Sometimes, all it takes is 3 minutes to bring back the calm. Really.
If you're new to meditation - this can be hard to believe. There's something intimidating about meditation that stops many people before they even start. The idea of sitting and doing nothing is completely opposite to how most of live our lives. It can appear to be a monumental waste of time.
For those of us who practice it regularly - it's like breathing. We couldn't image life without it.
Meditation is the mindful pursuit of focusing on a single thing where you find yourself so deep in "the zone" that thought ceases to exist.
When "mindless tasks" (e.g. washing the dishes, painting a wall, vacuuming, running, breathing, walking, gardening, sewing) are done with focus and care, they become an active meditation. You become so focused on the activity at hand that everything else disappears. Images may pop into your head that are not consciously created - they just appear because you've created a void where the ego and the mind are no longer in charge. You create a space to come in contact with your true self - where creativity, beauty, and truth reside. Watching television doesn't qualify because we're passively engaged in being mindless; the story fills the void rather than actively allowing your true self to percolate up.
This meditation is simple, effective, easy, quick and to the point.
The "Meditation for a Calm Heart" is something I teach to patients on a daily basis because it only takes 3 minutes and is sweetly simple. There are two reasons I appreciate this so strongly:
- THE SCIENCE: Slow deep breathing downshifts the autonomic nervous system - the system in charge of "fight or flight". This meditation uses controlled breathing to help slow the heart rate and give your entire nervous system a little vacation. Even the Mayo Clinic has gotten onboard with meditating.
- THE WOO WOO: The proper home of spirit is in the heart. The element associated with the heart in Asian medicine is fire - and our fire meridians run through to our hands. By placing your left hand over your heart center (instructions below) you're creating a mirror where your heart can look back on itself and recognize its true nature of compassion and benevolence. By raising the fingers of the right hand where the fire channels reside, you're re-establishing your heart's connection with the heavens and the divine. The right hand is the hand of action; however, when put in the position of peace, one becomes receptive and can relax because we know the Universe has our back. The entire posture creates a single still point within the heart.
Meditation for a Calm Heart
WHEN TO DO IT: When Yogi Bhajan taught this meditation, he discussed how this meditation adds clear perception to your relationships with yourself and others. If you're upset at work or in a personal relationship, sit in this meditation for 3 -15 minutes before deciding how to act.
POSITION: Sit in an easy and comfortable position. If you're using a chair, make sure both feet are flat on the floor with your knees directly over your ankles. Sit up straight and check your alignment by lining up your ear with your shoulder. You may need to tuck your chin slightly if your head tends to be forward. This will help keep your spine as straight as possible and ensure good nerve connection.
EYES: Completely close your eyes or look straight ahead with your eyes 1/10th open.
HANDS: Place the LEFT hand flat against the center of your chest with your fingers as parallel as possible to the ground. Raise your RIGHT hand as if you're taking a pledge and touch the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb. Your right palm should be facing forward and the three other fingers (middle / ring / pinky) should be pointing upwards. Keep your forearm perpendicular to the ground - almost like a lightening rod.
BREATH AND VISUALIZATION: Concentrate on the flow of your breath - regulate each bit of your breath consciously. Relax your shoulders as you breath - keep them even and loose.
Inhale slowly and deeply through both nostrils. Suspend the breath and retain the air in your lungs for as long as possible. Allow your body to really drink in all the oxygen you give it.
Exhale smoothly, gradually, and completely. Once the breath is out - lock it out for as long as possible. Enjoy the subtle feeling of emptiness. You should not gasp or be under strain when you allow the breath back in.
TIME: Continue this pattern of controlled long deep breathing for 3 - 31 minutes. Go easy though. Unless you're a meditation warrior and can do this in Times Square - start in a quiet space. Feel free to play relaxing music without words so you don't get too distracted.
END: Inhale and exhale strongly 3 times. Relax.