The Root chakra

Some time ago we touched on the subject of chakras, and went over some basic information about the seven chakras and what they represent for a person – both in the physical and the spiritual sense. However , it is worth exploring the matter deeper, since these sacred wheels play such a significant role in our well being on every level. Understanding how they work, their influence on our daily existence, and how to keep them in a balance and clean state, can make the difference between health and illness, balance and discord, development and stagnation.

The Root or Base chakra, called Muladhara, is one of the two entry points in the body, where energy enters and exits. It is located at the base of the spine and is associated with the colour Red. The Root chakra connects us with the physical world, it grounds us. It acts as an anchor of our physical body. It is also often thought of in relation to our sexuality and sex life, given that it emanates around a part of our anatomy directly connected to that side of our physical existence. It also speaks to the purely physical aspects of our being – survival, fight or flight response, sexual pleasure, courage. It is the center of animal, primal response, if you will. It is in the Root chakra, that our sense of security is generated, and we need to keep it healthy and clear, in order to develop the remaining six chakras. As with any interconnected energies, imbalance in one will lead, like ripples in water, to imbalance and changes in the others.

Lack of balance or a blockage in the Root chakra leads to physical dis-ease and discomfort. This can manifest as inflammations, pain in various parts of the body – particularly in the musculoskeletal system, lack of energy, fatigue, physical exhaustion. The opposite is true as well, clean and healthy Root chakra allows for free flow of energy from the Earth into the body, recharging, energizing and rejuvenating.

As with all the chakras, the Root chakra also has a corresponding sound or frequency. It all goes back to the understanding that the different energies in the body that the chakras represent, are vibrations, each at its own frequency, with a corresponding colour and sound. That comes at no surprise, given that light and sound are both waves.

So how does one un-block the Root chakra, in order to ensure the free flow of energy through it? There are many exercises, practices and techniques which can be employed. Certain Yoga poses are specifically designed to do just that – Mountain Pose (Tadasana), Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana 1), Corpse Pose (Savasana) and other, more advanced ones. You can do a meditation with affirmations designed to balance the chakra – I am connected to my body – I feel safe and secure. I trust in the goodness of life. I trust myself. I love life. You can use certain stones in the respective colour while meditating, by placing them on top the Root chakra. Such stones are Agate, Black Tourmaline, Bloodstone, Hematite, Tiger’s Eye. Another powerful technique is to inhale slowly and deeply and exhale the Oum sound, feeling it coming all the way down from the base of the spine, letting it vibrate all the way up as the air leaves your body. An experience Reiki healer can also work on un-blocking the chakra for you. All in all, you will find tons of information out there. Explore and try out different ways, until you find something that works for you. You will know it is the right way, when you notice the physical effect is has on your body.

The steps above are just the first part of a process, designed to clear the energy pathways in the body, by opening up all the chakra, so the energy can flow freely. In the articles to follow, we will explore the rest of them in succession. Until then, love and light.

Namaste.

Advertisements

Step into self-healing

No pain, no gain? Come on! Pain is an illusion, but still, feeling it is a horrible thing. Physical pain can be extremely exhausting and frustrating. You might have the most positive attitude to life in general, but when pain calls, you often have no other option but scream and shout in the receiver. Because when you are in pain, all your positive thoughts happen to be left far behind. Your mind is so blurred that you can’t even think straight. Grumpy and mordant, all hell breaks loose around that hurting you. Well, at least, more often than not, that’s my case. And considering the fact I don’t get quite along with painkillers and all that chemistry, I used to suffer and wait for the pain to go away on its own, which, I must admit, was a bit too challenging at times. However, quiet suffering is not the only way to deal with pain. And rather pointless, for that matter. I recently discovered how powerful human mind can be. And used along with human will (yet another powerful tool), there is no such thing as unhealable wound. So why suffer?

The first step towards healing, of course, is to identify the cause. Identifying the source is the only way you could deal with physical pain. And that’s even more relevant when it’s not about pain that is due to particular physical activity, such as in occupational diseases. For example, if you spend too much time on the PC, it’s rather likely you’d suffer from tendovaginitis or harm your vision at some point. But when pain is not directly related to your daily activities, it has been found out that physical issues are often related to emotional or mental problems. Feeling despair, powerlessness and lack of success could result in an abscess. Allergies could express internal conflict you might experiencing. Arthritis could show that maybe you are too self-critical or consider yourself too selfish. And if your arms hurt, for instance, you might be experiencing doubt in your ability or usefulness. The list goes on and on, but you have to start somewhere. So, first of all, assess your situation and dig deep to find the real cause of your pain. Even if you can’t really tell the reason of your suffering, it’s always possible to influence it and improve your health condition. And besides focusing on the usual suspects in terms of physical health – living and eating healthy, and ensuring enough physical activity – you also need to find the time to work on your spiritual health. This, among others, can be achieved through a number of meditation and breathing practices. Here I’d like to emphasize that you, being all in all nothing but divine energy, have the power to make everything alright. Be it in your physical reality, or in your spiritual world, you have the ability and capacity to make miracles happen. You don’t believe it? Well, do! Have some faith, will ya? Plus, I wouldn’t lie to our faithful blog followers, would I? So, start by believing that anything is possible and you are the genuine miracle-maker in your life.

Let me give you a simple example on how to deal with pain. Physical or mental, it makes no difference, the approach is all the same. Sit down and meditate. (Yes, as simple as that.) Take a few deep breaths and feel physical relaxation, emotional calm, and mental stillness. In your head, go to a peaceful scene that makes you feel calm, relaxed, and safe. Then pick a sankalpa. That is, a concept or notion, coming from the bottom of your heart. The sankalpa should set and express your deepest intention on what you want to achieve with this practice. For example: “I am healthy”, “I am free of pain”, or “I am healing”. Repeat it at least three times, saying the words out loud, quietly to yourself, or hear them as a thought. Whatever the case may be, say it like you mean it. It is very important that you believe what you’re saying, so use the greatest emotional input you’re capable of. The more you believe, the sooner you’ll achieve the desired results.

Now visualize your body and locate the pain. See it clearly, feel it in full. Dive into it. Then feel compassion to yourself for all that suffering. Open your heart by focusing on your Heart Chakra and visualizing a light green light. Feel that sacred love you have for yourself spreading all over your body. Take a few moments to feel peaceful and loved unconditionally. Afterwards, direct that energy to the place where you feel the pain. Inhale from the Heart Chakra and exhale from the painful place, seeing the pain materializing as a dark cloud of particles, passing through your skin and dissolving completely in the air. Let go of the pain and feel the relief. Keep breathing like that in and out, keep visualizing. See wounds healing, feel the pain going away, see yourself healthy and happy. It might take some time, but you will surely feel the difference. Do this practice every morning and every evening or whenever pain starts to bother you during the day.

You may also use this practice to heal emotional wounds. Take account of your issue. Try to see the situation as objectively as possible, free of guilt and accusations. It’s all an illusion after all, it’s all in your head, so accept others and yourself just the way that you are, nothing more and nothing less. Then let go of the emotional blockages that back you down and impede you from advancing. It is what it is, right? Yes. Until you change it. So you either do so or try to make the most out of it. Just make sure you take the time to work on the respective issue and you’ll see the situation changing every day for the better. Namasté.

Shower meditation

As you know, there are many types of meditation. Buddhist meditation, Vipassana meditation, mindfulness meditation, OM meditation, yoga meditation, chakra meditation, and breathing meditation, to name a few. You have a great variety to choose from depending on what you need or want to achieve by practicing meditation.

However, finding the time to actually sit down and meditate is sometimes a great challenge. Nonetheless, you could always use little tricks to get you calm and relaxed no matter where you are and what you’re doing, so take a few minutes to recharge. Now, meditation is in essence based on controlling your ever-wandering conscious mind and stepping back from your thoughts. If you can manage to do that only for a while, you’ll certainly feel the difference. So let’s say you’re traveling. You could always use the travel time to calm down your mind by using a simple mantra. Mantra could be a simple sentence or affirmation, or basically any phrase that is repeated again and again. For example, it could be “I am calm” or “I am strong”, or “I am happy”. Or even a phrase like “The sky is blue”. Any phrase would do if repeated enough. But I’ll take a closer look at the power of mantras in one of the following articles. Right now, I’d like to suggest a type of meditation, that is both simple and effective. Most of us find it difficult to take an hour for proper meditation and that’s where shower meditation would come handy.

So, how to do it? Well, first of all start with getting in the shower. 🙂

Make the water as warm or cold as you prefer and take a few moments to enjoy it. Water is an unimaginable force, but you already know that. This is the power of life, so imagine that power pouring all over you. Visualize a shower of warm light covering your body all over. Imagine this great power cleaning your thoughts, gradually emptying your head from all thoughts. Visualize darker spots all over your body, representing your fatigue, anxiety, troubles, worries, doubts, uncertainty, and even physical pain. If a certain body part hurts, imagine how that shower of light makes the pain go away down the drain. Generally see all negativity washed away, leaving you light and clean. After that initial soul cleansing, start the recharging phase. See that pleasant and nourishing light coming out of the shower head penetrating every single pore of your skin, charging you with energy, strength, and power. Feel that energy filling you up just like an empty glass or a sand watch. Now’s the time to add a mantra to help you switch on the happiness button in your mind. Pick one or a few at your choice and repeat as many times as you want to. Personally, I use a powerful set of phrases I made up myself. You can use any or all of them, or a completely different one, if you wish. It’s all up to you. Mine go like this:

“I am the Universe and the Universe is me.

I am the Power and the Power is me.

I am the Light and the Light is me.

I am the Love and the Love is me.

I open myself to Universal wisdom.

I open myself to Universal power.

I open myself to Universal healing.”

Now, I know this might sound a bit stilted, but I definitely feel that wisdom, power, and healing spreading all over my whole being while I repeat these phrases. Being aware that you form indeed a significant part of the Universe and that you have the genuine source of power, knowledge and wisdom inside of you, opens the door to all these and could only do you good. So use the mantras mentioned above or choose one of your own depending on your situation. Listen to your inner Self and you’ll hear what will work best for you and it will. Just make sure to include the “I am…” part. This is the most powerful mantra of them all. Using this mantra creates self-confidence, brings inner peace and eventually results in that mantra projecting into your own reality.

In conclusion, I know that you are busy. We all are. And I know that you’re joggling through life with a number of tasks and duties all at once. But you could always invest a few minutes in your inner peace and I assure you that the positive results will be definitely worth it. Now, how about a shower? 🙂

Go metta

As promised before, I’m gonna tell you some more about metta meditation, or loving-kindness meditation. If you ever feel sad or depressed, know that there’s no faster mood booster. Some time ago I was in a very bad place myself. And even though I knew it was all temporary, it didn’t feel good at all, so I tried a few ways to improve my mood, but nothing worked. Then I remembered about metta meditation and it took just half an hour to feel the difference. So, in case you don’t already know, let me tell you what’s it all about and how it’s done.

Loving-kindness meditation is all about pure, unconditional love. It’s about wishing yourself and others well. It’s not based on judging whether you deserve it or not, just giving love to yourself because it feels so good to be loved. Now, I know that it might sound a bit narcissistic, but trust me, nothing like it. Because to be able to open to others implies you open to yourself first. And in order to accept and love people, you must first accept and love yourself, right? Right. Unconditionally. And that takes a little time and practice.

So, let’s say you have some troubles – may be at work, with someone, or regarding anything else – that give you a hard time. You reflect on the issue, but you just can’t find the right way to deal with it. What you normally do, is put all of your attention in the situation, putting all else on the back burner. And when your attention goes, your energy flows. One of the things that could help you deal with that more easily, is, of course, meditation. Any meditation would normally do, but the power of metta is that it makes you forget why you were worried about in the first place. Metta is an expression of love, kindness, care, and tenderness to people. All people, you included.

Metta meditation is basically a repetition of a few phrases (usually three, but not necessarily), directing them at different people – first yourself and then others. To start the practice, sit comfortably. Start as with any other meditation, by observing your breathing, you may even count if it helps for your concentration. Make a body scan, just observing the different body parts and organs. Notice the blood and fluid flowing in your system, the sensations on the skin. If any thoughts pop up, don’t follow them, just gently let them go. Get back to your breathing, this helps to focus. Try to relax as much as possible and when you believe you are ready, focus on your heart center. It helps if you visualize green – be and breathe green, as this is the color of the Heart chakra. Look for the compassion that dwells in each one of us. Breathe in and out your heart center, focus on that area only and feel the warmth in your heart. Then pick some phrases that would be relevant to you and repeat them three times. These could be:

May I be happy.

May I be healthy.

May I be free from suffering.

You may add some more or use only one. It’s up to you.

Then think of a person that really brings your compassion to a whole new level. It could be your significant other, your child, a friend, a pet, anyone who could make your heart melt. Use the same phrases for them, transforming them. Wish them to be happy, healthy and free from suffering. Repeat three times. Then think of someone you see regularly, but you feel nothing particular for them – neither positive, nor negative feeling. Wish them the same. So far so good, but then comes the challenge. Think of someone you are in conflict with and then try to wish them all the same – to be happy, healthy and free from suffering. That’s the part you’ll find the most difficult. And probably you’ll find yourself being dishonest or just not wishing them that with all your heart. But it’s all a part of the practice, so just do your best and see how it goes.

When finished wishing everybody well, it’s time for some visualization. Imagine that with every inhale, your heart center becomes bigger and bigger, that it feels warmer and warmer, and with every exhale, spread that energy out in the world. Feel the light beaming from you, filling up the entire room, building, city, then the world.

Well, that’s about it. When you feel down, depressed, confused, or just blue, go metta. Just open your heart for people, feel the bliss of spreading love and forget all your worries in the process. Give it a shot.

Namaste!

Life is suffering

The first noble truth of Buddhism states that Life is suffering. One reads this and goes: Huh? Really? That’s what life’s about? But delving deeper into this simple phrase, there are layers of wisdom to be found.

Suffering, the wise man goes, is caused first and foremost by attachment. Attachment to people, to things, to memories, to desires, and worst of all to results. We all know the last one, we all fall in its trap day in and day out. It’s called Having expectations. You see, at the core of everything we feel, think, do or choose, sit two primal forces – love and fear. And when we get attached to something or someone, we begin acting out of fear. Fear of losing that which we have. Fear of going without that which we have obtained. All the while ignorant of the simple fact, that nothing we “have” is truly ours. Everything that enters our lives at one point or another, is simply passing through. Experiences come along to teach us something about ourselves, people stop by for a while to show us a different perspective, challenges appear to help us grow. And things, well, things don’t last anyway. Fearing the loss of that we think we have causes us to worry about a future without it, instead of enjoying a present with it. So we spend time and energy and money building walls around our “possessions”, physical or otherwise. We don’t share the abundant gifts of life out of fear that there won’t be enough left for us. We limit the freedom of those we claim to love out of fear that they will leave us and love us no more.

We chase careers and success, thinking that we will be happy when we reach the next promotion, get the next pay raise. All the while having no time to enjoy life because we are too busy slaving away. We have substituted our happiness with one or other form of success, thus placing its source where it is not – outside ourselves. How often do you hear yourself or someone around you say “I have to go and get this, I have to go and buy that, I have to do, I have to get, I have to be….”. The list goes on. Truth is, there is nothing we have to do. There is nothing we have to ‘achieve’. There is nobody we have to become. All we have to do is be. Right here, right now, fully present in the only moment we actually have. Instead of being afraid about the things we cannot get, or losing the stuff we already do, love ourselves for who we are and love each moment of every day, as if it’s the only one. Because it is.

But let me back-track a little. That short phrase I mentioned before, attachment to results? Oh yeah, we don’t really notice that one too well, do we. But it’s the worst of them all. Expecting outcomes not rooted in reality, wishful thinking without foundation or reason. Placing expectations on people is as unfair as it gets. Denying someone the right to be themselves and expecting them to be who you wish them to be. And then bitterly complaining about the disappointment. We do it all the time. And we do it to ourselves, too. Worst, we do it to ourselves. We create pressure to work hard, to do the right thing, always. To deliver what in turn is expected of us. To compete, to achieve, to accomplish, to obtain. The world has set the standard and we feel like failures every time we don’t manage to meet it. That is the bad news. The good news is that we can make a different choice. We can substitute attachment and desire with acceptance, appreciation and gratitude. Because the moment you feel grateful for what you have, you stop worrying about that which you don’t. The moment you share it all with another, you declare that you have enough. The moment you let go of everything, you get it all back. You are rich not when you don’t lack anything, but when you don’t need anything.

So be grateful for every breath of fresh air. Appreciate the smile of a stranger in the street. Accept the flaws of those who care about you. Leave the job you hate, and find your true calling instead. Show kindness, to yourself and to all around you. Tell fear to take a hike, and give love a chance. Because you are perfect, and beautiful, and wonderful. In all your flaws and imperfections, you are exactly who you’re supposed to be, right here and right now. Give thanks, send out light and just be.

Namaste.

The sacred wheels

We are all energy beings, which is not that hard to imagine, considering the fact that everything around is nothing but energy. The energy of life is flowing throughout our bodies all the time via thousands of energy centers, but there are seven of them, which are considered major. They are located along the spine, starting from the base of the spine through to the crown of the head. All seven chakras help to regulate the body processes, from organ function to the immune system and emotions. Now, you probably know that in Sanskrit the word chakra means “wheel” and each of those wheels governs specific functions and has its own vibrational frequency, so in order to visualize a chakra, you could imagine a swirling wheel of energy, each of the relevant color as described below. The first three chakras are referred to as chakras of matter, i.e. more physical in nature. The fourth one represents the connection between matter and spirit, while the remaining three are referred to as chakras of spirit. This article aims to provide a brief description of the seven main chakras, which are essential to our body functions and overall physical existence. Here we go.

The Root chakra (Muladhara)

1_root

Located at the base of your spine, the first chakra is the chakra of stability, security, and our basic needs. It is associated with security and safety, survival, physicality, physical identity and aspects of self, grounding.

When imbalanced, Muladhara might result in excessive negativity, cynicism, eating disorders, greed, avarice, illusion, and excessive feeling of insecurity, living on survival mode.

The Sacral chakra (Svadhisthana)

Located just below your navel, this is the chakra of sensuality and creativity. It’s associated with emotions, feelings, relationships, relating, expression of sexuality, sensual pleasure, feeling the outer and inner worlds, creativity, and fantasies.

When imbalanced, Svadhisthana might result in dependency on other people or substances, being ruled by your emotions, feeling numb, out of touch with yourself and how you feel, overindulgence in fantasies, sexual obsessions, lack of sexual desire or satisfaction, feeling stuck in a particular feeling or mood.

The Solar Plexus chakra (Manipura)

Located at your solar plexus area, this is the chakra of expression of will, personal power, and mental abilities. It’s associated with taking responsibility for your life, taking control, mental abilities, the intellect, forming personal opinions and beliefs, making decisions, setting the direction, clarity of judgments, personal identity, personality, self-assurance, confidence, self-discipline, independence.

When imbalanced, Manipura might result in excessive control and authority over your environment and people, feeling of helplessness, irresponsibility, being obsessed with minute details, losing the big picture, being manipulative, misusing your power, lack of clear direction, lack of purpose or ambition, making plans or having a lot of ideas without finding efficient ways to realize them.

The Heart chakra (Anahata)

Located at the center of your chest, this is the chakra of compassion, love, and beauty. It’s associated with the capacity to love, integration, bridge between earthly and spiritual aspirations, transcending personal identity and limitations of the ego, experience of unconditional love and connection with all, heart-centered discernment, appreciation of beauty in all things, experiencing deep and meaningful relationships.

When imbalanced, Anahata might result in being overly defensive, feeling closed down, jealousy, fear of intimacy, codependency, relying on other’s approval and attention, trying to please at all cost, always putting oneself in the role of the savior or the rescuer or falling into victimization, excessive isolation, being recluse, antisocial, holding grudges, inability to forgive.

The Throat chakra (Vishudda)

Located at the center of your neck at the level of the throat, this is the chakra of expression and communication. It’s associated with expression, ability to express your truth, to speak out, verbal and non-verbal communication, connection with the etheric realm, the more subtle realms of spirit and intuitive abilities, propensity to create, projecting ideas and blueprints into reality, realizing your vocation, purpose, good sense of timing.

When imbalanced, Vishudda might result in lack of control over one’s speech; speaking too much or inappropriately, not being able to listen to others, excessive fear of speaking, imperceptible voice, inability to keep secrets or keep your word, telling lies, excessive secretiveness or shyness, lack of connection with a vocation or purpose in life.

The Third Eye chakra (Ajna)

Located between your eyebrows, this is the chakra of intuition and foresight. It’s associated with vision, intuition, perception of subtle dimensions and movements of energy, psychic abilities related to clairvoyance and clairaudience, access to mystical states, illumination, connection to wisdom, insight, motivation of inspiration and creativity.

When imbalanced, Ajna might result in feeling stuck in the daily grind without being able to look beyond your problems and set a guiding vision for yourself, fantasies that appear more real than reality, indulgence in psychic fantasies and illusions, inability to establish a vision for oneself and realize it, rejection of everything spiritual or beyond the usual, not being able to see the big picture, lack of clarity.

The Crown chakra (Sahasrara)

Located at the top of your head, the seventh chakra is the one of higher consciousness. Sahasrara means “thousand petals”, so it’s often depicted or visualized with a thousand-petaled lotus. It’s associated with consciousness, awareness of higher consciousness, wisdom, of what is sacred, connection with the formless, the limitless, realization, liberation from limiting patterns, communion with higher states of consciousness, ecstasy, bliss, presence.

When imbalanced, Sahasrara might result in being disconnected to spirit, constant cynicism regarding what is sacred, living in your head, being disconnected from your body and earthly matters, obsessive attachment to spiritual matters, closed-mindedness.

As you can see, vital energy force flowing freely through all these chakras is crucial, therefore energy blockages might result in illness and various disorders. In the following articles I’m gonna go into detail for all seven, one by one.

Namaste.

A quick guide to meditation – Part III

When starting out with meditation, the hardest part is to control the flow of our thoughts. They keep popping into our heads, distracting us and making our minds wander. This active mental state also keeps our brains in a conscious and alert state, preventing us from going deeper within and lessening the benefit of the meditation itself. The practice is, after all, about going deeper within and disconnecting from the physical world, so the incessant chatter of the conscious mind tends to get in the way of that. Our physical bodies, including our conscious minds, are energy vibrating at a level low enough, so it can take a physical form and shape and allow us to experience life in the relative way of physical reality. Whereas the purpose of meditation is to raise our vibration, elevate above the constraints of the matter and into the realm of ‘ultimate reality’, outside the bonds of time and space. And when we go deep within, our brains also change their wave output, getting us closer to the same state we experience when in deep sleep, but with the benefit of being awake and aware.

Just as the brain begins to output electromagnetic waves at lower frequencies when we reach a state of deep meditation, so can external input of those frequencies bring us quicker to a meditative state. There are many useful tools out there, that will help you with the task of quieting your mind and putting your brain in the right ‘wavelength’. I find it useful to use an app (search for Binaural beats or sounds), that generates low Delta frequencies which put me in the desired state and saves me the time it usually takes to bring myself ‘down’.

In the last post on the subject I described a way to do a cleansing meditation, where we get to let go of negativity and mental and emotional burdens. This meditation is particularly beneficial at the end of the day, before we go to sleep. Apart from generally cleansing ourselves of negative thoughts and emotions, we can also visualize the process of letting go of specific events, experiences and emotions from the past day. Since everything we experience throughout the day is processed and stored by our subconscious during sleep, it helps to let go of anything painful, negative and counterproductive, so it’s not kept inside the long-term storage of the mind, where it will influence future decisions and choices and the experience of life itself.

A useful technique I find to work very well, is to picture yourself on a beach, ankle-deep in the water (some waves background music comes in very handy to set the scene). As you breathe and watch the waves come in and out, ‘see’ your daily events that you wish to get rid of and watch the waves come in, grab them and drag them away, as if they were large pebbles or rocks. Repeat that for as long as you can, until every unpleasant word, thought, action or feeling of the past day has been washed away by the waves. Then slowly walk into the water, lie floating on your back, and feel it washing you clean, scrubbing away all your worries and troubles. Invite in a feeling of peace, happiness and contentment. And after a while, now completely at peace, swim or walk back to the shore, feel the sand between your toes, feel the lightness in your step, breath in the fresh ocean air. And after three deep breaths, open your eyes and be here.

Make this evening meditation part of your daily routine and soon you will notice how the stresses of yesterday no longer disturb the peace of today. Having let go of the past worries means no longer wasting time over what has been and focusing instead on what is now. It helps you stay in the present and enjoy the moment without the fear, guilt or regret that comes from looking at the past.

Until next time, love and light.

Namaste.

A quick guide to meditation – Part II

‘Meditation’ seems to have become a buzzword of sorts lately. Countless apps, blogs, articles, pages upon pages talk and teach about how to meditate, why meditate. We are overwhelmed with information on the subject. It’s only logical that one should take a closer look at all this information, trying to find a unified truth, a simple guide that would shows us, in words plain and simple to follow, how and why we should engage in this practice, as old as humanity itself.

I’m not going to list the countless benefits of daily meditation, I leave that to you to explore. But what I’ll try to do, is give you something useful, something you can take and use on a daily basis, together with a brief explanation of what meditation really is and why it works.

Looking at all the available information out there, I can’t help but notice something that, well… quite frankly bugs me. There seem to be two very different ideas about meditation floating around. A lot of people see it as a tool for relaxation, something to do at the end of a long stressful day so they can take the edge off and calm down just a bit. Or sleep better. Or even brag about, using it as a tool in a competition for ‘most enlightened in the neighbourhood’. And while any reason to get a person to meditate is in itself a good thing, this way of thinking gets people to miss what meditation is really all about.

Which is the second way of seeing it – the purpose of meditation is to bring awakening, awareness, enlightenment and spiritual growth. And that, my dear friends, is a life’s work. It’s not a quick fix, not a pill you can take whenever life gets a bit tougher. It’s a way of life, a way of seeing life, a way of being in life. And like all lifelong pursuits, it’s done one day at a time. One meditation at a time. One breath at a time.

So at this point I can almost hear you asking – Yeah, yeah, enough with the theory. How do we actually do it? The answer is “Be still and be quiet”. It is in stillness and in silence that we let go of the world around us, and we turn inward, where peace and light exist. Meditation will not help you find inner peace, for you never lost it in the first place. It will rather help you remember that you’ve had it in you all along. All you have to do is let it shine. And that you do in stillness and silence.

Noise exists everywhere. In the room or home around us, but also in our own heads. The endless stream of thoughts that never seems to quiet down is just as distracting as the neighbour upstairs, playing with his power drill on Sunday morning. Learning to quiet one’s own mind is probably the biggest challenge you will face. That is the bad news. The good news is that with time and practice, you can become the master of your mind. Believe me, it’s possible. And once you do, you gonna take this whole game to a totally new level.

Begin small, and let it build up in duration and depth. Choose a time when you won’t be disturbed. Go to the quietest room in the house. Switch off your phone, TV, stereo. Create a bubble of silence. Wear loose, comfortable clothes. Sit with your spine straight, your hands in your lap, palms on top of each other facing up. Close your eyes. Notice all noises and distractions around you. Acknowledge them, then mark them irrelevant and let them go. And bring your focus to yourself.

At first all you need is to relax. Start at the top of your body, with your face muscles, jaw, neck. Focus on each body part and feel it relax, one after the other. Shoulders, arms, down to the fingertips. Chest, abdomen, legs, toes. Visualise all the tension and discomfort in your body draining out of you into a puddle on the floor. And for a few moments just sit there and breathe. Bring all your attention and awareness to your breath. Watch it, don’t force it or try to control it. Just observe your body moving with your breath, your chest going up and down, the feeling of air at the tip of your nostrils.

Now see inside your body, in the centre of your chest, a cloud of dark smoke. It’s the sum of everything negative and out-of-balance in you – anger, sadness, fear, doubts, stress, worry, illness and pain. See it coming out of every cell of your body and concentrating into that cloud around your heart. Feel the weight and the pressure it puts on your chest.

And now, one breath at the time, watch yourself slowly exhaling that dark smoke. Let yourself draw a breath, and as you let it out, see a small puff of dark smoke leave your body. And as it does, see the cloud in your chest become just a touch smaller. Without strain or tension, continue to breathe, and count your breaths on their way out. Until all the black smoke has left your chest, until you are left clean and fresh. And feel the lightness on your chest, feel the energy in your body flowing freely, now that you have freed it from this heavy burden. Smile at yourself, congratulate yourself.

When you first start out, your mind will wander. You will get distracted, thoughts will pop into your head. Don’t stress, it’s quite normal. With more practice it will happen less and less. Just notice that thought, mark it irrelevant, and let it go saying to yourself – I see you, and I will deal with you later. For your first meditation commit to a certain number of breaths, say 50 or 70. And make sure that at the last breath you count, you’ve let go of all the smoke. As you progress with the practice, let the count go higher. Increase by 5 or 10 every day. Soon you will get to a point where the smoke is all gone, but you can’t bring yourself to stop, that’s how peaceful and quiet it is here.

After you’re done, do not jump off your seat. Gently open your eyes and slowly bring your awareness to the world around you. Get up slowly, stay quiet if it feels ok. And take that feeling of peace into your day, or sleep. Until the next time.

Take this as a starting point and try to do it every morning and every evening. It’s ok if you miss a session, do not feel guilty that you’ve ‘broken the chain’. Just  make an effort next time. Soon it will stop being something you make yourself do, but it will rather become something that is part of your life and part of who you are.

In upcoming post I will write about different meditation techniques that you can use to keep the practice more varied. But I will also spend a little more time on the subject of why it’s good to meditate, how it works in the long run and what’s the purpose of it all anyway.

Until then, happy meditating!

 

Namaste.

A quick guide to meditation – Part I

I remember people talking about meditation 20 years ago along with practicing yoga and to me, this was some odd and distant world. In my mind back then, people meditating meant them twisting their bodies in impossible yoga poses and entering into some trance state, repeating the sound of OM again and again. It all seemed to be intended for people, who have completely rejected the physical part of their lives, focusing on nothing but the spiritual world.

Later on, from yet another trend, meditation had gradually become a lifestyle. The perfect means to fight stress in our everyday routine, so they claimed. All of a sudden, there were meditation classes, articles on the matter, various advice on meditation practices, etc. It became more and more popular among the general public, drawing the attention of ordinary people (if I may put it that way), including mine.

As time went by, I felt the inner urge to practice it myself. I made a few attempts, but quite inconsistently, I must admit. This is the time to say that one of the key aspects of meditation is persistence. Every day, we have our crosses to bear, we are all incredibly busy and have our schedules to meet and agendas to follow. But if you really want to go deeper into meditation, you must find a few minutes to practice on a daily basis. If you think about it, 5, 10, or 20 minutes a day would not be such a great impediment to the agenda, right? One key question arises here, though: Why? What is the purpose of meditation? Why even put the effort and take the time to look inward, when there are so many more important things to do in the outer world… like, all the time? All the time, you are busy being somewhere, doing something – there’s the work, family, duties, obligations, bills to pay. The list goes on and on. We are all so consumed in our mere physical survival, that it’s really hard, sometimes even impossible, to actually take the time to stop and look inside of ourselves. Because that’s exactly what meditation is all about. Taking a break (read, taking the time) to slow down in that ever-changing environment surrounding us. Literally, stealing a moment or two for yourself. Because you know what? You are important. And what is more, you are the most important thing in your life. Peace and light are like a bouncing ball. If you have them deep inside and let them guide you, this is going to show, no doubt about it. The same goes for stress and negativity. By practicing meditation, you raise your vibration to a higher frequency. Raising your vibration means raising the vibration of everyone else in your surroundings. Raising their vibrations means them doing the same for everyone else in their surroundings. To put it simply, when you are happy and peaceful, that enlightens everyone around you. Imagine you’re standing in front of a mirror and everyone else is your reflection. Just remember that peace, smiles, and happiness are all contagious in the best sense of the word. Working on your inner peace every single day enables you to deal with your physical life more easily. In the long run, you will be more focused, satisfied, full of energy, and able to deal with everyday stress with ease. Not always, of course, for life is quite challenging at times, but still often enough to keep your peace of mind intact much longer.

So, where to start? From where I stand, meditation doesn’t need to be complicated. Quite the contrary, in fact. The ultimate goal is to reach for that inner peace (not find it, just reach for it, because it’s there) inside of you and start using it to your own benefit. To the benefit of your higher consciousness. When practicing meditation, you may want to use some aids for background music for example. Or if you’re just starting, a guided meditation would be a good choice, too. The proper music could help you relax and get you in meditation mood much faster. I started a few months ago with a wonderful Android app, called Insight Timer, which provides me with the best solution for various situations so far. They offer a really wide range of guided meditations divided into topics and also the option of customizable timers, which I deem a great plus. All you have to do is just find a few minutes for yourself. But before you start, don’t forget to switch your phone off, as well as any other ringing and beeping devices, which might interfere. Because this one is for you. This is your moment. It’s all about you and to your own good, so enjoy it. Just put the headphones on and take off on that great journey to your higher inner self.

 (To be continued.)