Ever thought or said any of the following about meditation??
“I’ve heard it’s great for you, but I just don’t have time.”
“It’s so boring!”
“I can’t stay still for that long – I’ve got things to do!”
Thought so! Well… this one is for you 🧘🏼♀️👏🏼
We all have different preferences when it comes to working out, food, hobbies, music… There’s no such thing in life as ‘one size fits all’. So, it makes sense that when it comes to meditation, there are different styles that suit and cater to different personality types and needs.
For many people, the idea of taking a meditation class is in fact more intimidating than the new ariel swing class at your local gym. While meditation is enjoying unprecedented spotlight in the wellness world, many of us know we should be meditating, but still have a zillion questions about the practice itself.
Speaking of the benefits of meditation, let’s go there for a second shall we?
The benefits of meditation are most commonly linked with stress reduction. These days daily life consists of an ongoing bombardment of deadlines, long hours, family commitments, relationship obligations and financial pressures (just to name a few!). It’s no wonder stress is the most concerning ‘health crisis’ of the modern world.
As we know, stress can have serious repercussions on our health. Physically, stress triggers a spike in the release of epinephrine and cortisol (the “stress hormones”). Too much epinephrine can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, while too much cortisol can increase blood sugar levels, suppress the immune system, and constrict blood vessels.
Numerous studies have shown that meditation is an effective stress-management tool – and all it takes is 10 minutes a day! In training the mind to be more open and less reactive, we are better able to cope when the demands of life start creeping up on us.
Meditation isn’t about eliminating stress; it’s about managing it.
Typically, those who could benefit the most from a meditation practice are often the ones who insist they simply don’t have the luxury to sit in lotus with their eyes closed for any duration of time. Personality type is often used as an excuse for not meditating; “I’m a Type A, meditation is not for me.”
The great news is, if you can breathe, you can meditate. So I’m guessing that includes you!
Feeling inspired yet?!
Meditation is a practice, and as the title suggests, practice takes time and commitment. At the start you are likely to experience a wandering mind and possibly some bodily discomfort. Yet relatively quickly, these sensations begin to transform and allow you to experience an unfettered mind, balanced emotions and a deeply tranquil and nourishing space within.
But there are literally hundreds of different types and methods of meditation. For Type A personalities who are convinced that meditation is not their BFF, it is all about finding the style that works for you.
Breathing for beginners.
When it comes to meditation, combining a breathing technique with the act of meditation can offer an effective inroad for people needing a little extra focus or guidance.
- Try following the pattern of inhaling to the count of 5, holding for the count of 2, and exhaling to the count of 5.
- Continue to breathe at this slow pace.
- While you are breathing slowly, notice the breath as it enters your nose.
- Notice each time you breathe in, the way the breath feels on your nostrils.
- Notice your lungs and abdomen expanding and constricting on each breath. Continue with this process for five to ten minutes or until you feel calm and refreshed.
- Try and remain non judgemental with your thoughts and emotions – don’t curse your mind for wandering, simply accept it and bring it back to the moment.
Try and be patient and don’t strive for any predetermined outcome- there is nothing to achieve other than simply being relaxed and present. Mindfulness is a way of being, not doing, and not a goal that can be achieved and marked off a to-do list.
A basic breath-based meditation is a terrific place to start. If it’s not working for you after remaining consistent and dedicated to the practice for a few weeks, then branch out to find a practice that might be better suited for you. If the more traditional style of breathwork meditation doesn’t float your boat, try some of these techniques instead:
Mantra meditation involves concentrating your thoughts on a key word or phrase that you silently repeat in them in your mind. You may use a sanskrit word from yoga such as “Ham Sah,” or you can use any word or phrase that works for you such as “I am calm.” “ I am relaxed.” “I am prepared.” “I am focused.” “I am strong.” These examples for calming the mind and body can be utilized in almost any situation, and as you begin to practice them you will experience immediate benefits.
Meditating with a mantra, even for short periods of time, can still offer mental and emotional benefits. This form of meditation helps you to stay in the moment and away from constantly worrying about the past or the future, which ultimately alleviates much of our unnecessary stress.
Breath of Fire
This breathwork uses rhythmic breathing with shallow quick breaths and equal emphasis on the inhale and exhale. With its controlled, synchronised nature, it’s no surprise that it is recommended for those who are type A and competitive. It’s done by pumping the naval point towards the spine on the exhale and releasing the naval out on the inhale.
It’s practiced through the nostrils with the mouth and eyes closed. When done correctly, you should feel you can go indefinitely. Sitting up tall, start by feeling your belly expand with each inhale and contract with each exhale. The diaphragm is used to pump the navel in and out with each exhale and inhale,
The pace is quite fast but the inhale and exhale should be kept equal. There is a quick inhale and quick exhale with no pause between them at the rate of around 2-3 cycles per second. Begin practicing for just one minute at a time.
While this is very different to more still, calming forms of meditation, rapid fire breathing does go a tremendous way in clearing the mind and releasing stress and tension from the body.
This is an example of a meditation that can help to relax your body and focus your mind. Laying down, you move through the entire length of your body, focusing on each limb and then allowing it to relax fully into the floor. It is easiest to start at the toes, very slowly working your way up to the crown of your head, and keeping your mind solely on the body part that is being relaxed.
By the time you reach your face and head, your whole body should feel heavy and it becomes easier to stay in this simple pose for a little longer once the scan is complete and your mind and body are still. Just try not to fall asleep!
If you really do like the idea of meditation, but just can’t bring yourself to sit quietly for that long, try starting with a Yin yoga class. Yin Yoga brings many great health benefits and also can incorporate some great meditation features and breathing exercises.
A Yin class may provide just enough activity and focus that it feels calming and quieting, but without the type of silence and complete stillness that feels overly challenging. Being in a room with others can also be helpful for the support and camaraderie. Plus, you’re less likely to get up and leave when you’re in a room full of other people!
Activity-oriented meditation is a form of mindfulness that basically combines meditation with an active movement that still allows you to focus on the present moment.
With this type of meditation, you engage in a repetitive activity or one where you can get ‘in the zone’ and experience ‘flow.’ Again, this quiets the mind, and allows your brain to shift. Activities like gardening, creating artwork, or gentle mindful walking can all be effective forms of meditation for A Type personalities.
Now you’re on the road to meditation!
Remember, whatever meditation style you choose, give it time. Meditation takes practice and patience, but like all things that require our commitment, the benefits do pay off. Remember that there is no ‘perfect’ meditation session. Start off small and work up to longer sessions. Also keep in mind that meditation doesn’t need to look a certain way. You may meditate in your lunch break on the local park bench for a few moments. You may meditate on the bus or train on your way home from work. You may meditate while you are at the nail salon getting your manicure! You don’t have to sit under a lotus tree or on top of a mountain to meditate and reap the benefits.
So, no more excuses Type A’s! Enjoy the journey.
What’s your favourite meditation technique? @lornajaneactive
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