Posts in Guided meditation
Hip Hop Meditation

When I come home from work and I am angry, I like to do a hip hop angry purge. After the hip hop meditation I feel like my anger has been expressed and I'm ready to enjoy my time at home.

Current mood

  • Frustrated, annoyed and angry. It feels like you have been treated unfairly.

  • Needing to vent the build up of stress and to get to a clearer mental state so that you can enjoy time at home and not carry stress on to loved ones.

Benefits

  • Purge angry thoughts 

  • Develop your focus 

  • Let the day's stresses recede 

Preparation

  • Download 2 hip hop songs you like. Consider whether offensive language will be therapeutic or off-putting and select accordingly.

Time

  • 5 minutes

Meditation

Step One. Queue your 2 songs. It is best if the first song is more angry so that you can shake off all your stress. Queue the next song to be a softer idea or softer melody.

Step Two. Make yourself comfortable. Take three deep breaths.

Step Three. Press play on your music. Close your eyes. Focus your mind on the song lyrics. As your mind wanders, bring your mind back to the lyrics. Concentrate on every word.

Step Four. For the second song, concentrate on the beat of the music. Let the lyrics wash over you as you hear for every beat of the song.

Step Five. Once the songs finish, take 3 deep breaths and slowly open your eyes.

 

Notes

1. My current favourite songs are Really got It, Jerreau  Swimming Pools, Kendrick LamarLose Yourself, EminemGold, Kiara and What they Want, Russ.  

2. Another variation is to vigorously shake your hands above your head in the first song. You visualise flicking away the annoying things that happened that day. At the end of the first song, you drop your hands onto your lap and feel all the energy shifted in your arms.

 


Chocolate Meditation

Chocolate meditations are a blend of sensory indulgence and mindfulness. Enjoying the textures and tastes reminds me how much fun eating is!

Current mood

  • Seeking joy and indulgence in everyday experiences

  • Experience simple things with intense awareness.

Benefits

  • Increases sensitivity to taste

  • Promotes mindful eating

  • Encourages you to find the joys in everyday life

Preparation

  • Buy one chocolate Lindt Ball of any flavour

Time

  • 5 minutes

Meditation

Step One. Place the chocolate Lindt ball in its wrapper into the palm of your hand. Notice how it feels against your skin. Take a look at the wrapper carefully. Consider how heavy the chocolate is.

Step Two. Pick up the chocolate between your thumb and fingers. Can you feel how hard or soft the chocolate is? Can you feel it warming or cooling as you hold it.

Step Three. Start to unwrap the chocolate and notice the sound of twisting the wrapper. With the wrapper underneath, take a good look at the chocolate. Notice any contours and the texture of the chocolate. What markings does the chocolate have? Is it the same colour all the way across its surface? Is it shiny or dull?

Step Four. Now hold the chocolate under your nose and observe if the Lindt ball has a fragrance.

Step Five. Place the chocolate in your mouth and on your tongue.  What is its texture in your mouth? What does it taste like?

Step Six. As the saliva moves across your mouth, you might notice the casing of the chocolate pop as the second layer of the Lindt ball comes to the centre. Feel free to bite the chocolate and pay attention to the flavours and the feel of the chocolate in your mouth.

Step Seven. As the flavour intensity diminishes, keep noticing all the small details. As we come to the end of this chocolate meditation, focus on your breath. As you inhale and exhale, consider how you can take close attention to the joys of sensory meditation throughout your day.

 


Examining Thoughts Meditation

This meditation helps to examine one problem from many different frameworks to prevent blocked thinking patterns.

Current mood

  • Confused about an ongoing problem
  • Circling thoughts but no new ideas on a long-term conflict
  • Looking to explore the issue from different standpoints to understand the situation better

Time

 20 minutes

Preparation

Select a problem that has been on your mind for awhile. During the meditation, you may want to write down insights at each step. 

Meditation

Step One. Close your eyes. Relax your shoulders. Find a comfortable position. Listen to the sound of your breath.

Step Two. As you listen to the sound of your breath, think about a situation or problem you are dealing with right now. A few may come to mind, just pick one you are ready to explore right now. Think about the problem for the next few minutes.

Step Three. With your eyes still closed, let’s start to notice our thinking patterns on the problem. When you think of the situation, are you filtering out other aspects? Try now, to see the whole picture. Think of some positives in the situation. What are some things you have learnt?

Step Four. In this problem, do you think in terms of good and bad people doing good and bad things?

Let’s re-examine the good and bad and put percentages on the outcomes. Maybe a person’s behaviour was 80% unsatisfactory. Maybe, when we think of an outcome it would be 80% good and 20% bad.

Step Five. Let’s take a few minutes to consider the evidence you have on the problem. Do you have enough evidence? Is this evidence coming from one source?

Step Six. Take a deep breath in and out. In this problem you are considering there is most likely a human element. You may have used mind reading to help make sense of the problem. Have you actually asked the person their thoughts?

Step Seven. Take a deep breath in and out. Is this problem actually as catastrophic as you think? What are the odds of a catastrophe actually occurring? Sometimes our mind magnifies fearful thoughts. It’s important to take a step back and get the thoughts into proportion.

Step Eight. Bring your awareness to your breath. Notice your chest and lungs move as you inhale and exhale. Let’s consider if you have personalised the situation. Is it really about you? It is likely that this could have happened to anyone and it is not intrinsic to your personality, it is just a result of factors. Perhaps you were in the wrong place in the wrong time but now you have the opportunity to react to the situation in a way that you can be proud of.

Step Nine. Take a breath in and out as we return to the problem. Does this problem exist because you think people should do things in a certain way? We each have our own values and those values are personal, are you imposing your views on other people?

Step Ten. Now imagine this problem is dissolving away. It is just fading more and more as you start to focus on your breath. You notice each inhale and exhale.

Step Eleven. Start to move your wrists and your toes slowly and when you are ready look at the ground in front of you and slowly raise your head. You might want to have a drink of water and a stretch.

 


Vision Meditation

"Everything is created twice, first in the mind, and then in reality," Robert Sharma. A building is created in the mind of an architect before it is created, the same for an artist producing art. You are your vision, your beliefs, your values, your habits, your actions.

Time

10 minutes


Meditation


Step One. Close your eyes and gently relax your shoulders. Pay attention to the sound of your breath. Hear yourself breathing in and breathing out. There is no need to change your breathing. Just notice the sound and rhythm of your breath.

Step Two. Ask  yourself, what are three values you cherish the most?

Step Three. Bring to your mind the vision you have for your life. Why are you here today?

Step Four. Now think about your habits this week. What actions did you take this week? What activities have you been spending your time on this week?

Step Five. Let it all go. Bring your focus back to the breath. Let it all go. Notice your feelings right now. You may be feeling frustrated, motivated, purposeful or sad. Feelings are temporary. We acknowledge the feeling as it is and let feelings come and go.

Step Six. Come back to the breath. Let the breath be your anchor to the present moment. Focus on the breath, breathing in and out.

Step Seven. With your eyes closed, gently rotate your wrists slowly. Rotate your shoulders slowly. So very gently, open your eyes, looking at the floor in front of you. And then gradually, looking up.


Mountain Meditation

The mountain meditation is famous for projecting stability. If I'm feeling like my life is becoming chaotic, this meditation both energises and stabilises me.

Current mood

  • Feeling imaginative and wanting to use the power of visualisation.
  • Wanting to access your inner strength. 

Time
10 minutes

Meditation

Step One. Sit up straight on a chair and have your chest open. Relax your shoulders and rest your hands. Gently close your eyes. Become aware of your breath. Breathing in, breathing out.

Step Two. Picture a mountain standing before you. Imagine all the details of the mountain. See the green slopes with belts of trees, rocky crags and the snow-capped top of the mountain.

Step Three. Now imagine yourself as solid as the mountain. Imagine becoming as tall and grounded as the mountain. You are still and tranquil. The weather may change, the river may flow, the storms may pass, but you remain stable as a mountain. You observe the changes without judgement, secure as a mountain.

Step Four. As the weather patterns change, notice the emotions that wash over you. Just following the weather and the emotions. 

Step Five. When you are ready, let the mountain drift away and notice your posture, sitting tall as a mountain. Gently breath in and out. As you gently open your eyes, take the stability of the mountain with you throughout your day.


Pain Management Meditation

I use this meditation for emotional pain and physical pain because it gives me a new perspective. By thinking of others, I find it relieves the alienation of facing pain alone.

Current mood

  • Feeling helpless, vulnerable and like no one understands the pain you are in.
  • Wanting pain relief, inner peace and connection.

Time
15 mins

Meditation

Step One. Breathe deeply in and out. Imagine the breath is flowing all through your body. Breathe in from your feet and bring the breath in all the way up to your head and then breathe out from the head and watch the breath flow down all the way to your fingertips and your feet. Repeat breathing deeply. 

Step Two. With a gentle curiosity, notice any pain in your body. Just observing and noticing. 

Step Three. There may be waves of painfulness, but you are deeply relaxed. You are not fighting the pain. Imagine all the other people in the world who are also suffering in pain. They share this experience of pain with you. Breathe into the pain and breathe out of the pain. Repeat breathing in and out. 

Notice how as you become more at peace with pain, and you are more at peace with yourself. There is a deep, pleasant relaxation. Your body feels warm and comfortable and flows with the rhythm of the pain. There is nothing you need to change or do. You are just relaxing and being in your body. 

Step Four. Imagine that the pain is an ocean, with waves that ride high and then crash and disappear. The breath is the wind guiding the ocean. As you breathe deeply into the body; you are the wind, guiding and soothing the ocean. 

Step Five. Continue to feel into your body and to feel your breath. When you feel ready, gently stretch and slowly open your eyes.

 


Sleep Meditation

When you feel like a self-saboteur at night by having relentless thoughts this counting meditation helps stabilise your mind. 

Current mood

  • Anxious about sleeping and worrying that you won't perform well the next day because of a lack of sleep.
  • Wanting a win-win situation so that sleeping or not sleeping are both beneficial.

Time
Unknown and not important

Meditation

Step One. Start lying on your back. Place your hands at your sides. Using your mind, scan your body for areas of tension. How does your body feel? Slowly release any tension in your body by breathing deeply in and out.

Step Two. As your thoughts pop into your head, just let them go. You can handle your day to day tasks tomorrow when you are in the daylight, and your mind is fresh.

Step Three. Now we will begin a counting meditation. After you breathe in and out, count one. Breath in and out, two. Breathe in and out, three. Continue breathing and counting. If you lose your count, start at one again. There is no need to fixate on the number; you are just letting the numbers and the breaths, wash over you. You are breathing and counting and relaxing. If you count up to a high number, you are honing your focus skills. If you keep starting at zero, you may be drifting into sleep. There is no pressure, no worries. Just relaxing.


Heartbreak Meditation

There are millions of emotions, thoughts and physical symptoms during a heartbreak. This meditation is breathtakingly simple and creates space for you.


Current mood

  • Emotionally shattered by a breakup 
  • Wanting to process thoughts, relieve the physical stress and let the emotions pour through

Time
25 minutes

Meditation

Step One. Sit with a straight spine and with your legs crossed. Your neck is relaxed and straight.

Step Two. Prepare for a prayer mudra. Place hands in a prayer position and bring the tip of the middle fingers up to between the eyebrows.  Your hands are not touching your head, they are a little away from the body. Your elbows are high and forearms are horizontal to the ground. 

Step Three. As you inhale and exhale, look within. 

Step Four. When you are ready, slowly stretch your palms to above your head. Slowly, bring your hands to your thighs.


Mindfulness: the good, the bad and the ugly

First of all, what is mindfulness and is it different to meditation?

Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally
— Jon Kabat-Zinn

Meditation can be thought of as a heading and the sub headings would be types of meditation, including mindfulness meditation, insight meditation, sensory meditation, mantra meditation etc. On the other hand, if mindfulness is our topic, mindfulness meditation is just one part of living mindfully. Mindfulness is made up of doing mindfulness meditation and also by living in the moment. If you want more information about mindfulness, there are some soothing, picturesque quotes about mindfulness from the experts here. Of the list, my favourite is this from Sharon Salzberg, whose personal story overcoming childhood trauma is inspiring.

Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.
— Sharon Salzberg

The good

Benefits: Just do 25 minutes for 3 days 

Matthieu Ricard is a French scientist and meditation expert who extensively researches meditation and the brain. He is the author of the bestseller, The Art of Meditation. He talks of the intuition that comes from practicing meditation and how this clarity of mind can present itself in our daily life. He said, “Let us live simply in the freshness of the present moment, in the clarity of pure awakened mind.”

Can you get the benefit of clarity by meditating for just a short time? Yes, even a short term meditation practice can reduce stress levels to contribute to more clarity. In a 2014 randomised control test, 66 people were put into either a control group or into the meditation group. The meditation group completed a brief 3-day (25-min per day) mindfulness meditation training program. The results were that the brief mindfulness meditation training not only buffered stress reactivity, but it also increased cortisol reactivity to stress. This pattern may indicate that initially brief mindfulness meditation fosters greater coping, resulting in reduced stress and greater cortisol reactivity during social stressors. There is a taming of the mind as meditation teaches us to reduce the impact of stressors, quieten our thoughts and remain in the present.

Good news for students who need self discipline and more focus

Did you know even short-term mindfulness meditation training can improve focus, attention and self-regulation. A study was done in 2007 and after only 11 hours total of mindfulness meditation over a month, the subjects improved their attention and self-regulation. That’s great news, the participants only did 11 hours of meditation in total and still experienced the benefits.

 

 

 
 The ugly. When your friends point out that you aren't mindful of others. Or when you feel like everyone else is centred, at peace and you are the only one struggling in a mindfulness class. Image from http://www.pmslweb.com/the-blog/crazy-friday-the-tgif-madness-is-strong/17-funny-doughnut-meditation-cartoon/

The ugly. When your friends point out that you aren't mindful of others. Or when you feel like everyone else is centred, at peace and you are the only one struggling in a mindfulness class. Image from http://www.pmslweb.com/the-blog/crazy-friday-the-tgif-madness-is-strong/17-funny-doughnut-meditation-cartoon/


 

The bad

Meditation is not recommended for people with bipolar, psychosis or with PTSD. This article outlines some negative side effects of mindfulness meditation. I think the bad side of mindfulness meditation can be reduced by discussing your meditation practice with a counsellor and stopping meditation if it is causing you anxiety. Bad things can happen from good things. I see meditation as similar to exercise. Exercise can cause injuries.  But generally, it is beneficial to most people.

The ugly

Mindfulness seems like aiming for perfection - to be non-judgemental and in the present moment. Point number 4 of Julia Cullen's list of why mindfulness sucks is funny. Julia Cullen is a corporate development consultant and she writes,

"Some mindful people have very high expectations from everyone (and themselves), but unfortunately fail permanently to live up to it themselves. So maybe better not talk about it so much, and accept we all are human."

I am sick of hearing about mindfulness 

This overtalking about mindfulness reminds me of vegans. When you type into Google, "why do vegans always talk about being vegan" there are 12.5 million results to the search. If you click through a post on Quora, an online counselling company has written a cheeky comment to the thread saying, if anyone is struggling with their friends always talking about how they are vegan, they can consider online therapy because you are worth it.

In summary,

  • Even a short term mindfulness meditation practice of 25 min for 3 days can reduce stress levels, giving you more clarity.
  • Good news for students wanting more focus. After only 11 hours total of mindfulness meditation over a month, peoples improved their attention and self-regulation which are the two factors needed for focus.
  • Some people can get trapped in chasing perfection, being perfectly mindful and non-judgemental. 
  • Meditation is not recommended for people with bipolar, psychosis or with PTSD