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Meditation

6 Steps to Start a Meditation Practice: A Clear & Easy Guide

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Mindfulness is no longer considered a “soft skill,” but an essential part of overall health care among conscious people. Taking a few minutes to focus your mind each day can reduce stress, anxiety, pain, depression, and more. Meditation practice is getting more and more popular all around the world because without mindfulness it’s really hard to stay healthy and balanced in the modern world. If you want to start practicing meditation but don’t know how to start, this clear & easy guide is for you! To make it simple we will guide you through 6 easy steps to start a meditation practice.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.

Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s all about developing such skills as awareness and mindfulness, the ability to be present, and getting a healthy sense of perspective. During meditation practice, you don’t need to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.

When you learn mindfulness you gain the ability to be present, to rest in the here and now, fully engaged with whatever you’re doing at the moment.

Meditation Benefits

Meditation guide image

The popularity of meditation is increasing as more people discover its benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Reduces stress & anxiety;
  • Promotes mental & emotional health;
  • Increases focus & concentration;
  • Enhances self-awareness;
  • Can decrease blood pressure;
  • Improves attention and clarity of thinking;
  • Increases positive feelings and actions toward yourself and others;
  • Improves the immune system;
  • Increases our capacity for empathy & compassion;
  • Can help fight addictions;
  • Increases the energy level;
  • Improves sleep;
  • Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior;
  • Improves emotional stability;
  • Promotes clarity and peace of mind;
  • Can diminish the perception of pain in the brain which may help treat chronic pain;
  • Increases creativity;
  • Develops intuition;
  • Expands consciousness.

6 Steps to Start a Meditation Practice

Enough theory! Let’s dive into practice! Here are 6 easy steps to start a meditation practice.

#1: Take a sitting position

Steps to start meditation image

Make a commitment to sit still and watch what happens. Do not pick up the phone, ignore the doorbell, do not add another task to your to-do list. Just sit and observe the thoughts that arise and pass through your mind.

If you’re just starting your meditation practice you will probably be surprised at how difficult it can be just to sit still for 10 minutes. However, in the process, you may learn something important about the properties of your restless mind and the ever-changing nature of life.

#2: Listen to the sounds of life

Close your eyes and tune in to sounds – both external and internal. Most likely, at first, you will only hear the most obvious sounds (like a sound of a car passing by your house or sound of a barking dog), but over time you will discover new layers of sounds that you have not previously paid attention to. Observe what you hear, not clinging to it, but not resisting it. Note that the world seems more alive as your awareness of the present moment deepens.

#3: Practice mindfulness

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Pay attention to the sensations of the present moment – feelings of warmth and coolness, hardness and softness, pressure and lightness. What parts of your body touch the ground? How does the shape of the body change with each breath? How does your experience change over time? Developing awareness of the present moment will encourage a calmer and more attentive mind.

#4: Follow the breath

Focus your attention on the breath – on every breath you take in and out. Don’t force your breath in any way. Just observe it with your inner vision, the similar way as you would watch a tennis ball bounce from one side of the court to the other during the game. When you notice that the mind is wandering, just turn your focus back to your breath.

#5: Repeat the mantra

You don’t have to choose a complicated mantra in Sanskrit. Start with choosing just a positive word, phrase, prayer, or fragment of a poem and repeat it. Let its rhythm and meaning soothe you and bring you into a quiet, contemplative state of ease. When you notice that your mind is distracted by other thoughts, just redirect it back to the words of your mantra.

#6: Practice kindness

6 steps to meditating image

Direct your attention to someone who needs love, compassion, and healing right now. Mentally send this person love, happiness, and well-being.

The Bottom Line

For many people, meditation practice has become as essential as taking a shower or brushing teeth. Give it a chance – practice it daily, and very soon you will experience all the benefits this practice can give. Once you get into the habit and experience all of the mental clarity, emotional stability, physical relaxation that the meditation offers, not practicing meditation would seem unimaginable!


Meditation

Inner Smile Meditation: Taoist Technique For Raising Your Vibration

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Regular practice of the Inner Smile meditation leads to calming the mind, developing concentration, getting rid of all types of depression, and creates a powerful healing and rejuvenating potential. This meditation is a powerful tool that helps transform negative emotional energies into positive virtues, higher vibration, improved health, and a more balanced person.

Tao and Smile

Tao practitioners have noted that the energy of a smile has a high and positive level of vibration. When we smile, joy and wellbeing radiate from our eyes and our energy feels soft and welcoming. Smiling is a universal language that extends compassion to others, without the need or use of words. An open smile offers positive energy and speaks directly to the hearts of others. When we radiate a genuine smile, it opens our Anahata chakra and stimulates warmth deep within us.

Taoists believe that when done consciously, smiling can be literally a healing practice. They have discovered that there is a connection between emotional energies and organ systems. They developed methods to transform negative emotions to positive from their practical and intuitive understanding of the human body. Many of the Taoist teachings are supported by observations and evidence from modern psychology and medicine.

Taoists believe in the power of healing energy generated from a smile. When we smile, our eyes transmit this energetic force outward to others. Similarly, when turned inward, a smile can help us heal ourselves.

The Inner Smile meditation is a Taoist technique that focuses on five organs or organ systems: the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, the liver/gall bladder, and the stomach/spleen. This meditation also helps to remove the consequences of stress and psychological trauma. Early Taoist texts suggest that maintaining a constant inner smile ensured health, happiness, and long life.

Inner Smile Meditation as a Self-Love Tool

Self-Love Quotes Image

The Inner Smile meditation is a wonderful self-love and self-care tool which helps us to become more connected with ourselves and feel more loved.

When you smile to yourself, you become your own best friend. Befriending your inner self helps you feel more grounded, settled, and stable no matter what else goes on around you. It helps you to find inner harmony that cultivates contentment.

The Inner Smile meditation will help you to become more conscious of what your organs do for you and establish a loving relationship with them. You will become more grateful to these faithful servants who keep us alive and healthy. That will make you stop taking your organs for granted and start appreciating them more.

Each of us should always keep in mind how amazing your body is, how intelligent and kind it is to you, what an incredible job it does to keep you alive! Without this attitude, you will eventually become sick and emotionally imbalanced.

Organs affected by emotions

According to Mantak Chia’s teachings, the health of our organs can be affected by negative emotions we feel. Based on this connection between negative emotions and the health of the organs, let us share with you the five major organ systems and their associated emotions and properties.

#1: The heart

The health of our heart can be affected by such negative emotions as arrogance and hate, and such positive virtues as kindness and love. Recent scientific research shows that feelings of love and appreciation strongly affect the heart’s rhythm and its relationship to the body’s physiological systems.

#2: The lungs

The health of our lungs can be affected by such negative emotions as sadness and depression, and such positive virtues as courage and righteousness.

#3: The kidneys

The health of the kidneys can be affected by fear and such positive emotions as gentleness and kindness.

#4: The liver

The health of the liver can be affected by anger and such positive emotions as generosity and forgiveness.

#5: The stomach/spleen

The health of the stomach/spleen can be affected by such negative emotions as worry, mistrust, and anxiety, and such positive emotions as fairness, trust, and openness.

The Inner Smile meditation directs our attention to the body’s organs and associated qualities. When practicing this meditation, we visualize each organ, cleansing it, and transforming negative emotional energies into positive virtues.

The Inner Smile Meditation

According to the Taoist tradition, each person assumes responsibility for the emotions that arise within, regardless of the external events that trigger the emotions. The Inner Smile meditation takes us into our bodies and transforms emotions by transforming the associated physiological systems. It helps us balance and integrate our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, promoting health, resilience, and vitality.

Below is a variation of the traditional Inner Smile meditation which helps you direct the energy of a smile into any part of your body.

Instructions:

  1. Sit comfortably near the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your back straight, but not stiff. Stay relaxed, and clasp your palms together in your lap. Press your tongue against the upper palate of your mouth.
  2. Close your eyes and become aware of the soles of your feet. Feel their connection to the Earth.
  3. Create a source of smiling energy up to three feet in front of you. You can just visualize an image of your own smiling face or any memory of a time in which you felt deeply at peace. It can be anything – feeling of sunshine, being by the ocean, or walking in a forest.
  4. Focus on the midpoint between your eyebrows. Draw that abundant smiling energy to that area. Let your forehead relax. Feel how the smiling energy accumulates at the mid-eyebrow until it eventually overflows into your body.
  5. Visualize this smiling, warm energy moving throughout your entire body. It comforts and heals your muscles, joints, and internal organs. Take your time. Visualize each organ being soothed by this smiling, warm energy.
  6. After you have spent time connecting with and smiling into your organs and muscles, focus on the sensations in your body. Perhaps you feel energized, content, or warm. Allow the smile to drift where it wants. Or you can also direct it to any place you’re feeling discomfort.
  7. Continue visualizing the warm and golden essence of that smile within your body. Bring your awareness back to any place you may have missed, or any place you’d like to heal, and let it flow over and through your organs and soft tissue. Imagine this warm, smiling energy spreading throughout your entire body.
  8. When you’re ready to bring the meditation to a close, focus on the feeling of peace and contentment in your body by placing your hands over your heart. Take several deep breaths and simply relax. Now it’s time to release any visualizations, images, or thoughts, and simply be, without thinking or doing.

The Bottom Line

Try to practice this meditation every morning as soon as you wake up. This will charge you with positive energy for the whole day. Love for your body will help you love yourself and other people more, and feel full of vital energy.

When you feel pain or/and discomfort in any part of your body, in any of your organs — smile at these parts of the body, talk to them, tell them how grateful you are for such a wonderful job they’re doing, get a response from them.

Also, practice the Inner Smile meditation during times of stress, irritation, fear, or depression. Smile at the parts of your body that are experiencing tension and pressure, and you will gradually feel the negative energy being converted into the positive force of vital energy.

The energy of a smile can turn the energy of negative emotions into vital energy that will heal and rejuvenate all organs and tissues. Therefore smile as often as possible!


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Meditation

Gyan Mudra: the Key to Deep Meditation

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Gyan Mudra, or Mudra of Knowledge, is one of the most important mudras. It symbolizes openness to the wisdom of the Universe. Gyan Mudra practice stimulates wisdom and knowledge and evokes the most expansive version of the self, so you can flow through your life lessons with ease and calm.

In this article, I will share with you how to perform Gyan Mudra and receive its benefits.

What Is Gyan Mudra?

Gyan is a Sanskrit word that refers to ‘Knowledge’ or ‘Wisdom’. Mudra means ‘Gesture’ or ‘Symbol’.

Connecting the fingers in certain combinations, you can activate the meridians and direct energy throughout the body, restore the flow of energy and eliminate “breakdowns” in diseased organs thus improve your health.

Different positions of the fingers have the ability to close or clear the energy channels. In addition, performing mudras, we affect the biologically active points of the palms and fingers.

When performing Gyan Mudra, we use the upper phalanges of our fingers. On the upper phalanges of the fingers, there are a lot of nerve endings, which when connected to each other create something like a “short circuit of electricity”, because of which the energy does not diverge in the outer space, but is concentrated inside. It helps to create the correct redirection of energy in the body, for the control of prana, and for changing the psycho-emotional state.

To perform Gyan Mudra, we use the tip of the index finger with the tip of the thumb. And there is a reason for that.

Each finger of the hand corresponds to certain energy. And each tip of each finger is responsible for a specific part of the body.

The index finger is associated with knowledge, wisdom, and self-confidence. It is connected to our life force.

The thumb is responsible for our ego, will, and logic. Also, this finger is associated with wisdom, mind, and awareness.

By connecting the index finger with the thumb, we create a powerful gesture that activates all the components these fingers responsible for.

Also, it is important to know that each finger is associated with one of the 5 elements.

Fingers Corresponding to the 5 Elements image

Thumb represents the Fire element (Agni).

The index finger is associated with the energy of the Air element.

Gyan mudra mainly works on increasing the Air element inside the body. Increased Air element helps the brain to work more efficiently.

Gyan Mudra Benefits

Mudra of knowledge in yoga practice Image

This beautiful mudra has lots of benefits. Here are some of them.

The Gyan Mudra:

  • helps to eliminate stress, sadness, and sorrow;
  • gives hope and confidence for the future;
  • improves concentration;
  • helps to process large amounts of information;
  • improves memory and attention;
  • stimulates the Root chakra;
  • heals Kapha and Pitta Dosha;
  • eases tension and depression;
  • calms down;
  • brings spiritual openness and ease in meditation;
  • boosts the air element;
  • stimulates the brain;
  • empowers the mind, nervous system, and pituitary gland;
  • prevents insomnia.

How to perform?

Lightly touch the tip of the thumb with the tip of the index finger, keeping the other fingers straight but relaxed. Do this with both the right and left hand and hold for at least a few minutes. In Kundalini Yoga, this mudra is usually practiced with the hands resting on the knees and the elbows straight.

When performing this mudra, it is recommended to visualize white color. For example, a white wall or a piece of paper.

You can perform this mudra with only one hand. This is especially appropriate during pranayama practice when the other hand is used to regulate breathing by pinching one nostril.

It is best to perform Gyan mudra for 30-45 minutes daily. You can also do this mudra in 3 shifts of 15 minutes.

Morning time is the best time to perform the Mudra of Knowledge.

Side Effects And Precautions

Gyan Mudra Practice Image

Gyan mudra mainly increases the Air element in the body. Therefore, if you have any health problems related to stomach or digestion problems, this mudra might increase these problems.

In Vata dosha, the Air element is already present. Therefore, if you have Vata dosha, perform this mudra moderately.

The Bottom Line

It is believed that Gautama Buddha practiced the Mudra of Knowledge during his meditation for the enlightenment, beneath the bodhi tree. Gyan Mudra is a great tool for deepening your meditation practice and enhancing the power of your concentration.


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Meditation

Chaturtha Pranayama: Discover A New Dimension Of Awareness

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Chaturtha pranayama is both a meditation practice and pranayama that helps to enter deep meditation and the transcendental state of being. This pranayama is also called a “pranayama of the fourth state” which means a transcendental state beyond words. Chaturtha pranayama practice leads to a deeper awareness and helps to prepare for more advanced meditation practices. 

In this article, we will share with you what Chaturtha pranayama is and how to perform it correctly. Read on!

Chaturtha Pranayama

The Sanskrit word ‘chaturtha’ means ‘the fourth’. There are two reasons for this name:

#1

The first three types of pranayama are widely regarded as pooraka (inhalation), rechaka (exhalation) and kumbhaka (retention). Chaturtha pranayama is the fourth type that follows them. In this case, the Sanskrit word ‘Chaturtha’ can be translated as ‘the fourth pranayama’.

#2

According to the Mandukya Upanishad, there are four states of awareness:

1. Jagrat – is a waking state that people experience whenever they are not asleep. It corresponds to the externalized perception of the world;

2. Swapna – is the dream state, which corresponds to the perception of the subconscious mind;

3. Sushupti – is a dreamless state, which corresponds to an intuitive perception of the collective unconscious;

4. Turiya (Chaturtha) – is the transcendental state where words and definitions fail to reach.

Turiya is a state of deep meditation, a transcendental level of being. It is very different from the other three states of awareness. It is also called “spiritual awakening“.

There is nothing to say about this mysterious level of being since its understanding lays beyond words and can be understood only through experience. That is why it is called simply “the fourth (state)”. When the mind is deeply asleep and does not dream, but the consciousness is awake, this is Turiya.

Instead of trying to understand Turiya with our logical mind, we should try to experience it. Chaturtha pranayama is designed to help us with this!

How to Perform Chaturtha Pranayama?

Deep meditation practice image

This pranayama is, in fact, easy to do. It has five stages (five processes):

  1. Sitting straight and motionless, we observe our calm, deep breathing. (At least 20 breath cycles or 5-12 minutes).
  2. Continuing to breathe as well, mentally repeat the mantra “OM”: on the inhale say ‘O’, and on the exhale M-m-m (do it mentally, your mouth should be closed). Do it for 5-12 minutes.
  3. Keep doing steps 1 and 2 and start concentrating on the point between the eyebrows or on the tip of the nose. Do it for another 5-12 minutes.
  4. Keep breathing and repeating the mantra. And now concentrate on the Sahasrara chakra. With the inhale and awareness of the sound ‘O’, you’re focusing at the chakras along the spine in descending order: SahasraraAjnaVishuddhaAnahataManipuraSvadhisthanaMuladhara. With an exhale and the mental sound “M-m-m” you are going up the same line: Muladhara – Svadhistana – Manipura – Anahata – Vishuddha – Ajna – Sahasrara (you DO not need to say the name of the chakras to yourself). You do so a few “circles”. It should take about 5-12 minutes.
  5. Now concentrate on the point between your eyebrows or on the tip of your nose. Continue to mentally chant the mantra “OM ” except now do not observe the breath. Do it as long as possible (5-15 minutes). This leads to deep meditation. This is the main technique of Chaturtha pranayama practice. Do not rush to complete this stage, give yourself time to achieve success in it.

Helpful Tip:

  1. For your convenience, you can set a quiet timer on your phone. If you do each stage for 12 minutes, the total practice (5 stages) will take 60 minutes. If you do each stage for 5 minutes, the total practice will take 25 minutes.
  2. Make sure in advance that no one and nothing will bother you during your practice. In this state, a person is very vulnerable and it is easy to get an extremely negative stressful experience if somebody will interrupt your practice.
  3. It is best to sit in the Lotus pose while performing this practice. If for any reason this pose isn’t comfortable for you then sit on a chair with your back being straight.


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