Let's take the woo woo out of meditation!
Personally, I have been on my journey to freedom from the mind for about 15 years now and despite meditations growing popularity, there is still some magical secrecy about what meditation really is.
Let’s remove the Woo Woo to give you the opportunity to experience the freedom that meditation truly brings!
Even though I have been doing meditation in many different forms for many years, I have recently completed my studies through The Australian Centre for Holistic Studies to become an official registered meditation teacher. This piece of paper will enable me to get insurance to cover myself and any attendees during meditation classes. This course, however, has changed the course of my life path. It has provided me with an in-depth discovery into the art form of meditation and how to hold sacred space for others to discover their true nature in a fully supportive and nurturing environment that is full of unconditional love and acceptance for all experiences that arise as an opportunity for growth, for all.
What is Meditation?
The definition of meditation as per Wikipedia is as follows:
Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
Meditation has been practiced since antiquity in numerous religious traditions and beliefs, often as part of the path towards enlightenment and self realization. Since the 19th century, it has spread from its origins to other cultures where it is commonly practiced in private and business life.
Meditation may be used with the aim of reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and increasing peace, perception, self-concept, and well-being. Meditation is under research to define its possible health (psychological, neurological, and cardiovascular) and other effects.
According to the Health Direct:
Meditation is a type of mind–body or relaxation therapy.
During meditation, you concentrate your mind on one particular thing, such as your breathing, sounds, body movements and feelings or a mantra (chant).
This helps train your mind to stay focused and peaceful during times of stress or anxiousness.
What are the Health Benefits?
Meditation has both physical and mental health benefits. It can help you manage the symptoms of many health conditions, including:
high blood pressure
Meditation can also have benefits for your mental health including helping to:
Can this really be true?
In short, yes absolutely. Meditation teaches you the tools you can use during your everyday life to achieve and hold onto a more mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Most people are completely unaware how much chatter is going on in the background of their mind, moment to moment.
Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why? Have you ever reached a destination with little or no memory of the trip there? Do you obsess for hours or days on end about something that offended you, or made you mad, or upset you? Do you live that moment over and over again in your mind? Do you daydream often?
This is the mind taking you on a journey, distracting you from exactly what is happening right here, right now. Are you still reading this? Or have you been distracted by the mind and thinking of something else?
STICK WITH ME HERE, FOR JUST A FEW MORE MOMENTS 😊
Meditation Types and How They Can Help
Loving-kindness meditation is also known as Metta meditation. Its goal is to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness toward everything, even a person's enemies and sources of stress.
Many meditations involve repeating key phrases or single words inviting desired aspects further into our lives.
Loving-kindness specifically involves sending messages of love and kindness to ourselves, then loved ones, then a person or situation that you may be having difficulties with and then the whole world.
Simple phrases are the easiest to remember, and repetition and sending love and compassion is key. One I use often is:
May I be healthy.
May I be kind.
May I be peaceful.
May I feel loved.
Then the words slightly change when sending to others:
May you be healthy.
May you receive kindness.
May you feel peaceful.
May you feel loved.
Generally, I repeat each phrase group 3 or 5 times each depending on how much time I have, or if I’m using it while in a situation where I am affected by anger, frustration, resentment or interpersonal conflict.
Body Scan or Relaxation Meditations:
Both of these meditation styles involve tuning into your body, slowly scanning through each body area including sensing into bones, muscles and organs, usually starting at the feet and working your way up through the body.
The difference between the two is when partaking in a body scan, the goal is to observe each area of your body, observing sensations, tension, coolness, warmth, etc and allowing these sensations to remain as they are, eventually leading into fully body observation, allowing your awareness to float between points of sensation or no sensation. This kind of technique can be used as a stand-alone practice and is often utilized as part of undertaking meditations that require you to be more present. For example: loving-kindness, sound or movement meditations.
Relaxation is similar in style, as in the body scan you will slowly bring your awareness to each body part, observing any sensations present and inviting each part, the muscles or any tension, to relax and release, before progressing onto the next body zone.
This meditation style involves focusing upon your breath, following the breath all the way in and then all the way out, noticing the temperature, the sensation and the expansion and contraction in the stomach and lungs.
Some research states that you cannot focus on your breath and think at the same time, so this meditation technique can offer useful skills for daily use in everyday life. The technique involves becoming aware when a thought arises, observing without judgement that you have had a thought arise and then turning your attention back to your breath, encouraging you to let go of what has been and what will be, giving you freedom and joy to explore all that is present in each moment of now, allowing you to be fully present in each moment.
There are many forms of visualisation meditation, however most commonly guide the participants to a place of peace, including to the beach or a forest. This meditation style often is prefaced by a relaxation technique, allowing for participants to fully relax and be guided to the peaceful, relaxing place of choice, using descriptions of the destination as a distraction for the mind and encouraging release through exploration.
Ready to get Started
There is no need to overwhelm yourself when getting started, the most important thing is to get started. Following is some guidance for a basic meditation for beginners, simply focusing on the breath for 5-10 minutes a day.
Make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes and in a comfortable and quite spot where you won’t be disturbed for 5-15 minutes, if you find you are strapped for time, you can even do this in the shower in the mornings before work.
The technique involves focusing on your breath, following your breath all the way in, feeling the sensation of the air as it passes through your nose, maybe noticing the temperature of the air on the back of your throat and the expansion of your lungs and stomach region, even placing your hand upon your chest area so you are also able to feel the sensation, and then observing your breath as it leaves your body, the contraction of your chest and stomach, perhaps the warmth and the sensation of your breath on your lips or nose as you fully breath out.
At any time, you find yourself thinking, simply return your focus to your breathing, no judgement, gently focusing again on your breath.
Thank you for reading and I wish you a blessed meditation journey for the future.
Namaste – Kristy Russell
To check out some of Kristy's beautiful guided meditations, check her out on YouTube!