Have you ever tried meditating? If so, you must know what it feels like when your thoughts fly through your head 60 mph! How can we control our thoughts? How can we “think of nothing”? It’s so easy to get frustrated and simply quit because we feel like we will never be able to calm down.
However, no matter how difficult or impossible it may seem, it is actually not so hard to reach this state of mind. There are many techniques on how to control thoughts and focus on clearing the mind, separating our psyche from our everyday problems and being in tune with ourselves.
Some of the best ways to help us reach and maintain this state are: practicing asana (yoga position – the most famous being the lotus position), using mudra (hand position for energy flow), breathing and creative visualization.
Many experienced meditation masters began their practice with enduring in a difficult asana for several hours. This is done to overcome the physical barrier of discomfort. When we master to stay in a difficult pose for a long time (and we do this by practicing yoga regularly), without feeling any pain or discomfort, we actually overcome the psychological barrier of pain and we are able to displace our mind from our physical self and place it somewhere beyond, where we are in tune. That being the case, we, at the same time learn to control our thoughts and clear our mind.
Mudras are used in many energy-work meditations and each mudra causes a different energy flow through our body, helping us achieve what we want to achieve (healing, cleansing, energizing, etc.). You will be able to read more on this in my future articles.
Creative visualization is a great tool to help us envision anything, especially for when we do healing meditation (imagining and healing a certain body part or function). It is also very helpful when it comes to focusing or concentrating on doing and thinking about a certain subject (or, in fact, not think at all). This way, we train our mind to “be still” and not wonder around without focus. We also bring our senses alive and practice focusing on the current moment.
However, in this article, I would like to emphasize the art of breathing. I find breathing to be of uttermost importance when it comes to meditation practice. Each session should start and each session should as well finish with taking deep breaths. We can say that with breath each meditation begins and each meditation ends. We start every session with taking 3-6 deep breaths in order to relax instantly. You’d be surprised with how effective this is. If you are alone, not doing anything (like operating a motor vehicle), if no one is disturbing you, you may try it now:
With your eyes closed and body upright, you take a deep breath in through the nose (about 6 seconds long), hold the breath in (for 2-4 seconds) and exhale through the mouth (for about 6 seconds again). You repeat the process 2-5 more times.
Take a note of how your body feels. How about your mind? It is unbelievable how much we can actually relax, and how fast, after only taking a couple of deep breaths. Why 3-6 times though? This is very simple; it is due to technical reasons. Less than 3 breaths is simply not enough for our body and mind to relax fully, and more than 6 breaths can be harmful – we may start feeling dizzy, or even pass out!
Alright, now you are calm and you may start meditating. But what if you lose focus and thoughts start traveling the speed of light through your head? Breath can be of great help here, again. This does not mean we should continue breathing deeply up to the point of us passing out. No, we should breathe naturally, comfortably, with ease, preferably through the nose. Naturally, we do not pay much attention as we breathe during the day and night since it is an automatic or metabolic reaction and it happens involuntarily. However, if during meditation our thoughts begin having their own life, we should control them by focusing on our breath, not changing it, but only focusing on it. We should focus on each feeling and sensation, and at the same time, try to imagine the breath going in and out of the body. We should feel it going in through our nose, throat, into the lungs, our lungs expanding, stomach rising, and also the breath exiting the body slowly, as our chest and stomach come down and become smaller again. By paying attention to every little detail regarding our breath, we easily fend off all the other thoughts that try to sneak into our head, we calm down and we focus on the here and now. It is such an easy trick, but yet powerfully effective.
Feel free to try this out and leave any comments below. I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences.
Finally, I recommend trying my
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