“Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit”
– Jeremy Taylor
While meditation might seem like a mystical practice relegated to monks and spiritual gurus, it is actually a very simple to learn daily practice that can benefit your mind, body and soul. “The purpose of meditation is personal transformation, said Henepola Gunaratana and it is so true. True transformation takes place first within and meditation is an integral part of quieting that monkey mind that can lead us to become stuck in the past or worry about the future.
So how do you start meditating? Honestly you don’t need to visit an ashram or be monk or even a very spiritual person to start your own practice of meditation. Meditation is about quieting the mind and creating a calmness and stillness within. There is no wrong or right way to meditate, whatever technique works for you is fine. You might want to start by listening to Deepak Chopra or another guided meditation to help you on your journey. I personally like to listen to the sounds of the rainforest each morning and after doing my prayers and morning gratitude I just let my mind be still and try to quiet any nagging thoughts or worries. Paulo Coelho has said that “Praying is talking to the Universe. Meditation is listening to it.” Just be quiet and still and notice the world around you. Be in the present moment. Try to quiet and calm your mind.
As you begin to meditate take 3 deep breaths to start. Notice the flow of your breath and you breathe IN and OUT. You may also want to develop a mantra or personal saying to guide your meditation. Some people like a sounds such as “OMM”. Keep in mind that there is no right way to meditate.
If you can, create a room or space where you will do your meditation. It might even be outside on your balcony or in your backyard. You can create a beautiful space filled with a positive glow of pictures you like, plants or something in nature and you may also want to have a special yoga mat or blanket to sit on while you meditate. You can also add rocks, crystals or candles. It’s not that you have to create a special space, anywhere in your home that is quiet and peaceful and makes you calm will do.
As you feel your calming breath, you might try to visualize yourself in a place that is calming and beautiful. Perhaps it’s the ocean with the sounds of the waves or a babbling brook or quiet spot in the cool breeze of the mountains. Listen to your body and pay attention to how your legs touch the floor, how you feel inside. It doesn’t really matter how long you meditate, any amount of time is good. You can start with as little as five minutes and work your way even to twenty minutes or more.
Right along with meditation, you can also develop a practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness can begin with deep calming breaths and it can include noticing the sensation throughout your body. Be aware of being warm, cool or any discomfort that you may have. Focus on one sensation such as your breath going in and out of your body. When your mind wanders, bring your focus back on the breath and return to the present moment. Mindfulness can be done throughout the day as you focus on different things around the room when you are at work or notice different places along the road on your drive home.
Listening to the sounds of water flowing can also be very calming. We are made up mostly of water so there is something essential in the water that surrounds us. A babbling brook, a pretty stone fountain or a waterfall can all bring more peace and calm into your life.
Our sense of smell can also invoke strong memories, many of them pleasant and calming. Try using lavender under your pillow or in the bath to calm you when you have a stressful day. Also burning sage can be a great way to clear the air of negative energy and radiate calm in your surroundings.
Touch is such an important sense, and it is often overlooked when we think of what can calm the senses. A reassuring touch can do wonders for calming someone and showing them that you care. Touching different textures such as a soft cashmere or petting a beloved pet can really help you to relax and find calm.
Finally, our sense of taste can be used to find peace. Tasting various natural foods such as honey, lemon, even garlic can have a beneficial effect on both your body and your mind. Having a calming tea or a soothing warm soup can be very helpful to finding inner peace. Make your soups from scratch and the process of chopping and blending will also soothe your soul.
As you begin to find calm you can start to focus on your inner purpose. Finding your “why” is an important part of your transformation. Your why should include something you love and getting back to love when you have been in an angry or bitter state can be quite a journey. True love is boundless and limitless and this includes self-love which is part of a growth mindset and is not at all selfish. We can’t truly love others until we love ourselves first, yet it is a difficult journey for many to learn to love themselves.
One of the enemies of inner peace and calm is overthinking. Negative thoughts can tend to fester and drag us down. Many people don’t think of things in a calm, rational way, their mind starts to wander but not in a good way and they overthink everything. We worry about things that have not happened and may not ever happen! Why worry about it? I have a sticky note on my desk that says “Let go and let God”. By casting your worries to a higher power, whether you believe in God or the higher power of the universe can be a mentally freeing exercise. Learn to expect an abundance.
When we think in abundant terms and learn to envision what we desire, we raise our vibrations and bring forward a positive radiating energy. Our energy helps us to put on focus on something good rather than negative self-fulfilling thoughts of impending doom or disaster or a focus on all of our faults and shortcomings. We radiate good and the happy thoughts permeate our being. We find that peace and calm by being accepting of whatever we are going through and accepting ourselves and others despite our faults. We focusing on just being and living in the present moment. We find that our mood improves and we find ourselves looking forward to the day and our daily routine.