“Focus your attention within. You will experience new power, new strength and new peace of body, mind and spirit. All bonds that limited you will be removed.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
I tend to be a stressed and anxious person. I worry, A LOT. This does nothing productive and actually makes my life harder. It also makes me ill- I get tense muscles, rashes, acne, headaches, depression, anxiety and food sensitivities, to name a few . Our bodies don’t take well to stress on the excessive side. (A healthy amount of stress does help us be productive and motivated contributors to society.) But thankfully there are options to relieve the excess stress. One very underused option is meditation. Focusing on breathing, calming down the mind, and drawing attention inward can soothe and liberate the mind and body. Besides being a librarian, I am a certified yoga instructor and during my training I was taught meditation techniques that truly work. I’ve found these simple meditation techniques to be very beneficial in reducing stress, healing my body and alleviating my worries. The only hard part about it is consistently doing it!
The main reasons people DON’T meditate:
- A skeptical mindset. Meditation is the ultimate act of ‘sharpening the saw.’
- Impatience: it’s too easy. The daily benefit is small but the long term benefit is huge.
- Concern about being too selfish. You are just as important as everyone else. And what you want matters just as much as what everybody else wants.
- A need for external authorization. Being attuned to your inner guidance will never lead you astray.
- Emotional discomfort. Becoming aware of negative thoughts and feelings gives you the power to change them and to liberate yourself from them, the power to transform your life!
My personal reason to not meditate- #2 Impatience. I can’t stick to a daily routine. It’s too simple and though I definitely have 20 minutes each day that could go towards meditating, I choose worthless fillers like social media and TV, instead of choosing what would really help me. What’s your reason for not meditating?
Follow these steps for a basic meditation sequence:
- Throughout the practice remain poised and alert
- Sit upright in a cross legged posture, eyes closed, hands resting on knees
- Acknowledge your relationship to the Infinite, however you perceive it to be
- Direct your attention to your spiritual eye- the center space between the eyebrows
- Observe your natural breathing rhythm. Let it flow easily.
- If using a one word mantra- mentally recite it on the inhale or exhale; feel peaceful on the opposite breath (One word mantras- peace, shalom, shanti, joy, happiness, Om etc)
- With a word-phrase mantra- mentally recite the first word on the inhale and the second word as you exhale. (mantra phrases- So-Hum, Hong-Sau, Om-God, Be-Still, I-Am etc)
- Continue the internal chanting for at least 20 complete breaths or for as long as you desire.
- When you are relaxed and internalized, disregard the mantra and continue to breathe in a calm, alert state for the duration of your session (10+ minutes).
- To conclude your practice, open your eyes and remain calm and posed in your seated position for a few moments before resuming normal activities.
Meditation is proven to have both spiritual and physical positive side effects including:
- Improved function of the immune system.
- Increased production of healing hormones. (DHEA, melatonin, serotonin, HGH)
- Changes in the brain that support emotional stability.
By meditating the mind is brought into stillness, and the body follows calming down the overactive ‘fight or flight’ response caused by STRESS. Stress is at the root of most illnesses and can be reduced in the body through meditation. Different areas of the brain are strengthened when meditating giving you great capacity to handle stress is a positive way.
*From Steven Nibley’s meditation class for yoga teachers training
What’s stopping you from living a healthier, happier, less stressful life? Here are library resources to help you begin a meditation practice:
THE POWER OF STILLNESS: LEARN MEDITATION IN 30 DAYS
by Tobin Blake
CHAKRA MEDITATION: DISCOVER ENERGY, CREATIVITY, FOCUS, LOVE, COMMUNICATION, WISDOM, AND SPIRIT
by Swami Saradananda
CHRIST-CENTERED MEDITATION: A HANDBOOK FOR A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
by Pam Blackwell
THE HEADSPACE GUIDE TO MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS: HOW MINDFULNESS CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN TEN MINUTES A DAY
by Andy Puddicombe
MEDITATION MADE SIMPLE: WEEKLY PRACTICES FOR RELIEVING STRESS, FINDING BALANCE, AND CULTIVATING JOY
by Paula Watkins
QUIET TIME MEDITATION
by Creative Music Service
CANON FOR RELAXATION AND MEDITATION
by Johann Pachelbel
GUIDED MINDFULNESS MEDITATION SERIES 1
by Jon Kabat-Zinn