So this week has been really busy so I thought I would talk about mini meditations or mindful pauses. These can be anywhere between 30 seconds and 3 minutes depending on where you are and what you need. (Let’s face it when you really need it one long deep breath can help, but the longer you can focus on your breath the more difference it can make.)
You don’t have to be anywhere specific to do this. I’ve started trying to do this regularly on my commute and whenever I’m waiting for something (particularly if I’m nervous)
Just bring your attention to the breath and focus on the sensations of inhaling and exhaling. (You can close your eyes if you are comfortable with doing that, but you don’t have to.) If you get distracted just bring your attention back to the breath as you would usually.
This is also useful when I get stuck in my thoughts because it can be of switching my focus to the sensations in my body.
I can also say from experience that practising these little meditations throughout the day can make it easier when it comes to doing more formal sitting practice, as focusing on the breath begins to happen more naturally and automatically.
This week I thought I would talk about dealing with blocks when it comes to trying to do a visualisation technique as this is something I have really struggled with in the past. The first time I was introduced to the idea of visualisation I felt a huge amount of resistance to it. I’m not really sure why I felt like this, maybe it was because it didn’t feel like visualisation was a hugely relevant object of focus for meditation, or maybe it was because the idea made me feel a bit stupid. If am honest I think it might have been a combination of both those factors.
Whatever the reason was, it knocked my first attempt at regular meditation practice completely off course to the point where I gave up for a while. Having had this experience I knew that when I came back the technique of visualisation I would have to find a way to get past that resistance that I had been feeling if I wanted to carry on with my practice.
When doing the visualisation technique I was being instructed to imagine a bright light either spreading from the centre of my body or gradually spreading upwards from my toes. In order to make this more accessible than it had been in the past, I turned to one of my favourite points of reference: Doctor Who. In particular, the regeneration scene because the regeneration energy is shown as a light spreading through the Doctor’s body as he changes. I may not be looking for the explosive effects shown in this clip but it has helped me get over the difficulties that I was having with visualisation.
I fully understand that Doctor Who might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the idea is simple if you are having difficulty with something, try and find something that you love to relate to and this should make it a lot easier for you to persevere with it.
If you have been following this blog for a while then you will probably know that Headspace has played a big role in meditation becoming a habit for me. Particularly when it comes to meditating on a daily basis, something which I have at times found really hard to stick to. Headspace gives you a separate session to do each day focusing on a different aspect of mindfulness within your chosen pack, with ideas around how to apply mindfulness in a practical way, which keeps it interesting.
My meditation practice is still very up and down. Some weeks I find I am very calm and it feels like my practice is going really well and I have developed some depth and stability in my ability to stay present. Other days it will be back to being very choppy and it’s difficult to step back from the critical thoughts. Whatever type of practice I am having Headspace helps keep it consistent. This little video about letting go of effort both in terms of getting to sleep and having a calmer meditation is something I have found helpful and like to remind myself of quite often.
On the day this is posted I will have reached 200 days of meditating daily. As a reward for my ‘run streak’ I have a code for 3 months free access to help you get started with your own mindfulness practice. I am posting it here, but please only take it if you are pretty confident you are going to use it, as it can only be used once.
Simply copy the code, click here to go to headspace.com click ‘redeem code’ follow the instructions and enjoy!