Who doesn't want to experience more balance, peace and comfort amid life; constant bombarding of sensorial, auditive, visual and social media stimuli. Good news, you don't have to go to a three-day retreat, to a high-priced Zen vacation or to a luxurious spa. It's all accessible, in the comfort of your space under the right environment and circumstance. Whether you are looking to release physical tension, quit smoking or manage daily stress, here are three of my favourite meditation practices:
Body Scan Meditation: To release physical stress, Jon Kabat Zin, a leader of modern mindfulness research and professor emeritus of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, says this meditation is a good way for people to release tension they are experiencing.
The body scan practice can last 20 – 45 minutes.
Lay down flat on your bed, on a mat, on the floor or sit still on a chair; whatever is most comfortable.Close your eyes, if you wish. Begin taking big, slow, deep breaths: in and out through your nose, for a few rounds.Start taking inventory of the sensations in each part of your body. Start with your left side, from the toes, up to your hips. Then repeat on the right.Continue to your belly, back, left arm, right arm, chest, neck and throat, include your face, up to the crown of your head. By the end of the practice you will feel an overall sense of energetically charged comfort.
Stop Smoking Meditation: An analysis of 198 independent outcomes, published in Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly in 1994, found that meditation provided greater reductions in tobacco, alcohol and non-prescription drug use than standard substance abuse treatments. Additionally, over time, improvement continued from meditation practice. The practice follows the following three rules: Stop yourself when you reach for a cigarette.Cease all other activity while smoking.Completely enjoy the experience of smoking that cigarette.
No matter what activity you engage in, when you notice yourself reaching for a cigarette, stop whatever you are doing and focus completely on smoking that cigarette. If you are reading, stop and smoke. If you are in other people's company, excuse yourself and go to a private place and enjoy that cigarette. Give your full attention to smoking the cigarette, feel its warmth in your fingers, look at the bright orange colour of the cigarette butt lit up. Look at the smoke, enjoy its taste as the smoke travels through your mouth, throat and into your lungs.
At first, don't be hard on yourself, stick to the three rules. The tricky part is stopping yourself as you reach for the cigarette. Your awareness will improve with time.
The act of enjoying a cigarette is the meditation. The key is enjoyment. Set an intention to be totally aware when you are smoking. Let the act of smoking be a beautiful time of reflection without struggles, guilt and effort. Be gentle with yourself!.
In time, you will realize you will need fewer and fewer cigarettes to satisfy your cravings; you will enjoy it more. You may even stop smoking altogether.
Release tension: Daytime stress often causes sleep dysfunction. Who hasn't been in bed rehearsing the day's events over and over and worrying about next day’s meeting, house chores and kids activities? Sound familiar? When you do not sleep soundly, you will be more anxious, reactive and fatigued throughout the day. It can be a vicious cycle.
First, sit comfortably on a cushion, on the floor or on a chair. Gaze down or close your eyes. Slow down your breathing, take comfortable deep slow breaths through your nose.As you inhale, focus on your spine. Feel your spine through your breathing and imagine that you are inhaling through your back, taking in pure, clean, healthy air. As you exhale through your back, try to envision in your mind's eyes, the impurities of your day, flowing out from the soles of your feet and the palm of your hands. Envision the tension, irritations and disappointments leaving your body; view it as a smoky, fog, impure air. As you release the impurities, so does the stress.Now, bring all of your focus to the centre of your heart. Imagine renewed, clean, healing air entering through this centre, sense it circulating in your body. If your mind starts to wonder, guide it back to the meditation. The natural state of the mind is to distract you, be gentle with yourself. Allow the intruding thoughts to pass by, free of judgement.Continue this pattern of air exchange, purifying your body from daily stress and impurities until you feel calm and relaxed.