Here are some of the many benefits of meditation:
It reduces anxiety, fear, and the tendency to worry;
It helps one feel more “in control;”
It has a calming effect on the mind;
It activates the part of the brain responsible for positive emotions, and reduces frustration/anger;
It enhances performance; and
It helps one create new positive patterns of belief/behavior due to the neuro-plasticity of the brain.
I’m a HUGE fan of keeping things simple enough that we don’t get overwhelmed and blow off good things altogether, hence the five-minute meditation you can practice every day!
Start by setting an intention.
Simple: Ask yourself: “What do I need right now?”
To calm down? To get clarity or fresh insight on a situation?
To send healing to a part of your body?
Maybe start with an intention to “notice your breathing” or meditate without judging yourself when thoughts distract you – to just keep letting any thoughts gently go as they arise during meditation.
Many folks practice meditation while kneeling or sitting. What’s most important is that you do it at all.
So choose a position that is comfortable and allows you to relax your body and be well supported/stable, perhaps while lying in bed at night before you go to sleep, while in a hot bath, or in a favorite spot in your yard or in nature.
Begin by taking longer and deeper breaths in and out. Slow and deepen your breathing with each cycle of inhalation and exhalation.
With each exhalation, imagine the thoughts that come to mind leaving with the breath. You can watch them go with the breath in little bubbles, or you can feel their energy leave as a color or sensation. Watch the tension in your muscles and places where you are holding yourself, melt and exit your body so that with each exhalation you are getting more and more relaxed.
With each inhalation, imagine that the air coming in is clear and fresh. Visualize the air coming in. Feel it expanding your chest, expanding your whole body, and expanding all around you. See the fresh air taking up the spaces in you that previously held tension, pain, thoughts, or dark “stuck” energy.
Offer Yourself Compassion:
As thoughts come into your mind and you feel a “pull” to follow them, use your breath to exhale them away. It’s extremely important not to judge yourself for thinking too much or for not doing this the “right” way. When you judge yourself you “hold on” to the thoughts, which generates subsequent thoughts. I like to offer myself compassion instead of judgment when I get distracted with thoughts and gently nudge myself back to my breathing, the space I’m creating within me, and the feelings I am experiencing in my body as a result of my breathing and relaxation.
Some will experience a sense of anxiety or panic as they start to let go of thoughts and physically held patterns in their bodies. We often prefer the familiarity of our patterns even when they are negative, over the feeling of openness and uncertainty. If you feel anxiety come up, remind yourself of this tendency, and extend yourself compassion so that you may safely explore this new territory of expansiveness and true presence in the moment.
See if you are able to notice what’s between each of the thoughts that come in at this time when your body is still and relaxed. This between space may be fleeting initially, but as you practice you will notice more of these moments, and they will last longer.
Allow yourself to simply be. Create open space within you by imagining an image or feeling of the “space” and allow any images feelings or new awareness to emerge and then be present with them…. Noticing, sensing, watching them, trying not to capture them with your intellect. Continue to exhale the thoughts your mind wants to attach to what you experience. Let your breath be your focus.
By doing this practice regularly you will be able to be present for longer and longer stretches of time. You will also start to notice symbols, colors, feelings, and awareness as you begin to spend more time in meditative practice. Give yourself the gift of these five minutes of presence each day.
The more often you practice the easier it will be, and you will quickly notice the way that meditation begins to enhance every part of your life.