How to Get a Piece of Peace in Your Life

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Methods of Meditation

One way to ground yourself, lower your stress, and connect your mind to your body is by meditating. Meditation can be done in several different ways. Each individual may find one way that works better than the others.

1) Sitting meditation, clearing the mind: In this meditation you sit quietly, generally with legs crossed. You clear the mind of every thought, in an attempt to think of absolutely nothing. If a thought or many thoughts come through, simply acknowledge them and continue to clear the mind. Many people find that concentrating on very deep breathing (into the belly) or saying one word (such as "Om") drawn out for a long tone can help to clear the mind. Also, if you have music, running water, birds, or other natural sounds, you can take notice of those sounds around you, as if you were simply a space to receive the outside world.

here for a traditional sitting meditation.

2) Sitting meditation, with an intention: In this meditation, you sit quietly, legs crossed, and concentrate on one thought. This thought may be for healing the world, or healing a particular person, or simply something that you wish for your life or a loved one. You can also visualize symbolically (such as a bright light surrounding someone) or literally (such as what you want the future to look like). Repeat these thoughts and visions with deep breaths.

here for a healing meditation.

3) Walking meditation: This can be done indoors, outdoors, barefoot, with shoes...whatever is most comfortable for you. Walk at a slower pace, with intention on each step. Notice how your foot either gently touches the ground, or rolls from heel to toe. Be in tune with your movements and nothing else. This meditation works especially well for people who need more kinesthetic stimuli.

here for a walking meditation.

4) Eating meditation: This is especially good for those who eat at their desks at work, or who have limited time to get a real break in the middle of the day. In this meditation, you take the time to notice what you are doing, how the food goes from the plate to your mouth, the sensations, the tastes. Every bite is taken very deliberately. Surprisingly, even though you will eat more slowly, the time will pass more slowly as well. This is because you are in the moment rather than thinking of something else while eating.

here for an eating meditation.

5) Guided meditation: This has specific direction and instruction and gives the mind something to do. It works particularly well if you have someone read one to you while you have your eyes closed. Stephen Levine's book, "Guided Meditations, Explorations and Healings" is excellently written and quite extensive with specific types of guided meditations for many situations.

Click here for a sample of Stephen Levine's meditations on grief.

Click here for a guided meditation to read to yourself while focusing on peaceful imagery on the website.

For more ideas, see my entries on 5/20/2005, Practicing Mindfullness or 5/29/2005, Living in the Moment. These both explain how to be aware of only the present, which is also a form of meditation.

No matter what your style or preference is, the benefits remain the same. While you may feel as though nothing is happening, try it a few times and see if your days seem different in any way. The more you practice, the easier it becomes, and the better you will feel.