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Quieting the Mind: A Cheeky Girl’s Guide to Meditation

It's Tough, But Someone's Gotta Do It

by Stacy Levy – September 5, 2012

MeditationMany of us have become masters of distraction, acting as magicians working tirelessly day in and day out to create and maintain the illusion that we call our reality. We distract ourselves with our careers, Twitter, cocktails, relationships, shopping, decorating our homes, food and just about anything that will prevent us from being alone with ourselves. Our technology-driven and status-seeking world has catapulted us into a mindset that glorifies busy-ness, where we measure our self-worth on productivity and efficiency. Sadly, our identification with self can become falsely associated with these distractions, which are mere externalities and have little to do with our true inner-self.  When we base our self-worth on such things, we move farther away from our authentic selves – who we really are. Then, when external constructs in our lives start to deteriorate, we find ourselves in personal crisis, breaking down as it seems our world is falling apart.

So how can we prevent such emotional breakdowns? Get quiet, start listening and build from within.

While part of our human experience is to feel darkness to find light, understanding our strengths, weaknesses and patterns can help lessen the depths of the lows and make the highs even higher. Self-growth and spiritual enlightenment does not exactly happen overnight, but by minimizing distractions of the material world we can get back to ourselves. It is here, in the stillness and silence, where we are confronted with the very thing we fear most: being face-to-face with our thoughts and raw emotions that we spend our energy trying to avoid. A shift happens when we become aware of what plagues us, as we consciously observe the constructs of our meandering mind… we come out lighter, more aware and whole.

 

Countless research studies highlight the proven physiological and psychological benefits of meditation.Meditation Meditation increases blood flow and slows the heart rate, decreases muscle tension, enhances the immune system, promotes a deeper sense of relaxation and decreases anxiety. In addition, meditation helps focus concentration, increases creativity and productivity, improves memory and builds self-confidence. In the process of cleaning out the cobwebs of the mind, an increased sense of spirituality and self-awareness develops. It is here, in stillness and in silence, that we increase compassion, learn forgiveness and create a deeper capacity for love.

How does one meditate? Follow these very simple (but not easy) steps:

-Find Time

Set aside time in your daily routine. Start with five minutes a day and gradually build.

-Unplug

Turn off your phone, TV, laptop or anything else that is an obstacle to your attention.

-Sit

Use a cushion or pillow if the ground is uncomfortable. Find a comfortable seat and lengthen your spine to keep your back straight. Allow your hands to rest gently on your thighs.

-Relax

Close your eyes and visualize relaxing everything. Scan your body for tension and send deep, full breaths into the tension.

-Breathe

Draw your attention to the easy flow of your breath. Watch your breath as you inhale and exhale. When your mind starts to wander, which it inevitably will, come back to your breath.

-Visualize

Imagine a place that makes you feel calm and at peace. Bring that place to your mind‘s eye.

-Be Silent

Be still in silence. Allow the chatter in your mind to slowly fade while returning to your breath each time. Try to avoid judging and labeling your thoughts as good or bad.

You don’t need much to meditate. Start small and aim for five minutes a day to sit in silence, adding more time as you become comfortable. For beginners, it may seem intimidating to clear the mind entirely. Start by noticing your thoughts and allowing them to drift in and out like clouds in the sky. Perhaps journal your experience afterwards, documenting the thoughts that came up or even the resistance you may have felt. Be interested, let go of judgment. Meditation is simply a vehicle to cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves and others. Walking the path of self-actualization takes a tremendous amount of courage and letting go, but the reward of keeping things in perspective and getting to know yourself is invaluable.

About the Author: Stacy Levy

Stacy Levy is a Certified Yoga Instructor and Holistic Health Coach who supports people in living with purpose and vitality through mindful eating, balanced nutrition, breathing and meditation techniques, and Yoga. Stacy teaches Yoga classes at studios and health clubs throughout Chicago and is the Founder of Aura Yoga & Wellness. Visit www.aurayogawellness.com or email stacylevy@gmail.com. Twitter: @stacy_levy