The Realist’s Guide to Meditation

We’ve all heard of the fantastic benefits of practicing meditation, like reduced stress, pain management, better sleeps, increased energy and clarity throughout the day, balanced hormones, increased libido, an increased sense of general well-being and contentment…

But the truth is, classic mediation is really hard. I’m talking about the kind where you completely empty your head and experience not thinking – no thoughts! – for an extended period of time. In my experience I have found this nearly impossible. Especially in the fast-paced world we live in. Our minds are always racing. No one has time to relax and filter through their thoughts. Some people even unfortunately frown upon those who purposefully sit back and not think about anything. The truth is, we need this down time. We need to recharge, especially in our crazy workoholic-valued Western society.

Anyway, the most I’ve ever achieved of this “classic meditation” state is maybe 10 minutes. Then before I know it I’m thinking of Cristiano Ronaldo and how my cat would look like in a sweater. In the span of 1 second. How can people do this for an hour?? 20 minutes? Absolute insanity.

So without selling everything you have and moving to Tibet to become a monk… how can one start experiencing the amazing benefits of practicing daily meditation??

I’ve made a list of easier meditation-type techniques that aren’t super hard to incorporate into your daily routine but still give all the benefits of classic meditation:

  1. Conscious breathing. Just sit there, and breathe. Listen to your breath. Count your breaths. Listen to the sound your lungs make and how your body moves. If there is any pain, ”breathe” into that area. Take deeper and deeper breaths as you do this. Imagine you are breathing from the base of your spine and fully expand your stomach with each breath. Simple right?
  2. Body scanning. Lie there, and consciously feel every part of your body individually. Start with your toes. Wiggle them. Focus completely on just your toes. Stretch them out, then relax them. Now move your attention to your feet, then your ankles, your lower legs, thighs… etc. This is actually a great one to help you physically relax and can help you fall asleep.
  3. Mindfulness. You essentially sit or lie there, and let your mind wander. But instead of becoming emotionally involved, watch your thoughts as they come and go. Imagine you are on the shore of a river, and your thoughts are on a boat, coming towards you. You see the boat coming… and then the boat passes you, sailing away until you can’t see it anymore. No judgement, fear, happiness, anger, etc is felt towards the boat. Another way you could do this is to imagine yourself floating above your body, just watching yourself meditate. Cheering from the sidelines. This took a while for me to wrap my head around, but once I could do it easily, it was a great stress reliever and it made me handle tough situations rationally and logically. I could analyze my emotions without getting wrapped up in them.
  4. Focus on a single image. Or a symbol, or something that means something positive to you. You don’t even have to close your eyes – you can focus on a solid object like a lit candle or the smoke from a burning incense stick.
  5. Mantras. These are basically words you say over and over again to help you focus in meditation. Or you can sing them. Google some. Popular ones are the Buddhist “om mani padme hum” (the jewel is in the lotus) or the Hindu “hare Krishna, hare rama” (to the energy of God). If you’re not into the fancy ones, or religious ones, you can create your own, like “love, live, laugh, learn” (cheesy but you get the idea). Repeat it as often as you can. It’s like creating your own tag line. Your own words to live by.
  6. Music. This one can get pretty cool, and it opens you up to listening to different types. Focus on the sound, each note, each chorus. How does it make you feel? Let it sweep you up or bring you down. Just be conscious about it. Appreciate it. Don’t judge it. Let it flow.
  7. Gratitude. Just sit there and make a mental or physical list of everything you love in your life. Everything you’re grateful for. This is one of the most powerful techniques and instantly raises you up to that perfect level for meditating. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy.
  8. Guided meditation. So you sit there, close your eyes and listen to someone talk. This is my favourite technique. I can easily visualize imagery, so this is really powerful and effective for me. It also gives me a bit more leeway for my mind to wander, because I can create my own “scenery”, but I’m still focusing. YouTube has a massive pile of these things. Some are really good, but some are terrible. It doesn’t matter which ones you choose, it just has to do something for you. A typical guided meditation takes you through gardens, down beaches or any relaxing sounding environment. It’s really peaceful and lets you “get away” without actually leaving.
  9. Paint something. Read a book. Go for a walk. Pick up the guitar. Don’t think about the past or future. Be in the “now”. These are all meditations in themselves. Just be conscious and focus on what’s in front of you. Use all five senses. Send loving thoughts to everything and everyone you come across. These are the not-so-obvious methods that turn into the completely obvious methods once you start doing them, if that makes sense.

Stuff to help in the process: light a candle or incense. Sit outside – nature is better for this. Breathe. Make sure you’re in a place where you won’t be suddenly interrupted. Lock the door. Use earplugs or headphones. Wear loose clothing. Don’t be hungry. Make sure you use the washroom before. Whatever will make you the most relaxed and comfortable. And don’t be discouraged if you can’t get it right away, or if your mind wanders. This will happen. Focus on rewarding yourself for getting back on track when you slip up.

Remember there is no right or wrong way to do this! It’s whatever you make of it. Just let whatever happens happen. Let it flow.

And most of all… enjoy!! 🙂

Happy meditating!

Love & Light,

-Madelyn

Advertisements

Cleansing – The Art of Bathing & Importance of Water

Bathing is typically something we do to cleanse our bodies, ridding us of external bacteria and dirt that we pick up throughout the day, and the toxins that our bodies naturally release through our skin. Although many of us usually choose to shower due to time constraints (or perhaps not having a bathtub or a proper sized tub), this act of cleansing the body helps also helps us clear our thoughts, emotions and boosts our spirits. We shower to help us wake up in the morning, clearing the cobwebs of our dream state; we shower to wind down at the end of the day before we slumber.

Bathing also has spiritual significance and is a vital daily practice in various religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Historically we have numerous accounts of the art and practice of bathing across the globe; Mesoamerica, Rome, China and Japan all incorporated Bathing into their daily practices in both public and private spaces.  What is it about water and the act of bathing that makes us feel so refreshed, cleansed, relaxed and overall just good? Water is one of the most important substances on Earth, and humans are made up of mostly water. We often turn to water for comfort – we visit Beaches, Rivers, Oceans and Lakes and gain comfort from the ebb and flow of natural water formations. Water is said to be loaded with energy and vibration, with the ability to respond to the world around it on an energetic level. Some researchers, such as Masaru Emoto show how water responds to external stimuli with simple words of love, hate, and gratitude. By freezing water he shows how crystallized water retains these sentiments; love produces beautiful geometric patterns, whereas hate produces deformed patterns. In short, we don’t give water enough credit, and we don’t perceive it as a life force in itself. Whatever the form it takes – gas (steam), solid (ice), or liquid (water) – it is vital to our physical and spiritual existence on this planet.

I’m sharing this with you because I have a lot of respect for water and I interact with water every day; I send Reiki & Positive Energy to my bottled water, my tea, my soup – any water that I consume (unfortunately our tap water is pretty stripped of natural stuff and loaded with chemicals). I am pretty thankful for it, as it is what sustains our physical bodies. You don’t have to be a reiki practitioner or certified in energy healing – all you need is thought and intent. Project your positive thoughts – love and gratitude – onto/into the water you are drinking, eating, interacting with. You’d be surprised at how much better that cup of tea will taste.

Image

One of my favourite things to do is to immerse myself in a hot bath, meditate, reflect, and purge any negative vibes that are clinging to me on my emotional, spiritual, physical and mental levels. It is simple to do, yet very effective. Run your bath water as hot as you can tolerate it, and try to fill your tub so that you can immerse yourself from the neck down. As the water is running, turn your mind to a positive space filled with love and gratitude – and send this or project this into the water. If you’re a reiki person, you can use the Cho Ku Rei or Dai Ko Myo symbol – simply draw it over the water or draw it in the water. I also like to use some helpers, such as bath salts, essential oils and crystals to charge my water. Here are some of my favourites:

Candles: I always have a candle beside the tub, typically a white one.

Epsom Salt: a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate that has numerous health benefits, including stress relief, soothes pain and muscles, eliminates toxins.

Pink Himalayan Salt: contains 84 essential minerals, detoxes the body, relaxes and soothes.

Dead Sea Salt: contains Bromide, Iodine Magnesium, Sodium, Calcium and Potassium; stimulates circulation, effective for arthritis, allergies and skin ailments, regulates cell activity.

Lavender Oil: brings positive energy, numerous therapeutic attributes internally and externally.

Sweetgrass Oil: one of the sacred herbs of Native Americans; used to draw positive energy & purify negative energy.

Quartz Crystal: Power stone, channels energy, amplifies energy, harmonizes & balances.

Citrine: Clears negative energy, protection, stabilizes energy, success stone, hope.

Amethyst: Calming stone, balance, peace, protection, help rid of addictions.

Rose Quartz: Unconditional Love, balance emotions, stress relief, eases anxiety.

*Crystals can be placed in the water or beside you on the tub. Note that some crystals cannot be immersed in water – some will disintegrate in water (such as Selenite), while others are not healthy to absorb through water (but ok to hold in your hand). Be sure to do some research on your crystal if you want to immerse it in water, as some will contain copper, lead, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, barium, mercury, zinc, and other poisonous substances.

As soon as I step into the water, I feel my whole being give a sigh of relief and comfort. Take some time to feel the water on a different level – not just physically. Feel the love, feel the comfort, feel the energy. Take a few moments to turn your mind to a quiet place and meditate – or simply just exist in a space that is just love energy. If any daily thoughts or worries come to mind, feel them slipping away into the water, allowing the water to transmute negativity into positivity. Take as much time as you need in this space. Tune into your senses – the physical ones, and the non-physical ones. If you have trouble focusing, use the candle flame beside you as a focal point. See the flame dance and relax into the water; Smell the essential oils that you’ve used; Run your fingers through the water, draw patterns or doodle; Sense the energy of the water, inhale and taste the feeling of the steam and hot air rising from the water. Stay as long as you can, and when you’re finished, give thanks to the space you created and to the water for the healing. Get out of the tub slowly, you might feel a bit dizzy from the energy and heat – be sure to drink lots of water when you’re done.

If you only have time for a shower, use the Cho Ku Rei or Dai Ko Myo symbol on the walls of the shower stall, including the shower curtain. Or, use the same intent of love, positivity and gratitude to build yourself an energetic fort in the shower. I also send this energy into the pipes in the walls, and the shower head so that the water that flows to me is charged with positivity. Allow yourself to experience the water falling on your body, allow yourself to immerse your being into this energetic healing space you created, allow your troubles or worries to fall into the drain.

Once you’ve finished with your bath, you’ll notice how much ‘lighter’ you feel. You’ve given yourself a physical bath, an energetic cleansing, and purged your aura of stagnant and unwanted energies. Your head will feel clearer, offering a fresh perspective on the world around you. Take the time to use this simple yet effective way of clearing, and appreciate the gift of water. Enjoy.

Namaste.

Tracy