People have been Meditating for centuries. Meditations are commonly used to help people relax. That is a helpful tool to use in our daily lives but Meditation is much more than that. The practice of Meditation can be used to teach us to Focus, be Patient, be Present and to Observe what is with no judgement.
Meditations are exercises that we practice that are designed to help focus your thoughts on one thing; perhaps you choose to focus on your breath or on your emotions or your body sensations. When you mind wanders (it always will) you gently guide your attention back to your object of focus. The point is NOT to NEVER have a wandering mind (you will always have that) but rather to practice NOTICING when your mind wanders and gently guide it back in a non judgemental stance. The more you practice the better you will be at this observation. The more you notice your mind wandering the more you can gently guide it back to the present focus. Over time you will notice that you do not wander as much but that is a benefit not the goal.
This helps you in your daily life when your mind is focusing on something negative for example. Perhaps something has happened in the past or you fear something negative happening in your future or maybe you are focusing on something negative in the present moment. Regardless of what your negative chatter is, you can utilize what you learned with your Meditation practice by directing your focus to something neutral or even Optimistic or maybe you just need to be a neutral observer. Your Meditation practice has taught you to do just that!
Meditation practices can be divided into 3 functional groups. Each group builds on the skills of the previous group. If you are a new comer to Meditation then start with Mindfulness Meditations for the first 2 weeks or so. Check out the other types…
Start With A Breathing Meditation – A Mindfulness Meditation
Conduct your Meditation practice by sitting in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor and hands in your lap. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Pay attention to your breathe going in and out. You may even want to say to yourself “in” and “out” as you breathe. Stay on this Meditation for the remainder of your Meditation exercise. When you mind wonders then notice that it has wondered and gently start over. Do not judge yourself because you wondered just observer that you did and gently start over. In reality when you focus your mind away form your negative chatter you will shift your emotions and improve the way you feel. The ability to start over from this moment on is very helpful when you get caught up in the “drama” of your mind.
Other Types of Mindfulness Meditations: Awareness Mediations
Start with your Breathing Mediation and after a few minutes you can start to observe what is troubling you. Perhaps you are freaked out by your body sensations (your light-headed-ness or your racing heart) and you think there is some catastrophic illness that if afflicting you. Perhaps you have negative or racing thoughts and they are bothering you. Perhaps you are afraid of your emotions because you somehow think they will overtake your ability to be in control. Remember it’s your negative believe that something is wrong that is causing your negative emotions. Observing these sensations or thoughts while you meditate and just noting them (not judging them) is what you are doing with thus Meditation practice. While you note what is happening for example, you can say “thought”, “thought”, “sensation”, “thought”, “sensation” etc… You are not changing the thoughts or sensations; just observing them. This exercise teaches you not to judge what you observe; just notice them as something neutral. If your mind wonders away with one of these thoughts or emotions or sensations simply guide it back and start over; noting again. When you release the judgement your thoughts or sensations or emotions, you are releasing the belief that you have in them and thus you start to release the negative judgement you have about yourself. This is the start of you detaching yourself form the belief that there is something wrong. This is what some people call putting some space or distance between your thinking and reacting. As I have said before, when you change your beliefs you change your feelings! Meditation can help change your negative beliefs simple by observing them as passing; they are not you they are just thoughts or emotions or sensations.
Many people not only focus on thoughts and body sensations as they Meditate, but many people also focus by way of reciting Mantras. Mantras are sayings that you recite over and over again while you meditate. They are positive statements identical to Affirmations, Counter Points or Gratitude Statements . Reciting Mantras are a proven way to retrain your thinking and change your beliefs to thoughts that are positive in nature. Feel free to use your own custom Affirmations, Counter Points or Gratitude Statements (targeting your specific negative thinking) as Mantras and recite them slowly over and over again. Breathe between each statement and don’t rush – be gentle and patient. FEEL each word as you recite your Mantra statements. Work slowly up the Optimistic ladder over time.
When you change your beliefs (thoughts that you believe to be true) you change your feelings – ALWAYS!
As you conduct these Mantra Meditation exercises and your mind wanders to something else (it always will) then gently redirect it back and refocus on your Mantra. Don’t judge yourself for wandering.
How Long Should You Meditate?
One does not need to do meditations for extended periods of time for them to become effective. The science tell us that regularity is the key to gaining benefits. Just start off slowly for 10 minutes and then you can work up from there. If you really don’t have 10 minutes to spare then just do 1 minute – Mindfully take 15 slow deliberate breaths.
Guided Meditations Downloads
Getting started with basic awareness Meditations.
Your standard Breath Meditation is always a great place to start. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
Body Scan and Muscle Relaxation Meditation is a great way to learn to be aware of when your muscles are tense and then learn to relax them relieving tension in your body. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
Adding awareness of our emotions and body sensations to our Meditation practice.
Emotions Meditation is always a great way to learn what emotions are present in your body at the present moment. If you also add the awareness of your Body Sensations to this meditation you really start to see how your emotions are linked to your body. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
Thoughts Meditation is used to start observing your thinking. Thoughts are not you – they are just thoughts. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
Beginning to observe everything that arises to our Meditation practice.
This Visualization Meditation allows us to play with some visualizations, allowing us to see the links between our thoughts/beliefs and the associated emotions and body sensations. This is a great way to start to practice experiencing everything in your body. Practicing this meditation allows one to start recognizing the link between thought/images, emotions and body sensations which we will use in our daily lives. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
Choice-less Awareness Meditation is a great way to experience everything in your body and mind in the present moment. Practicing this meditation allows one to start recognizing the link between thought/images, emotions and body sensations. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
Starting to change our stories and negative beliefs.
Loving Kindness Meditation is a great way to practice focusing on the good we would like for ourselves and the people around us. I focus on LOVE, TRUST and PATIENCE as these are the 3 key elements required for a balanced life. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
Counter Pointing Work Sheet allows us to consciously write down the FACTS of our currently uncomfortable situation or mindset. This exercise will help you stay focused on what is real as opposed to imagined. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
More exercised to help change our negative stories and beliefs.
Mantras are a great way to implant Optimistic Affirmation into our belief system. This is a simple Mantra Meditation for general confidence. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
Visualizations are a great way to get yourself into an Optimistic mindset. You can visualize negative thoughts becoming smaller or visualize an upcoming event. Either way you are changing your beliefs about yourself and your abilities in an Optimistic manner.
In this visualization you imagine your negative beliefs getting smaller. This helps minimize the importance of them and distances ourselves from the belief itself. Repeating this meditation for 2 weeks will really help reduce the hook you have in a negative belief. Be patient and kind with yourself! You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
This visualization allows you to experience an event before it happens. It allows you to become familiar with the surroundings and implant an Optimistic outcome and mindset.
Exercises to continue to help us stay focused on the good in our lives.
Gratitude Meditations are a great way to practice focusing on what is good around us. In this practice we focus on being appreciative to the many things that are present in our life. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
Reflection Meditations are a great way to practice focusing on what is good that has happened to us. In this practice we focus on re-living a particular event that was positive. Doing this helps us to notice and relish in our own accomplishments and the good that we all are. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
Exercises to allow life to unfold.
Being open and allowing is the key to freeing us up from the mental trap of negative chatter. Becoming open to what is allows us to put space between our emotions and react in a different way. You can right click and select “save as” or “save target as” to download the file to your computer.
Guided Mantra Meditation Files
The following files were created as a template for you to use. If you want to download the following files “right click” the links and select “Save Link As…”. If you prefer just to listen to it then click the link and it will be played for you.
These Mantra Meditation files open with a 3 minute section of focused breathing followed by three 5 minute sections of reciting Mantras (one for each section) ending with another 3 minute focused breathing exercise. The first 2 files are templates giving you the option to create your own custom Mantras. The remaining files have some of my favorite Mantras included in them. There is limited instruction on these files so you can concentrate on your breathing and reciting your Mantras.
Other Guided Meditations
Sharon Saltzberg is a GREAT meditation teacher. DIY Dharma has a number of Sharon’s guided meditation in a downloadable audio file format (MP3). They are awesome!!
BREATH MEDITATION by Sharon Salzberg – A GREAT place to start. Teaches focus and attention to where your mind is at every moment.
MEDITATION ON BODY SENSATIONS by Sharon Salzberg – An excellent meditation for people with anxiety so you can become familiar with your body and realize there is nothing to fear.
MEDITATION ON EMOTIONS by Sharon Salzberg – An excellent meditation to start learning just what emotions are within you at any given moment.
LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION by Sharon Salzberg – An excellent meditation for focusing on self love and the love of others.
DOWNLOAD All these meditations by Sharon Salzberg and place them on your portable audio player.
Real Happiness is one of the best books about Meditation out there. Sharon Saltzberg discusses many types of Meditation and it also includes an audio CD containing guided Meditations.
Based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s renowned mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this classic, groundbreaking work—which gave rise to a whole new field in medicine and psychology—shows you how to use medically proven mind-body approaches derived from meditation and yoga to counteract stress, establish greater balance of body and mind, and stimulate well-being and healing. A MUST READ!!