meditate, verb: think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation*.
The definition of ‘meditate’ can leave you with a bit of a “huh?” sensation. It can leave you wanting more, craving a deeper understanding of how you might go about grasping the many benefits of this practice.
Meditation, or the act of allowing the mind to calm and become focused, can be achieved through more than one practice or system of beliefs.
Let’s dig into three different meditation methods and how you might give them a go.
Japa Mala Meditation
From the yogic tradition is the repetition of a ‘mantra’. Directly translating to ‘mind protector’, a mantra is a word, idea, scripture or sentence that serves the purpose of focusing the mind throughout the course of meditation.
- Choose a mantra that fits with you.
- Use your Mala beads to count 108 repetitions of your mantra OR, set a meditation timer and repeat the word verbally, mentally or through handwriting until your timer is up.
- If repeating the mantra mentally, synchronize one repetition with one inhale/exhale cycle.
- If writing the mantra, allow your words to become free form, creating shapes with your words as you write, without focusing on the shape itself.
Generally an adaptation from the Buddhist tradition of Vipassana meditation with a modern-day spin, this practice is used widely in mindfulness-based stress reduction, addictions counselling, and many other therapies. It can be performed anywhere at any time.
Mindfulness is the focusing of the attention on the present moment, noticing the thoughts, emotions, and tendencies of the mind, at that moment, and then moving on to the next moment as each instance of time comes and goes.
- Close your eyes, sit up tall.
- Fill your lungs and exhale deeply.
- Turn your attention to your thoughts, notice each thought as it comes and goes without ruminating or dwelling.
- Allow each thought or emotion to rise and simply notice its existence.
- Return to your daily activities with a deeper sense of how you’re feeling and the tendency of your current thought processes.
Try a variety of everyday moments mindfulness meditations in our meditation series.
Yoga Nidra / Progressive Muscle Relaxation
While not classified as a discipline of meditation within the yogic tradition, Yoga Nidra is often associated with meditation given its calming, relaxation-focused nature. This is the part of your yoga class that you like best – the guided relaxation during savasana.
Yoga Nidra translates to yoga sleep and 1 hour of it can equal 4 hours of actual sleep. The process of progressive relaxation leads to withdrawal of the senses and an ability to settle the mind, emotions, and thoughts.
- Lie on your back in savasana with feet slightly apart and arms at your sides, palms turned upwards.
- Become aware of your breath.
- Beginning with one leg, tense each area of your body, one limb at a time. Next, relax the muscles you’ve tensed.
- Follow this exercise with a mental direction to each body part, telling them each, individually, to relax three times. E.g. My arm relaxes, my arm relaxes, my arm is relaxed.
The beauty of meditation is in the many forms it takes. There are more than just 3 ways to achieve stillness, clarity and calm every day. Finding a system that works for you and following it devotedly can help you achieve your state of calm. In fact, it can help you do so faster and more efficiently.
Just like anything else, a regular meditation practice takes practice. So keep on keeping on with it.