The purpose of meditation is to relax the body and quiet the mind. Think of your mind as a jar full of liquid. If you keep pouring more in it will overflow, making a big mess.
First we need to clear our thoughts so we have an empty vessel to reset our attitudes and outlooks.
Meditation is simple, but not easy. Simple, because all you do is concentrate on a single point to focus. Not easy, because the minute you try to quiet your mind, you see just how crazy it is!
Every morning, try this for a few minutes:
- Get in a comfortable position- it can be a chair, the floor, or the bed (dangerous as you will probably meditate yourself to sleep!)
- Focus on your breathing, without changing it in any way- simply notice you are breathing
- Find the most noticeable part of your breathing cycle: For example-The expanding and relaxing of your belly, the breath moving in and out through your nose, or your full breathing cycle.
- Keep focused on that area.
- If your mind gets busy, gently and kindly guide it back to focusing on your breath.
- Practice this daily and work your way up to 5 minutes.
- Keep practicing, even if you do not think it is helping. I promise, it will!
Let me know how this worked for you. If you did not even try to do it, what do you think is stopping you?
We have around 60,000 thoughts a day, and I venture to say that most of them are not uplifting! If you have ever tried to quiet your mind, you see just how busy and it is. It is referred to as the “monkey mind” because it is all over the place.
What you think about becomes the reality of who you are, and you live within this limited awareness. Yet, you are much more…
Visualize an ocean. The endless waves on top are your thoughts. They are the most evident and easiest to identify, yet they are only on the surface.
The waves, no matter how strong, are still only a tiny part of the ocean. You keep your focus on the waves alone and your ability to see the oceans enormity is obscured.
You are the entire ocean. Your capacity is astounding and when your mind gets still, even if it for a moment, you are able to can experience what you are capable of.
What is your capacity today?
It is not only the quantity of sleep, but the quality of sleep that is important. Even if you have interrupted sleep, you can have a more restful night, and generate more stamina throughout your day.
A focused breathing practice will help. The benefits of focused breathing are:
- Quiets your mind, bringing you back to the moment
- Brings more oxygen into your body, increasing stamina during the day
- Lowers your heart rate and calms your nervous system
1. Lie on your back in bed, with a pillow under your knees and begin breathing through your nose.
2. Put your attention on your breath without judging or influencing it in any way.
3. Notice the entire breath cycle of inhalation and exhalation.
4. Notice where your breath is most evident to you:
- Is it the movement of air into your nostrils?
- Is it the movement of air in your nose or throat?
- Is it the rise and fall of your belly and chest?
- Is it the entire cycle of your breath?
5. Wherever it is, keep your attention there, staying aware of your breath. There is not right way to notice, simply be aware.
6. As you follow your breath you may notice your attention wandering to your thoughts. If it wanders simply and kindly bring it back to the breath.
Use this technique anytime you wake up in the night, or to get to sleep.
Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you. If it did not work, what do you think happened?
I taught a sleep workshop the other day and the recurring theme was the inability to shut off thoughts. It seems to be an epidemic stemming from our busy, stressed out lives.
Many use medications to help with this problem, and even if they help they produce side effects.
It is a vicious cycle- less sleep at night, less energy during the day.
The twist below has many benefits:
- Calms the nervous system.
- Massages your internal organs, increasing the blood and oxygen supply
- Lengthens and twists the spine.
- Turn off the television and computer and try some bed yoga. It is a simple twist and the benefits are:
- Lie on your back with your head level, and bring your knees to your chest.
- Hold your knees and roll over to the right side, keeping your knees bent at a right angle and let them rest on the bed.
- Slide your left hand to your waist and allow your elbow to rest back, creating a gentle twist to your spine. You can lengthen your arm out beside you, if that is comfortable. If your knees come apart, put a pillow between them.
- Your head will turn toward the right side.
- Stay here for 2-4 minutes noticing your breath, and then do other side.
*If this in any way hurts, come out of pose.
Let me know in the comments below how this works for you. Were you more relaxed going to sleep? Was your mind quieter? If it did not help, what do you think happened?