I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I also hope you took some time for yourself to re-focus and relax. If you haven't - no worries, you still can! Last week I gave you an introduction to meditation, (if you haven't had a chance to read it yet, just go back in the blog) so this the the follow-up. Yes, you're already graduating to the next level!
Here a little re-cap on what meditation is even good for? LOTS of things. I can ease stress, promote physical health, combat chronic pain, facilitate sleep, promote happiness, and be more present overall. Amazing, right? It's also a tool in many ways. It can help you work through difficult decisions and bring you more in touch with your true self. If nothing else, it can help you take a mindful moment in the day to breathe. 1 minute, 5 minutes, a half hour - you are the boss!
So here we go! The next 3 tips:
Counting Your Breath
If you are having difficulties settling, you can try counting your breath – which is an ancient meditation practice. There are different ways of doing this. The more "traditional" way is to count each exhale. If you stray or your thoughts are getting away from you, just start back at "one", it's not a contest! Don't look back, just forward. The other option is if you just need your breath to settle you in. Count the seconds of inhaling and exhaling to slowly deepen your breath. Example: Inhale "1, 2, 3, 4" - Pause - Exhale "1, 2, 3, 4" and increase the seconds as long as you're comfortable. Try and take deep, long breaths that fill you completely, and then exhale completely.
When you notice thoughts, gently let them go by returning yous focus to the breath. Don’t try to stop thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated. Imagine that they are unwelcome visitors at your door: acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to leave. Then shine the soft light of your attention on your breath.
It’s difficult to settle into meditation if you are struggling with strong emotions since some emotions will trigger stories in the mind. Especially anger, shame or fear create repetitive stories that will distract you from a peaceful meditation. Anger and shame make us look into the past at events that no longer matter but still hold power over us. Fear looks at the future with stories that start with, “What if…” The way to deal with strong emotions in meditation is to focus on how their feel in your body. For example, this could be the tight band of fear around the chest or the hot roiling of anger in the belly. Let go of the stories and refocus on your body. This way you are honoring your emotions but not becoming entangled in the stories.