Resolved to Meditate

New Years Resolution #1 – Self Centering.

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For me self centering is meditation. There are innumerable benefits to regular meditative practice including stress reduction, pain relief, improved sleep, increased energy, weight loss and improved immunity to name a few. The best thing about meditation is that it’s free and it’s always there, whenever you need it. So this year I’m starting with at least 10 minutes every morning.

  1. Benefits of meditation
  2. Getting Started
  3. Great Guided Meditations

Benefits of meditation. Beyond what I have already mentioned  it increases serotonin levels and helps regulate moods, enhances healing,  increases creativity, improves relationships, and reduces hypertension. The list goes on and on and best part is that there are no negative side effects. A recent study from researchers at MIT and Harvard explains why meditation helps to tune out distractions and relieve pain.

Getting started. My routine is simple. I light a candle sit down on my zafu (meditation cushion or tuffet), place my hands together (as in prayer pose) as a symbol of acceptance, then open my hands resting them on my thighs with my palms up (or in a mudra) and bring my attention to my breathing. It can be helpful to begin with a simple breathing exercise such as, “Breathing in I am aware that I am breathing in, beathing out I am aware that I am breathing out.” You can repeat this mantra to yourself as you inhale and exhale. Letting your thoughts come and go with your breath. When I find it difficult to focus I’ll listen to a guided meditation (my favorites are Thich Nhact Hanh and Jack Kornfield), sometimes silence really is golden and other times I’ll play some music or chanting. At the end of my meditation I will bow in gratitude and sometime this say mantra from Thich Nacht Hahn,

“Waking up this morning I smile

knowing there are 24 brand new hours before me.

I vow to live fully in each moment,

and look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

A few years ago my amazing mother in law introduced me to the mindful works of Thich Nhat Hanh. I have been following, reading and listening to him ever since.

“Sitting meditation is like returning home to give full attention to and care for our self. Like the peaceful image of the Buddha on the altar, we too can radiate peace and stability. We sit upright with dignity, and return to our breathing. We bring our full attention to what is within and around us. We let our mind become spacious and our heart soft and kind.

Sitting meditation is very healing. We realize we can just be with whatever is within us- our pain, anger, and irritation, or our joy, love, and peace. We are with whatever is there without being carried away by it. Let it come, let it stay, then let it go. No need to push, to oppress, or to pretend our thoughts are not there. Observe the thoughts and images of our mind with an accepting and loving eye. We are free to be still and calm despite the storms that might arise in us.”

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