I remember when I first started meditating. It was only a little over 2 months ago, so it isn't hard, but it feels like forever ago. I remember feeling as though I was attempting something foreign and completely unknown.
I told myself it would be easy. I mean, how hard could sitting still and thinking about nothing but breathing be?
Turns out, pretty hard.
In fact, I've never grown to like that particular meditation. But I quickly discovered there are many other meditations out there to try. Here's just a few to peak your interest:
1.) Body scan meditation.
This one is my favorite. I lay still with my eyes closed and simply concentrate on one body part at a time. I repeat phrases like "I am my feet (or whatever body part I'm concentrating on)." and explore the sensations there until I can feel everything there without having to try. Then I move on to the next part it's connected to.
I start at my feet and move my way up until I reach my head. Each part is given special attention and any thoughts that intrude are brushed away and my concentration returns to my immediate concern. At the end, I concentrate on feeling my body in its entirety, and see how it feels to inhabit my own skin in the present moment.
What I love about this meditation is how incredibly relaxing it is. Because you concentrate on each body part without judging, it relaxes automatically without any interference from your mind.
2.) Walking meditation.
You can do this meditation anywhere really. Just get up and walk. Think the word inhale as you inhale, then count how many steps it takes for you to exhale. Repeat this over and over again as you walk.
I was amazed by how helpful this was at work. It's more of a mini-meditation for me, as I use it at my job to break up the stress of the day, but you can use it as a larger meditation if you like long walks in the wilderness or the like. It really helps you deal with hard days.
3.) Observational meditation.
This one is a little harder to do than the others, so you may want to try something else first. But it's relatively simple in theory. You simply count 6 exhales, and then start watching your thoughts. Label each thought with a name. Then make each thought as vivid as possible, picturing the thought as a living thing outside your body. Watch it for a while and then decide if you want to keep this thought or not. If you decide it is doing you harm, picture yourself pushing it away from yourself, building a wall between you and it, or simply deleting it from existence. Whatever imagery works for you, get rid of the thought.
You may have to brush the thought aside multiple times at first. But eventually your control will improve and the push will come easier.
What's incredible about this meditation is how it allows you to control your thoughts much deeper in real life than you ever thought possible. Once your brain has been trained to get rid of thoughts you don't want to have, the means of doing so is surprisingly easy.
4.) Emotional exploration meditation.
This is the same as the previous exercise, except this time you should observe your emotions instead of your thoughts. Whether you believe that each thought provokes an emotion or that each emotion provokes a thought, this exercise will help you control and identify your emotions.
Count 6 exhales before you start. Then go into your thoughts, merely observing. Don't get too caught up in the thoughts, just watch them as they go. Now, go deeper and find your emotions behind the thoughts. Go through and label the emotions you are feeling, one by one. Identify where they come from and explore what each feels like in its entirety, without judgment or fear of reprisal. Don't try to brush emotions aside as you did the thoughts, but do control what thoughts spring from these emotions. Reject any thoughts you don't like, and throw yourself into the emotion as much as you can without actually feeling it.
A great accompaniment to this meditation is to be extra-conscious of your emotions throughout your day. Take time to label thoughts throughout your day with an emotion and take time to have periodic checks to see what you are feeling right then, in that moment.
This is great for those of us who are extra sensitive (like me!). It helps you see how your emotions work and what the process is that you're going through. Controlling your reactions to emotions, and embracing them for what they are, are the first steps to being free from the power they hold over you.
5.) Cleaning meditation.
If you're one of those people who simply doesn't have the time to just sit still and do nothing, then this meditation is for you! Just go about a normal daily chore, but do it with one slight difference: instead of trying to finish the chore quickly to move on, absorb yourself completely with the physicality of it. Feel the washcloth as it washes the dishes. Feel every moment as it happens, dismissing any thoughts of what you have to do later or what happened last night at your friend's party. Just feel the moment right now.
This one is pretty simple and can have as meaningful an effect on your life as though you did carve out the time to meditate each day!
6.) Mantra meditation.
This is the one most of us see in the movies. In this meditation, you sit still and chant a mantra over and over again. It doesn't have to be out loud, but it does need to be simple and meaningful to you. Many people choose the word omm, for it's traditional purposes, but you can repeat any phrase or sound that appeals to you to repeat.
A great part of this meditation is repeating a positive affirmation in it. It's funny how much your brain begins to believe something if you say it enough times. So, you can kill two birds with one stone with this meditation and increase your positive thinking, too!
7.) Compassion meditation.
I've never tried this one myself, as I feel I suffer from too much compassion at the moment, but I feel it will definitely be added to my repertoir at some point in the future. There are several different kinds of compassion meditations, but here's the one I liked the most:
First, you call to mind your own self and say silently “May I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be healthy, may I be free.” Next, call to mind someone you love, and say the same, but replace the Is with yous, obviously. Next, call to mind someone who is pissing you off or making you sad, and do it for them. From there, you can extend this meditation out to the entire world (“may all beings everywhere be happy” etc.). This part loses some people. If you’re one of them, then when you’re done with the person who you’re upset with, do someone else you love so you end on a good note.
This meditation is said to give people a more understanding and compassionate outlook on life and the people they deal with each day. It can definitely be a useful exercise when you're angry with one of your loved ones, or just upset in general.
8.) 100 Breaths meditation.
Okay, so this is just the breathing meditation we talked about not having to do, right? Except it isn't. In this meditation, you count each breath (that is, an inhale AND an exhale) until you reach the number 100. It sounds a LOT easier than it is because it's so simple to lose count due to thoughts coming along and distracting you from the numbers.
This is a great exercise if you want to learn how to control your concentration and focus for long periods of time. I hate it, myself, but I think it benefits my mind and so I stretch it with a few applications of it regularly.
9.) Focus meditation.
In this meditation, you sit and focus intently on an object outside of yourself. So, instead of observing your thoughts or feelings, you observe an object. Very popular objects to observe are flames and water.
This is a great meditation to stretch your focus. It keeps you thinking on something monotonous and mundane rather than the constant flow of life we get so used to.
10.) Spiritual meditation.
Meditation doesn't have to be spiritual, but it can be. You can experience it in the form of prayer if you so desire. Just pray as usual and concentrate on your words.
Meditation isn't always easy, but everyone can do it. It just takes practice and determination. And don't worry if your thoughts don't stay where you want them. Most people's don't. Even very experienced meditators suffer from that problem. Just remember that it's better to spend 10 minutes of your time redirecting your thoughts than it is allowing them to do whatever they want when you aren't looking.
Well, that's all the motivational speaking I have in me tonight. Good luck to everyone on learning meditation. I hope it proves as incredible an experience for you as it has been for me!
- Stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today, but only exercised tonight.
- Wrote in my journal, kept to my budget, and wrote a poem today.
- Posted on my blog.
- Made my bed.
- Stayed on my diet.
- Made my lunch.