In the future, I may be adding some my own guided meditations. Until then, here is my post from February 2015 with an introduction to meditation and a recommendation on my favorite beginner's guided meditation CD. At the end, I have also included a link to a loving kindness meditation technique that I have found to be very useful, as well as a few others for you to try. There are also links to some meditation apps for you to try. Enjoy!
Meditation 101 - The Beginner's Guide Blog Post from February 2015
In my post on Minding the Hot Mess, I mentioned how beneficial meditation has been to my life. It's an amazing tool for your toolbox. Do you currently have a mediation or mindfulness practice? If you do, that is totally awesome! I would love to hear about it in the comments below. If you are interested in starting a practice then this post is for you! I will follow up with future posts on different meditation techniques and benefits, but we'll cover some basic info on getting started here.
First of all, what are some reasons that you may have told yourself for why you aren't currently meditating? The answers I hear a lot in response to that question are the following:
I don’t have time - Meditating doesn't have to take a lot of time. Start with a small amount, say 5 minutes and see how that goes. Work it into your day and then as you can, increase the time by a few minutes.
I can’t sit still - Here again I would recommend starting off slow and working up to more time in meditation. A nice technique that I sometimes use to settle my body is to do several tense and release exercises to begin my meditation. I tense up my whole body tight for several seconds and then release and repeat this process over again several times.
I can’t stop mind from wandering and it's so boring - Meditation isn't about emptying the mind, it's about observing the mind and being present. If your mind wanders, you simply bring it back to your breath or to your mantra. Observing the actions of your mind means you are becoming more mindful. Guided meditations are also a great way to keep your mind from wandering and keep you from getting bored by giving you something to focus on.
Once you've decided that you want to commit to a meditation practice what are some things to consider? Let's talk about establishing a regular routine, exercise, location, sitting position, length, breath and prayer next.
Regularity - Set aside the same time or times each day for your meditation, if you can.
Exercise - If you have time, exercise a little before meditation. Yoga postures are excellent. The exercises one does before meditation, should calm, not excite the nervous system.
Location - Set aside a room, or small part of a room, just for meditation. Try to find as quiet a spot as possible that is uncluttered. Be sure the room is not stuffy and a bit on the cool side. Have a place to sit, and a small, simple altar or focal point, like pictures, flowers, candles. You will find that the vibrations of meditation will build here.
Sitting - A chair is fine, or a comfortable cross-legged position on the floor or on cushion(s). If you sit in a chair, try not to lean back. Whatever your position, keep your back straight, chest raised, head erect, eyes closed, and hands resting palms upturned, in your lap.
Length of time - Do not set unrealistic goals for yourself. Better to meditate 5-15 minutes and be very consistent about it, then increase your time as you can. One longer meditation each week is very helpful. Also, it helps to meditate with other people, especially people who have been meditating longer than you. The energy of a group meditation often helps you to meditate longer than you would ordinarily be able to on your own.
Prayer - Upon beginning your meditation, say a prayer either out loud, or in silence, to God, your spirit guides and/or Angels to protect you, to guide and to help you.
Breathe- Once you are situated, start out by doing a few minutes of breathing exercises. Breathe in a slow deep breath to the count of 5. Hold that breath for a count of 5. Exhale deeply to another count of 5. Repeat this several times.
I started out doing some short guided meditations. The guided meditations gave me something to focus on and helped me build my confidence with meditating. My first ones were 12-14 minutes in length. The shorter timeframe made it feel manageable...I knew I could carve out 12 minutes and I knew that I could sit still for 12 minutes. My favorite guided short meditation CD is called Meditations for Wellness-II Under the Waterfall by Graham LS Connolly. The CD can be purchased for $15 on the website http://www.tarrassaholistics.com/products_services.shtml.
Some people get hung up on the word meditation. Either because it sounds too challenging or because the origins of meditation feel conflicting to their religious beliefs. I would encourage you to call your practice whatever makes it work for you. A Roman Catholic priest I saw interviewed calls it his silence practice. You can call it your relaxation practice, your prayer time, your centering practice or your spiritual practice, whatever feels suited to you.
When meditating we are merging with our higher self and connecting to spirit. My friend Katherine once said, "life is a meditation." Always be present. Always be connected to God. Always be aware. Always be in prayer. Prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening to God.
Let me know if I can assist you further in getting started. Meditation is a way to heal yourself and our world.
This is an excerpt from my April 2015 post on self-love. It references a wonderful meditation called the Metta meditation that is a very easy and useful tool.
Another simple and yet powerful tool to help build not only self-love, but also love for others is called Metta meditation or loving kindness meditation. The loving kindness meditation is a simple repetition of the following phrases...May I be healthy and strong. May I be happy. May I be filled with ease...first directing them toward yourself, then toward someone you are thankful for, then toward someone you feel neutral about, then toward someone who is frustrating you, and then to the Universe as a whole. Repeating each as many times as you would like.
Here is a link for more detailed information on this loving kindness meditation technique.
Here is a link to a powerful mantra meditation for manifesting. This mantra is the only Kundalini mantra that comes with a warning. This is such a powerful and creative mantra that you must watch your thoughts and actions after you chant it. You will be in such a state of manifestation, that your thoughts will accelerate into being. Luckily, the energy within the mantra itself will help you switch your thoughts to the positive. It takes your own negative thought, stops it in its tracks and reverses it into positivity. This mantra makes the mind so powerful that it removes all obstacles. It is a sacred mantra that should be used with reverence. Enjoy!
I took a course taught by Mindful Life called Mindfulness in the Workplace, the following applications were recommended to assist with a meditation or mindfulness practice.
Recommended apps to help you practice mindful breathing:
1) The Mindfulness App: Guided & Silent Meditations to Relax. This app includes a range of guided and silent meditations from 3 to 30 minutes, as well as a library with meditations by some of the world’s foremost meditation teachers such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, Pema Chodron, Sharon Salzberg and many more (in partnership with Sounds True). In The Mindfulness App you will find: Get Started: a five day guided practice and introduction to mindfulness Guided and Silent (with bells only) Meditations from 3 to 30 minutes so that you can practice anytime, anyplace. Personalized Meditations allow you to customize your meditation with or without a guided introduction and bells. Time and location based reminders help you to be mindful throughout the day. Statistics to help keep track of your meditation journey. Newly designed Premium Library with guided meditations, courses and challenges by some of the world’s most influential teachers, all available through one-time or subscription purchase. Purchase now in the itunes store ($2.99)
2)The Stop, Breathe and Think app is a free mindfulness, meditation and compassion-building tool that is simple, fun and easy to use. Check in to how you are thinking and feeling, and select emotions that guide you to recommended meditations. “Here, the killer feature is the app asking you to check yourself before you start. It asks you how you’re feeling mentally, physically and emotionally before you begin. It then offers… meditations customized for your current state of mind.” -Lifehacker In the Stop Breath & Think App you will find: Self-meditation timer. Meditations to start and end your day. * A special meditation bundle by k.d. lang* * Available for purchase. All proceeds go to supporting the developer’s non-profit. Download now in the itunes store (free)
3) Meditation Timer, you can practice meditation anywhere and anytime, without worrying about the time. In the Stop Breath & Think App you will find: One Default meditation schedule and you can edit it. With prepare time, interval time and cool down time. Set unique sound for beginning, interval switching, ending and cool down end. Sounds play one, two or three times. Start, stop, restart or resume meditation. Hide the time. Create unlimited reminders to remind you practicing meditation. Download now in the itunes store (free)
4) Insight Timer Imagine the sound of beautiful Tibetan singing bowls, gently and peacefully guiding you through your meditation session. Your attention focused inward with no need to worry about the clock… If you’re new to meditation, you’ll find introductory guided meditations. And if you’re an experienced meditator, you’ll feel right at home with our beautiful Tibetan singing bowls and guided meditations by experienced teachers that you know and respect. In the Insight Timer app you will find: The most popular free meditation timer on the app 8 deeply peaceful bells recorded with the highest quality digital audio equipment making them crystal clear with extra long fade outs. 600 free guided meditations from your favorite teachers including Eckhart Tolle, Pak Merta Ada, Thich Nhat Hanh, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield and many more. 1,000+ discussion groups ranging from Buddhism to sleeping patterns and Rumi poems to addiction 2,000+ local meet-up groups for connecting with people locally and enhancing your meditation practice 8 different activities including meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, walking, breathing, chanting, prayer, and healing Stats, Milestones, and Journal entries. Download now in the itunes store (free)