, artwork, yoga mats, mala beads, water fountains and prayer cards. Most importantly keep your space uncluttered and choose wisely what you bring into it.
- Enjoy "just being": Most of all, it’s important to enjoy the experience meditation. Relax your body, soften your face, detach from your thoughts and enjoy connecting to the "true you" that finds peace in the current moment. You may even find that you enjoy it so much that you break a little smile throughout the process.