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Meditation for the Monkey Mind

I never really understood what meditating was until I understood my breath (life force) of life and the power it had not just upon my life and me living but the ability for me to inhale good stuff, exhale the bullshit. The breath is the power of calm, restore and center. While meditating gives us access to a higher self for a beginner deep breathing is like going on a mini vacation giving you a rewarding calm in a high paced and stressful world.

Meditating is an accessible way to center yourself, come into the present moment and consider a bigger picture. It can also pose a challenge because it is difficult to sit still not fidget, and focus on doing just one thing: nothing.

Even for a few minutes a day, meditating has profound effects. The innumerable health benefits of a regular meditation practice include lowering your heart rate and decreasing your overall stress. If you are interested in exploring a mediation practice, consider the following beginner-level meditations.

Find a quiet, comfortable place to settle down and sit still with your eyes closed. For beginners it is best to sit not lie.

Counting
Count backwards from 200, restarting every time you lose track. Don’t attach to forgetting your place; simply start over and keep counting down. Remember, there is no good or bad — it is what it is meditating!

Visualization
Concentrate on a single object, place, color, etc. Allow your mind to clear and focus on a single image. A loved one. A peaceful place. A coffee cup. Notice how this makes you feel.

Mantra
Develop a personal mantra such as, “I am grateful for …” As the Buddha said, “Better than a thousand hollow words, is the word that brings peace.” Silently repeat your mantra and allow your mind to clear as you focus on a single phrase.

Pranayama & Square Breathing
Practice yoga breathing, or Pranayama, aka the “life force” we all know as our breath. Inhale and exhale through your nostrils only, cultivating your Ujjayi breath, a common practice of Pranayama. Let the air drag over the back of your throat to create a low, ocean-like sound on the inhale and exhale. Once you’re warmed up, segue into square breathing: Inhale for four counts, hold for two and exhale for four. Repeat for two to three minutes.

Alternate Nostril Breathing
Keep at your Ujjayi breath and incorporate alternate nostril breathing into your Pranayama practice. Close your left nostril with your right ring finger. Inhale for four counts (through the right nostril only), hold for two (close right nostril with thumb), and exhale for four (through the left nostril only). Repeat for two to three minutes.

I like to incorporate a few minutes of meditation to each of my yoga sessions or classes.

Meditation is the art of focusing 100% of your attention in one area. The practice comes with a myriad of well-publicized health benefits including increased concentration, decreased anxiety, and a general feeling of happiness.

Although a great number of people try meditation at some point in their lives, a small percentage actually stick with it for the long-term. This is unfortunate, and a possible reason is that many beginners do not begin with a mindset needed to make the practice sustainable.

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