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“If you have time to breathe you have time to meditate. You breathe when you walk. You breathe when you stand. You breathe when you lie down.” – Ajahn Amaro
How to include meditation in your daily life
For meditation to be successful, it is important that it is kept simple, comfortable, effective and produces results that ensure you want to sustain it. There is no right or wrong method, only what makes the individual feel comfortable. This article provides a brief, but effective summary of some methods that you can implement into your life.
How do you know which method is best for you? We have selected some of the most popular and accessible methods for you to try, and hopefully you discover one that suits you.
This is great practice for anyone who doesn’t have much experience with meditation and beginners who don’t have access to a teacher.
Mindfulness is designed to be the most effective during the day, ideally for 20 minutes. The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation. This is designed to be able to easily induce the relaxation response at night when you have trouble sleeping. With this method being so effective and relaxing, it is advised that your daytime practice should be done sitting up or moving to avoid nodding off.
According to Harvard University Health blogger, Julia Corliss, the following steps are a useful way of implementing mindfulness into your daily routine:
Step 1: Choose a calming focus. Good examples are your breath, a sound (“Om”), a short prayer, a positive word (such as “relax” or “peace”), or a phrase (“breathing in calm, breathing out tension”; “I am relaxed”). If you choose a sound, repeat it aloud or silently as you inhale or exhale. You can choose a word or sound that has a feeling or meaning to you.
Step 2: Let go and relax. Don’t worry about how you’re doing. When you notice your mind has wandered, simply take a deep breath or say to yourself “thinking, thinking” and gently return your attention to your chosen focus.
This method of meditation is easy to implement and can be practiced in many different ways. Pranayama - the practice of harnessing the power of breath – is a technique used primarily in Yoga and its affects can soothe, cleanse, calm, or energize the body and mind.
You can do this by sitting in a comfortable way with the spine as straight as possible without straining. Place a hand on the stomach and a hand on the chest. Observe the breath. Is it in the chest? Is it moving down further so the navel rises also? After just noticing how your breathing is for a short while make the inhalation slow, soft and comfortable. Make the exhale a little longer. Feeling that any unnecessary thoughts are released as you do. Creating a clean slate with every new breath.
You can also try the candle meditation technique / Trataka. This requires lighting a candle and concentrating on the flame. If you have trouble focusing, this method is a fantastic way of improving your concentration. To gain better effects from this form of meditation, it is advised to perform this in a room that's not too bright, which will help you avoid eyestrain too.
After you are comfortable in your surroundings, light a candle and position it at eye level, or slightly below. It is not a problem if the candle slightly is slight below eye level, just ensure that your head is not tilted too far forward and that your body is not slumping.
With any form of meditation, it is important that you are able to maintain a comfortable position, so please make sure you are positioned in an upright posture that feels natural to you.
Use your favourite chair, or sit cross-legged on the floor, and ensure your candle is at least 50cm away from you otherwise it may appear too bright.
Once you are comfortable, and the candle is lit, stare at the candle and allow the image of the flame to occupy your mind.
You may have trouble concentrating at first, your mind may start to wander, and your eyes will resist your efforts to keep them still. But don’t get disheartened, this is common and it will gradually get easier as the meditation progresses.
Apps: Headspace or Calm
Headspace is a simple to use app that you can access on your phone, tablet or your computer that truly simplifies the basics of meditation, and focuses on the basics of breathing and visualization associated with secular meditation. The increasingly popular app is used by many celebrities and executives boasting stars such as Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington. You can take a basic 10-day trial and then sign up to the full subscription package which has different functions depending on what you are trying to achieve i.e. sleep, self-esteem or anxiety.
How long does it take to see results?
Meditation isn’t necessarily a quick fix, it takes patience like anything worthwhile. It is recommended that you stick to 10 minutes sessions for around 7 days initially, to be able to get into the habit and fully appreciate the experience. It is common for people to be practicing the wrong type of meditation for them, which can lead to frustration and despair. Our advice is to simply be patient, no one has ever mastered meditation after 2 days, it may take you a few weeks, months or even years, but the long-term benefits are worthwhile.
You can also try incorporating familiar, comforting aromas while meditating to help you relax. Investing in some good quality botanicals could seriously enhance the results – some essential oils can be really beneficial for anxiety. Bergamot, chamomile, lavender, tuberose and vetiver just to name a few. Check out the mood mist range by the Ayurpothecary for a readymade mood boost. They are local, handcrafted in small batches and Vegan.
If you are struggling with sleep deprivation and can’t seem to shake it off, it could beneficial for you to try implementing meditation into your lifestyle, along with a daily ritual. Many successful people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tony Robbins have advocated including a daily routine in your life, to significantly improve your sleep, your energy and your overall lifestyle.
We hope you find these tips useful as a first step to adding meditation into your routine.
Remember, these are just a few suggestions. You can always explore new forms of meditation with once you are comfortable with a few basics.