An introduction to meditation written by Jasmine Sara for ROSEMARY DREAM, outlining 6 different techniques to cultivate inner calm and focus.
Meditation is a practice to cultivate inner peace. It’s a way to bring the practicing individual to the present moment so that they can rest in awareness of what is. Meditation is not about being “better” at anything. More so it’s a practice of simply “being” full stop. It’s a technique to invite awareness, helping to focus the mind so it can let go of becoming lost in endless trains of thought or of any attachments to these thoughts.
A lot of people notice the mind can get distracted easily during meditation, which for me is a great example of why it is called a “practice” because it’s learning how to train the mind to focus which really does take practice! Like most things, the experience can differ greatly from one day to the next. The idea is to let go of any attachment to the experience so that rather than there being a “good” or “bad” experience of meditation there is only an experience. This means letting go of the desire to grasp hold of the experience if one practice feels incredibly peaceful and to let go of any feelings of frustration if during another practice the mind seems to be continuously distracted. With meditation, we accept all that arises and welcome it without judgement, even the stuff that we may rather not be feeling or thinking about.
There are many different techniques that a person can practice for their meditation such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, chanting, visualisation, focusing the mind on one sound, listening to guided mediations and numerous other techniques. Some meditations can be done lying down, walking or moving but many are done sitting still and upright with a long spine. Some people may feel good sitting cross legged on the floor, whereas others may be more comfortable sitting on a chair. It’s really about finding what works best for each person.
There are many different types of meditation rooted in various traditions such as Buddhism, Taoism and Yoga. Because of how vast the world of meditation is, when starting out it can sometimes be difficult to know where to begin and which technique to choose! So I’ve outlined here 6 different techniques. Some people like to try them all then choose one to stick with, others like to pick one and commit straight away and others like to practice a variety of different techniques on different days or at different times depending what they feel like in the moment. The great thing about any wellbeing practice is that each person gets to choose whatever they feel works for them.
For the below techniques, a good way to start is to set a timer for 10 minutes and resolve to stay the course for the full duration of the allotted time. All are carried out with the eyes closed unless stated otherwise. For all techniques, begin by arriving in the space. This can be done by taking a few full breaths, noticing the sit bones rooting into the surface beneath and feeling for the crown of the head reaching up towards the sky.
Follow the inhale and exhale all around the body so the awareness stays with the breath, without consciously changing the breath. Notice how it feels to breathe in and out, the way the chest rises and falls and the way the body fills up with air then releases. Notice if there is a natural pause between breaths. If it helps to stay focused on the breath then count the inhales and exhales. Every time the mind moves away from breath focus, gently bring the attention back to the breath.
This can be done in a dark room if that feels comfortable. Light a candle and place it at around eye level so that it can be looked at without slumping the body over. Keep the eyes open, still and focused on the flame of the candle, simply staring at the light throughout the meditation.
Grounding & Connecting Visualisation
In the mind’s eye visualise a tree with its strong sturdy trunk, roots that ground down into the earth and branches that reach up towards the sunlight above. Bringing the awareness to your own body, imagine roots growing down from the sit bones and digging down deep into the soil. Stay with this for some time then imagine the head absorbing light from above. This could be seen as an energising white light pouring down into the body through the crown of the head, connecting you to the wider universe.
This is time to focus on expressing gratitude for all the people and things you are grateful for. This means reflecting on all the blessings in life. Blessings in disguise can be included which refers to those things that might be experienced as painful but hold a lesson or message.
Move the awareness around the body noticing physical sensations from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. Notice everything about how the body feels and consciously relax or soften any areas of tension.
This comes from the Buddhist tradition of Metta meditation. In the mind and heart generate feelings of kindness, benevolence and compassion. Begin by offering these feelings of loving-kindness towards yourself, then bring to mind’s eye a good friend and develop these feelings of loving kindness towards them. Next, a person considered as “neutral” then a person considered as “difficult”. Extend that loving kindness to all 4 beings then gradually extend it out to the entire universe.
These 6 techniques are all a great way to begin practicing meditation. Some may appeal more than others but all are beneficial, especially if practiced daily/regularly. It’s also very helpful to have the guidance of a teacher or to practice in groups, as well as alone. The most important thing is for each person to find what feels right for them in crafting their own path of cultivating wellbeing.