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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.
According to Wikipedia, “”Mantra” means a sacred utterance, numinous sound, or a syllable, word, phonemes, or group of words believed by practitioners to have psychological and spiritual power in Sanskrit. A mantra may or may not have syntactic structure or literal meaning; the spiritual value of a mantra comes when it is audible, visible, or present in thought.
Hindus in India composed the earliest mantras in Vedic times. Those mantras are at least 3000 years old. Mantras are now found in various schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Similar hymns, chants, compositions and concepts are found in many religions.
The use, structure, function, importance, and types of mantras vary according to the school and philosophy of Hinduism and of Buddhism. Mantras serve a central role in Tantra. In this school, mantras are considered equivalent to deities, a sacred formula and deeply personal ritual, and considered to be effective only after initiation. However, in other schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism, initiation is not a requirement.
Mantras come in many forms, and at its simplest, the words Aum or Om serves as a mantra. In more sophisticated forms, they are melodic phrases with spiritual interpretations such as human longing for truth, reality, light, immortality, peace, love, knowledge, and action. Other mantras have no literal meaning, yet are musically uplifting and spiritually meaningful.”
Here are 5 Sanskrit mantras, adapted from MindBodyGreen.com, with their ancient meanings and how we can adopt them into our modern lives:
Translation: The sound of the universe. It’s the first, original vibration, representing the birth, death and re-birth process.
Modern adaptation: Chanting the sound OM brings us into harmonic resonance with the universe – this is a scientific fact! OM is said to vibrate at 432 Hertz, which is the natural musical pitch of the Universe, as opposed to 440 Hertz, which is the frequency of most modern music.
Decreasing your frequency to coincide with that of the Universe stills the fluctuations of the mind, allowing you to practice yoga through sound. OM is an idyllic way to begin and end a yoga or mediation practice, and also comes in handy when you just need to chill out.
Mantra: Om Namah Shivaya
Translation: I bow to Shiva, the supreme deity of transformation who represents the truest, highest self.
Modern adaptation: In the book Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert is given this mantra by her Guru, which she lovingly refers to as the “Amazing Grace of Sanskrit.” Her interpretation is, “I honor the divinity within myself.” This is a great mantra to help build self-confidence, reminding us that we are all made up of divine energy and should treat ourselves accordingly.
Mantra: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
Translation: May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all
Modern adaptation: Most commonly associated with the Jivamukti Yoga School, this mantra is a powerful way to dedicate yourself to living a life of non-harming and being of service to the greater good. This mantra encourages cooperation, compassion and living in harmony with the environment, animals and our fellow human beings.
Mantra: Shanti Mantra
Om Saha Naavavatu
Saha Nau Bhunaktu
Saha Veeryam Karavaavahai
Tejasvi Aavadheetamastu Maa Vidvishaavahai Om
Translation: May the Lord protect and bless us. May he nourish us, giving us strength to work together for the good of humanity. May our learning be brilliant and purposeful. May we never turn against one another.
Modern adaptation: A perfect mantra to start a yoga class, a new day, or even a new business with. It unites the participants and sets a tone of non-competitiveness, unity, and working together towards a common goal.
Mantra: Om Gum Ganapatayei Namah
Translation: I bow to the elephant-faced deity [Ganesh] who is capable of removing all obstacles. I pray for blessings and protection.”
Modern adaptation: In Hindu teachings, Ganesh is known as the god of wisdom and success and the destroyer of obstacles. This is my favorite mantra, which I always draw on when I’m facing a big challenge in life and especially when I’m traveling.
I think I might start a new blog fad for myself…introducing Monday Mantra! I’m feeling that some positive affirmations are needed to get the week going in the right direction. Think positive, be positive, have a positive attitude.
Are you one who dreads a Monday, or loves it?
Monday signals the start of a new week. Monday signals the start of new beginnings, new opportunities, new chances to live. We need to see each day as a reminder of how amazing life is and how lucky we are to be alive facing a new week. You can embrace the many opportunities that each day brings. Each day is a chance to improve your life or the life of another.
Think back on today and determine the good things you did to make your day special and how may you have affected that of another. Do you wish you could or would have done some things differently? Well don’t worry, there is tomorrow and another chance to make the day what you want; To live in the moment and be present. Express gratitude for the day. Be aware of the beauty of nature that surrounds you, and enjoy the sounds that sing to you. The smallest things can make a great day. Those great days make the worst days feel a million miles away. Be you, be happy.
Hope you had a wonderful Monday!
I have always been a fan of inspirational quotes, and yesterday I was introduced to a collection of wise quotes by Thích Nhất Hạnh. Who is this, you might ask…Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He travels the world giving talks and well, spreading words of wisdom and peace. He is the man Martin Luther King called “An Apostle of peace and nonviolence.” It made me ask myself, how could he have so much wisdom? Through great discipline, he is blessed to have this incredible gift of peaceful words, and his teachings are worldly.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Thích Nhất Hạnh. Be mindful, allow yourself to be present during this time.
~”Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice… No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.” ~
~ “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~
~ “Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive—that you can touch the miracle of being alive—then that is a kind of enlightenment.” ~
~ “Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.” ~
~ “It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.” ~
~ “People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.” ~
~ “Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.” ~
~ “Life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.” ~
~ “When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?” ~
~ “To be loved means to be recognized as existing.” ~
~ “Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.” ~
~ “We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality.” ~
So I realized yesterday as I was scrambling around the house cleaning, that I could really do double duty while doing those mundane chores. What do I mean by that? Well I found that my mind tried to focus on my surroundings, even though I knew I had to get a chore done. I had to slow down to process what my mind and body were trying to communicate. I found myself gazing out the kitchen window watching the birds fly around. Then I saw the trees blowing in the wind, the leaves tumbling across the grass. The feel of the bubbles, the warmth of the water, was soothing and relaxing. I found myself washing dishes, yet admiring the beauty and events outside my window and in my hands. Before I knew it, the dishes were done and instead of dreading another chore on my list, I embraced moving to the next. I saw the housework as an opportunity to be mindful of my day, to be present in the moment, and not dread what else was ahead. In essence, I can meditate while working; mindfulness practiced in chores!
Does it sound strange to find peace washing the dishes or folding laundry? It does if you look at it in a shallow light. Rushing through like it is a dreaded chore, only leaves a storm like aftermath in your body. The chore is felt and absorbed as stress. But really, that time is generally alone time, a perfect opportunity to clear your mind, breathe deep, and perhaps focus on a mantra for healing or peace within. It allows you to appreciate the time you have, no matter how you are spending it.
Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He once wrote that he washes dishes with as much care as he would if he were bathing the newborn Buddha: “If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have a cup of tea, then I will be incapable of drinking the tea joyfully.” How you treat the present moment will affect the future moments. Wise thought; Be present and mindful of how you throw yourself into chores.
He gives you a new perspective on chores, right? I cannot recall how many dishes I have broke trying to rush, or bulldoze through getting the dishes done. I am pretty sure that there was no urge to sit and enjoy a cup of tea after doing so either. Thoughts drift to the ‘other’ chores on my list. Plus, the darn tea cup was probably my poor victim during the cleaning tornado, too!
Slow down. I have mentioned that chore time can be alone time, but it doesn’t have to be. If you can share that time with a child, or children, it gives you an opportunity to teach valuable lessons. The first lesson is that of responsibility. Chores are a parents way to encourage independence, team work, and self care. Sharing that time to teach techniques to complete the job, gives you a bonding moment too. However, I see that teaching moment as a gifted time to share meditation or mindfulness. You should be completely aware of the chore you are doing and teaching. Again be present and conscious of your thoughts and actions. Mindful. Teach the chores to kids to engrain a ritual of responsibility and inadvertently teach meditation and mindfulness.
I think that sometimes we get caught up looking into the future, and do not live in the present moment. If we cannot clear our mind and stop thinking of other things, we are incapable of living in that minute of life, enjoying that cup of hot tea in our hands. You have to be alive in that moment. This practice of mindfulness or meditation during chores, strips us of the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse too!
“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going in deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Try these yoga poses to balance the chakras within you.
Seated Forward Bend
Use this pose to enhance your communication and self-expression.
Sounds To Make:
Mantra (activating): Ham
Syllable (calming): ee (as in bee)
Use this pose to enhance your creativity and pleasure.
Sounds To Make:
Mantra (activating): Vam
Syllable (calming): oh (as in flow)
Use this pose to enhance your personal power and self-esteem
Sounds To Make:
Mantra (activating): Ram
Syllable (calming): ah (as in father)
Use this pose to enhance your inner peace.
Sounds To Make:
Mantra (activating): Yam
Syllable (calming): eh (as in say)
Warrior II Pose
Use this pose to enhance your survival and foundation.
Sounds To Make:
Mantra (activating): Lam
Syllable (calming): oo (as in moo)
Use this pose to enhance your intuition and imagination.
Sounds To Make:
Mantra (activating): Om
Syllable (calming): mm (as in sum)
Leg Up The Wall Pose
Use this pose to enhance your inspiration and sense of connection.
Sounds To Make:
Mantra (activating): (silence)
Syllable (calming): ng (as in sting)
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.