• Dianne Levine

All About Meditation

“Meditation if the practice of living deeply each moment of daily life” - Thich Nhat Hahn


How many have practiced meditation? How many are able to practice daily? And how do you feel after meditation? Do you have a Monkey Mind? I am a mother, wife, nurse, business manager, coach, to-do list completer, student – the racket in my brain follows me everywhere!


Imagine meditation and other stress management tools as the third leg of a 3-legged stool of good health. One leg is nutrition, one leg is exercise. Without all 3 legs, the stool will not stand. That is how important meditation is to your overall health. Your ability to handle life’s stressors is just as important for your survival as the food you eat and the condition of your body.


I remember my first practice a few years ago, I had been marathoning, trekking, biking, skiing with pain and an worn out hip! What relief! And another time when I experienced my first yoga nidra class, deep relaxation – I could not lift my arms up off the floor – I was giggling to myself as everyone else was rolling up their mats. I want more of this!


MEDITATION FACTS

  • Cheap

  • Simple, inexpensive resource with a profound impact on your health

  • You breathe in and breathe out without conscious thought

  • If you don’t breathe – you die!

  • No drugs!


WHAT IS MEDITATION?

  • Can take many forms – momentary inhale, exhale and approach the conflict, tension or stress with a new mindset

  • “Relaxation Response” – is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to STRESS.

  • You are oxygenating your body properly and correcting your internal and energetic balance = direct impact on your nervous system


MEDITATION BENEFITS

  • Thickens the cortical areas of the brain, specifically memory and attention

  • Metabolism decreases

  • Heart beat slows and muscles relax

  • Respiratory system – reduce mental & physical fatigue when breathing slows; toxic CO2 waste eliminated through breath

  • Circulatory system – improves circulation = Blood pressure decreases

  • Study at the Benson-Henry Institute even found to alter genetic expression with only 20 minutes of passive guided meditation per day

  • Nervous system – CALM

  • Digestive system – massages internal organs

  • Endocrine system – diaphragm pushes lymph throughout the body = eliminate toxic wastes and strengthen immune system

  • Urinary system – helps eliminate fluids and massage the kidneys

  • Skin – appearance changes with improved blood flow

  • Anyone can do it!

WHEN SHOULD I MEDITATE?

  • Ideal to pick the same time each day, whether morning or evening or both!

WHERE SHOULD I MEDITATE?

  • Ideally anywhere; best to start in a quiet place, perhaps with music or not; best not to do while driving

  • Good to get started with a group

HOW DO I MEDITATE?

  • Various postures – sitting, standing, supine, kneeling, walking

  • I would like to now walk you through a simple guided meditation using the breath to de-STRESS and I hope and encourage you to share this with your future clients.

FIVE-EIGHT MINUTE MEDITATION/STRESS REDUCER

  • Before beginning, perhaps stretch your arms up with a deep inhale and sigh it out. Repeat as many times as necessary.

  • Begin by bringing awareness to the body and where the body is touching the chair, the ground if you are sitting or lying down.

  • Become aware of the whole body, and align the body with gravity

  • Make sure the body is comfortable, relaxed and supported

  • Drop the shoulders down the back, relax the jaw

  • Become aware of the breath, the natural breath, do not try to change it

  • Observe the quality and texture of the breath – smooth, rough, fast, slow, deep, shallow, length – long or short. Continue for 2-3 minutes

  • Now begin to expand the length of the breath – perhaps breathe in to a count of 3 or 4 and out for a count of 3 or 4.

  • Now expand it by counting to say 4, then 5, then 6, etc. until you might notice it is becoming slightly difficult and then stay expanded for 1-2 minutes breathing in and out and observing your breath. ( Do not go beyond 12)

  • Should be no struggle, just a feeling of expansion, bringing more energy and prana into the body.

  • Notice that your out breath is longer than your in breath or the same. Observe.

  • After 1 or 2 minutes return to “natural breath”. Follow for 1-2 minutes. Notice any subtle changes from when you started.

  • Perhaps it is easier to breathe now, perhaps the length is longer or the quality of the breath has changed. No judgment!

  • Perhaps also observe the state of the body and of the mind

WORDS TO GUIDE THE BREATH

  • *Breathing in I’m aware I’m breathing in, breathing out I am aware I’m breathing out – IN/ OUT

  • *Breathing in I breathe deeply, breathing out I breathe slowly – DEEPLY/ SLOWLY

  • *Breathing in I am aware of my belly rising, breathing out I feel the belly falling – RISING/ FALLING

  • *Breathing in I am aware of my whole body, breathing out I calm the body – BODY/ CALMING

  • *Breathing in I calm the body, breathing out I release the Mind – CALMING/ EASING

  • *Breathing in I smile to the body, breathing out I release the Mind – SMILING/ RELEASING

  • *Breathing in I’m aware I’m breathing in, breathing out I am aware I’m breathing out – IN/ OUT

SENSATIONS & THE BREATH

As we breathe in the body expands, the body opens like a flower, there is a slight outer rotation of the joints; as we breathe out the body contracts and each joint rotates inward.


Feel the breath at the tip of the nostrils, a cool sensation, and the warm moist sensation at the breath leaves. Move your attention to the throat, then chest (expanding), then belly ( rising and falling)


Then move your awareness to the whole body; follow the path of breath through the whole body. Notice the wave like motion created in the body by the breath; the spines undulates with each in and out breath; the pelvis rocks backwards and forwards.

Conclude by focusing on the in and out breath.


EIGHT WEEK PRACTICE

This is an eight week practice to become more aware of the breath; important to just be aware of the breath and the sensations of the breath in the body, how the body moves with each breath.


First 6 weeks we use 3 different methods for counting ( not important to get to 10); just become aware of the breathing; if you lose track just go back to 1. No Judgment / Just become aware.


Week 1 /2 – Breathe in and out – in 1 out 2, in 3 out 4, in 5 out 6, in 7 out 8, in 9 out 10.

Week 3 / 4 – Breathe in and out and count on the in breath – in 1 out, in 2 out, in 3 out, in 4 out, in 5 out, in 6 out, in 7 out, in 8 out, in 9 out, in 10 out.

Week 5 / 6 – Breathe in and out and count on the out breath – in/out 1, in/out 2, in/out 3, in/out 4, in/out 5, in/out 6, in/out 7, in/out 8, in/out 9, in/out 10.

Week 7 /8 – Breathe in and out without counting the breath. If you wish you can say to yourself in/out.


IN CONCLUSION...

Stress is affecting all of us every day and meditation is a wonderful empowering tool that does not cost but only benefits our overall health. I hope that you will deepen your practice through this post!

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©2018 by Becky Laufer

Midtown Toronto, Ontario

dplattlevine@gmail.com

416-275-6658

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