Ideal: Closed eye seated meditation
Reality: There are many different ways to meditate
There are many ways to meditate. Of course, not all of these techniques follow the idealism of meditation and do not all achieve the same benefits but; again, just the notion of being consciously aware and practising mindfulness has its own merits in itself. Here are some styles that I tend to sway towards:
I love a good guided meditation, especially if you are prone to falling asleep during meditation (which I do A LOT) or your mind tends to get immersed in your thoughts. I use guided meditations for the times when I am working through something in particular (ie. anger, disappointment, positivity, gratitude, stress, sleep). I find that both the conscious mind is listening to the words but the unconscious mind is really working to alter those reoccurring and underlying thought patterns. For example, at the moment I am 34 weeks pregnant, and I am using the CalmBirth guided meditations to prepare my mind and my body for labour and birth. When I was in labour with Master N, my external world completely shut down, I was in my own little bubble and hence I really only remember bits and pieces of the birth process. I found I really relied on this unconscious mind and the work I had put into CalmBirth and making sure I unconsciously believed in my body and the power of staying calm to really get me through.
There are a few good apps that I use: Insight Timer, Headspace, Happify and Buddhify.
A great alternative for those who are time poor. This focuses more on mindfulness and being completely aware in the present moment rather than zoning everything out and drawing the focus within as you do in a sitting meditation (yes that would be quite dangerous). I use walking meditations when I walk Master N in the pram up the road in the mornings to get a coffee and used this a lot if I miss a morning meditation.
Many yoga and wellness studios offer meditation classes. These are commonly a guided meditation but also introduce different types of meditation for you to try out in a safe environment. For example, Moksha Yoga Studio in Bentleigh includes pranayama (breathing) techniques and sometimes mantra and chanting. Its a great way for those new to meditation to experience different types and also help to overcome feelings of self-consciousness or nervousness around meditation. Science states that practising yoga in a group setting boosts the oxytocin levels in the body (one of our feel-good hormones), and this is part of the reason why you sometimes end up leaving on such a high.
Japa Mala Bead Meditation:
So this involves a set of Mala beads. Mala Beads are 108 beads strung together with a junction bead in the middle. The idea with this is: repetition of a meditation technique 108 times, touching each bead until you reach the junction bead again. Some common techniques of repetition are breath work or pranayama (one round of breath per bead) or one repetition of a mantra per bead (either in your mind or out loud). Some common mantras are “So hum” or “Om”. I also find this method of meditation really useful for those who have a tendency to fall asleep or engage in thoughts. Its helps to give the mind something to focus on.