Meditation: free techniques to de-stress

The ‘techniques’ of meditation pull our awareness back into the here and now instead of perpetual engagement with our thoughts and interpreted projections (our recollected past, imagined future & compulsive judgements of good/bad). This common state of consciousness creates a separated defensive sense of self. The practice has immense physiological benefits as well as the discovery of deep inherent spiritual truths that are found experiential.

Here are the meditative techniques I teach at Simply Sitting Meditation. They can be applied anywhere, although as a beginner of meditation I would recommend practising the methods in a quiet non-distracting location. Wear comfortable clothes, and adopt a sitting posture with a straight back, chin tucked in and eyes closed. you can sit on a comfortable chair or cushion (being full or half lotus position is up to you and not a necessity). Hands can lay on your lap turned up, your body language should be open not closed.

The 3 sequential styles we do are deep abdominal breathing, a systematic body scan and watching the breath (Vipassana) each can be done for ten minutes each (keep a timer near).

  1. Deep Abdominal Breathing

mind-2Take a deep breath ideally through the nose and watch the breath journey down into the belly, expanding the abdomen and watching the exhalation travel back to the tip of the nose. Count 4 seconds inhalation, pause for 1 second at the bottom, 4 seconds exhalation pausing for 1 second at the top. Try to keep your attention on the breath. If the flow of other thoughts remains, gently return your attention back to your practice and over time the gap between thought detachments will increase.

We start this breath work first to settle/quieten mind chatter, taking our brainwaves from beta (13 to 60 pulses per second) and alpha states (7 to 13 pulses per second) to theta (4 to 7 pulses per second). Our entire organism is supra-oxygenated and our calming parasympathetic nervous system is activated.

  1. Systematic Body Scan

body-scanThis meditation can be done lying down face up or seated. Place your attention on the soles of one foot slowly guide your attention up the leg to the pelvis, then start at the second leg repeating the process. Next slowly guide your attention sequentially from your pelvis up your spine to the naval, solar plexus, centre of chest and throat, then feel into both arms and hands separately and then back up the neck into the whole face and top of the head feel down the back of the skull down the neck and let your awareness settle at your chest. In the process of scanning your body if any discomfort, contraction or unpleasant feeling were felt then return to these areas and just watch them again and see if the sensation dissipates on its own accord or follow the sensation with your your attention if it shifts to other areas of the body. At the end attempt to feel the whole body all at once as one unified field of alive energy.

This meditation reacquaints us with the dynamic energy field that is our bodies and brings our attention more to our sensory faculties. It helps us to untangle any suppressed/blocked emotions or energy flow.

  1. Watching the breath meditation (Vipassana)

sittingmed4Again adopting a seated position let your breath fall to its own natural rhythm. Focus your attention to either the tip of your nose feeling the entry and exit of the breath or focus on the abdomen as it rises and falls with the breath. If your attention wanders bring it gently back to the practice. In this meditation there is an invitation to completely silence the mind and find out what we are beyond our concepts. This mediation can bring us to an even deeper brain wave state of Delta (1 to 4 cycles per second). At the end of this meditation I like to open the eyes and observe our surroundings without any mental interpretations for a few moments.

I’d recommend practising this specific mediation sequence daily especially first thing in the morning.

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