Demystifying meditation

Meditation has many benefits, this is well known. However, when we talk about meditation, the concept can be a little vague when starting practicing. One may have in mind the image of the super flexible Indian yogi who spends hours seated in the lotus position, eyes closed and reaches levels of high consciousness that ordinary people do not have access to. In fact, meditation is a training of the mind. There is no secret. To train one’s mind to be in the present moment is a discipline that is acquired with practice. A practice that can be easily started with short periods of 3 minutes per day. One can feel the benefits of meditation by meditating once a day, or more, if your agenda allows it. Daily practice is recommended so that benefits can be felt over time.

Where to practice?

Meditation is practiced in a quiet place. It can be at home, in a meeting room, in your car, in a park or any other place that appeals to you. It can be done in silence, listening to relaxation music or accompanied by guided meditation. With your mobile device and headphones, it is possible to isolate yourself from the world to refocus a few minutes. You can practiced even by doing an activity like walking and running.

The 5 most popular types

A person who starts meditation practice will try different techniques to find the one that best suits him or her. Some will challenge you more than others. Below are some popular meditation techniques that reach a majority of practitioners.

  • Concentration meditation
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Heart centered meditation
  • Body focused meditation
  • Chakras focused meditation

Concentration

This type of meditation is the basis of all other meditations. The exercises performed need to focus on elements such as breathing, physical sensations of breathing, counting breaths, concentration on body parts, visual focus (flame, image, landscape, etc. .), focusing on an emotion or feeling, focusing on a mantra. Concentration meditation is the yang of meditation, the inner strength needed to perform and stay in the exercise of meditation. The force we are talking about here is built with practice. During a meditation session, it is normal for the mind to wander and thoughts to come and go. The exercise is simple. Without judgment, without reproach, one must reduce one’s concentration to the object of meditation, for example, breathing, counting, or mantra. One must look at one’s thoughts as if it were car traffic that one is looking at but without being part of the traffic. Simply become a traffic observer by letting the cars pass by. This is well illustrated in a short video of the Headspace application. A good way to start meditation can be with guided meditations that help you keep your focus on the subject of the meditation. I will come back to the different concentration meditations in a future article.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness is the complement of concentration meditation. It is the yin of meditation that calls for sensitivity, emotions, feelings, the conscious and the unconscious, in the present moment. The two work together because concentration is the force that keeps attention on the object of meditation and opens the door to self-awareness, which expresses itself. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana defines it as follows: « Mindfulness (Vipassana) is to look at something with clarity and precision, to see each component as distinct and separate, to pierce deep to discover the fundamental reality of the object being looked at. ». Mindfulness allows you to see things as they are in the present moment. To do this, one must be ready to receive and be ready to let go. The attention is carried without judgment, without criticism. Mindfulness brings us back to the state of traffic observer, as mentioned above. We see thoughts, emotions, images. Mindfulness meditation can be anywhere: lying in bed, sitting at the desk, walking, practicing yoga. As part of mindfulness meditation, positive affirmations can be used as mantra. Several guided mindfulness meditations exist on Youtube. You will find some on my channel too.

Heart centered meditation

Heart coherence is a heart-centered meditation exercise. It is effective quickly and is very simple to set up. Cardiac coherence is recognized for these anti-stress effects. The technique is simple. Inhale for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds throughout the meditation for 5 minutes. Pay attention to breathing only by counting the seconds. The phenomenon explained by Dr. O’hare is that at the inspiration, the heart accelerates and at expiration, the heart slows down, which has the effect of refocusing and reducing stress. To add an emotional dimension, you can practice it with a smile, with pleasant thoughts, with a feeling of gratitude and kindness. The free application « Respirelax » is simple and allows you to practice this technique from your mobile device. Several guided meditations also exist on Youtube and I propose a version also.

Another form of heart-centered meditation is the meditation of loving kindness and gratitude that I will discuss in another article.

Body focused meditation

This form of meditation focuses on body parts. In this meditation, every part of the body is explored in order to become aware of it and release it. Concentration is performed on all parts of the body: from the right foot to the hip, from the left foot to the hip, the abdomen and pelvis, the back, from right hand to shoulder, from left hand to shoulder, neck, head, tongue, jaw, eyes, cheeks, forehead, brain, top of head. The goal of this meditation is relaxation. Many guided meditations of this kind exist on Youtube.

Chakras focused meditation

This form of meditation has its origins in India. The chakras are used to visualize the seven energy wheels of the subtle body. These centers of energy are located at specific points of the body and are connected to the nervous system. They each have a distinct color.

Red. It is located in the lower back (3 vertebrae at the bottom of the spine). It is the chakra of stability and security.

Orange. It is located above the pubic bone. It is the chakra of creativity and sexuality.

Yellow. It is located at the level of the solar plexus. This is the chakra of personal power.

Green. It is located at the heart level. This chakra is a connection between the first three chakras and the last three. It is the link between the physical chakras and the chakras of the mind. It is the chakra of love and connection.

Blue. It is located at the level of the throat. This chakra is about speaking and expressing your own truth.

Indigo. It is located between the two eyes and is often named the third eye. This is the chakra of intuition.

Purple. It is located at the crown of the head. It is the chakra of spirituality and connection to your higher self and the divine.

The chakra meditation is a visualization of one of the points named above, focusing on the location of the chakra and its color. The meditation can be done on all the chakras in the same session by feeling the flow of energy of each one. It can be performed on a single chakra in a session, depending on how it feels. The purpose of meditation on the chakras is to restore harmony in one’s physical being and in one’s psychic and spiritual being.

Are these most popular?

Several other types of meditation exist but, according to what I have read and observed, these are the most popular. I hope this article has been able to clarify a little bit more about the main types of meditation, which have been gaining popularity these recent years. They are simple and accessible to everyone. Meditation makes it possible to return to oneself, to find one’s balance, to savor the present moment, to relax, to feel centered and in one’s place in this moving world.

The practice

If you already practice meditation, you can try new forms of meditation, if you have not done so already. I encourage you to share your experience and comments with me. If you want start practicing, you can start with guided meditations available on Youtube or mobile apps. I started a few years ago with guided meditations, which led me to study and practice meditation in many forms afterwards. Sources of this article at the end of the post.

If you like this post, please share it on social medias to spread the beautiful world of meditation.

Check out my guided meditation on Youtube. You can get the MP3 version on my online shop.

May your life be filled with colors, joy and loving kindness.

Namaste

Chantal Rioux

Training Live and Dare – Master your mind

Hello, I wanted to talk to you about my experience with the Master your mind – Beginner’s meditation course which I did in March 2018. This training is available on the website https://liveanddare.com/. It was set up by Giovanni Dienstmann, who is a meditation teacher, coach, author and has been practicing meditation for over 17 years. His site is filled with interesting information and I subscribe to this training. It is a training which consists in meditating daily during 35 days which comes to 5 weeks. Each week, a new form of meditation is presented and the time spent on meditation increases each week.

Why did I susbscribe

As a practitioner of guided meditations for several years, I always want to improve the guided meditations that I offer you. I build my experience and journey by reading, meditating and participating to different trainings, like this one. No need to be an expert to indulge in meditation. It is a training that can be acquire over time. The key is to give yourself a few minutes per day to train your mind so you can feel the benefits of meditation. The training Master your mind, joins this philosophy.

Meditations with or without medium

Most of the time, I use guided meditations or relaxation music as a medium for meditation. In this training, I performed all meditations in complete silence, without any medium. I can tell you that it was difficult at times to stay focused, despite my experience of meditation. I think the two complement each other because the vibrations of the two are different and lead to an expanded vision of meditation.

Week 1 – Breathing technique

The first week was quite easy since the duration of the meditations is 2 to 3 minutes. The technique is simple and it is about counting the breaths. Variants are available in the week on how to count the breaths. I found the exercise rather simple and these small successes motivated me to continue the training. The goal of the first week is to establish a habit and to commit oneself firmly to one’s meditation activity, without judgment, without guilt, without analysis. The idea is to create a space in the day and to integrate a routine for these few minutes daily. The notion of commitment is important, and every day, we must reaffirm our commitment to practice. Basically, the commitment we make is towards ourselves and for our own well-being.

Week 2 – Breathing sensation technique

In the second week, the duration varies from 3 to 7 minutes. The goal of the second week is to strengthen the habit of practice, improve posture and concentration. The technique used is the same as the first week by counting the breaths and focusing on the sensations of breathing. We are invited to use a timer for the duration of the meditation. For my part, I used the timer of my Ipad and I chose the soft sound of a chime to gently get me out of the meditation.

Week 3 – Mantra meditation technique

In the third week, the goal is to improve sessions and focus. The duration is increased and varies from 8 to 10 minutes. I loved meditation with a mantra. The author invites us to choose his own mantra. It can be a word or a phrase having a particular vibration for oneself, for example, love. He suggests we use the OM or So-Ham mantra. The So-Ham mantra comes from Sanskrit and is pronounced So-Hum. Which means I am. It is very simple and effective.

Week 3 – My own mantra meditation technique

I used a hybrid technique, at this point, that I kept as my own technique. At the inspiration, I say to myself “I inhale the energy“. At the expiration, I recite the mantra OM. If my mind leaves the mantra to go into my head and into thoughts, I come back to the technique of counting. This helps me clear my mind by coming back to breathing and counting. Then, I return into the mantra meditation.

No judgement

You must never judge yourself during meditation. There is no good meditation or bad meditation. It’s absolutely not a competition. There is no success, no failure, but only the training of the mind. There is no point in comparing to others. The important thing is to progress. Depending on the day, our level of energy, our level of concentration, meditation can be more or less easy. It is a training of the mind and it is there for you and for your well-being. It is by trying different techniques and experiences, that you will come to find what works for you and that is exactly why, I found this training interesting.

Week 4 – Chakras meditation technique

From day 22, the goal of the week is to refine your attitude to practice and bring mindfulness into everyday life. The proposed technique is to meditate on chakras. During this week, Giovanni suggest to meditate on the heart and the third eye chakras. The duration for this new week is 11 to 13 minutes. This technique requires a little more concentration than the previous ones and it was not uncommon for my mind to glide towards my thoughts.

Week 4 – My own chakras meditation technique

I had already practiced  the chakra meditation before by visualizing the 7 centers of energy in loop. This time, it was more difficult to focus on only one chakra. I spent a few days mainly with the heart chakra, imagining the green color associated with it. Subsequently, I found it easier to visualize the 7 energy centers with their colors. It allowed me to feel the flow of my different energy centers. You will find the list of chakras and their color in my article on the 5 most popular types of meditation. During this particular week, I become aware of an important element which I will talk about later in this post, in my lessons learned.

Week 5 – Loving kindness meditation technique

In the fifth week, the goal is to master your mind, deepen your practice and integrate it into your life. This technique brings concentration to the level of emotions and the duration varies from 13 to 15 minutes. It allows you to feel love and kindness for yourself and for others. From the bottom of your heart, you wish happiness and well-being for yourself and for all living beings. There are several steps that are explained in the training.

Week 5 – The road of self love

This technique was the most difficult for me. It is about generating a feeling of love and kindness for yourself, without thinking about your shortcomings, without thinking about your faults or defaults. It is hard work and it requires a lot of humility. Self-forgiveness is necessary to live this feeling of love with sincerity. At times, I felt the confrontation between the need for love and the fear of love. To love our self is a responsibility that requires attention and care. Self-love must be unconditional. It is a difficult path sometimes. Self-forgiveness and putting our ego on the side is a tough but necessary thing to work on. Meditation, whether guided or not, brings us to this path of self-love and kindness for all beings, including our self.

Lesson learned #1 – No judgement

I learned not to judge myself in this meditation journey. I learned how to use basic techniques and mixing techniques to concentrate and return to meditation. I have learned that loving kindness of our self and others can be carried outside of meditation. It can be transported in our 24 hours of the day. I have always been caring for others but not enough for myself. By becoming caring for myself, I am even more kind to others, without the feeling that I give more than I receive. I realize that the flow of loving kindness energy, to me and to others, flows in my being and that feeling is right and good.

Lesson learned #2 – Loving kindness

As mentioned in the section before, loving kindness is the main element that I retain from this training. I greatly thank Giovanni for this simple concept. There are certain things that we know but that we do not integrate into our lives or that we are not ready to receive from life. I was ready to receive this lesson of loving kindness.

Lesson learned #3 – Knowledge

I learned that I knew a lot and very little about meditation. I realized that my experience with guided meditations and my journey are both valid. I will continue to learn and I will love to learn all my life. I learned that I was able to keep this commitment to meditation and especially to myself. I understood that I was on the right track by offering guided meditations to people who are seeking well-being and healing. I understood that my loving kindness can have a positive impact on the personal and spiritual growth of others.

General technical aspects

Access to this training is very simple. Following the purchase, you receive a link that allows you to log in with your code and password. It’s easy to follow the sequence of weeks and modules. With a simple click each day, the training of the day is available and you can easily go from one day to another and go back. Every day, a PDF file is available and be directly read on the screen and easy to read. Added to this is a voice recording of the course and sometimes a guided meditation by the author. Everything is downloadable. The PDFs are full of references that point to the articles on the site. I can imagine that the author of this training took a long time to refine his product before offering it on the Web to neophytes of meditation.

Training program

The program is very well organized. Every day, there is a new notion or technique to introduce. Steps are repeated to be able to retain them and integrate them into your practice. For example, when preparing for meditation, the author repeats the basic elements such as posture, commitment, state of mind, etc. Repetition brings us into a state of trust in practice from one day to the next.

Learn more

Every day, the author offers a Learn more section. These are additional readings, the benefit of the day, an answer to a question and the clarification of a myth in relation to meditation. Even if the 35 days are done, the training is never completed. Access to training remains available and it is always possible to go back and read or listen to the material again.

Cost of this training

This training is at a cost of 59$ US. If the training interests you, you can go directly to the site Live and Dare and send an email mentioning my name in reference to Giovanni. I have no partnership with the author and I am talking about his training because I just loved it and his web site is full of quality content.

What happes after?

I continue my daily practice and my readings. I am also taking other experiences and training which I will talk to you about. The guided meditations that I will continue to offer you will be colored with all these experiences.

I wish you to experience meditation, whether guided or not, happiness and well-being.

If you like this post, please share it on social medias to spread the beautiful world of meditation.

Check out my guided meditation on Youtube. You can get the MP3 version on my online shop.

May your life be filled with colors, joy and loving kindness.

Namaste

Chantal Rioux

Don’t miss out any news and get a free guided meditation by subscribing right here below!




Sources :

5 minutes le matin : Exercices simples de méditation pour les stressés très pressés, David O’hare, Éditeur Thierry Souccar, 2013

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, http://www.bhavanasociety.org/main/teacher/bhante_henepola_gunaratana/

http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/mindfulness_in_plain_english_16.php

Giovanni Dienstmann, www.liveanddare.com

Michelle Fondin, https://chopra.com/articles/what-is-a-chakra

https://blog.mindvalley.com/chakra-meditation/

www.headspace.com