Meditation has become an important part of my day to day life. I discovered meditation at a very young age through my Mom. I don't know whether she was purposely teaching me this at that time, but it worked!
I hated to go to sleep as a child. I thought that as soon as I went to bed, the party started and I was missing out on a grand event. On the other hand when I went to bed that's when souls would come to me and that scared me. So to help me over come this my Mom would come and tuck me in tight and sit with me until I was asleep. She would have me close my eyes and speak in a tone that soothed my mind and made me feel so safe. She would start with me bringing my attention to my feet. " Notice how they are relaxed and comfortable. Feel as though they are floating on a beautiful fluffy cloud. Now notice your legs...…" She would move upwards through my entire body until I was so relaxed I would fall asleep before or soon after she reached my head. This was my first experience with meditation.
As I grew up these times faded away and I didn't meditate for many years. I started my meditation practice again about 6 or 7 years ago when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. As I'm sure it does everyone, hearing that I had the big "C" changed my perspective. I looked at all aspects of my life; my relationships, my friends, my family, my job, my eating, and all of my habits. Things were going to change. Part of the big changes made, was to become more present. Meditation was a huge part of that. It allowed me to focus on that one moment and then the next. Never the past and never the future, just the here and now.
I started with guided meditations, I had a very busy mind and it helped to focus on a voice and a journey. I still love guided meditations today, many of which have taken me to all kinds of places to meet all kinds of guides, teachers, angels, and family that have past on.
Today my practice includes; guided meditations, singing bowls, crystals, essential oils, meditation music, walks in nature, Reiki, and being with animals. All of these have had an enormous impact on my life. I do try and do at least 10 minutes of meditation daily as my own personal goal. On days that I have clients for readings or Reiki I usually do 20-30 minutes.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND MEDITATION
So why do people feel better when they meditate? Well the technical answer hasn't been concluded but they have found the following:
The analgesic effect (pain relieving) of Mindful Meditation involves multiple brain mechanisms including the activation of the anterior cingulate cortex (in charge of communication between the left and right side of the brain) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (where fear and risk are processed). In addition, brief periods of Mindful Meditation training increases the amount of grey matter (processing assistant) in the hippocampus (the center of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system) and parietal lobe (concerned with the reception and correlation of sensory information). Other neural changes resulting from Mindful Meditation may increase the efficiency of attentional control.
Basically Meditation slows down the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. This allows the above mentioned areas of the brain to relax and therefore the body follows suit. There are more than enough research papers showing how detrimental stress is on our physical body and mind.
Meditation can assist in stress reduction, better sleep, happier moods, faster healing, stopping addictions, increased immunity, brain development, lengthened attention span, and many, many more.
WAYS TO MEDITATE
As I previously stated I really enjoy guided meditations. There are several different ones available focusing on everything from sleep to energy. There is an app called Insight Timer that is amazing for various meditations both guided and just music. I like to listen to these with headphones, ear buds to the younger generation ;-)
The more traditional meditation sit comfortably and quietly and close your eyes. Start by relaxing your muscles, first in your feet, calves, and thighs, and then by shrugging your shoulders and rolling your head and neck around. Then for the first minute sit quietly with your eyes closed. During that minute thoughts will come and notice that those thoughts come simply and without any effort. Then after a minute or so, silently inside start thinking your mantra in the same simple, effortless way as other thoughts came during that first minute. Slowly repeat thinking your mantra in that same simple, effortless way for 15-30 minutes. (Choose the amount of time based on what suits you.) People will often use a mala to assist with the mantra.
Yoga is another great way to meditate. The positions relate to different chakras (energy centres) in the body, the breathing into the muscles and these centres, focus and allow for the body/mind connection to grow and become calm at the same time.
Walking meditations are wonderful especially as we move into the warmer months. Getting out into nature is very healing. Walking among the forests will help to ground you, water allows you to release emotions, the mountains help with strength. Be present in your walks, notice the ground you're walking on and the scenery around you, allow your thoughts and feelings to come and go.
I teach a meditation course for beginners and advanced which touches on the basic meditation on how to relax your mind and body, to cleaning and clearing your chakras, and onto meeting guides and astral travel. If you're interested in attending a class or would like to know more please contact me.