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Walking meditation can be just as profound and enlightening as sitting meditation. It helps bring strong awareness to the body and to physical sensations around you. We are not talking about a difficult walk or hike, but simply a walking space that gives you peace and quiet to be mindful and meditate. As has been discussed a few ties now, there are different methods or techniques to meditate. Choosing the one or maybe more methods, that keep you consistently practicing is key. Here is what I mean by walking meditation:
Choose a small, flat path on which to walk back and forth, preferably no more than 10 paces in each direction. I prefer to be outside, as you get the physical sensations from the sun, the wind, the sounds of nature. But if indoors is all you can find, it is just fine.
Before you start moving, stand still for a few moments and consciously bring your attention into your body. Breathe. Notice the sensations of your feet on the ground, the clothes on your body, and the sun and the wind on your skin.
Now, begin walking as slowly as you can while still feeling natural. Keep your attention within the body. When the attention drifts to outside sights or thoughts, which it will, gently bring it back to the movement in the lower half of your body – the soles of your feet on the ground, the bending and extending of the knee and the curl of your toes. For me I add the rhythm of my steps, rhythm of my pace with my breathing.
The simple act or exercise of stepping from foot to foot naturally creates a meditative state. I find a rhythm in my walk, which helps bring that calming state sooner. This state calms the mind and cultivates sharper awareness. Walking meditation can be a fantastic way to bring mindful attention to every part of the day. As I have previously discussed, you can meditate and be mindful in all that you do – from walking, to work, to cooking, or doing the dishes.
Here are five meditation techniques for a beginner or in regular experienced practice:
- Sit or lie in a relaxed position
- Breathe regularly. You breathe in deep enough to get enough oxygen, this will relax you. When you breathe out, you relax your muscles so that your lungs are well emptied, but do not strain to release the air.
- Stop thinking about everyday problems or matters. Clear your mind.
- Concentrate your thoughts on something like a sound, a repetitive word or mantra, or a feeling or concept that you are experiencing or longing for. All of your attention needs to be placed on the object that you have chosen.
- While in that state of concentration, if foreign thoughts try to creep in, you need to stop the thought, and go back to focusing on the object of your meditation.
Those five meditation techniques are the basics of meditation. There are varying techniques based on the degree of concentration and how you handle those foreign thoughts. Some suggest the practice should be to meditate so intensely that no foreign thoughts are allowed to enter at all. Another practice is to allow the concentration is more relaxed so that foreign thoughts enter your session more easily. When you discover or realize the foreign thought has entered, you simply stop, and go back to the intended or pure meditation in a relaxed manner. It helps you refocus and be aware in your meditation.
You might be able to tell by the themes chosen this week that illness is passing through our house. However, I’m trying not to let it get us down! The one thing that came to mind at 3:30 AM this morning, was whether or not meditation is good when you’re sick? My initial thought was it must be, but then I back peddled on that and wondered if the sickness makes it hard to really be mindful and focus on meditation? So I have done some searching on opinions of whether or not meditation while you are sick, is a good idea.
When you are sick, and in bed, meditation doesn’t fit the usual routine easily. Several articles and forums I came across all gave the same advice: if it is uncomfortable to sit up, you can lie down and meditate. ‘Also, because the extra rest is beneficial for your recovery, you are permitted to meditate as much as you like until you get better.’ That was a response that Deepak Chopra gave a member who was ill. Being sick will make it harder to focus, but you can do it. I have read that most advise that if you cannot breathe through your nose, due to congestion, breathe through your mouth. Focus on your breathing and allow it to occur as naturally as possible. Be mindful that the congestion is part of the body trying to heal itself. This will take away from some of your focus, but I have to believe that altering your practice, to breathe through your nose, has to be better than not doing meditation at all.
Focus on the breaths being a technique to repair or heal the body from your illness. Let the air you breathe out be the unhealthy black energy that is making you sick. Breathe out the nasty negative energy, breathe in new vibrant, clean energy air. Hopefully the negative emotional reactions you have to the illness will leave your body as well. Focus on the body repairing itself.
Meditation while you’re sick can be challenging, but as Deepak advised, you can use this down time to meditate as you need. Making alterations to your routine is allowable and again, hopefully you can focus on releasing the negative energy and heal.
Guided Meditation Script Part 1
Find yourself a quiet place to sit. Turn off your phone and dim the lights. This is your time. A time for total relaxation and inner stillness.
Take a moment to make sure that you are warm enough, and that you are seated comfortably. Rest your hands loosely in your lap. Now close your eyes.
Take a long slow, deep breath in…hold it for a moment, and then slowly exhale. Just allow any tension to melt away as you gradually relax more and more deeply with each breath.
Take another long slow, deep breath in…hold it, and then exhale. Empty your lungs completely with your out-breath. Take a third deep breath in. Take your time. Hold it for a moment, and then let it go. You can already feel yourself drifting into a state of deep relaxation.
Continue to breathe slowly and gently as you bring your awareness to the top of your head. Just sense or imagine a feeling of relaxation beginning to spread down from the top of your scalp…. feel the muscles in your forehead and temples relax. Allow your eye muscles to release. Let your cheeks and jaw soften and let go of all tension.
Now let this peaceful feeling flow down into your neck. Feel it loosening every muscle and every fibre.
With each breath you take, this relaxing feeling becomes deeper and warmer. It works its way deep into the muscles in your shoulders…soothing them…releasing them.
This peaceful feeling flows down from your shoulders and into your arms. It loosens the muscles in your upper arms…your forearms…your hands…relaxing and soothing…all the way to the tips of your fingers.
As your body relaxes, your mind relaxes, and your thoughts seem to become lighter. You are slipping further and further into a dreamlike state of stillness and relaxation.
Now, bring your awareness to your chest and your stomach. Feel how this area of your body gently rises and falls as you breathe. The peaceful sensation flows throughout this area of your body, soothing every muscle and relaxing every organ.
Turn your attention to your upper back, and feel this relaxing sensation flow all the way down your spine. As it gradually works its way down your body, feel every muscle in your back relax and unwind.
Feel that your entire upper body has become loose, limp and relaxed.
Now feel your hips relax as the peaceful feeling starts to work its way through your lower body. Relax your buttocks…the backs of your thighs…the front of your thighs. Feel all these large, strong muscle groups becoming looser and more relaxed with each passing moment.
Soothing feelings of relaxation flow down through your knees, and into your calves. Your ankles relax. Now your feet relax. Allow your entire lower body to relax completely, and allow any remaining tension from anywhere in your body to flow out through the tips of your toes.
You are comfortable, peaceful, relaxed. Now it’s time to leave the external world behind, and go on an inner journey. A journey to a place of deep inner stillness.
This guided meditation is from http://www.the-guided-meditation-site.com/
I have been researching for options on treating anxiety naturally, and I came back with three common suggestions: eat, meditate and exercise. So what could that refer to in each of those categories? Let us explore that.
Think of a time you felt anxious. Was it a sleepless night spent worrying about an issue? Was it a time when you slipped and fell? Either of those can place your body into a brief state of anxiety, which goes away shortly after the event. This is short term anxiety. However for millions of people, that anxiety can be long term. This sometimes disabling disorder, is known as General Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
How can we reduce the amount of anxiety felt or interrupting our lives? Doctors can prescribe medication and recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy. In a time where some medications can be over prescribed or over used, searching for alternatives is important. You can make a few lifestyle changes, diet, meditation, and exercise, scientifically proven procedures, which allow you to treat anxiety for yourself. I think that these lifestyle changes along with cognitive-behavioral therapy, will give you the greatest relief from anxiety.
Eat a healthy diet. Studies have shown that those who eat a diet high in processed, fast food that include sugary sweets, junk food, caffeine and beer, are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Those who eat a more healthy diet of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, meat and fish, tend to experience less depression and anxiety. I have read that adding foods such as nuts, poultry, oats, and some dairy, increase the serotonin levels in the brain. Each of these foods contains tryptophan, which helps the body produce serotonin. According to Wikipedia.com, “Biochemically derived from tryptophan, serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), blood platelets, and the central nervous system (CNS) of animals, including humans. It is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.” So it only makes sense to eat foods that will naturally help you feel better, right?
Meditate regularly. People who worry a lot have increased reactivity in the brain, that makes regulating emotions, such as fear, a little harder. According to a study conducted by Stanford University, practicing mindfulness can physically reduce neurons in the fear-triggering part of the brain. As an anxious person, you might feel it is hard to sit still and meditate. Many thoughts race through the mind, and that can make the anxiety seem overwhelming. Mindfulness teaches you how to work with the various stressful situations. It takes practice, and that’s why making it a regular habit, results in the best results. It won’t change your anxious feelings over night, but each time you sit and focus on your breathe and calm your body, you are teaching yourself how to self-regulate. When you are placed in a stressful situation, you will be mindful of how your body is reacting and focus on calming those reactive triggers. Meditation works, it just takes regular practice.
Regular exercise can reduce anxiety. I read once that bad anxiety needs good treatment. What could be better than exercise, coupled with meditation and a healthy diet? Just like the healthy diet, studies show that exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration. Exercise enhances the brains overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
Stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, making the rest of the body feel the impact as well. If your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins, the chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. Increasing endorphins improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
As we can see, research indicates that you may eat, meditate and exercise your way to a calmer, more relaxed life.