This year, I am trying to focus more on self-care and not let winter get me (too) down. Part of my journey to yoga practice and yoga teaching was meditation. I never really got into meditation because it requires a level of patience and persistence my hyper-nervous monkey brain lacks (le sigh).
That is, until one night last December, lying in bed feeling restless and fussy (as per usual), I paused my flopping and took three deep breaths. As I inhaled, my chest rose and ribs expanded and I felt a rush in my forehead; as I exhaled, my belly flattened toward my spine and I felt light and refreshed. After years of practice and teaching yoga, I had finally found my own breath and realized its power to calm, restore, and center. I slept.
Did I meditate? Peut-être, peut-être pas. While meditating may enable us to access a higher plane and touch the vibrational frequency of our lives, for beginners like me, a mini breakthrough of deep breathing was a powerful and rewarding experience. C’est magnifique!
Mediating is an accessible way to center yourself, come into the present moment, and consider the big picture. It can also be really hard because it is difficult to sit still, not fidget, and focus on doing just one thing: nothing. Or, rather, relaxing and breathing, ignoring your to-do list and Netflix queue.
Even for a few minutes a day, meditating has innumerable benefits, including lowering your heart rate. If you are interested in exploring a mediation practice, consider the following beginner meditations. First, find a quiet, comfortable place to settle down and sit still with your eyes closed, whether at work or at home. Then experiment and have fun!
5 Easy Meditations for Relaxation
1. Counting.Count backwards from 100, restarting every time you lose track. Don’t attach to forgetting your place; simply start over and keep counting down. Remember, there is no right or wrong; it’s all mediating!
2. Visualization. Concentrate on a single face, place, color, etc. Allow your mind to clear and focus on a single image. Your partner’s face. A peaceful green field. A cookie. You get the idea.
3. Mantra. Develop a personal mantra, such as, “I am grateful for . . . .” As the Buddha said, “Better than a thousand hollow words, is the word that brings peace.” Silently repeat your mantra and allow your mind to clear and focus on a single phrase.
I used to find myself unconsciously humming “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie. After finishing my yoga personal training certification, I landed on, “I know more than I think I do.” During the pandemic, I channel the Bill Murray classic comedy, What About Bob: “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful.”
4. Square Breathing. Practice yoga breathing, or pranayama (the Sanskrit word for “life force” or “breath”). Inhale and exhale through your nostrils only, cultivating your deep ujjayi (victory) breath. Let the air drag over the back of your throat to create a low, ocean-like sound on the inhale and exhale. Once you’re warmed up, segue into square breathing: Inhale for four counts, hold for two, and exhale for four. Repeat for two to three minutes.
5. Alternate Nostril Breathing. Keep at your ujjayi (victory) breath and incorporate alternative nostril breathing into your pranayama practice. Close your left nostril with your right ring finger. Inhale for four counts (through the right nostril only), hold for two (close right nostril with thumb), and exhale for four (through the left nostril only). Repeat for two to three minutes.
When teaching, I incorporated a few minutes of mediation into each of my yoga classes and guided my students through various forms of each of the practices above. After the final exhale, as the students gently blink their eyes open and come back into the room, I pause for a moment to notice their peaceful faces and, most importantly, their smiles.
For Further Reading
100 Benefits of Meditation from @INeedMotivation: http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/05/100-benefits-of-meditation/
How can you make time to start mediating?
Merci for reading and please subscribe and share!
À votre santé,