Learning The Art of Meditation
Meditation. It's the one thing we all kinda know we should be practising in our every day life, the benefits are huge! Decreasing stress, having a calmer state of mind, decreasing depression, improves focus etc etc the list goes on.
So last week I was lucky enough to attend a gathering at the Fo Guang Shan Temple in Maylands. This was run by Venerable Dr Huifeng. I didn't know what to expect so I went in with an open mind and eagerness to learn something new about the ways to practice meditation. Normally I practice meditation in the evening to help me relax and go to sleep. But what I was wanting to experiment in and challenge myself in is morning meditation. How to clear and calm my mind before I start my day. I wanted to meditate with out falling asleep.
The environment was very warm and inviting. A sense of "calmness" to it. Ven Huifeng was a great teacher who spoke clearly and even though there was 100+ people in the room, at times you felt like he was talking to directly to you. He introduced the workshop and talked through what would be covered. Breathing, sitting meditation and walking meditation. It was very interesting to understand mediation isn't just about sitting still and trying not to think about not thinking, you need to get your body and mind to connect.
Here are a few key points to get started:
- Warm up your joints. You're going to be sitting still for a short or long time. If your joints are warm it will be easier for you to sit still. Unless you decide to do walking meditation then you are slowly walking.
- Keep your back straight, roll your shoulders back and cross or fold your legs but ensure your knees are not higher than your hips. If this is the case you will start to roll your back with out even knowing it is happening.
- Rest your hands in your lap, palms up, thumbs touching. By joining the thumb tips together this closes the circuit of energy. It has to feel comfortable and not "reaching" with your arms or shoulders.
- Close your eyes and let your face relax. Open and close your mouth to relax your jaw if you are clenching.
- Focus on your breath. Inhale. Exhale.
When you are finally at that moment, there are a few things to take note of if your mind is still running around and not connected with your body. You can simply repeat " inhale, exhale" or "breathe in, breathe out". Another one is the counting mantra. For every inhale and exhale that's 1, you count up to 10 and start again. Sounds easy but your mind is a powerful thing that can overtake a simple task of counting.
For me I sometimes meditate with mantra's. It helps my mind clear and only having that one saying going through my mind simplifies everything for me. A mantra can be anything you want it to be. From self talk to self motivation.
It's been quite interesting talking to many people about meditation and what their take on it is. I honestly think we "over think" meditation and complicate it. You need to keep it simple. Our minds are running off and constantly thinking about everything we are doing apart from the currently moment we are in. So to actually sit still and calm your mind can be challenging. That's why people find it hard and complicate it. So many people tell me "oh I can't do that" or "I've tried to meditated and I can't". Well I hate to burst your bubble but anyone can meditate, you just have to choose to do it and commit to a few things. Its not just sitting down and MAGIC, you're meditating. It comes to focusing the mind and training it to work with you and connect to your body. Don't get overwhelmed with this idea of meditation for an hour a day. If your not doing any meditation then that goal would be far off. Why don't you just try 5 minutes? We all can find 5 minutes. Then you never know, that 5 minutes may grow into 15 min.
Starting my meditation and yoga journey this year has already had small benefits that I've noticed in my life. I feel calmer, clearer and more focused than I have been in ages. There is this feeling of bliss, happiness and general gratitude I feel after I meditate. But the fact that all of this is now rolling into my life, well that's awesome.
So if you are interested or curious about even more benefits that meditation can offer, here is a link to 76 Scientific Beniefits:
Or if you are interested in picking up a mediation class or finding a group, there is lot's available to you out there. You just have to look.