Friday, January 21, 2011

Look Within: Practices

This week I'm offering up practices for our theme of the month, Look Within.

I believe that finding the practice that reconnects us with our inner voice or Authentic Self is a personal process. Some people find that running brings them back to their core. Others discover knitting does the trick. I believe what is happening in both of these scenarios is that we are in a meditative-like state. Sure running or knitting may not be what you think of when you picture meditation, but I consider any activity that holds your focus here in the present moment a sort of moving meditation. Other examples are yoga, painting, writing, and Tai Chi. This week let's play with a still meditation and a moving meditation.

Still Meditation Options:

To practice these options, find a comfortable seated position on the floor, a cushion, or in a chair. Close your eyes and begin by drawing your attention inward.

  • Candle-gazing meditation (here is a description of this technique). I find this practice very relaxing.
  • Counting breaths meditation: simply count your breaths. I usually decide ahead of time how many breaths I will sit for, 20, 50, or 100. You can also set a timer for 3 or 5 minutes. This is one of my favorite ways to meditate. It is simple and there is something to focus on (counting) which I find helps me quiet my mind.
  • Mantra meditation: a mantra is any phrase or word you repeat to yourself. One of my favorites is "be here now" which I shorten to "here" on the inhale and "now" on the exhale. Other ideas are "let go" or "be present." You can use anything that is meaningful for you. There are many Sanskrit mantras to choose from as well, such as Om or Sat Nam.
  • Lovingkindess meditation: this is the meditation I practice most frequently. It involves sending feelings of pure love and kindness to yourself and others while repeating a mantra. Here is a more thorough description.

Moving Meditation Options:

  • Yoga
  • Walking or Running
  • Cooking
  • Knitting
  • Painting
  • Cleaning
  • Any activity where you feel totally absorbed in the task at hand!
Spend some time over the next week or so experimenting with different still and moving meditations. Take notes in your journal of how you feel before and after each practice. Discover what helps you look within and make it a part of your daily routine! I'd love to hear your thoughts on these practices - feel free to share in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I can certify from my experience over last 9 years that ‘Focusing on breathing’ is a simple and doable technique to reduce the wandering of the mind and make the meditation more enjoyable and fruitful. After a few months of this practice, the mind becomes remarkably more obedient. I found that the focus on breathing can be dramatically enhanced by using the fingers to track the breaths. We can use the tips of the fingers as described below or the segments of the fingers.

    **** TIP MODE: Touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger. Breathe in and out three times, counting in the mind, every time you breathe out. During the first out breath count ‘one’, second out breath ‘two’ and during the third out breath ‘three’. Repeat the same steps at each of the next three finger tips. When you are at the thumb, place the tip of the index finger at the base of the thumb and breathe three times. Then switch to the other hand and repeat the same process. Continue practicing, switching the hands. You will feel its calming effect, by the time you complete 4 to 6 hands, which takes 2 to 3 minutes. You can use this mode, anywhere and anytime to avert potential stress or dissolve built up stress!****

    I have been using ‘focusing on breathing’ technique throughout the day. During meditation, initially, I count my breaths in sets of three and when the mind becomes less distracted I switch to my mantra.

    For five other modes of ‘focusing on breathing’ - Segment mode, Counting mode, Feeling mode, Staring mode and 911 modes, please visit this page