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Easy techniques to help you meditate
Technology has been blamed for many things, including the blurring of the lines between our home and work lives. Thanks to technology – our Buzzing Blackberries and constant iPhone alerts – it’s no longer possible to switch off. Or is it? Harnessed in the right way and technology can, in fact, help you meditate. Websites such as Andy Puddicome’s Head Space, are designed to help you integrate meditation into your busy schedule, starting with ‘Take 10’ – a free online initiative encouraging you to take 10 minutes out every day for 10 days.
‘It’s as easy as signing up, sitting down and pressing play,’ the website says and, with an accompanying iPhone/Android app, you can really find those ten minutes wherever you happen to be. Even on the bus. And if you enjoy the first 10 days, you can always sign up for more – although, be warned, it’ll cost you $3.74 a month.
Yes, that’s right, it’s possible to meditate even whilst you eat your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Indeed, mindful meditation can be applied to almost any day-to-day activity. The concept is simply to focus your attention on exactly what it is you’re doing – in this instance, eating – without letting your mind wander. If it does, however, they key is not to give yourself a telling off, just notice the fact you started thinking about something else, and slowly bring your attention back to your eating. To get you started, Puddicome recommends trying out mindful eating with everyone’s favourite indulgence… chocolate
1) Before you pick up the chocolate take a couple of deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, just to allow the body and mind to settle a little. Mentally leave behind whatever you’re doing for a moment or two.
2) Take a moment to appreciate the chocolate. Where has it come from? What’s in it? Try and imagine the different ingredients in their natural growing environment and even the types of people who might have grown the cocoa beans.
3) Before you begin to eat it, pause to notice if there’s a feeling of impatience, of just wanting to eat it as quickly as possible. Notice if there are feelings of pleasure and excitement, or feelings of guilt and unease, about the idea of eating the chocolate.
4) Slowly unwrap the chocolate and then take a good minute or so to explore it with your eyes, nose and hands. Look at it closely, smell it carefully and then touch it to see how it feels.
5) By now you’ll be more than ready to taste it. Take a small bite (or alternatively put the whole thing in your mouth), but try to resist chewing the chocolate. Notice how it feels in the mouth, the temperature and the texture. Also become aware of the taste — whether it’s sweet, bitter, creamy etc. Try to allow the chocolate to melt in the mouth by gently moving it around with your tongue, rather than chewing it. Sit back in your chair and enjoy the moment.
The meditation technique favoured by most beginners is simply to find a quiet space, sit comfortably and observe your thoughts. It’s not always easy – you’ll probably get an itch somewhere really hard to reach, a sore behind, cramp in your foot, and quickly start thinking about what you have on during the oncoming day. This doesn’t mean you’ve blown it. Most novices believe meditation is about emptying the mind, but the truth is it never shuts off completely. So, as you notice that itch, or remember a meeting, simply label your thoughts, let them pass, and wait and see what pops into your head next. You’ll get used to sitting quietly for longer and longer periods of time, so start with five minutes, and gradually increase to 10, 15 and even 20 minutes.
You’ve all got a picture in your mind of the traditional meditative yogi sat cross legged and chanting, ‘Ommmmmm.’ Well, Sydney’s Tom Cronin has developed Stillness Meditation, which uses sound as a mantra. Cronin calls these mantras ‘stillness sounds,’ and everyone has their own, individual sounds upon which to meditate.
‘These primoridial sounds or mantras have a particular quality or vibration to them,’ explains Cronin. ‘The subtle repetition of those sounds is very luring and charming for the mind. With the lure of this subtle sound, the mind is led beyond the thinking process and actually transcends or goes beyond the thoughts and the Stillness Sound. Here in pure bliss, the mind is still and rested. This is different to mantra meditation where the intention is to repeat the mantra.’
Based on the vedic style of meditation, research has shown that two months of Stillness Sessions actually changes the brain, not just making it calmer but also increasing a person’s sense of self, empathy and memory.
What about you? Have you tried meditating? Which technique do you prefer?
About the Author
Lizzy has more than ten years’ experience in the print and digital publishing arena and is the Editor at Single File. Having moved from the UK to Australia in 2008, Lizzy has worked for a number of leading publishers in Sydney and has particular expertise in the health, wellness and travel markets. If you have any questions for Lizzy, you can send them across by email to email@example.com.