7 Day Meditation Practice Challenge
Easy does it….
Most of us know what’s good for us, but choosing to show up and do the work is often hard. Even the push of a New Year, the promise of a fresh start, doesn’t stop us from giving up, sometimes before we’ve even started.
I’ve explored this in a previous blog post and found some answers from spiritual teacher, Deepak Chopra and his genetic expert friend, Rudolph Tanzi.
Part of their solution was this – start by making small, easy, good choices that make you feel good right away and notice the positive effects build until you have a foundation of easy choices that are bringing you long-term, real results.
I’ve applied this thinking to how I could motivate you to meditate and come up with this:
The 7 Days to Starting a Meditation Practice Challenge.
Each day I invite you to take on one small challenge that will move you slowly in the direction of your meditation mat and hopefully, in small easy steps, to a daily meditation practice.
Hope it serves you, have fun diving in to some stillness…
Find Your Why.
Do you want to respond better to life’s challenges, how’s your blood pressure? Are you looking for balance, want to sleep better, make better choices and be more resilient? Research has found heaps of health benefits associated with mediation from increasing memory, slowing the aging process, reducing chronic inflammation, increasing immunity and regulating your mood. There are few reasons not to have a daily mediation practice. What’s your why?
Resistence is your enemy. So, once you’ve found your why, make sure that nothing will interfere with your decision to do what you know is good for you. Schedule your practice, ring fence it, show up for it every day. Start small, 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Make it so easy you mind won’t throw up excuses why you can’t, shouldn’t or won’t do it today.
Small, consistent steps can lead us effortlessly towards our goals. We side step resistence because we’ve made the task easy, and we start to build the foundations of habit. To increase your chances of a meditation habit taking root, you can also link your meditation practice to an activity you already do without thinking, like brushing your teeth, showering. Master meditator, DavidJi, offers the acronyms RPM (Rise, Pee, Meditate) and RAW (Right After Work) but I also love WW – Whatever Works. If there’s no rhythm to your practice but your meditating daily that’s enough.
Meditation is a daily time off from the body’s built-in stress response (rapid shallow breathing, raised blood pressure, rapid pulse, supressed hormones, increased adrenaline). The stress response is our natural response to challenge or threat. That could be a serious threat to your life, but let’s face it, not likely. More probable is challenge to your ego, your beliefs, the lane you just got cut up in as you were driving home. We can be operating from this response system up to 60 times a day and that’s really, really not healthy.
The good news is there’s another response at your disposal, the restful awareness response. Meditation helps us to activate this response more frequently. Find a space just for your practice anywhere in your home and eventually just entering it will shift you from the stress response and trigger your body’s natural healing systems.
Find your Seat.
So, you have your space or corner to meditate in. Now find your seat. Comfort is queen when it comes to meditating. If you’re not comfortable and feeling fidgety, accessing the restful response will be so much more challenging. So, if you’re more comfortable lying down, go for that. Just bear in mind you may be more likely to fall asleep and the aim is to remain in restful awareness not be out for the count. I prop myself on a block to avoid lower back trouble and wrap myself in a blanket. Lighting a candle and incense can add to a cosy calming vibe. It’s your choice.
Find your Breath.
Breathwork, or Pranayama, is your warm up and helps prepare your mind for meditation. Observing the breath as it enters and leaves the body moves you right into to the present moment. Notice how you let go of the past, stop projecting into the future and allow the mind and body system to find a state of relaxation. Alternate nostril breathing, called Nadi Shodana, is often used before meditation, but for now, let’s make it easy, just connect with the breath for a minute, having the intention to lengthen each inhale and exhale and slow the mind down.
Find your Sound.
A mantra is an instrument of the mind. In the ancient Indian language Sanskrit, “man” means mind and “tra” means vehicle. It is a vibration or sound used for quieting and calming the mind which allows us to connect or travel more deeply within, to our true Self, our inner essence, or our source. This is a place of heightened awareness, and potential. The mantra helps us to journey to a place where our ability to pay attention and be aware increases. We start to see the choices we make in our lives and recognise when something isn’t working, or aligned with what we want, and that means we can change it. We can break from patterns of behaviour, conditioned living, and states of mind that don’t serve us. We can get off the treadmill that’s taking us nowhere, out of the groove that keeps playing the same tune and focus on those things that matter, inspire and make us most happy, whole and well.
In Primordial Sound Meditation, which is my practice, you get a personalised mantra, which has no meaning so that the mind isn’t focused on an outcome. But you can begin with the yogic mantra “so hum” (so = I am and hum = that). So Hum is a reflection of the sound of the breath but also refers to mystery of how we are all one with creation and not separate.
As you inhale you silently repeat the sound “so” as you exhale silently repeat the sound “hum”.
Now you have the foundations of your meditation practice. Set a timer, make sure you are not distracted and enjoy. Easy! Great choice.
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Namaste. Josie X