Back to School - Meditation 101
In the 70’s – it was cool to meditate. Today, meditation looks kinda boring and like a useless waste of time in our high tech, over stimulated culture. But get out your beaded curtains folks, because meditation is in and trending upward in a new transformative society. Hey, these celebs are doing it:
- · Oprah – Ok, so not very surprising
- · Russell Brand
- · Ellen DeGeneres
- · Hugh Jackman – who claims meditation helped him overcome his OCD
- · Paul McCartney – Also pretty obvious
- · Eva Mendes
- · Mick Jagger
- · Bruce Lee
- · George Lucus – duh… Yoda!
- · Sheryl Crow
- · Orlando Bloom
- · Sting
These guys seems pretty together, right? What do they know we don’t? Give me your ear (or eyes in this case) and hopefully I can convert you so will want to be signing up for yogi master class. Don’t knock it until you try it, and I mean really try it.
Meditation can be about as airy fairy as you imagined it might be, but it can also be a megablast of practical stress relief, relaxation, and improved mood, plus much more. The benefits just continue to grow. These are the verifiable, proven benefits:
- · Reduces anxiety attacks as it lowers the levels of blood lactate
- · Builds self confidence
- · Increases serotonin which influences moods and behaviour. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, headaches and insomnia
- · Enhances energy, strength and vigor
- · Helps keep blood pressure normal
- · Reduces stress, tension & fatigue
- · Creates a state of deep relaxation and general feeling of wellbeing
- · Helps with Pre Menstrual Tension
- · Increases concentration and strengthens the mind
- · Helps reduce heart disease
Here are some other known benefits:
- · Improved state of mind
- · Improved sleep
- · Enhanced peaceful countenance
- · Increased control of anger, irritation, annoyance, negative thinking
- · Improved view of yourself
- · Enhanced brain function, imagination and intuitiveness
- · Increased connection to spirituality
So, what are you waiting for? If you’re not sure how to get started, below are a few of the top mediation techniques. Then I’ll share how, after trying many different practices, I practice meditation. But first a few general tips:
There is no correct way to meditate, or I guess I should say whatever way you like is the correct way. Wear comfy clothes and sit upright (or you will fall asleep) while meditating. Sit in a chair, forward on the edge of your couch or on a comfy pillow on the floor with your legs crossed. Pick a quiet setting or environment that has no distractions. Phone off, dogs out, TV off. You can use music if you want, I do, but many like it quiet. If you do use music, pick something soothing and I recommend staying away from music with lyrics. You should meditate for no less that 15 minutes, but I highly encourage more time if you can. Twice a day is optimum, but at least once a day. Mornings work best for me – it kind of prepares my day for me. But meditation can be done at any time for any length of time, including a 5 minute meditation after a particularly challenging moment in your day. I find meditation most powerful with my eyes closed, but many leave their eyes open looking slightly down, (Zen method).
Mindfulness (aka Vipassana) – This is the most popular method for people that “claim” to meditate. The focus is on allowing thoughts to come and go without being attached to them, also known as choice less awareness. Vipassana means seeing in various ways, so vipassana practitioners focus their minds on turning off the noise in your head and becoming deeply aware of what is happening in the here and now.
Guided Meditation – This meditation style (sometimes done lying down), uses a guide (usually with a guided meditation CD) that guides the meditation practitioner to move energy through the body, or takes the meditator on a magical quest type visualization, or through to deep relaxation and breathing.
TM – (Transcendental Meditation – Totally cool 60’s Meditation) – TM focuses on a secret mantra (or one or two word saying) that you repeat over again. The mantra functions to focus your mind on a single idea, representing the "oneness" of the universe. Assume an accepting attitude while repeating your mantra and when distracting thoughts occurs, simply observe and let go to return to your mantra.
ZaZen or just plain Zen – This is a “sitting” meditation, meaning you sit for a loooooonnnnng time while doing it. True Zen meditation is usually some pretty serious stuff. Zen can include long meditation sessions and serious control of your body and breathing. Zen many times focuses meditation with a specific question, called a Koan, which the meditation practitioner contemplates during meditation. Zen often closes the mind of all thought to either explore the deeper self or to contemplate a Koan.
Qi Gong, Tai Chi & walking meditation – These forms of meditation are moving meditations, moving energy through the body. These meditations are practiced with gentle movement combined with focus on body and/or universal energy.
Joleen’s Meditation – Using inspiring and very zenny music, I plop on headphones, get comfy sitting on a pillow (I get my backside up higher so that there is less pressure on my crossed feet in front), and begin a big chill. I start by focusing on my breathing while beginning to drop my thoughts and my surroundings. I literally try and feel weightless and bodiless while turning my focus inwards. If I get distracted with thoughts, I return to focus to my breathing or I say “here”. I sometimes do this meditation without music, but I really enjoy using the music and I simply just let myself flow with the music, like liquid. I experience the emptiness and the fullness or if I am bothered by a certain emotion, like irritation or lack, I focus on filling myself and my surroundings with peace and abundance. Ommmm.
Joleen’s Meditation 2 – I also do a meditation at night before going to sleep. I begin by just relaxing and focusing on my breathing and letting thoughts drop out. My yoga teacher uses the phrase “let your bones drop” and I love this because it reminds me to totally let go and relax my entire body. I then follow a visualization of my choice in my mind, much like watching a little Joleen made movie. This is an effective visualization technique for manifestation, healing, self improvement, or any type of visualization you want to engage in. Just be there with the visualization. Feel the feelings you might feel in your “movie” and allow the emotions to flow into the session as well. Super fun!
Ok, so there you have it. What’s not to love? I have really only touched the surface about meditation and various techniques, but as you begin to start a meditation practice, I encourage you to try many methods and keep adding new techniques until you find your perfect fit. The point of it all is this – TAKE THIS TIME FOR YOURSELF. You can not even begin to know what you will find, unless you start.
I have had amazing experiences meditating, besides being a recipient of many of the health benefits that I mentioned earlier. I have experienced healing, had experiences that I felt overwhelming peace and joy and I almost always leave my meditation feeling refreshed, peaceful and relaxed. A couple of times I have began weeping for no reason (that was weird but cool), felt like I was flying, swimming, floating and walking on water. Also - pretty cool.
What will you experience? Not only will you realize health benefits from meditation but I’m betting you will have loads of stories to share with your new meditation buddies. I challenge anyone that has not tried meditation to try it in earnest for 2 weeks and if you still don’t get it or find it useful, contact me. I would really love to hear your reasons why.
Enjoy, relax, buy a new cool yogi outfit just to get in the spirit.
Joleen Halloran is the author of under the pseudo name of Joleen Bridges. This book represents over 10 years of research and inspiration in personal and spiritual empowerment and provides readers with a pathway to overcome limits and discover authentic divine qualities in their lives and to live a life of unbounded freedom. . Finding Home - Breaking Free from Limits
Additionally Joleen is the owner of ZoomIT Marketing, a social media and internet marketing coaching and training company. Joleen's business background includes extensive experience in project management, leadership, specializing in motivational techniques and corporate culture.
Beyond Joleen's professional life, she is an avid reader and researcher of books and other materials related to her profession, but also to her special passion, which is metaphysical and spirituality topics. You can find out more about Joleen's book at her books website, www.breakingfreefromlimits.com. Additional articles of a spiritual and inspirational nature can be found at the book's website as well. The book is available for purchase at Amazon and at a discounted price directly from the books website.
Shows how to use meditation as part of your daily practice for self fulfillment and empowerment. Several meditation techniques described.
Great book on meditation from beginner to expert. Full of ideas and inspiration.
Classic! Excellent western view on ZaZen from American Zen Master. Very interesting book.
Another great classic from a Western meditation master. This book is targeting beginners but helpful to all levels of meditation practitioners for the "insight" meditation style.