One thing I have always struggled to do is meditate.
Tuning out that chattering monkey in my mind always seemed such a torturous task. Everyone would just keep telling me to clear my mind, think of nothing and focus on your breathing.
Sounds easy, right? Wrong!
Off I would sit somewhere quiet, close my eyes and breathe….then my scalp would get itchy so I would have to scratch it, or my foot would go numb so I would have to move it, or I couldn’t get my breathing in a rhythm so I and kept sighing and feeling frustrated. Not to mention the background noise of the screaming three-year-olds in the childcare centre behind my house or the cars hooning by on the main street. It was more stress than what it was worth!
Then a few separate events happened that helped the penny drop.
Recently I was dancing at Onemovement, a shamanic journey and sensory experience involving dance, deep primal movement and mediation. I call it my ‘yogadance’. It was an amazing experience where you get to move, express, open-up and connect with your body, essentially getting out of your mind and into your body. You dance to the beat of your own drum, not caring about what you look like or what anyone else thinks. It’s a very liberating experience where you can also get back into your feminine or masculine energies, depending where you’re spending most of your time.
Towards the end of the journey, we lay down on the floor and meditated while a girl sang the most enchanted hymns and played these crystal instruments. Low and behold…I couldn’t get a handle on my mind and become present. The only times I feel I truly can switch off is when I am dancing, running or doing Bikram Yoga (when I am in too much pain and agony to comprehend or think anything!). Yet, when I am still and all is quiet and peaceful that is when my brain roams around like a yappy, annoying poodle fetching whatever thought I throw at it. Go figure!
Afterwards, once we had finished the practise, a guy who I was sitting next to introduced himself and we started chatting. He expressed to me how much he fell into a deep state of meditation while the girl was singing and doing her crystal sound activation ceremony thing and said how powerful it was for him. I then told him how I struggled to become present and calm my mind blah blah blah, to which he replied with the advise: ‘Dive into your heart. Physically take your presence out of your mind and move it to your heart; it’s impossible to think while in your heart. When you’re in your heart there is only light and love; when you get stuck in your head the ego controls us!’
That really struck a chord for me. No one had ever recommended meditating on your heart before. He also recommended chanting as it is difficult for one to think and chant/sing at the same time. Actually the word Mantra, when broken down means clearing the mind, Ma – mind, Tra – let go. It is considered capable of ‘creating transformation’.
The next day, I read an article in Living Now by the infinitely wise Irmanshay Effendi, author of Smile to Your Heart Meditations, whereby he gives four simple steps to opening your heart and meditating.
- Relax your whole body. Find a quiet place, sit comfortable, spine straight, head forwards and slightly tilted up to open your airways.
- Close your eyes and smile freely. Closing the eyes helps our brain from working hard analysing images, and smiling brings about nice, warm feelings from the heart.
- Touch your heart and smile to your heart. Touch your heart to bring awareness to the area and smile a natural, happy smile to your heart without thinking how. Don’t expect anything.
- Stay relaxed and follow the feeling. After a while you might feel some expansion and a light, calm feeling, even if it’s just a little, continue to smile freely and enjoy the nice warm in your heart, which will eventually grow stronger.
Effendi says that if you do this but don’t feel anything it’s because you may not be relaxed enough or not smiling freely enough or you are searching for sensations, causing your brain to work excessively.
So off I went into the bath tub, put in some Epsom Sea Salts, lit a candle, and held my heart and smiled at myself….and away I went. It actually worked, even just for a little while…I floated off into the world of meditation. Finally, at long last I could escape my mind and find refuge in a warm, quiet place, my heart!
Another tip according to The Quick Coherence Technique is to breathe deeply, but normally, and feel as though your breath is coming in and going out through your heart area. Recalling a positive place or special person in your life is also a good way to bring a natural smile to your face. For me, I envisaged myself lying down on an old walk-bridge in the rainforest, dangling my toes in a rushing river with the sun on my face and a few light rain drops. This gave me feelings of peace, warmth, unity with nature and inner happiness and liberation (I may or may not have had fairy wings as well…). Also, if you struggle to settle, imagine having a third eye in the middle of your forehead (where a bindi goes) and bring your attention to this when you feel your eyes wondering around getting distracted.
Prior to this experience, the only time I came close to becoming present was this time last year when I was in a cave in Thailand at Kamalaya Health Retreat where, instead of focusing on nothing, I focused my meditation on gratitude. My heart was so full of love for all of my family and close friends that I sent out praises of thanks, love and appreciation, individually thanking each of them for being in my life and blessing them in their own lives and journeys. I didn’t realise this then, but in that moment in the cave was the beginning of the journey that I am now on.
Meditation, I’ve now learnt can be a powerful tool, especially of the heart, love and gratitude form.
Not only has it helped me live in the present moment, it has helped me be eternally grateful for my relationships by showing me how lucky I am!
Do you have any meditation tips you can shed some light on?