Here is my recent article I wrote for Body and Soul:
When social dramas, work or relationships are playing on your mind, try these practices by meditation teacher Basia Nowacki of Billabong Retreat.
The beauty of meditation is there are a variety of techniques to help us through the many challenges we face, so we can return to a place of balance and peace. Choose a meditation that suits your current situation. Then sit comfortably with an upright spine (unless instructed otherwise), chins lightly tucked in and shoulders relaxed. Keep your facial expression soft, release your jaw and breathe in and out through your nose. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes or continue the meditation until you’re ready to end it.
IN THE MORNING:
visualise a calm day ahead
A morning meditation is a great opportunity to set your intention for the rest of the day, especially if you’re feeling weighed down by stress. This meditation is like setting the direction of the journey you’d like to sail on.
- After finding a comfortable seated position, close your eyes and begin by taking 4 conscious, deep breaths, feeling the inhale and exhale move in your body.
- Begin to send the breath to your heart space; do this by feeling the connection to your heart. Next, visualise the sun shining bright and its rays filling up your body, giving you a fresh new day.
- Start to visualise your day. Rather than trying to change things outside of your control, visualise how you’d like to feel and be. For example, you might like to be as fluid as water – flowing and in harmony with life – so you’d visualise what that would look like.
- Connect with the feeling and experience it in your body. Once you’ve completed visualising your day, smile.
breath meditation before a meeting
To be centred and calm before a meeting, a short breath practice can be the most effective. When connecting with your
breath, not only are you giving your mind something to focus on but you’re rebalancing your entire nervous system.
- After settling into a comfortable upright seated position, become aware of your breath coming in and out through your nostrils.
- When you’re ready to begin, draw a deep breath in through your nose and down to your belly, then draw the breath further into your chest. Release the breath slowly.
- Repeat again, concentrating on sending the breath first to the belly, then extending it further by drawing it into the chest and then completely letting go with the exhale. Repeat this breathing pattern 4 more times to complete 6 rounds in total.
- After completing six breaths, let your breath flow naturally. Start counting the length of your inhale and exhale, then match those counts. For example, you could take 4 counts to breathe in, and 4 counts to breathe out. Most people reach a count of 2 to 5, but remember that the number isn’t important, as long as it’s comfortable for you.
- Continue matching your inhales and exhales until you have to go in to the meeting.
ON THE MOVE:
This walking technique is a practical way of fitting meditation into a busy schedule. It’s also very useful when sitting or lying down aren’t practical options. This walking meditation involves the breath and allows for a relatively fast pace.
- Begin by standing still and connecting to your breath. Feel the length of both your inhale and your exhale. Begin to notice the pauses after you inhale and after you exhale.
- While standing still, practise the following breath: inhale for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts.
- Once that’s comfortable, start walking and coordinate the breath counts to your steps. Inhale for 4 steps, hold the breath for 2 steps, exhale for 4 steps, hold empty for 2 steps. Repeat.
- It might be challenging to get into a rhythm, but once you do, you’ll be able to walk at a comfortable pace while performing the walking meditation to your destination.
- If this count ratio doesn’t work for you, change it to match your own breathing patterns. For example, inhale for 3, hold for 1, exhale for 3, hold for 1.
- You may increase or decrease the breaths according to what’s right for you, making sure that it feels peaceful and easy. If you feel uncomfortable, stop the technique.
IN THE MIDST OF CHAOS OR OVERWHELM:
Sometimes life gets extremely busy, chaotic and overwhelming. This mountain meditation can help you find stillness and peace. It can also help shift your perception, so that you’re the observer of events instead of being fused with the drama. You’ll be able to recognise that this too shall pass. ( this one is really good as a guided meditation – will create an audio of this soon).
- Sit in a comfortable upright position with your arms hanging by your sides, hands lightly on your knees and palms facing down.
- Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Feel the physical sensations of each breath as it comes in and out. Let the breath flow naturally without changing it.
- Allow your body to be still and your posture to reflect a sense of wholeness and resolve.
- Visualise a magnificent mountain. It can be something you’ve seen in real life, a picture, or imaginary. Picture the mountain’s finer details: the tip of the mountain might be covered in snow, the sides of the mountain might be steep or gently sloping, the base wide and solid. The mountain may be surrounded by forest or snow. Notice how solid the mountain is, how massive it is and how beautiful it is.
- When you feel ready, bring the mountain into your own body, becoming one with the mountain. See your head as the lofty peak, your arms hanging by your side as the sides of the mountain and your bottom and legs as the base of the mountain.
- As you return to the awareness of your breath, begin to feel like you are more like a breathing mountain, centred, grounded and deeply present.
- As you continue to sit as the mountain, notice that as the days pass you experience a lot of change: from the bright warm sun to cool night sky, from the seasons of spring and summer to autumn and winter. Notice the days when the mountain is visited by violent storms of rain and snow, and the days which are very quiet and peaceful.
- Notice how there’s always a constant flow of change and movement that occurs on the surface of the mountain. But through it all, the mountain remains still within, and continues to be its essential self. It remains peaceful as it knows the changing of seasons are a part of life; the activity is just on the surface but deep down within there’s always peace and stillness.
- As you continue to sit as the mountain, see the events of the day as the changing seasons affecting the surface of the mountain but connecting to the stillness that’s also present within the mountain. Enjoy the perspective.
release the day’s tension
If your mind still races when you’re trying to sleep, this meditation is good for you as it helps relax your nervous system. Shallow breathers will also benefit as it moves you to develop a deeper breath.
- Begin by lying completely flat on your back, straight spine with your arms by your side, palms facing up. If your lower back hurts, place a blanket underneath your knees.
- Close your eyes and exhale through your mouth with a big sigh. This release lets your body and mind know it can now relax. Take 4 deep breaths through your nose.
- When you’re ready, send the breath to your belly. As you inhale, feel your belly expanding and lifting, and as you exhale, feel it fall back down.
- To make the connection stronger, place your hands on your belly or imagine you’re blowing up a balloon in your stomach.
- Once you’ve settled into the breathing, begin the following visualisation. Each time you exhale, imagine a wave passing through your body, carrying away any tensions, fears, negativity and stresses from the day.
- Each time you inhale, imagine a fresh wave flowing through your body, bringing a sense of calm, serenity and healing to every cell.
- Continue until you feel relaxed and then return to normal breathing.
learn to develop compassion
This technique is a method of developing compassion. Essentially it’s about cultivating an unconditional love with no expectations of anything in return. It can be helpful when you’re worried about someone or when you need to let go, which in turn gives us peace.
- Sit in a comfortable and relaxed manner. Take 4 deep breaths, focusing on a long exhale and letting go of any preoccupations or concerns. After you’ve completed the breaths, bring your attention to your heart space.
- Begin to mentally repeat to yourself: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.” As you say these words, imagine yourself receiving the intention. Repeat the phrases 4 times.
- Bring to mind someone you deeply love, and repeat the phrases of loving kindness towards them: “May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.” Again you might imagine that person receiving your intentions. Repeat 4 times.
- Now bring to mind a friend, someone you’ve just met or an acquaintance, and send the intentions to them: “May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.” Visualise if you wish. Repeat 4 times.
- Lastly, bring someone to mind who you find difficult and send them the same intentions: “May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.” Repeat 4 times.
- Finish by sending the loving kindness to yourself, repeating it 2 times: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.”
Hope you enjoyed these meditations!, if you have any questions do let me know in the comments below!