When life is happening and we are in the thick of it, it can be hard to take those moments to relax, reflect on the day, or have a moment of pause.
Here are a few tips taken from my latest workshop on Meditation and Mindfulness. Start small - 5 minutes, adding more time when you are ready.
Meditation is a way that we center the mind by using techniques to bring our awareness to a one point of focus. Check out these easy ways to connect:
Focus your attention to the breath flowing in and out of your nose. Notice the sensation of the cool air flowing in as you inhale, and notice the warm air flowing out on the exhale. Bring your attention to that one thing. Start with 5 minutes, adding more time when you are ready. Observe and reflect.
Visualization of a calming scene in your mind:
Choose / create an image in your mind to bring your focus to. It could be a place you have been before, the ocean and horizon, a sunrise, a deep rich forest, or a safe place like your home. Take your awareness to that image and stay there. Notice the colours, the way the scene makes you feel. When you are ready come back into the space you started. Notice how you feel.
Candle Gazing (Tratak)
Find a comfortable seat on the floor or in a chair. Light a candle and place it 2 feet in front of your gaze (on the floor/table) Soften your gaze, and observe the flame. Watch how it moves, and flickers, how it is still. Notice how bright the flame is. This technique is known to have many benefits including: improved concentration, balances both sides of the brain, improves memory, attention, and awareness.
Many people wear these beads around their neck or wrapped around their wrists. Longer Malas traditionally have 108 beads.
Find a comfortable seat. Hold the beads in your hand, and focus your awareness on an intention. This is often a mantra / repeated word that you would like to bring your awareness for that meditation practice (ie: compassion, peace, softness, acceptance, om, or a sanskrit mantra you may know) Hold each bead, saying the word in your head or out loud. Roll the beads with your thumb and pointer finger so that you have time focusing on the word, while you hold each bead until you come back to the place you started. Sit quietly, and observe, or repeat another round.
Mindfulness is a practice of being in the present moment, and recognizing what is in the here and now. What feelings, sensations, aversions, or labels are showing up. For example, mindfulness allows us to recognize that anxiety may be present. It also brings us into the awareness that the aversion to the feeling of anxiety brings more of the same/suffering. Mindfulness helps us to have compassion and some understanding for what is in the here and now. Take a few minutes to practice allowing what is, without needing to push certain feelings away.
Simple Observation - Find a comfortable seat, on the floor or in a chair. Observe your breath, the air on your skin, the sounds you hear, where you may be feeling discomfort in your body, and where you may be feeling comfortable in your body. Take a moment to notice, without needing to label things as good or bad. Just notice and observe. Observe how the mind wants to respond, and allow for compassion and softness to come into the experience. Recognize how compassion can be a more useful and supportive response to some of the ways the mind wants to think or respond to what you may observe.
The great thing about mindfulness is that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime. We can be mindful and observe while we are driving in the car, walking in the park, in conversation, in meditation or in thought. Mindfulness is supported by meditation practice, but it is not limited to periods of formal practice.
I hope this has given you a few (of many) tools about meditation and mindfulness that may help you navigate some of those tricky and joyful times in your life.