The positive effects of meditation are well documented: heart and respiration rate slow, blood pressure drops, and the physical symptoms of stress decrease as your body relaxes. Meditation helps still the mind, calm the emotions, and promote peace and serenity. Although we may be aware of these benefits, for many of us it is a challenge to sit and be still. “I can’t find the time.” “I’ve tried meditation but couldn’t concentrate, so I gave up.” “I just can’t sit still for that long.” sound familiar? I hope that the 10 meditations that follow will help introduce, reintroduce, or reinforce a regular meditation practice.
If you are new to meditation. try it for 10 minutes at first; gradually, increase the time in 5-minutes increments. With practice, determination, and patience, you will eventually be able to expand the time spent in meditation and ultimately experience the profound physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits that can result from sitting in quiet contemplation.
Please note that the 10 meditations that follow are meant as recommendations. Some may work for you, while others may not. Continue using your favorite meditation if you have one, or use these as in inspiration to create some new meditations.
1. Candle Meditation:
Many people find that staring at a candle helps them to concentrate. Create your own sacred ritual through candle gazing.
- Light a candle and sit before it. either cross-legged on a cushion or in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your backbone comfortably extended.
- Breathe in and out.
- Stare at the candle’s flame as you allow your breath to deepen and slow. Focus on the flame. Do not blink.
- When you feel ready, close your eyes. Focus on the image of the flame that you see on the inside of your eyelids.
- Continue to breathe deeply, focusing on the image.
- As the image begins to change and recede, imagine your essence merging with the candle’s energy, lighting a pathway to a place of complete happiness and serenity.
- When the candle image evaporates and finally disappears, invite your joyful spirit into this expansive place of happiness.
2. Meditation of Connection:
“When, before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain, you pause and exclaim, ‘Ah,’ you are participating in divinity,” wrote Joseph Campbell. We have all experienced those moments of intense connection to something greater than ourselves. However we define it, when that connection occurs we are transported to a place of profound wonder, peace, and beauty.
- Picture an awe-inspiring natural place. It may be an actual place that you have visited or seen in a picture or a place that exists only in your mind’s eye.
- Go to that place and look around. Do you see plants or flowers? are animal companions nearby? Do you hear any sounds? is the sun rising or setting?
- Breathe deeply as you connect to your special place.
- Inhale and repeat silently: I stand in awe of the beauty and grace.
- Exhale and repeat silently: That is the natural world.
- Inhale and say: Beauty and grace.
- Exhale and say: Natural world.
- Dwell in your peaceful sanctuary for as long as you like, repeating these simple thoughts.
3. Lotus Flower Meditation:
The lotus flower has long been a symbol of perfection, purity, and simplicity. The thousand-petal lotus is often associated with cosmic consciousness, divine light, or the higher mind. While the lotus blossom represents perfection and purity, its roots remain grounded in the dirt. Without the basic element of earth, the plant could not survive, grow, or blossom. The lotus flower reminds us that while we may strive for higher awareness from above, we can’t forget our vital connection to the physical earth below.
- Sit in any comfortable position with your backbone extended. Close your eyes.
- Breathe deeply as you envision a glorious thousand-petal lotus blossom.
- Inhale and imagine the lotus blossom growing in your heart center. This center is the bridge between the 3 lower physical centers of energy, or chakras, and the 3 higher spiritual chakras.
- Exhale and acknowledge the connection between your physical body and cosmic consciousness.
- Breathe deeply and with each exhalation allow the lotus flower to keep unfolding.
- Go deep within and stare at the beautiful open flower. Note that a gift—an image, an insight, a message, or a vision—awaits you.
- Ask yourself: What gift does the lotus flower hold for me?
- Continue breathing, focusing on the precious gift that the Lotus Flower of Your Heart has brought you. What use will you make of this gift?
- Place the gift in a secret, safe place within. Know that it remains there for you whenever you need it.
4. Mindfulness Meditation:
This meditation uses external sound to help maintain focus and concentration. In the book Peace Is Every Step, author Thich Nhat Hanh explains that in his buddhist tradition, temple bells are used as reminders to stop, reflect, and breathe. Sometimes a verse is recited: “Listen, listen. This wonderful sound brings me back to my true self.” Allow the sound of a ringing bell or chime to be reminder to pause, become aware of your breath, and return to that quiet within. Do this anywhere and anytime you hear a bell.
- Sit in any comfortable position with your backbone comfortably extended.
- In front of you, place a small bell or chime that makes a pleasant ringing sound when struck.
- Lower or close your eyes.
- Ring the bell or strike the chime.
- Inhale and focus on the clear sound of the bell. Allow other sounds to fall away.
- Exhale and listen as the sounds begins to fade and then stops.
- Breathe in and out. Listen to the silence that exists where sound was before.
- ring the bell once again. See if you can inhale for the duration of the ringing.
- When the sound stops, hold your breath for a moment and attend to the silence of the nonringing.
- Exhale deeply. When complete, hold your breath out for a moment.
- Allow your breath to return to normal as you focus on the thought: In silence I become aware of my true self.
5. Namaha Meditation:
Many of us are familiar with Namasté, the Sanskrit word indicating respect, which means “I bow to the divine in you” or “I greet the light in you.” Namaha, a lesser-known Sanskrit word, means “Not me” or “It’s not about me.” It reflects the notion that we are not the ones in control. During those inevitable times when we fell lost or confused and don’t know which way to turn, or when our best-made plans go awry, trust that all is as it should be and remember, Namaha.
- Inhale and repeat silently: It is not about me. Namaha.
- Exhale and repeat silently: All is well. Namaha.
- Inhale and repeat silently: There is a greater plan. Namaha.
- Exhale and repeat silently: I have Faith. Namaha.
- As you continue to inhale and exhale, simply repeat Namaha until its meaning fades and its essence fills your consciousness.
6. Ocean Meditation:
For many of us, nothing is more restorative, calming, and peaceful than staring at the waves and listening to the sound of the ocean. It is the place we go to feel rejuvenated. inspired, and alive. Become aware of the endless cycle of the tides as you allow the ocean to stay in your body, mind, and soul.
- On an inhalation, visualize a calm ocean scene.
- Exhale. Hear the gentle waves.
- Focus on this ocean scene as you continue inhaling and exhaling to the rhythm of the tide. Feel the breeze. Smell the salt-laden air. Hear the cries of the gulls overhead. Melt as the sun’s warmth touches your skin.
- Inhale and breathe in the restorative energy of the ocean. Allow its healing and calming properties to wash through you and over you.
- Exhale, expelling tension and stress. Watch them float out to sea and disappear over the horizon.
- Breathe in health and well-being.
- Breathe out anxiety and worry.
- Continue breathing in this manner until you feel completely drained of tension and filled with peace.
7. OM Meditation:
Om (ॐ) is the sound of all sounds, the sacred sound of the universe, the sound of creation. It has been said that the sound of Om is the closest the human voice can get to the sound of the universal vibration. If you feel self-conscious, start by repeating the sound of Om silently at first. As you feel more comfortable, begin chanting aloud, gradually increasing the volume. Repeating the sound of Om is a great way to release tension. Feel the vibration move from your abdominal area, into your chest and throat, up to your forehead, and out the crown of your head as the sound connects to universal consciousness. Remember that the sound of Om is composed of 4 parts: ah (corresponding to the waking state); oh (corresponding to the dreaming state); mmm (corresponding to the deep sleeping state); and silence (representing ultimate reality).
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Inhale deeply. Exhale and begin chanting to the sound of Om: ah / oh / mmm / silence.
- Pause. Inhale deeply.
- Chant for 2 more rounds. Increase the volume with each round.
- When you have completed chanting. return your breath to normal and repeat silently: My spirit overflows with luminous energy.
8. Walking Meditation:
You may wish to do this meditation outdoors or in a large room. Stand with your backbone comfortably extended and focus on a spot in front o you. Arms may be by your sides or in front of the heart center in Namasté. In addition to offering all the other benefits of meditation. Walking meditation also increases circulation in the legs and feet.
- Breathe deeply.
- Begin walking by inhaling and raising your right foot. Exhale and place your foot down in front of you.
- Inhale and raise your left foot. Exhale and place your foot down in front of you.
- Take each step slowly and deliberately. Be aware of how you raise your leg. Pay attention to the sensations as you lift your legs and feet up and place them back down.
- Maintain your focus and awareness. Walk as though this was your first time. Nothing else matters, only lifting your foot and placing it back onto the ground.
- Continue at a slow, steady pace. Concentrate on each step and the rhythm of your breath.
- Take a step and repeat silently: I have no destination.
- Take the next step and repeat silently: This is about the journey.
- Continue until the journey feels complete to you.
9. Palming Meditation:
Like Walking Meditation, this meditation uses motion to help calm and soothe. In addition to providing the benefits of other meditations, Palming Meditation diminishes fatigue in the eyes, face, and entire body. It improves concentration and imparts a natural vitality to the eyes. It is a great way to help transition from a hectic day to a quiet evening.
- Sit in any comfortable position with your backbone extended and close your eyes.
- Rub the palms of your hands together vigorously, creating heat and charging them with energy.
- Cup your palms gently over closed eyes, fingers resting lightly on your forehead. Make sure that there is no pressure on your eyeballs.
- Concentrate on relaxing your eyelids and releasing all the tension held in them. Feel the heat of your hands.
- remain in this position for a minute or more, breathing slowly and deeply as the warmth settles over your eyes.
- Inhale and repeat silently: I see through new eyes.
- Exhale and repeat silently: Beauty is all around me.
- Bring your hands to the center of your chest in Namasté and acknowledge the splendor that surrounds you.
- Lower your arms to your sides. Blink a few times.
10. Smiling Meditation:
Studies show that when we smile, we relax hundreds of muscles in our body. A positive message is sent to the mind, and we actually feel calmer, happier, and more at peace.
- Inhale and exhale deeply.
- Inhale and imagine you are breathing in pure, positive energy.
- Exhale slowly, expelling all negativity.
- Continue breathing in this way, inhaling positive energy and exhaling negativity until you feel completely recharged and refreshed.
- Allow a smile to grace your lips.
- Inhale and say: I feel happy.
- Exhale and say: Because I am.
So which meditation is your favorite?
Source: Essential Yoga: An Illustrated Guide to Over 100 Yoga Poses and Meditations by