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Begin Your Meditation Practice

November  19, 2020

Learning to quiet the mind is a challenge for many folks.  Nowadays, there are so many distractions and stimuli especially through our eyes.  The eyes are said to be the gateway to our soul but also our minds. The eyes are the gateway to tap into technology, such as computers, mobile devices, video games, television, Google (WWW), video chat for work, family and friends, that constantly keeps the mind endlessly seeking for more.  This activity can become addictive, and a possible unwillingness for the mind, not the brain, to shut down or off.  This can result or lead to insomnia and anxiety. While COVID 19 begins to spike again, more folks are resorting to more stay home activities and exercise regimens.  This is all well and good but one also needs to focus to silence the mind to compliment a healthy lifestyle.  The problem is many of us just don’t know how to shut off the mind chatter.  Do you want to help to quiet your mind, eliminate insomnia and anxiety?  Here are some starting points that have been taught to me by many great teachers.  First, one needs to find a quiet space and a comfortable seat but not so comfortable it makes you fall asleep even though you might. Use props such as cushions, blocks, pillows, or chairs.  Second, is attempting to close the eyes.  This sounds easy, but many people cannot.  For those who have difficulty closing their eyes, I recommend getting a candle and place it in front of your face so your eyes can gaze at the flame.  Over time, your eyes will gently fall shut but until then a soft gaze is just fine.  Once you are comfortable and your eyes are settled, begin to mentally scan your body. Observe and follow your breath as it flows in and out of your body.  Is it fast, slow, shallow, or irregular? Next, mentally scan the physical body. Without judgement, notice if there is any tension in the body, muscle twitches, or any discomfort and just be with it.  Make subtle adjustments as needed.  Now observe the mind. Without attachment, just notice the thoughts, stories, and conversations you are having and let them float away like a cloud.  To begin the relaxation process, start with long, deep, breaths, during the exhalations, begin to soften the muscles in the face, jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, torso, hips, legs, and your joints.  Your mind will begin to take flight to multiple discussions, emotions, and feelings so you need a focal point or anchor.  I offer breath or mantra.  You can mentally count your inhalations and exhalations. I recommend longer exhales because they relax you more, while inhales energize. For example, inhale slowly for the count of four and exhale for the count of five or six.  You can also try using a mantra.  I recommend “So” “Hum”.  Here you mentally say “SOOOOOO” as you inhale, and mentally say “HUUUMMMMM” as you exhale.  Which ever resonates with you, do them slowly and methodically.  When the mental chatter stops, so can the counting or mantras. If the chatter restarts, throw your anchor back out with a nice slow rhythm.  Once you begin to settle in, your body may go through some transitions like, muscle twitches, yawning, in and out of consciousness, mental anguish, restlessness, or relaxation.  Each time you sit to meditate, the experience will be different, so try not to control it; just let it flow naturally and without judgment.  Meditation takes time and patience.  If you try to force the experience of calm and quiet it will likely backfire and you may become frustrated.  You have to be open to all experiences good, bad, ugly, peaceful, disruptive, or whatever your experience and accept them without judgement as this is part of the healing journey.  Over continued practice, you will be able to sit for longer periods of time, fall into silence quicker, and begin to reap the many benefits of meditation.