Meditation & Mindfulness

In this life, we are met with obstacles, pressure and stress. We have specific times we must wake up, eat, attend to others and sleep to function daily. Within our schedules, there is often a surprise or two that might be negative or positive; either has the potential to disrupt our routine and schedule. Finding peace within a tight schedule is sometimes not an option at all. Meditation is a technique that will allow you to reset your mind for the day as you take a moment to yourself to find your inner peace. It takes as little as fifteen minutes out of your schedule and will allow a calm moment for you to reflect on. It will literally reboot you for the rest of your hectic day.

Meditation came from India thousands of years ago through Buddhism. The technique is not religious, it transcends religious boundaries. Whether you are or are not religious, you can use this technique just as effectively as ancient Buddhists.

Today, there are several kinds of meditation that focus on different aspects of humanity to better oneself. There is also simple exercise and more elaborate chants that provide an aid while meditating. Meditation in and of itself is only a challenge because we are so acclimated to high speed everything; internet provides the world of knowledge at our fingertips and fast pace living. Though you might find it easier to have an instructor as a guide, meditation officially requires no one but you and your willingness to relax for a moment in time.

Meditation How-To Techniques

1. Breathing Exercises

Perhaps the best beginner meditation is breathing. If time is your main issue with relaxing techniques, breathing meditation is more for you, since you can do this exercise just about anywhere as long as you can sit and remove yourself from your daily obligations for fifteen minutes. Lunch time is a good time for those who work outside the home, but you might find that this meditation is beneficial for starting your day, or winding down before bed.

Find a quiet or less distracting place and sit in an upright position so that your back is straight. If you sit in a chair, have your feet flat on the floor, your back straight, and your hands resting palm up in front of you, preferably on your knees. You might also find the lotus position, or a modified lotus, helps to maintain your back. Otherwise, you can also sit on your knees, though do not sit like this for too long if you are not used to sitting this way and remember to stand up slowly when you are done. Depending on the condition of your knee health, this may or may not work for you. If you have health or injury issues with your knees, do not try the kneeling position.
You may partially or completely close your eyes. Partially closing your eyes helps your brain adapt to the situation and makes it more difficult for your mind to wander.
Begin to focus on your breathing. You can do this in a few ways. You can focus on the sound and rhythm of your breaths, or you can count them, or imagine your breaths coming in as one color and leaving your body as another. The standard is to focus on inhaling while you imagine your lungs filling with the air you breathe in, holding a three-count after inhaling all the way and paying attention to the silence in the hold (the moment of divineness) and then focusing on the air being forced from your lungs as you exhale. Your main purpose in mediation is to eventually tune out your inner voice until you are silent. Practice these breaths until the world goes away and all that exists for you is your in and out breath with the divine silence in the middle.

2. Chants And Prayer

Mediation is, in itself, not a religion, but meditation. Throughout history it has been part of the higher-power experience. Chanting and prayer is a form of mediation that is practical for the religious and non-religious as it is mainly a method of concentration. If you are non-religious, chanting positive affirmations is an important way to set your mind on the positive and dispel the negative. If you are religious, this technique is a good way to reflect on ancient texts and to pray with your mind fully participating without distraction.

Sit and prepare yourself as you would for the breathing technique.
This time, rather than counting breathes, begin to chant or pray out loud. If you prefer to pray inwardly, focus on a few key elements in your prayers. Such as, on one person you want to pray for or for certain answer. Chants can be anything from positive affirmations to a simple exhale of breath or 'Om.'
The main purpose of this technique is to apply positive energy and concentration on your goal: either to better yourself, or to reflect on religious thought.

3. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the state of being aware of something. Meditation is the awareness of nothing. Meditation is clearing your mind. Mindfulness is focusing your mind on a particular thing; such as your breath.

There are many forms of meditation and Mindfulness is one of them. Mindfulness Meditation is a clearing your mind of all things other than what you want to focus on. You focus your attention on:

The natural rhythm of your breath while sitting
The natural rhythm of your walk, while walking,
Your food while eating (thinking of how the food came to be on your plate, the farmer, the butcher, etc., etc.),
The position of your body and your comfort while sitting.

It is possible to practice mindfulness throughout the day as we go about our normal routine.

4. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro Linguistic Programming is another form of meditation and a great tool to help you rise above having negative responses. It’s as simple as remembering a wonderfully happy thing; the birth of your child, your wedding, your vacation. Any extremely happy time will work.

To start with, you will want a quiet spot or a moment without too much distraction. Think about a moment in your life that gave you bliss and/or joy. When you think of that moment, focus on the feelings you had when you first experienced it. Savor those feelings a moment, and commit them to memory. We’ll call it your ‘happy place’.
While you focus on the feeling of your happy place, isolate that emotion by detaching it from its source. Remember how you feel now while you are remembering your happy place. Now when you are in a neutral setting, such as on your way to work in the car or on the bus, recall the emotion of your happy place.
After a few times of practicing (recalling your happy place) in a neutral setting, try it in a negative setting; when you find yourself in a situation where someone is being negative and you would rather not go there with them. Then, later, when you find yourself in a stressful situation, recall your happy place emotion again. Allow the feeling to flow through you and cover you like a shield, blocking the negative energy in the room.

5. Creative Visualization

Creative Visualization is yet another form of meditation. Unlike normal mindfulness and meditation, Creative Visualization meditation is practicing in our mind what we want to happen in reality. This not only puts our thoughts to work in the universe (Thoughts Create Destiny) but we can literally use this technique to work out all the wrinkles in our mind then do it perfectly the first time, in reality. Athletes use this technique all the time, as well as many successful people from all walks of life, including; preachers, teachers, scientists, surgeons and many others.

The universe gives your life unlimited power and possibilities. You are only confined by the boundaries of your own personal creativity. Just like a muscle, your mind needs stretching and practice and, with some discipline in the mix, your mind can reach beyond its self-drawn boundaries.

We create our own realities by living our dreams. This does not mean the only step you take is thinking about what you want, but it is the crucial first step in the process of living a full life. The universe is flexible to our natural, spiritual state. When our thoughts are powerful and we use creative visualization, amazing things happen.

If we are limited only by our own minds, then what happens to those who find it difficult to visualize what it is that they truly want? Again, the mind is like a muscle, and no one is incapable of creative visualization. Sometimes, you just need a little help or a guiding exercise to help you to visualize. For others, it is a natural part of their personality to be creative visualizers. If you find it more difficult, or wish to have more active creative visualizations, then these exercises are for you.

Creative visualization works because your connection to all things through the universe is the source of power your mind can tap into to create a positive lifestyle meant just for you. Mind power through creative visualization is strong and dependent on desire. Your drive to achieve is manifest from desire and your ability to achieve is due to your creative visualization

To start the exercise, find a quiet place without disturbances or distractions or where you can relax.

Step 1: Relax

If you practice meditation, this is a good time to use what you know. If you are a meditation novice, begin by counting each breath as you relax your breathing and focus on it. Or, you can imagine inhaling blue air and exhaling red air. Let your body relax into a comfortable position so that your concentration is on your mind's eye, rather than the world around you. You can keep your eyes open or close them. The point is, to let the world fade and to let your imagination rule.

Step 2: Plan of Action

If you love schedules and plans, this is a great time to put your skills to use. Before creatively visualizing what, you want in particular, imagine the details surrounding what you want. For example, if you desire a new career, imagine what you would wear and who you will meet. Imagine what you will eat for breakfast before the interview. Do not worry about whether it is accurate or whether your imagination is realistic but go further by imaging what you would say and how you reply to questions during an interview. Imagine what car you will drive. Go thoroughly through each detail of the moment and plan.

Step 3: Dream the Dream

Let’s say you desire to continue your schooling and you have a college in mind that you wish to get into. As you plan the details (what you'd wear, who you'd meet, what classes you'd take, the financial aid you'd receive etc., etc.) let the focus be on the end goal: getting into the school you want. While you imagine the details, also imagine the bigger picture. What it means to you is important because creative visualization is very much about fantasy. Your fantasy's purpose is to abstractly define who you are. The dreams you imagine are mirrors of your inner-self and show who you know you can be, as well. Allow yourself to dwell on the bigger picture and the details will fall into place as you actively plan a process.

Step 4: Pure Energy

One reason it is so difficult to practice creative visualization is that our rational brains start applying negative thoughts ('you'll never have the money,' 'you don't have the grades,' 'you are awkward around people,' etc.) to our natural wants and desires. This happens to dreamers and non-dreamers and takes some practice to avoid, while you exercise creative visualization.

There is positive and negative energy that we use throughout our life. The universe itself is neither, but it reacts on the positive and the negative. Our responses to dreams can be hopeful (positive) or doubtful (negative) and whichever one holds the greatest truth in your mind, will attract the reality you live; because our thoughts really do create our destiny.

Example: If you think you have an awkward walk because in elementary school the other kids made fun of how you walked when you had that cast on your leg; and you carried that memory with you as you grew up, imagining that your walk was never quite right after that because in high school the kids still called you “limpy; the truth in your mind is that you have an awkward walk. Therefore, your truth is that you have an awkward walk, even if you do not. Your whole life is affected by your truth. You are conscious of your own awkwardness 100% of the time; and the reality of your life is that you live with that awkwardness twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred sixty-five days a year.

Our energy creates our realities, and this step of the exercise is to practice pushing negative thoughts aside to make way for the creative visualization:

While you plan the details and see the bigger picture, focus on the positive. For example, if your bigger picture is to have a family, but you are currently single, start with the details. You might imagine a place to meet, it is sunny outside and you are in a park. You can see a person sitting on a bench, waiting for you. Imagine all the details of what they look like, sound like, and what they are wearing.

Sit and prepare yourself as you would for the breathing technique.
Your focus is on the end goal: a person in which you can start a family with. If your mind starts to tell you that you may never find someone who fits you perfect enough to be family with you, push that negative thought away in your mind and visualize yourself with that person and a family.
The goal of the exercise is to recognize negative thoughts and to know how to respond to them
Don't respond to the negative thoughts out of fear or as the reality you are avoiding. Respond to negative thoughts, knowing they are fears and worries that you carry with you, but just like when you thought there were monsters under your bed when you were a child, you grew to understand that it was your fear, not reality.

Negative thoughts are just your mind dipping a toe over the other side of the boundaries you set. When you start to imagine things beyond those boundaries, it is scary. But it also possible to achieve your desires and move past the unknown.

6. How To Stop Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts plague everyone at one time or another and can be an addiction. Negativity springs from doubt and fear that we carry in every situation we face. Our fear and doubt tells us that we cannot achieve our goals because of one reason or another and it is often easy to just let the negative thoughts win.

Letting negative thoughts rule your life is a bad habit and it is best to face negative thoughts in order to stretch the boundaries of your mind. We shape our own realities and if we just avoid or allow the negative thoughts to control us we limit ourselves and the endless possibilities each life has

The thing about a bad habit is that you often don't know you are doing it. It becomes second nature and automatic. Breaking habits comes in two ways; you can fix it without finding cause, or you can identify the root of the problem and fix it. The first way is actually the most difficult because you might have to 'fix it' several times. If you search for the root and weed it out, the negative thoughts will less likely make a comeback a month or year from now.

Just like with any addiction, the hardest step is admitting you've got a problem. Avoiding the problem, or simply 'thinking positive,' not only doesn't work, but it provokes the negative thoughts to reappear. Often negative thoughts stem from something in our lives that we either dislike about ourselves or that we just want to change. As a human being, you hate looking ill-prepared and foolish, and that causes negative thoughts to control you. We are often discouraged by our culture to make mistakes, though making mistakes is how we learn.

So how do you encourage yourself to let go of negative thoughts? One method will help you get rid of negative thoughts in four steps:

Step 1: Give It A Name

The best way to capture a negative thought in your consciousness is by naming it. Often, negative thoughts will seemingly pop out of nowhere. When you shop for clothes you might suddenly tell yourself you are too fat to where that outfit, or if you see an attractive person you feel you will never find love. Negative thoughts do not appear out of thin air, though it may seem that way. Negative thoughts come from fear and doubt that latently waits until you are in a situation that challenges your fears and doubts.
When you name your negative thoughts you see it for what it is. If your thoughts dwell on you never finding a job, recognize that it is actually you being afraid of not possessing one at the moment. You are afraid of the process because you do not want to be rejected and the thought of not having one now is a fear of failure. As your negative thought pops up, know that it is the after effect of a deeper fear.

Step 2: Take Control Again

Know that negative thoughts stem from you and are only as strong as you allow them to be. It is easy to let negative thoughts become real in your mind, but if you actively decide negative thoughts are not who you are then they begin to lose their grip on you. Take a moment in a quiet spot to actively go in-depth and see all your negative thoughts laid out. You understand that fear is the root and there are a few ways you can dig the fear out.
One way is to visualize a “dumping place” for your negative thoughts. It can be a dumpster, or you can pin the negative thoughts to a tree or you can toss them off a cliff. Take each negative thought and “dump” it as you decide you do not want that negative thought to rule your life.
A second way is to find a positive thought that overrides the negative thought. If you deal with the “I'm too fat” negative thought, imagine yourself wearing your favorite outfit. Focus on the feelings you get when you wear that outfit. You feel sexy, empowered, and ready for anything. You can apply that feeling as a substitute thought whenever you get the urging negative thought because you are sexy, confident and ready to face the fear of being overweight.

Step 3: Take It To The Extreme

Exaggeration is a good way to help your mind recognize that your negative thoughts are fears. When a negative thought hits you, take it further. If your negative thought tells you that, “you can't speak in public because you will choke,” push the negative thought to the extreme. Visualize yourself standing in front of a huge crowd of people and you forget everything you meant to say. Imagine people laughing at you and pointing. Throwing rotten vegetables and going crazy over you being unable to speak.
Take it as far as it will go and see how silly it is. Your fear of being unable to say what you need to when you need to has rendered you unable to say anything at all. The absurdity only helps you to visualize the contrast to reality. As you do this exercise, you become free of your negative thought. Use Creative Visualization to practice public speaking. Rehearse it in your mind’s eye until you can see your audience giving you standing ovations for your performance.

Step 4: Live the Way You Want to Live

As you begin to see that things will not happen the way your negative thoughts made you think, it becomes much easier to redirect your negative thoughts into positive outcomes. Releasing yourself from your negative thoughts and doubts allows you freedom to decide who you want to be and how you want your life to happen. Rather than be subdued by the “I can't do this,” allow your mind to redirect it into “How can I do this?' Soon, your thoughts are no longer walls that block you, but steps toward a process that leads you to live the way you desire.
Using Creative Visualization to practice anything in life you are not confident about or think is beyond the realm of your success, is the best way to break through your life’s barriers and accomplish whatever you choose.

This content is an excerpt from the book THINK IT SO! © Jan Cohen 2000 and is published with her permission.