Welcome to part 6, probably then end of this short and simple trip into the world of meditation. How are you doing? Are you feeling more comfortable with meditating? Do you experience anything out of the ordinary?
If you want you can post your experiences here in the comments. If you feel unsure that’s a good idea you can of course always drop me an e-mail.
Note for norther hemisphere people: the weather is getting colder now. If you notice that meditating isn’t going that great because you focus on shivering, be smart and pull a blanket or so around you.There’s no need to feel cold while meditating – in fact that won’t help you at all. Don’t use anything restricting like clothes: a blanket will work. You’ll be naked and warm beneath that.
If you already feel that this form of meditation is not working for you, that’s okay. Perhaps you are not one for a “sitting still meditation”. You can look for a yoga class near you and practise the forms you learn there naked, at home. Or you might even find a naked yoga class near where you live. Just don’t give up on this form of meditation too quickly. As I said before, it may take weeks or even months for your overloaded mind to accept this peace and quiet-stuff as a good thing. It will happen.
Here is another sort of active meditation for people who prefer one to the passive, sitting-down ones. This form of meditation is done lying down so for many people that is an attraction in itself. 😉
Lie down on your bed with your arms and legs spread out, not touching another body part.
(And try to keep your dog or cat away for this one! 😉 ) Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a short while. As soon as your breathing is calm and relaxed, the meditation starts.
Focus on your left arm. “Know” that it is there. Feel how it rests on the bed. Feel how the muscles in your arm relax, how the tension seeps away from it. Notice your fingers relaxing as well. Keep your attention with that arm until you know it is entirely relaxed. The best way to know that is when your arm ‘feels’ heavy. Then you focus on your right arm and you repeat the process.
After that you focus on your right leg. (Notice that this is opposite from the arms where we started on the left. We’re going around our limbs in a circle.) “Know” that your leg is there. Feel how it rests on the bed. Feel how the muscles in your leg relax, first in your upper leg and then in your lower leg. Notice how the tension seeps away from it. Notice your feet relaxing as well, your toes and the sole of your foot. Keep your attention with that leg until you know it is entirely relaxed. The best way to know that is when your leg ‘feels’ heavy. Then you focus on your left leg and you repeat the process.
Now you focus on your lower torso; your abdomen, your hips. Feel how relaxation sets in as you pay attention to your lower body. Don’t hurry, keep your attention with your hips for as long as you need to. After that you focus on your chest, the muscles in your back and even your lungs. Calm them down, give them the attention they deserve. After all, they serve you all day long without asking for much. Envelope yourself with the serene calmness that you are bringing onto yourself. Your breathing will go a little slower once your chest area is calming down, that’s okay.
Finally you shift your focus to your head. Your forehead, the back of your head, your facial muscles. Slowly allow them to relax while keeping your attention focussed. After relaxing your head you go back to your left arm and confirm to yourself it is still relaxed and heavy. If you feel like it you can go over the relaxing attention routine again. Keep your focus on that arm and be grateful that it’s there. Repeat this for your right arm, right leg and left leg. Your limbs need that extra attention because they do so much for you every day.
After completing that second cycle you can remain silent on the bed for a few minutes, allowing your body to relax completely. Try to keep your awareness focussed on your body, on feeling the stillness that enters it. Any thoughts of other things that come up will have to wait until you’re done with this relaxation technique.
After a few minutes you can start moving the fingers of your left hand and slowly stretch that arm to come to the end of this exercise. After the left arm you move and stretch your right arm. Note that there is no reason to rush or hurry, take your time for this.
Wiggle the toes of your right foot next, and bend your knee a little. After that you ‘wake up’ your left leg in the same way.
Finally you consciously speed up your breathing a little to awaken the rest of your body. Stay down for a few more minutes. Then you open your eyes and slowly get up.
For people who seek a more active approach to meditation I have found two options. The first one, which I will detail here, is one that requires being outside. That means it’s not an option for everyone/all the time. Still, if you have the opportunity, seize it and try this.
So, if you are up for this and have the opportunity – go outside. There is one object you will need for this form of meditation: a tree. Walk around (naked if possible) and find a tree that appeals to you. This walking around is already part of the meditation, a preparation to connect with nature. (Naturists, are you paying attention?)
Once you’ve found a tree you feel ‘comfortable’ with, take off your shoes or slippers if you wear any. Stand close to your tree, on bare feet, and rest your palms against the trunk of the tree. Look at your feet, how they are on the ground, in the sand. Then look at your hands, how they touch the tree. Look down and up a few times and understand that this is you, reaching out to a powerful living thing of nature.
Now close your eyes and look down in your mind. You should still be able to ‘see’ your feet in the sand. Now reach down with your mind and feel how your feet are in that sand. Feel it beneath your feet, around your toes. Feel how your feet are your roots, the main part of your body that connects you to the world, to nature. Once you have established that connection through your feet, look up in your mind and see your hands against the tree. Imagine how they are becoming a part of the tree, making you a part of the tree. Feel how a tree would feel, it’s steadiness, its calm way of being in that place since many years, and for many years to come. Try to mould your mind around those traits of a tree, being content in your place while doing what you can to grow higher, taller.
Stay like that for as long as you feel comfortable. When you notice a shiver (cold) or a tremble (fatigue in arms or legs), open your eyes and slowly take your hands from the tree. Thank the tree for being your guide (if you want to do that, if not – the tree understands). Walk around a bit, swinging your arms (don’t forget to put on your footwear if you had any on) to get your blood flowing again and then go home. And take with you the feeling that the tree gave you. Don’t forget: the tree is there for you whenever you need it. You can also go there when it’s colder, just don’t take off your shoes when you don’t feel comfortable then. Staying healthy is smart.
I hope you did your best at meditating over the last days. If not, that’s fine. Meditation is not a must. It should become a ‘want’ once you discover how good it feels and finally it turns into a ‘need’.
Many of you may have found that the first few times this meditating thing went quite well. Some may still struggle. It’s normal for the first few times to go well and then suddenly the whole thing becomes a mess.
You count to 3 and then thoughts are flooding in as if your personal Hoover Dam just broke, and there’s no stopping the bloody thing. Yes, sounds familiar. It’s normal. What happens is that your mind, the thing that’s been taught to be active all the time, suddenly notices you’re not paying attention to the gazillion thing it tries to tell you so it becomes oppressive. It will do what it can to annoy you and yells
LISTEN, DAMN YOU!
But take heart. Meditation will take hold. It will teach your brain to listen to you. Whenever this kind of flooding happens, or when random thoughts pop up, just tell your brain, your mind that it’s okay and that you’ll deal with that later. “but first we meditate.”
This can take a long time (I’m talking months, up to a half year) but as you go on and progress you will find that the practice gets better and easier.
As I promised, here is:
another form of meditation.
Again this is done sitting down. For this exercise you need an object, preferably a simple object like a cup, a mug or a simple vase.
Take a few minutes to look at the object as it stands in front of you. Just look and see how it is shaped. Don’t turn it to see the other side, just picture the thing.
Then close your eyes and repaint that object, let’s stick with the vase, in your mind. Recreate the vase. The shape, the colour, the reflections on its surface (oh yes, there are reflections of light). You will notice that your mind starts yapping at you again, begging for attention.
Remember to tell yourself, “Sure, mind, you’ll get your attention. When we’re done here.”
And you return to the image of the vase in your mind. Keep creating it, improving it, making it as real as you can.
Keep your eye on the time you spend on creating that vase. Do this for about 5 minutes. Then look at the vase and see if you missed some details. If you did, great. You’ll notice them next time. If you had it perfectly shaped, well done too.
Feel free to try this meditation. It may suit you better than the counting one.
There is no need to stick with that first cup or vase, you can take different objects for repainting them in your mind. Just don’t take things that are overly complex or difficult. Meditation is meant to be easy so take easy subjects.
The idea behind these forms of meditation is to bore your active mind. Your mind is meant to keep you busy but in these modern times it’s taking over too much. You have to be up and at it 24/7, if possible even more. That is insane and not what a human is made for. Alas, the economy demands it. You can resort to the Fukitol pill and just run with the flow, or you can meditate
Teach your brain to be quiet a few times per day so your inner Self, your Soul, pick your name for it, has time to breathe and make itself known.
This is the way you can tap into your Self. Your Self is something else than your mind. Your mind picks up things from outside you and acts on those. Your Self has lots of things to tell you, for instance creativity and understanding and love of nature. Scraping off the layers of stress that you gathered with all your mind-thinking will open up the way to that inner part of yourself. I hope you will persist in the practice and find out wonderful things about yourself you never knew existed.
Hello there. Ready to learn a bit more about meditation? You’re at the right place then. Do note that this series of posts is going to cover a few very simple and basic ways to meditate. Ways that anyone can do.
As I said before you need a good place to sit, with as few distractions as possible (none would be optimal) and some time. More about time later though, let’s first get at the real thing.
During these meditations you will sit.
Sit up straight but comfortable. It’s best not to cross your legs and hands or fingers so your blood flow is not blocked. Note that this is merely advice. If you really need or want to cross fingers, legs, eyes or anything else worth crossing, do so. Also sit up with your head up straight. Don’t sit in a way that you can lean your head back. That will trigger falling asleep very easily.
Meditation doesn’t look like something active but it is. It’s an activity inside you and that’s an important place to take care of.
The first meditation.
Sit down and close your eyes. Breathe in and out a few times and relax. This is an important introduction to the meditation. Once this is a habit, your body and mind will respond to it quickly and the relaxation will kick in faster. Now you are ready to do the actual meditation.
With your eyes closed and your breathing calm, slowly count from 1 to 7 in your mind. That’s all. Well, of course that’s not really all. The trick is that you don’t force yourself to count. Just count. 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 1… 2… 3… oh, I need to think of the laundry/groceries/anything… damn, I’m not counting.
Yes, you will encounter something like this. That’s okay. Really. The reason that this happens is that our minds are forced to be active and ‘on’ all the time. The moment you start this simple counting your mind gets bored (trust me, it won’t take long) and it will start pouring out all kinds of stuff. It’s normal. When you do notice that you’re not counting don’t get angry. Just breathe in, breathe out and 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 1… etc. More thoughts will come. An itch will come. At some point you’ll probably hear something. Don’t worry. Accept this things, acknowledge them and then go back to breathing and counting.
There are 2 bits on time for meditation. One is: how long, and the other is when. To start this exercise you should plan about 5 minutes. That may sound short but this is new and you may get twitchy after a while. Remember: you are probably not used to sitting still this way so there is no need to overdo it from the start. Give it time. Once you feel it gets easier you can add time. Go for 7 minutes. 10 minutes. And suddenly you will find you can do this for 15 minutes. 15 to 20 minutes per session is good. Less is also good. At least you are meditating, and meditating means you’re scraping away at the layers of stress you’ve been accumulating over the years. Each scratch at that is a good thing. You are teaching yourself to be calm, silent, serene. You relax at a core level.
Note that you should not set an alarm for this. Alarms are clocks that force you to do things. You should not force the end of your meditation. Glance at a clock once in a while. If you meditate ‘too long’ that’s fine. It won’t hurt you.
Then the when: once a day is good, twice is better. A morning and an evening session is optimal. Of course you won’t always be able to do this but if you really want it and you start feeling the benefits of it, you’ll automatically want to reserve some time for meditating.
Once you end your meditation, sit still for another few minutes with your eyes closed. Feel how you feel inside. Stretch your arms and legs. Get the blood flow active again. Then open your eyes and start doing your usual things.
Congratulations. You’ve just meditated.
Next time (should be next week) I will tell a bit more on the background of meditation and introduce another form for if this one doesn’t work for you. In the meantime try to practise this form.
Yes. You probably all have heard of nude meditation. And you probably are all aware of the nude factor of it as that’s easy to achieve if you’re a regular on this site.
But what about the rest? This meditation thing that people mention? How do you do that?
Is it the stuff where you tie your (naked) body into knots, wrap your ankles around your neck and all that other painful-looking stuff?
Nope, none of all that is needed for meditation. Some people do it because they can. Some forms of meditation need it as it’s part of the practice. I want to help you in getting a peek into a simpler form of meditation, something you can do nearly anywhere.
What do you need for a simple form of meditation?
1. A place to sit comfortably. No need to hang from a stick or stand on a sacred rock on one leg. Find a place where you can sit without being disturbed. If you can find a place without distracting sounds/noises, even better. A backrest? No problem. Just make sure you can sit up straight, which is good for your spine.
2. A technique to meditate. Again, this is not going to be a difficult thing. I’ll outline a few easy ways to meditate for you as I write more about naked meditation. (Most of it can be done dressed too, but you know, clothes… meh…)
3. The desire to meditate. Meditation may sound cool and fun but you may find that after a few times it becomes difficult. I know, that sounds odd for something that’s supposed to relax you but the thing is that many people’s minds are not used to deep relaxation any more. The mind is kept active 24/7 these days by all the stimuli we get from TV, Internet, ads everywhere. Once you breach that hurdle though, you’ll start feeling the benefits.
You may have heard of it before. Or done it before. Or have no experience with it or either (being naked, or meditation). I started meditating a long time ago. Partly because I was curious, partly because I had stepped away from Catholicism and Christianity as those didn’t appeal to me. After going through several kinds of meditation (Yoga, Zen, etc.) I found Transcendental Meditation. No, don’t worry, this is not to convert you or drag you into something.
The interesting bit is that for meditation it is always emphasised that it’s important to wear clothing that doesn’t feel tight or restrictive.
Now, what can be less restrictive than no clothes at all? (Except for when it comes to your own mind that tells you to wear something because being naked is wrong? In which case you should retrain your mind, but that’s my opinion.) That is the awareness I had when I started into nudism and naturism. After trying it, I decided that meditating in the nude was the ultimate way to do it for me. There is literally nothing that is ‘around’ you. No itching from fabric, no restraints from elastics.
I only discovered one drawback to this. When meditating together with others who are not into meditating in the nude, I don’t want to make those people feel uncomfortable so I wear something as light as possible. Those meditations are never as good as the nude ones, though.
If you want to read more about nude meditation, here are a few links to other blogs: