RYT 200 hour
With our busy schedules, it can be incredibly easy to become focused on all of the things we need to get done throughout our day, or start to look back in a panic at all of the things we did not have time to get to or finish. Most of us spend our days living in the past or the future, berating ourselves as we look back saying that we could have done better, or playing out scenarios of things that have not happened yet in our heads. Living in the past and ruminating about the future can cause a lot of unnecessary stress, anxiety, fear, worry, sadness, anger, and so on. Engaging in a meditation practice is one way we can start to guide ourselves back to the present moment, while giving ourselves some love and care. The present moment is really the only moment that counts, because our time on this Earth can never be guaranteed. In the present moment, we can start to form a deeper connection with ourselves, with our senses, our bodies, our breath, and hopefully start to alleviate any unnecessary and possibly painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In focusing on the present moment, we can become better aware of our habits, and the (sometimes mean) things we like to tell ourselves, so that we can start to make a change.
Thich Nhat Hanh said,
“The present moment is the only moment available to us and it is the door to all other moments.”
The following meditations are very simple to do and only require a few minutes of your time. They can be done virtually anywhere. Ideally you want to find a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed. However, you can do these meditations at home, at work, in your car, or even while walking. These meditations can even be done in the presence of others if need be, as no one has to know what you are doing. Keep in mind that meditation in a practice, so try not to be too hard on yourself. If you get distracted at any time, gently remind yourself to come back into focus. (Keep reminding yourself to come back into focus as many times as you need to!) It is always nice to meditate first thing in the morning, as it sets your day off on a calm and relaxing note, but can also be done whenever you have time.
The 5 Senses
In this meditation, our goal is to focus on each of our five senses in turn. Focusing on our senses guides our attention back to the here and now. Start by finding a comfortable seat with a tall, straight spine. If it is possible and comfortable to you, close your eyes. Take a few cleansing breaths by inhaling deeply through your nose, and exhaling out of your mouth in a big sigh. See if you can allow your shoulders to drop down away from your ears as you relax through the entire length of your body. After you take a few cleansing breaths, allow your breath to settle into any rhythm that feels good and natural to you. Then start to focus your attention on your senses, moving through each one in turn. Start by taking a look around you and listing in your head 5 things that you can see. This does not need to be complicated – list of the first five things in your field of vision while breathing slowly and deeply. Then start to focus on everything that you can feel, listing 4 things in your head. Move on to 3 things you can hear around you, maybe close by or maybe far away. Then, 2 things you can smell. If there is a lack of smell, notice this as well. Finish off with 1 thing you can taste, and again if there is a lack of taste, notice this. Feel free to keep going through this list as many times as you’d like to, maybe finding new things each time or repeating the same things over and over again. Keep focusing on your senses as you breath slowly until you feel grounded in the present moment.
5 things you can see
4 things you can feel
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
In this meditation we will focus solely on our breath. When we focus on our breath, we automatically ground ourselves in the present moment because our breath is always happening in the here and now. To help relax us even more, we will use a rhythmic counting style of breath where our exhalations are twice as long as our inhalations. Taking longer exhalations than inhalations triggers our parasympathetic nervous system which governs our ability to “rest and digest” and helps to promote a feeling of relaxation in the body. To start, find a comfortable position with a straight spine. If you are able to close your eyes, do so. Just like we did in our 5 senses meditation, we will start off by taking a few cleansing breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Once you take a few cleansing breaths, move into counting your inhales and exhales.
Take an inhale through your nose counting 1, 2, 3.
Exhale through your mouth or nose counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Feel free to adjust the counts until you find a sequence that works for you. For example: inhaling for a count of 2 and exhaling for a count of 4, or inhaling for a count of 4 and exhaling for a count of 8, and so on.
Continue for just a few cycles or set a timer for one minute. If you choose to continue practicing this style of breath meditation in the future, you can slowly work your way up to 5 minute intervals.
Feel free to keep your eyes closed after you finish your rhythmic counting. Allow your breath to drop into any rhythm that feels natural to you. Continue to focus on your breath, being aware of each inhalation as it enters your body, and each exhalation as it leaves your body. Continue to breathe in this way, focusing on your breath for as long as you’d like.
Be mindful as you breath in this way that you do not feel light headed or out of breath. If this happens, stop the counting and go back to a cleansing breath or allow yourself to breath mindfully in any way that feels good to you.
Setting An Intention
An intention is something that we try to aim for. Setting an intention, and repeating this intention as you breathe can be a very powerful practice. We will begin this practice in the same way by finding a comfortable position to sit with a tall spine, and closing your eyes if you are able to and feel comfortable doing so. Take a few cleansing breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, encouraging your body to relax and become heavy. Allow your breath to drop into a natural rhythm, feeling free to breath in a way that is comfortable to you. Start to focus on each inhalation and each exhalation you take, allowing your breath to fill up your entire body from top to bottom.
Start with the phrase, “I am ______.” Fill in the blank with your intention or a quality you’d like to embody and draw forth.
Here are a few examples: I am strong, I am worthy, I am brave, I am capable, etc.
With each inhale and each exhale you take, repeat your intention in your mind. Inhale, “I am strong.” Exhale, “I am strong.”
It can be helpful to imagine yourself embodying this intention in your mind. For example, if you picked the intention, “I am strong,” you may imagine yourself standing tall and flexing your muscles, or overcoming an obstacle that you’re currently facing in your life.
Set a timer for 5 minutes, or feel free to continue for longer if you would like to.
Always be mindful of how you are feeling and do not push yourself to continue if you are not feeling well, or if you do not feel safe in any way (physically, mentally, or emotionally.) I challenge you to incorporate a five minute meditation practice into your life for two weeks, and see how you feel at the end. It may be nice to write down one sentence each day in a journal or as a note on your phone, as way to look back and reflect on your progress after your two weeks.
Good luck and Namaste!
“The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: you create a good future by creating a good present.” – Eckhart Tolle
[If you feel like you need more guidance, the Calm and Headspace meditation apps are both great resources you can find available to you on your phone.]