Meditation is one of those buzzwords that is starting to pop up in more of our daily lives on tv and social media, and for good reason. Pop culture often presents meditation as someone burning incense, sitting on a meditation pillow dressed in organic linens, soft music playing in the background, thumb and pointer fingers pressed together with eyes closed while chanting ‘OM’. As nice as all of this sounds, it is usually unrealistic. This is often why it becomes an overlooked activity only few recognize and practice as part of daily self-care, or rather, mental hygiene.
Our mind and body are not separate units; they are united and anything that affects the physical body affects the mind and vice versa. Ayurveda and Yoga are the multidimensional approach to healing and wellness from the vedas (ancient texts).
~Ayurveda, through its dietary, herbal, and lifestyle guidelines, brings balance and harmony to the physiological system, which in turn supports your mind.
~Yoga, through various asanas (poses), pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation practices, brings alignment and harmony to the mind which in turn supports the physiological balance of the body.
There are different types of meditation such as seated, movement meditation, journaling, or a combination of them all. Seated meditation is the most traditional and needs very little effort or experience to practice, and only takes 5-20 minutes a day.
Seated Meditation- How to:
1. Choose a mantra. A word or phrase to silently repeat to yourself to focus on to quiet your thoughts.
2. Sit comfortably in a quiet location. No need to sit cross legged on the ground. Choose a chair, bed, couch or floor space against a wall and use any props, pillows, or blankets.
3. Gently close your eyes and BREATHE. Inhale through the nose and exhale out the mouth (or your normal slow breathing pattern).
4. Repeat your mantra silently and slowly. Your mind will wander but meditation is about always bringing yourself back to the present moment.
5. Let the mantra go. After 15-20 minutes, sit in silence before getting up.
Many often find that when they first start their meditation practice, a seated practice is also often the most uncomfortable, I know I did. It takes a lot of fidgeting to get comfortable and then not after long, you’re already thinking about how your knees and your hips hurt and “when is this going to be over?” and because the changes are so subtle at first, we may get frustrated that we didn’t experience anything significant to warrant trying it a second time.
Because many of us are tangible, results-driven humans (guilty!) we try to access the tangible effects of meditation and then are sadly disappointed or discouraged when we can’t. Meditation, however, slowly starts to change the way your mind thinks, reacts, and engages with the world around you. Your thoughts may become slower and you will feel less pressured and hurried. With practice, you will be able to remember this state of mind that you created during your meditation intermittently throughout the day. The goal is not to suppress your thoughts but rather to simply notice them and let them go. Your job is to focus on your body and your breathing.
Seated meditation is not for everyone. This is where movement meditation serves a great purpose. Some people have trouble sitting still because they feel they aren’t accomplishing anything or they can’t yet feel a change in their state of mind while sitting and breathing. These things all take practice. But, there are other kinds of mindfulness techniques that you can use in the meantime as your meditation practice evolves.
Use these movement meditation tips and find a practice that fits in your life that could be applied daily for at least 15 minutes.
Walking Meditation (Also known as ‘forest bathing’ in Japan)
- Used when teaching children meditation practices
- Walk outside, notice the weather and nature and just breathe deeply
- Stroll instead of power walk, this is not meant for exercise
- Shift your focus away from your swirling thoughts, connect with your breath and movement (Don’t try to suppress your thoughts, simply notice them and let them go)
- When insistent thoughts arise, return back to your breathing, your steps, and your surroundings
Gentle movements, light stretching meditation
- Formally known as Yoga or Tai Chi
- Any movement and light stretching is beneficial if you tune into how you feel
- Coordinate movement with breath, feel all of the sensations in the body
- Focus on the movement and poses, this acts as a distraction from thinking and just focuses on the breath and how the body feels
- Combines mindfulness with exercise
- Can help you get in touch with muscle groups that may have been neglected
- Flushes your system by sweating, improves flexibility, and brings profound relaxation
If you’d like more one-on-one guidance for your movement practice, go to our website to book your initial Ayurveda consultation with Kaitlin who is also a registered yoga teacher. Book Consultation Here!
Finally, journaling is another form of meditation that is used most often. If you are a goal setter or a list maker, you already have a great start.
There are no hard or fast rules about journaling. It’s not meant to be organized or even complete. No need for complete sentences, nor does it have to make sense.
Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar, in his book Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life, suggests using your journal as your magic wand. Every time you open your journal, think of the pages as offering you anything you want, all you have to do is ask.
In this life, it is our responsibility to figure out what we want. However, it is Mother Nature’s job to manifest things for us. If we speak positively about our past, present and future, it is more likely that you will experience those positive thoughts and goals in your life.
Journaling can help you discover who you are and what you really want, especially if you are in a position/situation that is no longer serving you and your goals. Journaling creates awareness around inner thoughts that you have all day. It will accept you without judgement at all. The habit of journaling can help you release all of your worrisome thoughts and aid in resetting your life goals.
Tips on Journaling:
-Write down your thoughts as you experience them, this can also serve as a way to let them go.
-Pick a specific time of the day, or carry it with you and jot down notes as your thoughts come.
-Ask yourself questions. It’s a great way to answer important questions about what you want out of life: What makes you happy? What dreams do you have? What do you wish to accomplish today, this week, this month, or even this year.
-Divulge your deepest secrets and wishes, your journal will listen without judging or offering advice.
-Use it as your magic wand. It can give you anything you want if you just ask. This helps to manifest your thoughts. (That goes for the negative ones too so be careful with the words you speak to yourself.)
-Keep this as an ongoing journal, set it as a time capsule to open in the future, or simply throw it away or burn it to let anything go you no longer wish to hang on to.
If you are a routine creature or looking to start a new one with a new season almost upon us, start by scheduling your meditation/mindfulness time into your day, so it becomes just as important as eating and sleeping. Give yourself just 10-15 minutes a day and adjust as needed. If you’re looking for more guidance on meditation, yoga or other Ayurvedic information, book your one-on-one consultation through our website, give us a call, or simply press the button below.
-Kaitlin Gelbmann, LMT, AWC
- Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life by Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar
- Kerala Ayurveda Academy