Meditation does not need to mean seated in silence.....
Mindful Meditation does not necessarily mean sitting in silence for extended periods of time. This is definitely a form of meditation that can be effective for some people, but it is not for everyone. And it can be a very challenging way to start a meditation practice. When working to develop a meditation routine and ritual, one of the most important things is taking time to find a form of meditation that feels good for YOU. An effective way of finding a meditation ritual that will become a longer term habit, is by forming meditation practices around something that is already part of your daily routine. Just like when we are developing any new practice or habit, it takes time to find a rhythm and build endurance. Start with short practices more frequently and gradually lengthen them as it feels good for you. Most of us would never show up at the starting line of a marathon without having spent months training. So, do not expect yourself to master a lengthy meditation the very first time you try. Below are some suggestions on activities that can be very restorative/meditative.
We all shower regularly, but for so many of us it is just another thing on we do on auto-pilot. Or it might be where we actually start running through our to-do list of the day in our minds. But it provides an incredible opportunity to pause, breath, and be mindful. Give yourself a little extra time that usual, and approach the entire experience from a place of mindful awareness.
Consciously choose which towel you want to use that day. Maybe taking a moment to feel the texture of each of the towels available for you.
Consider trying dry brushing before you get into the shower. Using a dry body brush, you simply brush over your limbs, and torso. Visit this article to read more healthylivinginbodyandmind.com/health-benefits-of-dry-brushing/
Turn on the water, and choose the temperature that feels best for you before getting in. As you step in notice the sensation of the water hitting your body. Notice the temperature, and texture of the water on your skin. Take a few moments to allow the shower water to wash over all of you.
Take a moment to check in with how you are feeling. Without passing judgement on yourself, notice how your physical body is feeling. Notice any areas that are feeling tender, or carrying extra tension. Next notice how your mind is feeling. Without any judgement but becoming aware of how the mental body is feeling today. And then checking in with your emotions and accepting however you are feeling in that moment. Become aware of any emotions feeling heavy.
You may choose to find a bit of stillness next. Closing your eyes if its comfortable for you, and taking 5-20 big deep breaths. With each exhale give yourself the opportunity to let go of anything feeling heavy (in your body, mind, and heart). And with each inhale invite in love, joy, lightness.
Continue through your shower routine with as much mindful awareness as possible (ie. Notice the scent/texture of any products you use in the shower. Ex. Notice how the shampoo feels in you hand. Notice the scent of the shampoo. As you begin to lather notice the sensation of the scalp, and how quickly the shampoo begins to lather. Repeat this for any other products you are using. And for drying off, etc.
You may also choose this as an opportunity to set an intention for your day. Think about how you would like to feel throughout your day. And set your intention based on this.
Very similar to a shower meditation. Set aside some time, just for the purpose of having a mindful bath. See the above suggestions. You may also choose to add essential oils, or bath salts to your bath. Lighting a candle can also be very relaxing.
Sky Gazing Meditation;
There’s nothing like looking at the sky to put our lives into perspective. When things feel overwhelming, and heavy, gazing up can remind us of how huge and expansive this world is. Not just our planet, but the whole entire universe. It is also an important reminder of how quickly things can change. The sky will never look completely identical from one moment to the next. But, it is always powerful, and beautiful.
On a day where clouds are present in the sky, take time to notice the clouds. Notice the shape, transparency, and colour of the clouds. Notice how quickly they are moving through the sky.
On a blue sky day perhaps shifting focus to a tree against the blue sky. Noticing the tree, the colour, the bark, the leaves. Noticing if the tree is shifting in the breeze, and the sounds it may be making.
This mediation is equally as powerful, and restorative when done at night under a starry sky.
If you only have a set amount of time, you can set a timer on your phone or watch and then set it out of arms reach. Resist the urge to check in on the time, and allow yourself to be present in the moment. If you are feeling distracted, always come back to the breath and then find something to focus the gaze on. The mind fluctuates, just like everything in life. As we develop our mindfulness rituals, we will become much more aware of these fluctuations and how to manage them (instead of allowing them to manage us).
Turn on a song you love. And allow yourself the time to be present fully in the music. Allowing yourself to notice each and every word in the lyrics, without attachment or judgement. Or choose a song without lyrics and simply bring awareness to the instruments you hear. If you find your mind wandering, you may choose to restart the song, or simply just bring the attention back to the lyrics and the music. As you are listening, paying attention to how the music makes you feel. Give yourself the opportunity to be completely present with the music. You can listen to them same song multiple times, or choose multiple songs depending on how long you have to dedicate to meditation at that time.
Find a comfortable seated position and choose a candle. Be mindful about which candle you choose. Notice the colour of the candle, type of container it is in, the smell of the candle, the melt patterns of the wax (if you’ve used it before).
Carefully light the candle. Then gently begin to watch the flame. Notice the colour of the flame, size of the flame, notice how the flame moves and shifts. You may take one hand waving it gently over the candle and notice the warmth of the flame.
As you are becoming more and more aware of the flame, bring to mind something you are ready to let go of. Do not spend time seeking, or analyzing what comes to mind first. Simply trust whatever comes to mind first is what you are ready to let go of in this moment. This may be a thought, belief, emotion, maybe a person. This may even be a previous version of yourself. Do not judge what comes to mind, simply trust.
You can then imagine whatever you are ready to release, actually becoming the flame. Begin to think of the flame as that thought, belief, judgement, emotion, person, etc. Continue to watch this flame, aware of the fluctuations. So often we think of what weighs us down as being stagnant, but in fact everything in life shifts and changes. This simple awareness may allow you to begin to feel a bit lighter, and if it does continue watching the flame.
As you are ready, you can blow out your flame. Mindfully choose how you would like to extinguish the flame. You may want to just blow it right now, you may choose to blow gently making it flicker before it goes out. As the flame goes out and the smoke trickles up, remind yourself of what the flame represented.
Once the flame is out take a few moments to close your eyes, connect with the breath and notice how you are feeling.
This practice may take several times releasing the same (or similar) things before you start to notice a shift in how you feel. Be patient, and remember that you are beginning a new practice and new habit. And we cannot expect ourselves to “master” it right away.
Coffee (or any food/drink) Meditation;
If using coffee you can begin this process when you start brewing your coffee.
Smell the beans (or grounds), maybe even feel them in your hand. Notice the colour, and texture.
Slowly and mindfully begin the process of preparing your coffee. If you are brewing your coffee, take the time to listen and watch as it brews.
Take time to choose a mug, and notice how it feels in your hands.
Once the coffee is prepared pour it into the cup, but notice the coffee as you pour. If you like to add cream or milk, notice the colour change as you pour it in. Notice the creaminess swirl through.
Then pick up the cup and notice how the mug feels in your hands, notice the warmth. Lift the cup to your face and notice the heat of the steam from the coffee warming you, close your eyes and draw in a deep breath noticing the smell of the coffee.
Repeat this for as long as you choose.
Then when ready gently draw the cup to your mouth and take a small sip. Noticing the temperature, and the taste of the coffee as it hits your tongue and moves down your throat. Repeat this for as long as you choose.
Taking a few extra minutes in your morning to mindfully approach something you already do (likely on auto pilot) can help to frame your mindset for the entire day.