Meditation Playlists

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When I first started meditating, I wasn’t sure how to do it, or if I was doing it “right” (I know now that there isn’t really a right or wrong way when it comes to meditating). In my quest to learn more about it and how to do it, I found a few resources that really helped me discover what worked for me and what I enjoyed, and I use these resources still now, especially when I’m tired or in need of support.

My favourite resources for meditation:

Sonescence

(http://www.sonesence.com)

Tahlee makes music for meditation and it is MAGICAL! I have listened to her albums Allied Forces and Spectrum countless times, and they never fail to help me chill out and find a bit of peace. Her new album Luminous is uplifting and relaxing at the same time. Check her out and be prepared to be blwon away. Make sure you use headphones when you listen.

Claire Obeid

(http://clairobeid.com/)

Claire’s album of guided meditations take the guess work out of meditating. There are basic meditations and meditations for a specific purpose, and they are all around 10 minutes long. She also has lots of resources on her blog about meditation and often runs a yearly meditation challenge. I’ve found her tracks really helpful in determining what kind of meditation works for me, as well as using specific meditations for something I’m working on. You can find the album in her shop.

Yoga Nidra by Swami Pragyamurti Saraswati

(https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Relaxation-Yoga-Nidra-Vol/dp/B001J9I4RM)

While slightly different from traditional meditation, yoga nidra usually has the same effect for me, so I include it in my “meditation practice” category. This is a great CD with several different tracks so you won’t get bored of them. I always feel really refreshed after listening and often use yoga nidra for relaxation when travelling or for an energy boost when I’m tired. It’s said that a 30 minute practice of yoga nidra is equivalent to a few hours of quality sleep, and I love how I feel after listening. Swami Pragyamurti also has the most beautiful voice.

Meditation Made Easy by Stephanie Brookes

(https://www.amazon.co.uk/Meditation-Made-Easy-step-step/dp/1782491104/ref=sr_1_cc_2?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1473431289&sr=1-2-catcorr&keywords=meditation+made+easy)

This is a great book with lots of different meditation options. A good transition for when you want to meditate without a guide, but still need guidance. There are lots of tops about how to meditate, different kinds of meditations, and meditations for specific purposes. It’s easy to understand and laid out in a way that you can easily dip in and out or read the whole book cover to cover. I refer back to it often, both for my own practice, and to get ideas for teaching.

I’d love to hear about any meditation resources you’ve found! Let me know in the comments, or use #meditateoctober.

A practice …

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This is one of my favourite meditations because of its simplicity, the fact that it can easily be done anywhere, and can be adapted to the amount of time available:

Sit or lie comfortably. Close your eyes.

Find your breath.

Notice the rise and fall of your chest and be aware of each inhale and exhale.

Stay like this for a few moments, noticing each inhale and exhale without changing or holding the breath, simply allowing it to go in and out of your lungs.

Notice the length of the breath – is it short, long, somewhere in between? Don’t change the breath as it is, simply observe and allow it to be what it is today.

Start to notice the quality of the air as it comes in, and notice the air as it goes out. What is the temperature of the breath? How does it feel as it passes through the nostrils, the throat and into the lungs? How does it feel in the other direction?

Stay with this practice, continuing to notice each inhale and exhale.

When thoughts arise, observe them, but keep bringing yourself back to the present moment of inhale and exhale, anchoring your mind to your breath.

Stay here for as long as you have, then gently open your eyes.

 

*Side note: notice the breath, but avoid adding judgements to your observation – short or long breath is not good or bad, it is simply a characteristic. If you start to attach judgement, notice the judgement and let it go (this is also part of the practice), with the option of saying to yourself “my breath is ___, and that is simply the way it is right now”.

 

How does this practice make you feel? Let me know in the comments or use #meditateoctober

 

 

 

 

Five tools for easier meditation …

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When I first started meditating, I found it really difficult, and I used to get frustrated and angry with myself because I thought I wasn’t doing it “right” (more about that here). After practicing meditation regularly for a couple of years, I’ve developed a few tools to make it easier and more enjoyable.

 

1. Find a comfortable way to sit. If you’re not comfortable, the discomfort will be the only thing you think about and it will make you annoyed at meditating, annoyed at yourself, and resistant to doing it. A few options that work for me:

  • Kneeling with yoga blocks or a bolster under my bum.
  • Sitting on a chair with feet on the floor.
  • Lying on the floor.
  • Sitting in bed with pillows behind me.

 

2. Pick a time every day that works for you. For me that’s either first thing in the morning or directly after my yoga practice. Before bed can be a nice time (just make sure you don’t fall asleep), or when you get home from work, creating space for the transition from work to home. Lunchtime works for some people, and depending on your morning or evening commute, those can also be good times to try. Whatever time it is, make sure it’s one that you feel comfortable with and are able to commit to (most of the time).

3. Use a timer to start. When I began meditating, I used to worry that I would get caught up and be late for work or appointments. I became a little obsessed with looking at the clock during my meditation and I found it very distracting. When I started using a time,  I could let go and concentrate more on breath or whatever my focus was that day. Now my body kind of knows when it’s time to stop so I don’t use a timer any more, but I found it very helpful at the beginning. (Side note – make sure the timer ending noise is gentle, or you’ll be rudely jolted out of your stillness).

4. Stop feeling like your mind should be blank. This is basically impossible and will leave you feeling frustrated or annoyed. I meditate not to clear my mind, but to observe what is going on and to create space between thoughts, feelings and actions. At the beginning, it can be nice to focus on a particular “thing”, and when your mind wanders, bring it back to that item to create focus. I often use my breathing or the repetition of a mantra, but it can be similarly useful to focus on an object (I like rocks and crystals – they’re solid to hold and make me feel connected with nature). The object itself is not important- it can be a candle, a flower, or something special – what’s important is that it helps keep focus and you can keep coming back to it when you start to drift off.

5. Start small. At first, sitting in stillness with only your own thoughts and feelings can be very difficult. Begin with 5 minutes a day, and slowly build from there. Small but regular practice will have a stronger impact than long sessions infrequently.

 

Did you find these tools helpful? Let me know in the comments or use #meditateoctober

It’s not too late to join me for 10 days of meditation over on Instagram #meditation101010

I never wanted to meditate …

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A regular meditation practice is something that has helped me feel calmer, more stable and be more sure of myself. But it wasn’t always this way. Over the next month, I’ll be looking at ways to make meditation less daunting and more enjoyable.

When I first started meditating, I found it SOOO hard. I struggled to find a comfortable way to sit (I thought that the only way to “properly” meditate was to sit on the floor with my legs crossed). I always felt like I was doing it wrong because I couldn’t silence my thoughts and find the elusive “quiet, peaceful mind” and I usually finished the meditation feeling angry and frustrated instead of calm and happy. It always felt like a chore rather than a treat; I had “meditate” on my to-do list every day, and every day, I found something seemingly more important to do instead.

Two things changed all this for me:

  • When I did my yoga teacher training, the meditation teacher (Jake Dartington) said something that really changed my perspective. He said “WHEN thoughts enter your mind, observe them and let them go”
  • When I read Arianna Huffington’s book “Thrive” she says “we don’t ‘do’ meditation – meditation ‘does’ us. The only thing to ‘do’ in meditation is nothing.”

These really changed the way I looked at how I was meditating, and I realised that meditation is an opportunity not just to quiet the mind, but also to observe our thoughts. I realised that the goal wasn’t to have a blank mind, but that meditating is an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves by observing our thoughts, and really listen to what’s going on. From there we can notice repetitions and thought patterns, and make changes based on what we observe.

It’s also an opportunity to STOP doing, rather than another item for the never ending list. It’s a chance to be still, to be quiet and to really listen:

  • How is my body feeling?
  • What’s going on in my mind?
  • What do I feel in my heart?

Once I shifted my perspective, meditation became easier – it became a treat rather than a chore. And on days when I don’t take the time to listen and be still, I notice that everything in my brain is a bit jumbled, and everything in my heart feels a bit heavy.

Now my meditation practice is simple – I have no rules or expectations about how it should be; I let my mood and instinct guide what happens. Sometimes it’s after my yoga practice, but I often do it first thing – before I’ve gotten out of bed or looked at my phone. I put some pillows behind me, sit up in bed and spend about 10-20 minutes checking in before I start my day.

I don’t have a specific routine – sometimes I focus on inhaling and exhaling, sometimes I repeat a mantra, sometimes my mind is all over the place and it’s really hard to stay focused. On days when it feels like a chore, I skip the practice altogether; usually by the  next day I’ve missed it so much that it’s easy to start again.

Whatever happens, I always appreciate having taken the time for myself.

I’d love to hear about your meditation experiences – let me know in the comments below or use #meditateoctober.

And check out my Instagram feed for the upcoming 10 day meditation challenge, starting on 10th October for 10 days #meditation101010

 

Photo credit: @alischillingphotography