Breathing meditation is one of the simplest and easiest of all meditations to grasp, however the untrained mind will find it a lot harder than it sounds. The good news is just like going to the gym regularly you start to build those muscles up so to with meditation you powers of concentration become greater and meditation becomes easier. Always be kind and compassionate to yourself and let whatever happens be ok.
Sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine, gently relax your shoulders and your neck muscles and softly close your eyes. Take a few long deep breaths and feel yourself relaxing.
Breathing in be aware you’re breathing in,
breathing out, be aware you are breathing out.
Repeat this for five or ten counts then start again. This is the basics of samadhi meditation. Some points to remember, try to keep the breath as natural as possible. If your mind wanders, be kind to yourself, and bring your awareness back to the breath and start counting again. Try this meditation exercise for ten minutes at first and slowly increase the time over a course of a few days. The most important thing is to always be patient and compassionate to yourself.
Body scan meditation
This meditation is usually done lying down but if you find you keep falling asleep it can equally be done siting in a straight backed chair. Find yourself a comfortable place, somewhere where you won’t be disturbed, lay flat on your back with a cushion under your knees this help keep your back flat against the floor. Your head needs to be comfortable, if you are using a yoga mat try without a pillow. Start by taking a few long deep breaths, gradually start to feel yourself unwind and relax, slowly, starting from the very top of the head notice any sensation that may arise. it could be itching, aching, tiredness, pain or stiffness, or any number of different sensations. Just notice, don’t interfere, don’t scratch or itch or fidget, just notice and be ok with it. Be gently to yourself, be kind, and be ok with whatever you feel. Maybe you feel no sensation at all and that’s ok to, there is no rule as to what you will feel. Just notice then slowly move down to your forehead, your eyebrows, cheek bones, ears, lips, chin, neck and shoulders, keep moving down through your body checking for sensations. You don’t have to start the way I described either, be inventive a move around your body to each new sensation that arises. Do this for 10 or 20 minutes everyday and you will soon see a remarkable difference in your stress levels.
A mantra meditation is the repetition or repeated use of a phrase, sentence or saying. In this example we will use the divine Om Mana Padma Um mantra, a Buddhist chant still very much in use today, especially with Tibetans Buddhists. The Dharma Haven Society have a great article on the mantras history and usage. This is the correct pronunciation of the mantra, although the repatriation is more important than pronunciation, OM (ohm) MA (mah) NI (nee) PAD (pahd) ME (may) HUM (hum). It is said the entire buddha’s teachings are within this mantra.
Now sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine, gently relax your shoulders and your neck muscles and softly close your eyes. Take a few long deep breaths and feel yourself relaxing. On the inward breath repeat in your mind Om Mana out the out breath repeat Padma Hum, On the inward breath repeat in your mind Om Mana out the out breath repeat Padma Hum On the inward breath repeat in your mind Om Mana out the out breath repeat Padma Hum. Try to carry out this exercise for 5 minutes minimum the benefits are worth every second invested.
Gratitude meditation is one of the best ways to overcome past traumas, being grateful for what we have in the moment allows no space for negativity, pessimism, doom or gloom. Finding things in your life to be grateful for may be a little bit harder to do for some, so if you have a little trouble finding things to be grateful for CLICK HEAR, this will help. Some of my personal Seven Wonders I love to meditate with grateful are, my adopted stray dog Marley, sometimes affectionately known as Marley Moo. He really is adorable and the unconditional love he has for me. It will put a smile on my face every time. I also love the great outdoors and enjoy a good long walk, taking in the fresh air is magical.
This meditation can be practiced at home or at work, so long as you can find a quiet place you won’t be disturbed.
Have a few ideas in your mind that you are grateful about, then sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine, gently relax your shoulders and your neck muscles and softly close your eyes. Take a few long deep breaths and feel yourself relaxing.
I slowly go through my Seven Wonders list spending a nice amount of time feeling all the sensations in my body and across my face. This can be done for just ten minutes and you will feel recharged, full of energy and feeling good about life. Simple yet effective.
The history of meditation, the oldest form of spiritual awakening there is, could be as old as antiquity itself. It isn’t however until the very first use of a form of the written language do modern historians find there first glimpse into this mystical tradition.
The earliest found written proof of meditation comes from the sacred Hindu Vedas dating from around 1700-500BC, to put that into perspective, this is from the Iron Age to late Bronze Age, the most famous reference is that of the Vedic Mantra known as “Gayatri” it describes meditating on the divine light of Savitri. The buddhist scriptures state how Gautama Buddha gained enlightenment through mediative techniques of the time, around 563BC, the masters of his time based there techniques on the very same Hindu scriptures. The Buddha however found them to be incomplete on his way to becoming enlightened and so developed his “middle way” meditation as way of gaining higher states of complete enlightenment.
It is from this period in history do we see that Buddhism gives rise to the spread of meditation, slowly moving from its Indian roots via the Silk Road, first to the East and into China, Nepal, Burma, Thailand and beyond. Confucius 551-479BC developed and further expanded on mediative ideas and techniques and would later pass them on. Taoism then developed from these methods and would spread far and wide throughout the entire of China finally reaching the shores of Japan with Zen Buddhism and zazen meditation around the 12th century.
The spread to the west again uses the Silk Road, at first spreading into Afghanistan, Turkey and then into Syria, it’s not until just twenty years before the birth of Christ and the invention of our calendar that we see the Roman Empire recording of meditative techniques and forms of spiritual exercises of the day, in its great library at Alexandra.
Islam has reference to meditation and meditation techniques, these first appear around the 8th or 9th century with the practice of Dhikr which involved the repetition of the 99 names of God. By the 12th century breath control was in practice as a mediative technique as recorded in the practice of Sufism.
And the Christians also developed some sort of meditation techniques by the 6th century, however it seems there meditation techniques contrasted all the previously discussed by not involving the repetition of any phrase and required no particular posture, which all the other scriptures without exception had practiced, bible reading according to the christians at this time was considered meditation. It’s not until the 10th-14th century do we see the practice of Hesychasm which involves the repetition of the Jesus prayer.
The modern western idea of meditation really starts in India in the 1950’s when easier forms of meditation were introduced and presented as relaxation and stress reducing techniques, these new ideas spread quickly to a busy western world, and by the 1960’s the hippy trail had started with young men and women finding there way into the Ashram’s of India, to learn first hand meditation and mindfulness. Famous bands like the Beatles popularised the spiritual meditation and mindfulness practices of today and with many eastern spiritual teachers becoming refugees during the sweep of communism across the east it hasn’t taken long before meditation practices and mindfulness training have become mainstream. It has become increasingly more difficult to find your way through the mind field of information out there. So where do you start.
What is meditation
Meditation as cited by the Oxford English Dictionary is “The action to focus one’s mind for a period of time, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation” and Wikipedia describes it as “a practice where an individual uses a technique of focusing their mind on a particular object”. Meditation in days of old was a passage to gain spiritual enlightenment, however today the word meditation or mindfulness can be over used by a commercial industry selling self help, relaxation and stress reduction.
The Benefits of Meditation are far more than just relaxation, yes it produces results of calming, compassion, equanimity and a general feeling of contentment, but if used as a regular practice true everlasting peace, contentment and wellbeing can be achieved through meditation and mindfulness.
The numerous scientific studies that have taken place over the last fifty or so years have shed light on The Benefits of Meditation and this mystical practice from the east. The benefits of meditation are far reaching. Increased concentration levels, reducing stress and anxiety, being more attentive, respecting others and nature, becoming kinder and calmer. Increased IQ levels, can eliminate sleep deprivation and will leave you with a deep sense of satisfaction and wellbeing.
So where do you start?
In the beginning it’s difficult to know where to start, there are so many types of meditation to choose from wether that’s focusing on the breath, Chanting a Mantra, Walking Meditation, mindfulness meditation or SittingMeditation to name but just a few. It’s good therefore to have a decent place to start.
No matter if you are looking for meditation to relax and distress or for further enlightenment, the best place to start is by having a regular practice. This can be from as little as 2 minutes a day to begin with and slowly increasing the time the more comfortable you get.
Another important factor is to find a quite place, somewhere where you won’t be disturbed, nature can be an excellent place to meditate but can also be difficult to find somewhere you feel safe and alone. Your own house or apartment is usually best.
For myself the morning is an excellent time to meditate, just after you rise, but equally as relaxing is the evening time, there is no set time just what suits your time commitments.
Position and posture
After setting aside a time slot and promising to keep to a regular schedule to yourself, posture and position are next to get right. No matter how old or inflexible you are there is a position for you to meditate in. The usual meditating positions are sitting, standing, walking or lying.
Sitting Meditation doesn’t just involved bending your legs into those funny lotus positions you see in the photos, it can easily be done from a straight back chair. The most important factor to consider is your own comfort. If you do sitting meditation on the floor, you can use either the full lotus or the half lotus positions or the Thailand/Burmese style cross legged position which as you sit cross legged you sit with you legs on the floor not on top of each other, be, this is to help eliminate the pressure to the knees and ankles that sitting with your legs on top of each other creates.
Walking meditation is one of the nicest ways to meditate, and for me personally I find it the most relaxing. First find an area where you are safe to walk, no obstacles in your way. With your back straight and your shoulders relaxed, keep your head and eyes looking forward but slightly down, about 6-10ft in front of you will do nicely. Now walk as slowly as you can, try to really feel the movements of each muscle as you inch forward. Walk for 20 or so paces then slowly turn back around, pause, and walk back again. Try walking slower than a snail, it’s most enjoyable.
Lying meditation is one of the easiest ways to fall asleep and isn’t really recommended for beginners. However lay on your right shoulder, with a hand resting under the head, a pillow can be used as required, legs slightly bent.
Sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine, gently relax your shoulders and your neck muscles and softly close your eyes. Take a few long deep breaths and feel yourself relaxing.
Breathing in, be aware you’re breathing in,
breathing out, be aware you’re breathing out.
Repeat this for five or ten counts then start again. This is the basics of breath or breathing meditation also known in Pali asSamadhi Meditation.
Some ponts to remember, try to keep the breath as natural as possible. If your mind wanders, be kind to yourself, and bring your awareness back to the breath and start counting again. Try this meditation exercise for ten minutes at first then slowly increase the time over the course of a few days. The most important thing is to be patient and compassionate to yourself.
Meditation for kids
Meditation for children is one of the most beneficial activities you can get them to do, it can boost concentration levels at school, help with socialising, aid in confidence, it will help balancing emotions and will have an overall improvement in academic test results. You can start children meditating from a very early age, however the breath technique, described above, wouldn’t be a good place to start with very young children but teenagers would be able to manage quite proficiently. For younger children it is better to do guided meditations, almost like story time, we get them to use there already incredible imaginations to focus on one particular object of meditation. Games are also another great example. Imagining that as they breath out they are filling a big balloon with air as an example.
Other types of meditation
The other types of meditation that you will find all have great benefit include,Metta or Loving Kindness Meditation, SamadhiMeditation, Vipassana Meditation, Body Scan, TranscendentalMeditation and KundaliniMeditation to name just a few. If you are a beginner the best place to start is with the Beginners Meditation or breath meditation as found above. It is a foundation for further meditation techniques that need great powers of concentration. If you are more practiced and have a good routine then you will may feel as though you may want to explore some of the other methods listed. Just for you we have put together a resource page at the bottom which can help you investigate further.
Tips and tricks
When you first start to meditate you will undoubtedly come across a few niggling problems, maybe it’s the pain in your knees or back. Maybe you keep falling asleep, or you mind keeps wandering and you don’t notice. This section is hear to help. I understand first hand the issues with meditation I was a Buddhist monk in Thailand for many years. During the full moons for instance we were expected to meditate from 10pm until sunrise.
When your feeling sleepy rubbing or a light pinch of the ear lobes gives an instant surge of life through the body, try it.
Never sit in any position longer than is necessary. There are meditators that say the pain is a useful experience to learn. Yes it is, but your knees will suffer really badly, there is other pain that can better to learn from and not as damaging.
Make a meditation diary this helps keep you motivated. Make a regular time in your day of 10 minutes or even 20 minutes and keep to the same time, make it a habit forming exercise. It takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days to make that habit natural.
Always be kind and patient with yourself, the times when you think your meditation isn’t good because your mind is distracted, can be the times of our greatest learning, compassion and kindness go a long way.
Spend a couple of minutes getting settled into a position, wiggle your bottom around until it feels comfortable on the tail bone, also known as the sitting bone.
For more on Tips and Tricks Page to the common problems that can arise in meditation. If for any reason you can’t find the help within these pages then please feel free to Contact Us and we will respond personal as soon as we are able.
I would like to share with you these boards or infographics that I hope will be used in the future for organising this website.
I would love to hear your personal opinion, I know that’s a little more work than you were expecting, honestly you would be doing a kind dead in your day and it will make me smile every time I get a ping to let me know you care.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” Aristotle
Aristotle 384 – 322BC
An Ancient Greek philosopher and scientist. Along with Plato he is credited with being the father of western philosophy. His philosophies and theory’s, so vast and inclusive, that his contribution to western knowledge, philosophy and physical science has profoundly shaped the very world we know today.
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him” Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968
Was an American Baptist minister and civil rights activist becoming the most central figure in the American civil rights movement from 1954 until his assassination in 1968. An advocate of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent approach to change he was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. Most famously remembered for his “I have a dream” speech. In his later life he was to voice his concerns on poverty and the Vietnam war. Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded after his death both the presidential medal of freedom and the congressional gold medal. Thousands of streets have been named and renamed after him and the Martin Luther King Day is observed as a public holiday every third Monday of January each year.
“Count your age by friends, not years, count your life by smiles not tears” John Lennon
John Lennon 1940 – 1980
An English singer, songwriter, musician and peace activist famously co-founding the Beatles, the most successful band in commercial history. After the Beatles split in the 1970’s John Lennon pursued a solo career. Moving from London to Manhattan in 1971 he was to criticise the Vietnam war and in doing so caused a lengthy battle with the Nixon administration for deportation proceedings. He removed himself from the spotlight and media gaze in 1975 to raise his child. He re-appeared again in 1980 with the release of a new album and was assassinated only the weeks later.
“A single rose can be my garden, a single friend my world” Leo Buscaglia
Leo Buscaglia 1924 – 1998
Was an American author and motivational speaker, born in America to an Italian immigrant family, he would spend his early years growing up in Italy before returning to the US for schooling. After graduation Buscaglia joined the US Navy and participated in the Second World War. After realise from duties he returned to studying and entered the university of Southern California. After successfully gaining three degrees he was eventually employed as a professor. It was hear that a profound incident happened which made him question the human condition and the meaning of life, he then went on to set up a non-credited class entitled Love 1A, becoming the basis for his much loved 1972 book ‘Love’
“Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens” Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix 1942 – 1970
American rock guitarists, singer and songwriter developing his own unique style often imitated today. His mainstream career was short, only lasting a mere four years, however the impact Jimi Hendrix has had on popular music is second to none. Considered to be the greatest and most influential electric guitarist in history.
The seven wonders of life is an idea I had as a Buddhist monk in northern Thailand, it was a way to try and get the lay people, usually foreign visiting tourists, to realise that there life was a wonderful and amazing life filled with wonders equal as those of the 7 wonders of the world. The seven wonders of life is a simple and quick exercise that can be done in just a few minutes but is more beneficial to spend some time pondering and exploring your very own seven wonders.
Sometimes it’s easy to take life for granted, sometimes there seems so much going in in our lives that we forget to really appreciate what we already have. Our lives no matter how stressful and hectic should never be taken for granted and in this ever faster pace of life it’s more important than ever to take a moment and realise that we have some real joy and happiness in our lives.
There are some obvious real benefits to this idea, and if you really focus your attention on finding your very own seven wonders of life, I can promise, you will immediately start to feel good about life and may even start to smile, I’ve done this exercise many time with may types of people and it’s impossible to do this without feeling happiness and a sense of joy, and with regular practice you will really start to see a positive change in yourself.
As a help I have listed below my seven wonders of life, to give you inspiration or a place to start. I’ve been practicing this for many years now and still find it rewarding and gratifying. Over the course of time some of the wonders on my list have been updated and changed, and that itself I find fascinating.
1 Marley Moo
Marley is the name of the abandoned street dog I found in Portugal, sometimes affectionately known as Marley Moo, who i decided needed my love, in return I have been rewarded with the funniest, most mischievous, intelligent and a loyal companion I could have ever asked for, the pure unconditional love I receive every morning with a massive sloppy wet kiss all over my face is a magical moment filling me with such happiness and love. It also looks like Marley gets just as much out of it as me. This little guy has a gentle nature and loves walking and exploring, he doesn’t like the cold enjoys nothing better than a good snuggle under the blankets at bed time.
I find walking one of the most relaxing and peaceful ways to spend a few hours, walking with a companion such as a dog does make it even more enjoyable. The very art of walking is incredibly meditative and I find this very suitable to my mindset, very quickly I can still my mind and become at peace. Of course spending time in the great outdoors is wonderful form the exercise, Marley is a whippet cross with a lot of other things, and as such requires a lot of exercise, I average 11-12km a day every day. I’m very lucky I have the time and freedom to do this.
3 Nature and the countryside
The beauty of our planet still astonishes me every day, from the majesty of the mountains to the crashing stormy seas, the magical sunsets and sun rises, to the romantic rivers and streams, every drop of air we breath and every sight we see, what a place we really do live. The beauty of nature and the countryside happens to fall very nicely in with both my first two of walking and my Marley.
4 Having freedom in my life
Having the freedom I have at the moment is so amazing, it hasn’t always been like this and it won’t be like this for long but at the moment it is enabling me to do many wonderful things, it gives me time to meditate longer and deeper, walking my little Marley and spending time in the countryside my other three wonders of life. I consider myself to be incredible lucky at the moment to have this freedom and want to cherish it for as long as it may last.
I have deliberately left out family because unfortunately I don’t live near my family or in the same county, I have a brother I love dearly living in Malaysia and another in England, my folks also reside in England, I would love to see them more but are circumstances are as they are. Instead I have a few close friends who I cherish dearly, and enjoy there company immensely it fills me with such a joy and satisfaction to see the people I love succeed wether in love or life, to share there intimate moments in life is a special gift.
6 Cooking good food
This fits in very nicely with my last wonder, I love to cook for friends, I get such satisfaction in every aspect, from the preparation of the vegetables, making a mess of the kitchen as I go, the exploration of spices and taste, watching my friends faces to see if the faces it’s a triumph or disappointment. The conversations and silly games we play, great fun and real happiness.
7 Being creative
Generally I’m not very creative, I mean to say that I’m not that artistic, although a admit to having all the paints and brushes to create a whatever medium takes my fancy, I also can’t really hold a note on any instrument, or sing in tune, I do however love to write, I enjoy the challenge of the task and love the way it has an organic development from start to finish, a journey of discovery that all slowly comes together over a few days. I may not be a Shakespeare or a Wordsworth, I just love writing.
Now a call to Acton. I really would like for you to share with me your seven wonders of life.
Maybe it’s that first cup of coffee in the morning, owing your own business, painting or drawing, friends, family, freshly baked bread, driving your sports car, completing the crossword puzzle, playing cards, earring out, maybe going out on a date, your children, grandchildren, maybe it’s just making someone smile, or helping people, the hug you receive of you partner, running or playing sports, it could even be watching live music, or going to the cinema, maybe cuddling up on the sofa watching a movie or an open fire, how about being romantic or dressing smart, you may feel a great sense of happiness in looking good, eating ice cream, how about the weather feeling the sunshine on your skin or the rain on your face. There are so many more wonders in our lives it just takes a moment like today for you to realise yourself how wonderful your life truly is.
If you post them in the comments below gradually over time we will gather a fascinating insight into what really makes us all happy. And I know the results will surprise you all.