Meditation Exercises and Techniques
Breathing MeditationThere are many different types of breathing meditation exercises. A great one to start with is the relaxing breathing exercises (4-7-8-breathing). This technique will help bring deep relaxation. To practice:
- Sit up tall with an elongated spine.
- Begin to breathe in and out through your nose, matching the length of your inhales and exhales.
- When you’re ready, begin to inhale for 4-seconds, hold your breath for 7-seconds, and then exhale for 8-seconds.
MantraMantras are a powerful tool to help concentrate the mind by repeating a particular word or phase of words. This word or phrase may be something that resonates with you. Perhaps it is something as simple as I am Love, or maybe a Sanskrit term from a yoga teacher like om namo guru dev namo, meaning I bow to all that is. Repeat your mantra with your eyes closed for however long you would like. To learn more, listen to Selina Van Orden discuss mantras.
Trataka - Candle GazingCandle gazing is a simple Ayurvedic practice known as Trataka. The traditional meditation practice of trataka uses a ghee candle, as the rich gold color offers supportive nourishment to the eyes; however, any candle may do. By gazing at a candle’s flame, you bring your attention to a specific focus, thus helping to quiet and clear the mind. To practice:
- Find a quiet place to sit. Light a candle and turn the lights low or off.
- Sit up nice and tall with your shoulders relaxed.
- Begin by closing your eyes and breathing in and out through your nose for 1 minute.
- Then, gently open your eyes, and take your gaze to the lit candle flame, continue to breathe deeply.
- Soften your gaze on the flame, allow a little flickering as the flame will move, but work to stay focused on the flame.
- Try this for 3-5 minutes.
- After, close your eyes for 1 minute to close out before blowing out the flame and turning the lights back on.
Mala BeadsCounting mala beads is a lovely practice to bring clarity and focus. Counting mala beads slowly invites concentration to the quickened mind by giving a focused action to practice. You may move as slow as you wish to count the malas until the completion of the circle. Traditional malas have 108 beads, representing spiritual completion in the yogic tradition. You may recite your mantra while counting your mala beads or breathing deeply into your lower abdomen.
Mindful MeditationIn mindfulness meditations, the intention is to pay attention to your thoughts as they move through your mind. Like watching clouds passing through the sky, mindful meditation help you become aware of your thoughts as they pass through. Without judgment or criticism, you become the observer of your thinking. To practice:
- Sit with your spine tall. Take a few deep breaths in and out.
- Close your eyes and tune inward. You may focus on your breath or your mantra.
- When you notice thoughts coming into your mind, pause, acknowledge the thought, let it go like a passing cloud, and then return to your breath or mantra.
- Repeat as often as thoughts come in.