Fall In Love With Meditation
Our rushed, stressful lives don’t equip us with the tools to restore ourselves back to serenity and balance.
And while it’s impossible to eliminate the stress of life completely, we can train our minds and bodies to self-soothe and cultivate a more peaceful response when our stress patterns are triggered so we don’t get caught in the daily stress cycle.
I’m all about embracing the spirit of ease and meditation calms the currents of your mind, reorganises your energy and clears space for your inner guidance system to come through.
Over the years, this is something that’s become very important to me in my own yoga practice and that’s why this episode is dedicated to helping you deepen your relationship and fall in love with meditation too.
Press play or click here to listen:
How To Meditate
There are many ways to meditate - with your breath, with a mantra, with a mala. The list goes on. But even just a few minutes a day has the potential to recalibrate your energy and help you reconnect with your highest self, so you can live in alignment with who you truly are and that’s when peace becomes real.
As much as I secretly wish the whole world would meditate (knowing it would be a better place for it), I get that meditation isn’t for everybody.
But even if you struggle or are inconsistent with it, trust the slightest spark within your soul to keep exploring until you discover the practice that lights you up the most. That’s how my practice came to be what it is today. I don’t think I could choose a favourite but I love using mantras because they help me affirm my true power, focus and feel at peace in my skin.
Meditation for Beginners
If you’re a beginner, mantra meditations are a good place to start. A mantra is a word or a phrase that’s repeated (silently, or out loud), to inspire and cultivate how you want to feel. This keeps your energy and attention focused, so your mind doesn’t wander.
Which leads me to the meditation myth that you’re supposed to stop your thoughts. But as humans, we were designed to use our minds. Meditation helps us gently observe our thoughts, without getting wrapped up in them - so that we can create space between ourselves and our circumstances as well as cultivate calm, clarity and wisdom. When thoughts come up in your meditation practice, simply notice them and then watch them float away on the winds of your breath like clouds.
When you meditate in a way that nourishes you, you’ll keep showing up, perhaps sitting for a little longer each time and your practice will become an effortless daily ritual that transforms your life.
To support you, I’ve recorded a guided relaxation meditation with music that you can download for free here. It uses a combination of techniques including the breath, a body scan and a deeply relaxing visualisation to cultivate calm as you see your body as a constellation of stars. Set a restful intention for yourself and be sure to check it out!
How to Sit When Meditating
If you’ve been meditating for a while, do you ever sit down and wonder if you’re doing it right?
There’s another misconception that to meditate ‘properly’, you have to sit up straight and pretzel-like in Lotus Pose. But creating extra tension and stress in your body probably isn’t helpful.
When I first started my yoga practice, I didn’t know how to sit and meditate. I’d sit like I thought I was supposed to, but after a couple of minutes, my back started to ache so I’d slouch and spend the rest of the meditation silently cursing the whole thing and wiggling around trying to get comfy. I didn’t fall in love with meditation right away and I didn’t have a regular practice.
That’s why, when people ask me about the correct meditation posture or how to sit for longer, I share an unconventional answer because I believe - first and foremost - in being cosy, comfy and moveable.
If you want to fall in love with your practice and let it support your life, honouring your body is much better than trying to squeeze yourself into a specific shape which isn’t right for everybody. After all, the ancient yogis sat cross-legged on the floor because that’s what was available to them. If they had sofas, I’m pretty sure that’s where they’d be instead!
The true purpose of the yoga practice is to be soft and spacious enough to sit in stillness. But even if we prepare ourselves to sit in this way, it isn’t always easy for us in the western world.
Be Held By Props
That’s why I like the use of props because they help me to feel held in my meditation.
The next time you’re getting ready to sit, try these tips to make your practice cosy, nourishing and something that supports you everyday.
Sitting in Meditation
If you’re on a hard floor, unless you have a meditation pad, unroll your yoga mat and lay a blanket on top to cushion your ankles. Bones on a hard surface = ouch!
You can also elevate your seat with a block, a meditation pillow (if you have one) or another folded blanket, just under the front edges of your sitting bones. This helps your pelvis tilt forwards slightly, so your spine is aligned. It also means your hip creases are slightly higher than your knees which is usually more comfortable.
If you’re super tight in your hips, you can sit even higher on a bolster. If your knees need a little extra TLC, try rolling a blanket and wrap it around the tops of your ankles and outer thighs to support your knees. If you feel really good here, that’s great but if you’re feeling achy in your back, you can move over to a wall to lean on.
Dedicated yoga props like bolsters, blankets, blocks and meditation pillows are nice to have, but you can use anything you have around the house which works just as well.
Kneeling in Meditation
Sometimes sitting cross-legged can feel icky in your knees or hips, so you can also kneel in Hero’s Pose (Virasana) and slide a bolster in between your legs lengthways, or a block in between your heels to sit on. If there’s too much flexion in your knees, place a folded blanket in the crease behind your knees to give you more space there.
Meditate in a Chair
Even with the extra support these seated options may still not work for your body (and that’s the only thing that matters), so grab a chair. A trick I like to use to make this really comfy is to lay a yoga mat over the chair and then a blanket on top of that.
Meditate Lying Down
And finally, when it comes to meditation posture, I’m often asked: “Can you meditate lying down?”
My answer is a whole-hearted YES!
Some teachers might discourage this because it can make you less alert and you might fall asleep, but it’s still my favourite way to meditate! I create a cocoon for myself with blankets and it’s bliss! Sitting does elevate the Crown Chakra (which lifts, inspires and spiritually connects you with the divine) and for certain types of meditation, like breathing meditations, or times of day, like the morning, this works best, but most of the time, reclining is a nice option and really, the best asana for meditation is the one that supports you and your unique body.
I never want anyone to feel excluded from a practice because they feel they have to fit into the perfect shape to meditate. Come as you are.
When you’re lying down for meditation, make up your ‘nest’! Lay a blanket flat across your whole mat. Place a pillow or another blanket underneath your head, rolling up the edge to support the natural curve of your neck. A bolster or a rolled blanket or pillow under your knees can feel great to support your lower back, or bend your knees and take your feet as wide as the mat and let your knees knock in towards each other. Cover yourself with another blanket to keep warm and if you like, place something over your eyes to close out the light. You can also use these tips to set up for a really delicious supported Savasana or Yoga Nidra practice!
Cherish Your Meditation Practice
Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been practising for years, I hope these ideas help you create a meditation practice that supports you - at mind, body and soul level.
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