With all the stress-inducing factors in our lives, sometimes we just need to take a quick time out. We all have bills, work, chores, family and friends to worry about. I’ll bet that plenty of you don’t take quiet timeouts to center yourselves! People often tell me that they just can’t get their minds to stop churning out thoughts – it’s impossible to stop. Well, friends, I totally get it! When I am not meditating, my mind races with several thoughts at once – random words, images, fragments of sentences, run-on sentences, to-do lists, feelings, reactions, you name it. I can’t speak or write fast enough to catch up with my thoughts. Meditation frees you from your life and your thoughts just for a little bit. It is hard for me to imagine life without meditation, so I’d like to share some simple tips so you can effectively take mental vacations.
Music or Silence?
Find a place with as little noise as possible or bring headphones and music with you. I recommend that you listen to relaxing meditation music. My favorite free internet sources for this music are: Live365.com which offers an ad-free option and is perfect if you make meditation a habit, 8tracks.com which allows you to make your own playlists with a free membership, and lastly, DrVirtual7 at DrVirtual7. DrVirtual is a wonderful and caring man who has spent much of his life sharing his knowledge and wisdom with others. He now composes his own music with subliminal messages to get the subconscious mind to think and believe positively. If you would like to buy guided meditations or subliminal meditations, I am a huge fan of Kelly Howell’s – her voice is like butter, and she guides you through some some really cool journeys. Visit her website at Brainsync.com to see her library of options. You can also receive free guided meditations through this site.
A lot of subliminal and guided meditations may be set to brainwave frequencies. If you come across this, don’t be alarmed. This is done to help your brain reach the meditative state – the Theta state is ideal for meditation. If you are outside, it would be ideal to go somewhere you are able to listen to the sounds of nature without noise pollution. Also, I realized after writing this paragraph that I should probably write a whole other post about different types meditation music and the frequencies you may come across! That will be coming soon. Agh, so many ideas and so little time!
Setting and Comfortability
Find a place with minimal distractions. If you decide to meditate outdoors, go somewhere peaceful and quiet. If you find that light distracts you from meditating, you can wear an eye mask or blindfold. For many, thinking about meditation brings up an image of the Full Lotus position (legs crossed with feet on the opposite thigh, straight back, hands on knees with the tips of the index finger and thumb touching). If you can relax like this, it is a wonderful way to relieve tension in the hips while meditating. If you are not comfortable like that, sit or lay down comfortably in bed, in a chair or on the floor with something soft under you. Just keep in mind that laying down will increase your chances of dozing off, which is not the goal here. However, the Dalai Lama did say, “Sleep is the best meditation,” so maybe sleeping wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Then again, there are some anti-Dalai Lama people who wouldn’t take his advice, but I won’t get into that because it’s off-topic. Also, wear comfortable clothes. Or shoot, you can even wear your birthday suit. This is YOUR moment. Just try not to do do that outside unless you want to get arrested.
Mindful Breathing and Visualization Techniques
Here I will go over some breathing techniques I have found to work for myself and others to block out thoughts. After you have settled into your meditation spot, close your eyes and notice your breathing. By just observing your breath, you can concentrate the sensation of the coolness of breathing in and the warmth of breathing out. Aim to inhale slowly and deeply into your stomach, and exhale slowly as well. You can concentrate on how your stomach feels while expanding as you inhale and how it feels while relaxing as you exhale. Find a rhythm to your breathing. I personally prefer to breathe in and out through my nose. Some recommend breathing in the nose and out the mouth. With the latter method, you can shut out thoughts by thinking of your breath forming a circle between your mouth and nose as you breathe in and out.
When first starting out my meditation, I acknowledge my present thoughts and I am grateful for them. Then, as I breathe in, I pretend that my breath forms a bubble around all the thoughts in my head. As I exhale, I breathe out the thought bubble. Sometimes, immediately after breathing out the thought bubble, another thought stays behind or shows up out of nowhere. I continue to breathe out my thoughts until I feel my mind is clear. This is something I have done since I was little to quiet my mind so I can fall asleep. Hopefully it will work for you too! Another great way to push out thoughts is to imagine that your breath forms a wall in your head, and as you exhale the wall pushes your thoughts out.
Another effective technique would be to imagine your breath running through and relaxing the tense parts of your body. When you inhale, concentrate on your breath traveling to and soothing any body part that is tense or not relaxed. You can also just imagine your breath traveling through your entire body, but concentrate on relaxing one body part per breath. Think of your breath as a warm, healing energy. I have found that when I do this, I involuntarily envision my breath as a warm gold color with a lava-like texture. Because I’ve touched lava before. Haha no I’m not THAT cool, come on.
The last technique is simple and was recommended to me by a dear friend. As you breathe in, think “111-222-333” and as you breathe out, think “333-222-111.” For anyone who believes that numbers have meaning, these are all positive numbers that encourage you to find balance, raise your vibration and align your mind, body and soul. When you let these numbers into your mind, especially in groups of 3, you invite these positive changes. The last and most important thing to know is that thoughts will naturally occur during meditation – acknowledge them and let them simply float away, but do not expand on your thoughts.
There is so much more I could tell you, but I’d like to hear your meditation and relaxation techniques! What do you do when you meditate? Do you have any favorite music that you listen to while you do?