Inspired Living’s Meditation Course
This is the basis of all other programs that will be posted here, in time. This will allow your stress levels to reduce. It will put you in contact with yourself. Knowing and trusting yourself will give you the power to become free. It will show you how you are currently choosing to react and give you the opportunity to respond differently. It will form a foundation from which you will be able to consciously choose how you wish to feel and respond. It is a wonderful basis for spiritual practice as well.
In order to start feeling the benefits you only need as little as 15 minutes a day. But there is a catch… Like Gil Fronsdal, a dharma teacher and budhist monk, says “Meditation only works if you actually do it.” In this case it means actually doing it regularly, every day.
Benefits of Meditation
After one month of regular, daily practice:
- The feeling of a “new body”. You probably have no real way of knowing how stressed your body actually is. This is because being stressed is normal to you. After a month of this practice you will experience what some describe as the lifting of a heavy stone. It will feel as though you have set aside a heavy stone that you have been carrying with you. You will also feel more relaxed, centered and emotionally stable.
After 2-3 months of regular, daily practice:
- If you are suffering from stress-related health conditions you should start noticing the symptoms diminishing by now.
- You will notice that your outlook on life and perspective starts to shift. You are not as easily drawn into automatic emotional reactions. Instead you have the ability to choose how to react.
- You will start noticing an abnormal number of “coincidences”. This is an exciting period to enter. If you manage to stay positive during this period you will experience a certain flow in your life, where things, strangely start working out. (No one told me about this when I first entered this period of my life. I was baffled. It was not until years later that I read about it in books.)
Good To Know Before You Start Meditating
Your Meditation Posture
Sitting is recommended, as it is very easy to drift off into sleep if you lay down. You may choose to sit in a chair or on the floor or perhaps on a pillow or two. Find a comfortable position that allows your back to be straight. Your head should not be resting against any support. Instead, you should, and will in time, find a position where your head is balanced on top of your neck, so that many of the neck muscles are able to relax.
Find a posture that works for you and always use it. There is a great advantage of always using the same meditation posture. Your body will soon learn that when you sit in it you start relaxing. In time, this will allow your body to relax deeply in a matter of seconds.
Here is a video showing you two possible positions to try for your meditation:
Using the Breath to Switch Your Nervous System and Dilate Your Blood Vessels
By doing the three deep breathing exercises correctly you will be able to physically switch from a stressed to a relaxed body response. You will also be able to feel a physical sensation of relaxation in your muscles.
By stopping, before we exhale, we help dilate the capillaries and normalize the metabolic processes in the tissues. This is because we keep the carbon dioxide in the tissue. That helps dilate the capillaries and, in turn, leads to more oxygen reaching the cells. Also, when more carbon dioxide is present the bond between the oxygen and the hemoglobin is not as strong, and so more oxygen can be delivered to the cells. You will physically feel this process going on as you start exhaling, slowly, against a small resistance. It will feel like warmth and relaxation. The deeper the breath you take is, the longer you will have to wait when you stop it before exhaling.
The reason we take three deep breaths is to better feel and alter our breathing pattern. Most of us tend to breathe too far up in the chest. By taking just a few deep breaths and focusing on relaxing the chest while expanding the stomach we will start a different breathing pattern.
Practice Oxygenating Breathing During Meditation
The breath during meditation should, however, not be deep. Constant deep breathing actually lowers the amount of oxygen delivered to the cells (as explained above). Instead regular breathing during the meditation should be relaxed. You may practice focusing on breathing a little slower than you would and relaxing and resting between the breaths. This way your exhalations will feel significantly longer than your inhalations. Do this only lightly, so that it feels comfortable. If you do this, then you will be practicing a breathing pattern that will oxygenate your body better.
Associate Focus with Relaxation
One of the main goals with this meditation is to teach your body to associate relaxation with focus. Most people tend to tense up as they focus. Learning to relax instead is extremely powerful. After some time this will start spilling over into your daily life. You will find that as you get more tasks to handle, you will tend to relax and handle them better.
Meditate when you Meditate
This instruction may sound strange. But you will soon notice that it is not always so easy to stop doing everything else your mind is used to doing.
Commit 100% to the 15 minutes, or whatever time you choose to put on your meditation. So that when you are meditating, as soon as thoughts start popping up, you can remind yourself that everything is ok and that you have this time allocated to meditation. As soon as the meditation is over, you will think about all of those things. But for now, you just relax and focus.
1. Make sure you will be undisturbed and can commit 100% to the meditation. Smile.
2. Sit in your chosen position and relax.
3. Take a slow deep breath in, moving your stomach mostly and relaxing your upper chest. Stop when you cannot take in more air. Wait a few seconds. Then, slowly exhale against some resistance. You should feel a warm feeling of relaxation flow through your body.
When you breathe out against resistance you will make a slight sound, like the distant ocean waves. In Ashtanga yoga this is called ujai-breath. However, this is a variation of ujai-breathing, in particular one where we stop and wait after the inhalation.
Do this at least three times. The first time you may focus on feeling the relaxation in the head, neck, shoulders area. The second time in the middle part of the body and the third time in the legs and feet. You may take additional, relaxed breaths between these three deep breaths.
4. Breathe in a relaxed, natural manner. Try to breathe slightly slower and take a slight period of relaxation between the breaths. It should all feel very comfortable. Using your breath go through the body and relax all of it. Start with the head and move down. Feel the breath in the area you focus upon and relax it deeply as you breathe out.
5. Find the middle of your head, between the ears, at the height of your eyes. Put your focus there. Use your breath to relax even deeper as you focus. Feel how you gain clarity and focus with each out-breath, while you let go and relax more than on the previous before. With each out-breath you become more focused. (Learn to associate focus with relaxation) Feel how your body is relaxing. Although your body will continue to relax, you want to maintain a straight back. A good sitting position will allow you to become deeply relaxed while still straight.
6. Attempt to create clear relaxed focus in the middle of your head without thoughts.
7. As soon as thoughts pop up, gently smile at them internally and relax them. You may use some of the suggestions below for dealing with stray thoughts. Focus in a relaxed manner in the middle of the mind.
In the beginning the first steps will take longer. After a while you should be able to spend most of the 15 min in step 6.
After 15 minutes (or more if you choose to) you may, slowly, start to become more aware of your whole body. Open your eyes slowly and sit still for a little while. Notice what types of thought patterns are activated.
Download a short version of the instructions
It is very difficult for your mind to settle and focus
Try counting backwards from 20, or even 50. Attempt to relax more with each number. Do this after you have gone through the body and made sure it is relaxed.
You are falling asleep
Make sure that you are sitting and that you are not resting your head against anything. Try counting backwards. If you still tend to fall asleep you may in fact be sleep deprived. Try taking a nap before your meditation.
Your body is hurting
It may be wise to choose a different meditation position if you start hurting. However, slight discomfort is common. It also provides you with an excellent opportunity to study your automatic reactions. Do you automatically tense up? Do you separate yourself from the discomfort? Does it frustrate you? See what your automatic reaction is. Something you may want to try is to smile internally, relax the discomfort and bring your focus back to the middle of your mind while focusing on a feeling of relaxed well-being.
Alternatively you may want to set up an energy line going down from the end of your spine, towards the earth. Let any tensions and discomfort automatically travel down, and be absorbed by the earth. These type of imaginative energy tools may in time prove to be powerful tools of relaxation.
You become dizzy
This may be a sign of breathing too heavily. The first three breaths are quite deep, but the rest of the meditation should be accompanied by relaxed breathing.
You get a headache
This can happen if you try to go out of your meditation too rapidly. Sit and relax for a while after finishing your meditation. If you have already gotten a headache, try decreasing your breathing frequency and relaxing between breaths (holding the breath for very brief periods of time).
Steps to Look Forward to
In the beginning it is normal to have many thoughts as you try to clear your head. However, there is a thresh-hold. At some point you will notice that it is actually easier not to think than to think. It is a little bit like when falling asleep. In the evening you may feel that it takes you a while to fall asleep. In the mornings, you may notices that it can be a lot easier to fall asleep than to wake up. In meditation you do not fall asleep but you reach a similar threshold. Before it, getting rid of thoughts feels like hard work. After stepping across it, thinking thoughts feels like hard work.
Meditation and Raw Food
Being on a low fat, raw food diet will put you in touch with your emotions. This may be a traumatic process. From what I have personally seen, I would say that a majority of people who fail on a low fat raw food diet do so because of the difficulty of handling the emotional aspects. Many times they are consciously unaware of the fact that they are experiencing emotional problems due to the diet. It often just feels wrong, and having a large cooked meal quickly numbs the negative feelings. And so, they are guided away from raw food. Having a solid meditation practice can prove to be a most welcome help on those occasions.
However, meditation is not only helpful for those on raw foods. The opposite is also true. Being on a raw foods diet you may expect to make better progress in your meditation and spiritual practice. This is because your body is not overloaded with digestive work and addictive toxins. More resources are freed up for emoting.