Most people come into my office for services because they are feeling ‘off’ in some way and know they can be better. A majority are stressed and anxious, have trouble sleeping, etc. but when I ask them if they’ve tried meditation this is how they look at me!
Meditation gets a bad rap in some circles with people believing that sitting still in lotus pose like a Buddha is a requirement. I used to think that too and being a fairly active person with a penchant for large muscle movement, this pose did not appeal to me either but this notion is quite far from the truth. There are many different and fun ways to meditate and still reap the benefits!
Some of The Benefits of Meditation
- Increases immune function
- Decreases Pain
- Decreases Inflammation at the Cellular Level
- Increases HappinessDecreases Depression
- Decreases Anxiety
- Decreases Stress
- Increases your sense of connection to others
- Increases compassion
- Decreases feelings of loneliness
- Increases ability to control emotions
- Increases grey matter (memory) and cortical thickness (attention span)
- Improves productivity and creativity
- Improves ability to sleep
- Decreases need for sleep
- Improves perspective
- Improves ability to express your authentic self
- Decreases drama in your life
Despite all these life improving benefits, people come up with excuses, fears and reasons not to participate in meditation.
Some Common Reasons People Give for Why They ‘Can’t’ Meditate
- I can’t sit still
- I can’t clear my mind
- I don’t have time
- I don’t have a quiet place
- Quiet makes me anxious
- It’s boring
Addressing each of the above:
- There is no need to sit still to meditate. There are many meditation methods that involve movement/activity. Try Walking Meditation, Vinyasa (Flow)Yoga, Tea Ceremony Meditation, Chanting.
- Even master meditators have trouble clearing their minds sometimes. Having a clear mind is not a requirement for meditation. In fact I welcome the distracting thoughts because they give me an opportunity to practice placing my focus back on what I’m doing. Meditational focal points could be the breath, a mantra, a candle flame, etc. This is the practice – noticing the unclear mind and bringing your focus back to attention, over and over. Meditation is practice not perfection. (The practice of meditation is perfection though!)
- No time? Nonsense!
- You don’t have to meditate for long periods to reap the rewards. To beginners I recommend 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night. 10 minutes a day. I know you have that available to you and if you cannot make that time for your sanity and improved quality of life then you are not quite ready to progress in this area of your life. At this time, there is something about being unsettled/unhealthy that is more compelling to you than grounded living. This is ok! We are all at different places in our journeys. Clients who give the reason of no time for meditation seem to find meditating while lying down in bed just before sleep at night and/or before they get up in the morning an easy way to ease into it all.You may not be able to get a quiet place to meditate at home because you live with noisy people or people who demand your attention. Look elsewhere. Perhaps there is a place outside somewhere, in a park or your backyard that will offer more peace for you. Maybe at work there is a place you can go to at lunch break – an empty office? Eventually you will not need pure quiet to meditate. Being able to achieve calm among the noise is the ultimate goal so practicing with a bit of a ruckus can be beneficial.
- Uncomfortable with quiet? See #4.
- With so many meditation methods there is bound to be at least one that will pique and keep your interest!
I believe beneath these excuses is a fear of discovering deep truths. This fear is usually not conscious. It can be scary looking in the mirror of your mind but it is the only way to move beyond the crap on a more permanent basis.
Consistency is key. I find 5 minutes a day better than 30 minutes once a week. You may not notice the benefit immediately (but you may!), either way, if you continue, you will notice how strong, grounded, calm, level-headed, compassionate, etc. you’ve become and you will need to go buy and wear a shirt that says, ‘SPIRITUAL WARRIOR!’
There are too many types of meditation to list here but here are:
Some of the More Popular Meditation Methods
- Walking– Just walk and pay attention. Walk slow, walk fast, feel your feet. Notice.
- Metta (Loving Kindness)-I love this one because I get to send myself some love first! Use loving statements starting with yourself as recipient. 1. May I be/feel: “fill in the blank”: happy, loved, peaceful, etc. 2. Next think of some one you like or are thankful for use the same statement with them in mind: May they be “fill in the blank”. 3. Someone you feel neutral about. 4. Someone who pushes your buttons, disturbs your peace. 5. All beings/The Universe/The Earth.
- Mantra– You can use traditional Mantras like ‘Sat Nam’ or I am Truth. I like “I am Light’ and here’s a beautiful song about that for you to enjoy and absorb. You can also make up your own Mantra that means something to you like: My heart is open and free or I am One with All.
- Sound-Do this lying down or seated. Allow all sounds to enter your awareness and let them be.
- Guided/Visualization-Use a meditation app like Head Space or Insight Timer. Candle Flame– Soften your gaze and focus on a candle flame. You may receive messages or see images as time passes. Bring your focus back to the flame over and over again as you notice your mind wandering.
- Mindfulness-In short, become aware of each movement, sound, thought, etc. Watch all as the observer.
- Chanting- Chant along with some traditional sanskrit prayers. Here’s an example. It’s ok if you mess up the words just feel it all and open your throat.
- Breathwork-Simply watch your breath come in and out (without losing focus on the breath). It’s harder than it sounds. You can also find a breathing pattern that feels good to you. Square breathing, for example, is a basic breathing technique that is not too difficult to work with.
- Journaling-Write anything! Your dreams, your thoughts, ideas, disturbances, things that you’re grateful for, goals, feelings. Have fun! Always have fun.Engaging in an activity that absorbs you: working on a puzzle, a math problem, dancing, singing any art form or creative practice. Merge and become one with the activity.
C’mon now! Pick one and just give it a try for me. For yourself! If you’d like a little bit of guidance book a private session with me (it’s the 8th option down on that link) and you’ll be on your way in no time.
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Lisa Hassett, Reiki Therapist, Life Coach, CYT
Healing For Body, Mind & Spirit
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Reiki of Greater Boston
Healing for Body, Mind & Spirit
160 School Street, Suite 1-1, Waltham, MA 02451
160 School Street, Suite 1-1
Waltham, MA 02451