Approaches to Meditation

Meditation is used now by many people in the Western world as a stress relief technique which helps them feel calmer, clearer and more in control of their emotions. If you imagine your body is about 70% water, then keeping those waters calm, clear and still is of immense benefit to you. It will have a really beneficial effect on your health if you take some time each day (just 10-15 minutes is enough) to be still and quiet. If you go through your life in a constantly "on the go" without rest or proper focused relaxation then your body will eventually start to complain about it!  A particularly good time to meditate is either at sunrise or sunset. 

There are many ways to meditate and the majority do not involve chanting mantras, although it is fun to experiment with different methods. The simplest ways can often be the most effective! A successful meditation practice doesn't have to be perfect (you have to give in to that itch occasionally or you may drift off to sleep) but it does have to be regular to be effective. If you commit to meditate daily for a period of 3 weeks initially, this will be enough to cement a regular routine and it can become a welcome daily activity. 

Below I describe a couple of methods to try if you would like to start a simple, regular practice. I can also thoroughly recommend Dr. Patricia Carrington's audio course and books on meditation, which teach her own method called Clinical Standardised Meditation. There are of course many other good books on the subject (see the Resources Page) and it can also be a good idea to attend a few classes to get a feel for what to expect.

If you decide to learn the healing art of Reiki, you will of course learn specific meditations to enhance your connection to the healing energy and these are not covered here. There are of course many other ways to meditate, using visualisations and guided imagery or perhaps affirmations meaningful to you; simply taking time out and just "being" rather than doing is sometimes all that is needed to help you feel more balanced.

 

 

Candle Meditation

A simple way is to sit very still in a comfortable position and focus your eyes on an object such as the flame of a candle. The candle flame is both cleansing to the eyes and a beautiful spiritual focus.

You remain with your eyes focusing gently on the candle flame in this way for 10 or 15 minutes, try not to "stare" but rather let your gaze gently rest there. If you find this method too intense, either keep the meditation short or try a different one you might prefer.

If you start thinking about something, just notice that you are thinking and let the thoughts drift away, without worrying that you have had a thought, just gently returning to your focus onto the candle flame.

At the end of your meditation time, sit for a few minutes to let the effects  "settle in". Then, when you are ready to extinguish the flame,  it is a nice idea to think of a person, animal or situation that might need some extra light sent its way and intend sending that light to them as you blow it out.

Breath Meditation

Another easy way to meditate is by using your breath. Awareness of your breath can also help you become more in control of your emotions and make it easier to notice when you are off balance.

A full breath involves gently letting your stomach expand from the bottom to the top and feeling your ribs raise up a little. Try slowly and consciously breathing in and out in this way, noticing each breath, for about five counts, whilst keeping your mind empty of thoughts.  Then let your breathing find its own level and just be aware of all the physical sensations of breathing the air in, and letting air out.

If you notice a thought, just let it pass by you and gently return to your awareness of your breath, keeping your breathing loose and comfortable until you find your own steady rhythm*.

Do this for as long as you wish, ideally 20 minutes is a good time to build up to but you could start with 5 or 10 minutes to begin with to get a feel for the practice.

*A variation of this practice is to count silently to yourself as you breathe. "One" is counted on the in breath, "Two" on the out breath and repeated throughout the time. This can be quite a useful variation if you find that you are easily distracted by your thoughts.