You know that saying “easier said than done”? Well that’s how I felt about meditating until just like my yoga practice, I stopped focusing on the ‘easier’ and more on the ‘done'.
Meditation is a way for us to be present in the moment. To sit in ‘stillness’ and tune in to what’s going on; be it a barrage of thoughts, the silence or our breath. These days I don’t judge my experience any longer, but simply allow it to be. Being kinder to myself has made meditating a lot more enjoyable too. Here are some meditation techniques that are suitable for anyone, especially beginners. There is no time limit, even five minutes will do a lot.
Candle Meditation: A great technique for relaxation and focus. Use a tea light or a candle with a relatively long wick for this. Find a quiet space and place the candle on a table so that it’s at eye level. Light it and stare at its flame and start to feel yourself relax. Spend about five minutes gently gazing at the flame, notice how it dances, what colours you see and if any thoughts come into your head, just allow them to float past without taking your gaze off the candle. When you feel like you’re ready to end, close your eyes and imagine this flame in your mind’s eye, hold it there for a few moments. Then take a deep breath in, exhale and open your eyes. Throughout the day, if you’re in need of a moment’s peace, close your eyes and imagine the candle flame again.
Flower Meditation: Find a single flower that is small enough to hold in your hands. Sit comfortably and gaze at it. Notice the colours, shape and scent. Keep your gaze soft and imagine that this flower is a friend or someone you recognise. As you do, start to smile at the flower and keep gazing at it while at the same time being aware of your surroundings. Keep your gaze playful as you feel through your eyes that this flower is radiating love, healing and positive energy that is flowing through your eyes into your body. Start feeling gratitude for the flower and spend a few moments in gratitude before you close your eyes. See the image of the flower in your mind’s eye. When you’re ready to finish this meditation, take a few deep breaths and then bring your attention back to your body. Gently open your eyes and bring your awareness to your body and how you’re feeling.
Counting Thoughts: A personal favourite and a good one to train you to focus and be kind towards yourself. In a way, it’s similar to the counting sheep exercise people do to fall asleep. To do this, sit comfortably in a quiet space, on the floor against a wall with your legs outstretched or cross-legged or even lying down. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and as you exhale, start noticing your thoughts. As they appear, start counting them. Count everything that you think of during this period and after five minutes open your eyes. Say your number out loud without any feelings attached to it. Know that the number itself is totally irrelevant, staying in the present moment is the goal.
Colouring Meditation: A few years ago, I attended a mandala colouring workshop. We were told to go with the flow, to not think about choosing a colour, but to let our intuition choose for us. For ninety minutes, it was like being in a ‘zen bubble’ and I recall feeling much clearer and so relaxed after. So with today’s popularity of adult colouring books, there’s no better time to go get one and try a colouring meditation. The process of ‘zoning out’, and immersing yourself in a world of colour and creativity really do wonders for the mind and soul.
Mindfulness Walks: If you’re not one to sit to meditate, try an alternative technique and go for a walk! Go into your garden, a foot reflexology path, a beach or spend some time in nature on a mindfulness walk. Take deliberate, slow steps and really pay attention to your surroundings. Smell the flowers, notice the leaves and plants and if you’re up for it, go barefooted. While you’re walking, observe your body moving, your thoughts, emotions and try to stay in the moment. You might even begin to unconsciously hum or sing. Whatever happens, allow it to be effortless and place no judgment. If you get tired, lie down and observe the clouds in the sky instead. You can also try standing still in the grass for a few moments and press your feet and toes into the soil, imagining that you’re connected to the earth beneath you. This is a great way to engage Mother Nature’s grounding energy and after several minutes, you may notice yourself being more relaxed and at ease.
Remember, no matter what happens while you meditate – if your thoughts drift away, you lose focus, can’t relax or even if you fall asleep – it’s all good. Simply notice it happening and bring your attention back. Your body knows what it’s doing, so trust in the process. Have a go at the techniques above and let me know which one you like best.