For most of us, when someone tells us to meditate, the first thing that comes to mind is sitting in stillness, legs crossed and our hands in Chin Mudra (your index finger connected with your thumb, forming a “seal” or circle). Meditation is actually a broader concept and can be done in a number of ways.
Meditation is a practice of creating a state of self that is aware and calm and allows you to be present and mindful of what is. Once you have an understanding of this broader concept you can consider doing almost anything from a meditative state.
As I’ve learned more and more about this broader concept of meditation, I realized that one way I meditate is by taking a walk every morning. I wake up early in the morning before my kids are up and I walk my dog. I love feeling the cool morning breeze and looking at the different colors created by the sunrise against the clouds. This moment gives me a state of calm and awareness and it’s a daily practice.
You may already be doing things that are a form of meditation practice or maybe you haven’t found an activity that gives you that state of calm and awareness yet. Here four ways you can practice meditation:
As I mentioned before, most people think of meditation as sitting still, eyes closed, and breathing slowly. While this is the most commonly known meditation around the world, it’s not the only way you can meditate.
Movement Meditation is an active form of meditation that can be walking, gardening, or journaling. Your mind can wander and your movement is what guides you.
An easy, first-time technique you can use to start a movement meditation is to take a mindful walk. First, start by walking naturally. Notice your body and adjust so you have good posture and balance. Begin to match your breath to your steps. And, lastly, start counting each step. If you get distracted, simply notice when you are distracted and focus your attention back on your breath.
Mantra meditation is the practice of chanting a sound, word or phrase. Chanting doesn’t mean you have to sing and it does not matter if you chant quietly or loudly. What’s important is you practice and repeat the mantra. I recommend placing your left hand in our heart center, then place your right hand over the left and feel your vibration as you chant. Mantra meditation has many benefits including awareness of self and your environment, it boosts your immune system, and raises your vibration in your body and overall consciousness.
A well-known mantra is the word “Om”, pronounced AUM. It is said that Om chanting helps us tune into our connection to all living things because everything in the universe has a vibration and its own frequency.
Try it out by listening to an “Om” chant. Click here.
Breath awareness meditation is a form of mindful meditation where one is mindful of their breathing. The goal is to focus on breathing deeply and slowly, focusing only on the breath. This is a great way to start your mindful meditation practice because you can begin by following your breath for periods of time. You will also notice that your breath gets deeper and deeper.
Breath awareness meditation can lower your stress levels, reduce depression, lower your blood pressure and much more.
Somatic meditation means ‘of the body’, or Soma, and is a practice of meditating using the body as the foundation. It is a bottom-to-top process, unlike other meditations that focus on the mind as the foundation. It tunes us into the awareness of how we feel physically, our sensations and the body’s intuition.
“we find in the body an objective witness to our life that has no investment whatsoever in our skewed ego-versions of things. In addition, our Soma not only knows the truth of how it is with us, others, and the world, but it appreciates and, in a strange way, delights in everything. Even more, it wants to communicate this to us and provide mentoring. Our Soma is literally an infinite ocean of practical wisdom, and”
― Reginald A. Ray, The Awakening Body: Somatic Meditation for Discovering Our Deepest Life
You can find three foundational and guided Somatic practices on DharmaOcean.org.
If none yet, that’s OK. You can start with something as simple as sitting with yourself for a while in a quiet space and writing down how you’re feeling in that moment. Notice your body and your emotions. Is your foot tingling? Do you have tension in your shoulders? Are you feeling anxious? Critical? Bored? Write down what you notice. Try to do this daily until you build a habit of being mindful of self. Look back at what you wrote and begin to take note of any patterns. This can help with deciding what practice is right for you.
All of these meditation practices help us create self-awareness – awareness of the mind, of the body, of our breathing, of our emotions, our surroundings and connect us to a higher self. This mindfulness cultivates emotional intelligence. As we begin to develop and grow a state of self-awareness and a sense of calm, we build empathy, compassion and joy.
Join our live, virtual 6-week meditation series, Stepping Into Mindfulness, designed to connect you with a deeper sense of yourself and with others doing the same. While the course is designed for novice and beginning meditators, all are welcome, from the merely curious to the experienced. Attend one, two or all six sessions starting March 31st through May 12th.
Posted in: Mindfulness & Meditation