This is the second part of a series on the importance of knowing and loving the self. I will share a bunch of self-exploration and empowerment techniques and tools. In part 1 we discussed the importance of self-love. Please be warned that this series might drastically change your life so fasten your seat belts and lets get started 😉
“Once you have tasted meditation, it is impossible for you
to be in any misery. Bliss becomes inevitable.”
Meditation is a difficult phenomenon to describe in words. The experience is simple, yet it has a profound effect on our entire being. Connecting with and operating from our center gives us the opportunity to live our life with more joy, clarity, purpose and creativity. Meditation helps us move from the doing, thinking creatures we usually are to simply being, settling into our center. When we operate from this center, we are pure potential.
For most of us, our daily lives are made up of thoughts, emotions and reactions to our immediate circumstances, past experiences or future worries. What if we could tap into the powerful source within, which connects us to the present moment, to this is-ness? Like cars passing by on the street, we simply begin to watch our thoughts, without attaching to them. This practice of being aware of our inner and outer environment can change the quality of our lives.
As women, a regular meditative practice helps us get in touch with our intuitive capacity. It helps us distinguish between the inner voice that guides us to our highest good, to all the other voices that we have internalized into our subconscious mind, from our external environment, that don’t serve us well. Our power lies in the womb and in all spiritual practices, the area around our navel, also called the hara, is at the center of all existence.
As an Indian, I felt meditation came naturally to me, that there was no need to learn anything. And yet, I found myself confused and helpless, often consumed by strong negative emotions. I had no idea who I was and where my life was going, and I didn’t really have a sense of happiness other than when someone expressed his or her approval towards me.
I started with active meditations when I was twenty two. Almost immediately years of suppressed thoughts, emotions, stresses and toxins began pouring out of my system. After this release I was truly ready and available to experience the silence within. I felt an immense freedom, joy and lightness as I practiced these meditations: I felt energized, filled with a desire to reclaim and celebrate my life. I was discovering who I was, learning to accept and love myself unconditionally.
It was a love affair with myself and I was on a never-ending honeymoon!
I highly recommend any or all of active meditations as a way to start your journey towards meditation. They are available on iTunes, Amazon and the official website iMeditate.osho.com
Another simple but effective and technique is called insight meditation or vipassana. By sitting in silence, and watching our breath, we are able to disconnect with all thoughts and emotions. This space allows us to get an insight into what is real. Slowly this can become a way of life, where we are mindful about everything around and within us, from walking, to eating to working around others.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist monk and best selling author recommends an exercise, in the form of this poem, to help with our practice of mindfulness.
Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
Breathing in, I see myself as a flower
Breathing out, I feel fresh
Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain
Breathing out, I feel solid
Breathing in, I see myself as still water
Breathing out, I reflect things as they are
Breathing in, I see myself as space
Breathing out, I feel free
This is a great way to start your day and it takes less than ten minutes. Repeat each of these sets five to ten times every morning and see how you feel. If you find that this exercise resonates with you, incorporate it in your daily schedule.
Guided meditations are also a great way to start your meditation practice. They are akin to the training wheels on a bicycle, helping us find that space within, with some initial support. Guided meditations are usually a combination of soothing music and a gentle voice that guides us through specific issues: healing, stress-relief, spiritual growth and many others. Typically guided meditations begin with relaxing our body and mind, followed by affirmations or visualization techniques that allow us to release any negative thought-patterns that our subconscious mind might be holding onto. Over time, these thought-patterns begin to dissolve, allowing us to experience calm, good health, clarity and a more positive outlook towards life. Some guided meditations I recommend to clients include those by Kelly Howell, and Abraham Hicks amongst others.
There are so many other meditative techniques available out there. I’m also a big fan of crystal bowl meditations (like I mentioned in my previous post). Most Yoga studios or community centers offer meditations. If these involve sitting in silence perhaps you can participate in them after a rigorous workout or dancing. This will calm your body down and as a result, sitting will be easier.
The practice of self-awareness is a powerful step in the journey in the knowing and loving of the self. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the techniques that you liked here or practice already.