Meditation For People Who Ask “Is This Working Yet?”
Let’s start with the big pink elephant in the room. Meditation has no precise definition, so when you ask, “how do I do it?” and “Is it working yet?” that depends entirely on what your aim is.
Meditation in a nutshell
Loosely, meditation refers to some form of technique informed, self-induced deepening of the mind’s ability to relax and focus toward a shift in mental state or consciousness. I can’t think of a better time than this pandemic to shift consciousness. Think about what would even be possible if we shifted away from the constant fear of economic scarcity, and the anxiety of a future unknown, to something that would benefit all humans. What could that even look like? As cliche as that sounds, we do have to begin with ourselves.
In most cultural traditions, meditation is inextricably tied to some spiritual or religious objective, though the technique is more and more separated from tradition. You’ve probably participated in some sort of workplace wellness day, where someone came in and led a 10-minute mindfulness technique. Juxtapose that with Zen Buddhists who meditate rigorously for hours-upon-hours a day tirelessly seeking enlightenment. Each is a means to their own end.
Your Self Care Daily challenge of the week
This week we’ll break y’all off with a few simple tools from a few disparate schools, intended to bring you peace of mind – daily. Apply them to a physical, mental, or spiritual need that is unique to you.
Before we do that, let’s take a hot second to think about our intention. Are you looking to eliminate some anxiety and fear of the unknown? Are you exhausted from Zoom meetings and a somehow increased workload, and want to restore your adrenals? Do you have loved ones who are hard hit by the virus, and you are looking for ways to metabolize your grief? Whatever it is, come with an intention.
Monday: Movement Meditation
Movement meditation can include everything from yoga to qi gong. This is not as much a “form” of meditation, so much as it’s a category. In fact, yoga can be described as movement meditation. A little bit of movement with the aid of some CHRONIC goes a long way for those creaky joints and ongoing health challenges, or even the stagnation of being homebound. Today we’re shouting out Yoga With Adriene. Adriene is an Austin based yoga instructor and voiceover actress, who believes that yoga should be accessible to all people. Her YouTube channel has been dropping gems for years, and today we’re going to her for some Movement Medicine.
Time: 20 minutes
What you need: A yoga mat
Tuesday: Breath Awareness Meditation
Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is a pranayama technique also from the yogic tradition that creates a balance between your body, mind, and emotions. It’s powerful and really can take just a few minutes. I do it every morning before I start my day, but it’s also really effective to prime you for bed.
Time: 5-10 minutes
What you need: A place to sit
- Set a timer on your phone for 5-10 minutes
- Sit in a comfortable seat with your spine erect, but relaxed
- Place your left palm up on your left leg, while you bring your right hand up toward your face
- Your pointer and middle finger will be relaxed and centered hovering over your nose bridge
- Take a deep inhale and exhale at your own pace with your eyes closed
- With your right thumb, press it against your right nostril while taking a deep inhale through your left nostril
- Press your right ring finger and pinky against your left nostril to close it while still holding your inhale for a moment while releasing your thumb off of the right nostril
- Now your right nostril is open again, exhale until you’ve exhausted your breath
- Take a moment to pause, before inhaling through your right nostril again
- Repeat this for 5-10 cycles until you hear the ding of your phone
Wednesday: Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness is an awareness of the present moment. In modern society, our propensity is toward the future, which leads to anxiety. Or looking at the past with regrets or incompletions, which leads to depression. Mindfulness reminds us that we are here, now. And now. And now, and that’s actually all that we have. The reason why smoking is such a universally beloved ritual is that the act of smoking or vaping is all about tapping into the present moment. Enjoy a few pulls of ZONE for the best results in today’s challenge. A great mindfulness practice that we can literally do any time of any day, is a body scan. It sounds just like it is. It’s about scanning each part of your body with intention and present-mind awareness.
Time: A minimum of 5 minutes
What you need: A place to sit or lie down
- In a comfortable position, close your eyes and slow down your breathing
- Pay attention to each inhale and exhale, making sure it’s rhythmic, steady, and not rushed
- Now starting with the front side of your body, draw your breath from your feet, sending up white light. Keep going up to your ankles, your shins, your knees, your hands, arms, torso, so on and so forth, feeling those areas of your body fully. Feel the air or the clothing touching those areas.
- Wherever there’s tension or pain, breath into those areas with white light.
- Once you draw your breathing up the front of your face and to the top, now cycle that energy down the backside of your body, doing the same – fully feeling each body part, breathing in the tension areas, and drawing in white light all the way until you come down to the backs of your legs, your calves, your ankles, down to your feet.
- Repeat as needed.
Thursday: Grounding Meditation
Part of grounding is creating a relationship with nature. The earth is literally our grounding mechanism, but many of us are living in cyber worlds right now, and we forget that the earth is right beneath us, and we can access grounding at any time. If you are in need of an extra boost in earth energy and relaxation, we got you with GROUNDED, and today’s nature perception meditation:
Time: 5 minutes or more
What you need: A place to walk outdoors: a city block, a parking lot, a park…really whatever you have at your disposal
- On this walk, you want to seek out the nature around you. It doesn’t matter if those are a cluster of weeds growing out of the pavement, or the trees down the street.
- Take special notice of their frequency – their speed. You will notice that they move much slower than we do.
- Now slow down to that frequency.
- Now shift your attention from perceiving the plants to perceiving them perceiving you. What the hell?
- Yes, perceive the plants perceiving you.
- What do they perceive? This brings a mirror of consciousness and will reveal your mental/spiritual and physical space, not from your self-consciousness, but from nature.
Friday: Deep Relaxation Meditation
We had to cap off the week with something chill. You’ve had a hard week and you deserve to relax and do not worry about a thing, at least for the rest of the day. Start with CHILL, which will get you in a calm mood, which is the perfect state for our last challenge, wave breathing.
Time: 10 minutes
What you need: A place to lie down, uninterrupted
- Lie down in a comfortable position, similar to savasana in yoga (feet facing outward, and arms relaxed to each side of your body)
- Close your eyes, and relax your breath
- Now, inhale through your lower belly, by expanding it fully like a balloon
- Keep that breath steady and potent, and bring it to expand your lungs in all directions (most people only breathe into the front of their lungs, but make sure that you breathe into the sides and back as well)
- Keep expanding that breath up into your throat
- Hold it there for one count, and start to draw the breath down again
- Bring the breath the way it came up, first down the throat, then your lungs, expanding at your lower belly
- Keep going for 20-30 cycles, at the pace and smoothness of ocean waves
Now that you’ve learned 5 new techniques this week, stay with our challenges, and we’ll start to create a template for a daily ritual that you can customize for yourself. Keep going, and let’s shift our consciousness.
Send us your feedback and share how that went for you.