I possess a natural empathy and a desire to help people; whether that is to help ease the pain of chronic tension, to soothe the muscles following over-exertion or simply to relax and take away anxiety. I treat people holistically and as individuals

Amy Phillips - 07800 636266

Dekker Road, Dulwich Village. London. SE21 7DJ

thedulwichtouch@me.com

Sunday, February 17, 2013 Wellbeing

Meditation

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
― Amit Ray,


It is only in the last two years that I have learned to meditate, and the difference it has made to my life has been quite profound. I sleep better, feel far less stressed and calmer and have more control over the ebb and flow of emotions and moods.
The benefits meditation can bring to you are many and varied and all it takes is simply setting aside a time each day to be alone, quiet and still. It can be very difficult at first, as our minds are so used to wondering here and there, seemingly at random, but simply watching this happen is an effective way of achieving stillness. It is important to make it as regular as possible, 10/15 minutes per day is far more beneficial than 3hrs once a week, and the more you practice, the easier it will become.
The benefits include: Improved, sleep, reduced stress, pain management, reduced anxiety and depression, hormonal balance, relaxation of the nervous system. It can help with many long-term illnesses, but most of all, it helps us to get to know our deeper selves, and gives a richer understanding of how our mind’s work. Sometimes life’s stresses can feel overwhelming and we can worry unnecessarily about things, meditation is a way of cutting out the chitter-chatter and realising what is truly important- the present moment and keeping our minds calm.
In the modern world we are overwhelmed by messages telling us that happiness can be found in material things; that having a new house, car, even a dress! Will make us happier and more fulfilled, however as we achieve each material goal, we realise it hasn’t made us happier, not really, and so we look for the next thing we can buy or achieve that may be the key….the key to happiness will not be found from external sources, it can only be found from within. Meditation helps us to achieve the mental stillness that can lead to true happiness and put in perspective all those external pushes and pulls on our time, energy and motivation.
I favour Buddhism as a philosophy and as a way to meditate, but there are many different ways to do it, here are a few simple ones to get you started:
Firstly, posture during meditation is important, you don’t want to be too relaxed as you may fall asleep, but you do want to be comfortable or you’ll find it hard to think about anything other than your discomfort. The traditional style of sitting cross-legged is often uncomfortable, but worth trying- have a cushion under your bottom to lift the hips slightly and cross the legs so that you can see a triangle in front of you, then relax the arms into your lap. A posture that most people prefer, is to sit in a chair, with your back erect, not slouched, and again, your hands resting gently in your lap. Close you eyes softly, or half close them and look at a spot on the floor, then scan the body. Start by feeling the feet touching the floor, then move up through the legs, feeling any sensation in them. Next, focus on the bottom and the way it is supported by the chair (or cushion). Move up from the base of the spine to the neck, then down the arms to the hands. This process will help to ground you and is a good basis for any meditation; it only takes a minute or two.
Breathing meditation:
Bring your attention to the sensation of breathing. Breathe in long and out long for a couple of times, focusing on any spot in the body where the breathing is easy to notice, and your mind feels comfortable focusing. This could be at the nose, at the chest, at the abdomen, or any spot at all. Stay with that spot, noticing how it feels as you breathe in and out. Don't force the breath, or bear down too heavily with your focus. Let the breath flow naturally, and simply keep track of how it feels. Savor it, as if it were an exquisite sensation you wanted to prolong. If your mind wanders off, simply bring it back. Don't get discouraged. If it wanders 100 times, bring it back 100 times. Show it that you mean business, and eventually it will listen to you. If you find it really difficult to focus, try counting the breaths, breathe in then out, then mentally say 1, and repeat until 10 then begin again at 1 (if you lose count, don’t get frustrated, just start again at 1- it doesn’t matter and it will happen). This will help guide your mind and eventually you’ll be able to stop counting and just be with the breath. Try not to cling to the number; it is the breath that’s important!

Mantra meditation
Using a mantra can be highly effective, especially if there is a particular reason for meditating. In many religions mantra’s are used for meditation, ‘Om’ being the one most people are familiar with. Om, (often spelt aum) in some cultures, has very special spiritual significance. It is described as the sound of God; the universal sound of life energy, or a representation of the various psychological compartments of the psyche. Repetition of the word is said to make us realize that we are not separate from the rest of the universe; we are all a part of it.
If you prefer to make your own mantra, that can be just as effective, a favourite one of mine is: I breathe in, I feel peace, I breathe out, I am peace: in time with the breath. You could also simply affirm something: I am happy, I am calm…whatever feels right for you. While sitting quietly, repeat the mantra “om” (or your own) to yourself over and over. You can choose to do this aloud or silently. The most important aspect is that you allow yourself to relax fully as you repeat the syllable. As you do so, your breathing should deepen, which increases blood flow to your brain and stimulates thinking and awareness.

Concentrating on a flame:
Sit in a dark or dimly lit room with a candle about four feet in front of you at eye level and light it. Focus on the flame and allow your mind to become still. You might find that at first your mind actually becomes more active, but if you allow these thoughts to run in and out of your head, without latching on to them or feeling angry at them being there, you will soon find that things are becoming quiet as you simply stare at the flickering light. Really observe the flame, top to bottom, concentrating on the heat and the light that it gives. You will become more and more aware of its movement and glow. Then imagine that there is a similar flame inside every person, creature, and inanimate object and filling them with energy and light. This technique can also helps us to recognize how we are all connected.

Another great method for a beginner to meditation is to buy an audio guided-meditation or visualization, simply sitting and listening will bring you into a deeply relaxed state- I sometimes use these with clients who find it difficult to switch off and many find them very helpful. It is important to listen to them before you buy and find a voice you find soothing rather than irritating- there are hundreds available through the internet.
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