Unique Ways To Meditate Every Day Part I
I thought I would put together a quick series and give you three different types of meditation to try each week.
Meditation has been used for centuries to help with a variety of health issues ranging from reducing stress, anxiety and panic attacks, but it has also been used to increase immunity, help with cancer treatments and even make us smarter humans.
Sometimes meditation is misunderstood in the sense that it doesn’t require you to join a religion, follow a guru, or even sit in a specific way in order to gain the benefits. If creating an hour in your schedule to sit on a cushion doesn’t seem realistic to you, there are many quick and easy ways to sneak in a little meditation every day. See which one resonates with you and try it out.
Standing Meditation: Standing meditation has been used to help relieve low back pain and at the same time helps you tune into a deeper layer of release. When beginning to meditate begin with a very short period of time. Starting with three to five minutes a day is a great way to get started without feeling the pressure of being a “newbie” to meditation. This is an easy form of meditation that you can do in your office, in a park, at home or even in a bathroom stall if you are not able to find a private space.
Stand in a comfortable position with your back straight and feet pointing forward, only shoulder width apart, knees soft and arms relaxed by your side. Don’t slouch, but relax the shoulders and roll them back imagining a string pulling you from the sternum. Close your eyes and gently let your chin fall to your chest naturally.
After getting settled into this position, scan your body for any areas that are tense or stressed out and bring awareness to that part of your body. Take a deep inhale and count to four, hold this breath for a count of two and exhale for a count of four releasing the tension in each part of the body that is stressed. Focus on one part of the body at a time and when you feel that area release or relax move on to the next area in your body that is stressed or tense. Only focus on your breath and the area of your body you want to relax.
If your mind wanders to the meeting you have in two hours, just bring it back to your breath. This may happen a lot when you first start meditation, but the more you bring it back to your breath the easier it gets to do each time you meditate. Repeat the breath and focus on specific body areas that need to be released until either they are all released or you run out of time.
If you only have five minutes in your day, that is fine too. See how much you can relax in that time frame. You will see that each time you do this, it does become easier and the release comes quicker each time.
Walking Meditation uses the experience of walking as the focus in this meditation. It is best to find a parking lot, park or trail to really get full use of this method. While moving slowly and continuously you stay aware of your body and mind. Become mindful of your experience while walking and stay aware of the sights, sounds and smells as well as how your body feels and reacts to the movement. In walking meditation you do not withdraw your attention from the outside like you do in a seated meditation. You are aware of objects that may be in your path, the street lights, signs or the curve of the path if on a trail.
When you body is in motion it is easier to become more aware of it as the sensations in your body become obvious which can make walking meditation a pretty intense experience. First you stand and become aware of your weight being transferred into your soles and how it grounds you. Become aware of all the small movements it takes to keep you balanced and upright. Don’t take this for granted. Instead, cherish your ability to stay balanced. Focus on your feet and the whole foot, not just the heel of the foot or the ball of the foot, but all four corners of the foot.
Start with walking at a fairly slow, but normal pace. If you are a fast walker, like me, this may take a moment for you to realize you are not on a walk for exercise of the body, but to exercise the mind and soul, so slow down and savor the slower pace. Become aware of all the joints and all your muscles in your body and relax them. Notice how your spine moves with your pace, how your belly moves and feels with this pace. Notice your arms and shoulders and become aware if they are tense or relaxed. Become aware of your breath and if it is slower. Loosen your neck and jaw and play with tipping your chin to your chest and then each ear to their shoulders. Now keep walking, but slow down your pace even more.
Next you will want to really take notice of your feelings and emotions. Are you happy, irritated, bored or frustrated? Notice the emotions that surface and then notice if your mind is clear or is it fuzzy? Is your mind racing or is it calm? Has your mind wandered to something other than your body and walking? Just notice these things, but don’t judge yourself, just notice. Now notice the balance between your inner and outer experience. When you are aware of both the inner and outer experience in equal balance, your mind will settle and there will be stillness and clarity.
T’ai Chi is an ancient wellness practice that has been used for centuries in China to help align the “chi” energy that runs through the body and mind. In traditional Chinese medicine, illness or pain happens when there is a blockage in our chi energy. The practice of T’ai Chi, which looks like slow motion dancing, will realign the body’s chi.
This moving meditation has shown to increase your immunity, decrease inflammation in the body as well a increase your memory and even brain size. It has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of fibromyalgia, arthritis, digestion issues as well as anxiety and depression.
There are T'ai Chi classes in most major cities including local recreation centers. You can also find YouTube videos or stream classes on line.
Have you tried a standing or walking meditation before? Even taking a leisurely walk in the park is considered walking meditation. How did you feel after taking that walk?
Have you tried T’ai Chi? What did you feel in your mind and body after taking a class?
Try one of these methods this week when a stressful moment hits or you know you need a quick break in your day.