It is safe to say that over the past decade meditation has become one of the most popular and most effective relaxation and self-development methods. It is now practiced by people of all ages, faith traditions, lifestyles and social backgrounds.
• Doctors actively recommend it to their patients to help them cope with an increasing amount of work stress, to cure insomnia and even to speed up physical recovery.
• Vast psychological research continues to uncover new “mental” benefits of meditation: from enhanced focus and ability to quickly enter the state of flow to improved decision-making skill.
• Many active meditation practitioners, who take up this practice out of curiosity or for health purposes soon discover something that goes beyond simple stress relief. They gain greater understanding of themselves. Their relationships with people improve. They develop a more optimistic outlook on life and learn to handle effectively whatever comes their way.
And these are only a few of the benefits meditation has to offer. You can read the full list here.
If you are new to meditation or would like to make it a part of your daily ritual, here are 3 of my favorite Simple Meditations that I have personally practiced for more than 10 years now:
1. One-four-two breathing.
One of the simplest and most powerful meditations for both beginners and long-term practitioners is deep breathing exercise. In our hectic lives more and more people feel rushed, overwhelmed, and literally out of breath.
One-four-two meditation is a great way to slow down, relax your body and quieten an overly agitated mind.
1. Find a nice quiet place where you will not be disturbed for 10-15 minutes
2. Sit down comfortably keeping your back straight. You can sit on the floor cross-legged or on any chair with your feet resting on the ground.
3. Close your eyes and rest your hands turned upwards on your lap.
4. Spend a few minutes simply observing your natural breath as it is. Become aware of how the air passes through your nostrils and your throat. Feel your chest rise and fall. Notice tension leaving your body as you exhale gently through your mouth.
5. When you feel your body relax, change the pattern of your breathing. Breath in on the count of one. Hold your breath for four seconds and then breathe out slowly on the count of two.
6. Continue following the one-four-two breathing pattern keeping your attention fully focused on your breath
7. Enjoy the feeling of deep relaxation.
2. Candle meditation.
At the base of any successful meditation lies our ability to be aware and focused on one object at a time, excluding everything else. This state of mind is somewhat similar to how we feel when driving a car. Our mind and body is completely relaxed, yet we are fully concentrated on the road ahead of us. It takes time and practice to achieve this “relaxed concentration” state as our mind is used to flitting from one thought to another.
Candle meditation is one of the best techniques that helps to improve focus and re-learn the art of mono-tasking (versus doing ten things at the same time).
1. Turn down the lights or close your window shades
2. Sit down in a comfortable position, keeping your back straight
3. Light a candle and place it at your eye level, staying arms length away from it.
4. Gaze at the tip of the flame trying to blink as little as possible. Your eyes might start to water, which is good (this is one of the reasons why this meditation is helpful in improving eyesight).
5. Let the flame occupy your mind. If you get distracted by occasional thoughts simply bring your attention back to the candle.
6. After few minutes close your eyes and concentrate on the image of the candle flickering and dancing.
7. Slowly open your eyes and take a few deep breaths
3. Body awareness meditation.
There are thousands of chemical processes going on in our body, yet we hardly notice them. We breathe, eat, walk, lock the door or take our shoes off without being conscious of our actions. Bringing awareness to the sensations and feeling of the body is a great way to obtain deep relaxation and improve focus. There is only one danger of practicing this meditation – if you lie down and get too comfortable you might fall asleep.
1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
2. Breathe deeply. Imagine tension and stress leaving your body with every exhale that you make. If you are distracted by any stiffness or unpleasant sensation in your body, adjust your position, until you feel as natural and comfortable as possible.
3. Slowly bring your attention to your toes, noticing the slightest sensations that you might feel there. Imagine sending your breath to that area, relaxing and filling your toes with warm, healing energy.
4. When that area feels relaxed, let your focus drift up your legs, travel through your torso, along your arms, up your spine, neck and face to the top of your scalp.
5. Feel warmth, tranquility and relaxation washing over your body, leaving you feel rejuvenated and ready to approach whatever situation life puts in your way.
Note: Meditation is a wonderful, creative, profound and non-judgmental practice. There is no such thing as being good or bad at meditating. If you let go of the notion that meditation is for the “spiritual few” and just let yourself enjoy the process, you will soon feel relaxation and peace spill over into your daily life!