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Meditate | Wellbeing

3 Meditations That Can Change Your Life

By The Yoga School | November 1, 2018

Has your attention span been dwindling? Or perhaps, it feels like work anxiety is driving you mad. Try these meditations to help you cope

“Stress is the result of uncontrolled mind states like anger, or a sense of professional inadequacy.”

-Kadam Morten, a Buddhist teacher and author of Modern Buddhism

We often feel as though our stresses are externally created. For example, you might feel anxious about daily interactions with your boss, but Morten, a Buddhist teacher and author of Modern Buddhism, suggests that you might be the manufacturer of your own stress. So the issue isn’t so much whether or not your boss is genuinely horrible – it’s more about how badly you allow him to stress you out. Simply put, the choice is lies with you.

We might not realise it, but over and over again, we tend to mentally re-enact the very scenarios that cause us suffering. However, a mindful practice allows us to free our minds to make calm, reasonable decisions about how best to manage our responses to situations and people (for instance, how you respond to your boss even when he is being horrible). “Meditation is a practical method for investigating your own mind and transcending harmful habits of thinking,” he shares.

There’s a reason why established and forward-thinking organisations like Google and Target have been offering employees meditation and mindfulness training to boost resilience to stress and improve mental focus. Google’s “Search Inside Yourself” course, a mindfulness program offered since 2007, has reportedly helped participants to calmer, more patient, and become better at stress management. And at Target, its mindfulness meditation training has been so successful that its “Meditating Merchants” network (which first started in 2010 at Target’s Minneapolis headquarters) is now available to all employees across several company locations. Every week, participants meditate once a week during lunch time.

In fact, a recent seven-year study published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement found that meditation has the potential to alter longitudinal trajectories of cognitive change across a person’s life. In other words, age-related mental decline can be prevented by having a long-term meditation practice.

Meditation also has many other purported benefits and can be used as a tool to increase your sense of wellbeing. Here’re some simple daily meditation practices that can help you to manage anxiety, improve focus, and feel more grounded.

  • Your struggle: “I’m terrified of my boss!”

    Try: Kundalini Yoga Meditation for emotional balance

    Rie Komiya, a Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher at The Yoga School, shares, “When you’re upset, pay particular attention to your breathing rate, and your body’s water balance.” She explains, “The idea behind this grounding meditation is to rhythmically slow your breath down to only four breaths per minute. Locking your body tightly in this pose gives you indirect control over your mind.” She adds, “After the first two or three minutes, you’ll realise that your thoughts are still there, but they will not be felt.”

    The technique:

    -Drink a glass of water before you begin.
    -Cover your head with a light-coloured scarf.
    -Sit in Easy Pose on the floor with your spine straight and your chin lightly tucked in.
    -Position your hands in Gyan mudra on your knees, and keep your eyes gently closed.
    -Chant “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” to begin. This Adi Mantra means “I bow to infinite wisdom. I bow to my own wisdom.” “Mantras are sounds with specific vibrations that affect our mind, body and soul,” shares Rie. “Chanting this mantra brings you support and protection from the long Kundalini Yoga lineage.”
    -Now place your arms across your chess, locking your palms under the armpits. Keep your palms open and place them against your body (as though you’re hugging yourself tightly).
    -Raise your shoulders up towards your earlobes and lock them in the position, keeping your muscles clenched.
    -Imagine that the top of your spine is attached to a cord running through the back of your head. Pull the cord straight up to stretch your spine and keep it straight. Tuck in your chin slightly so that your neck and vertebrae are aligned.
    -Close your eyes. Your breath will automatically slow down.
    -Hold for three minutes, gradually increasing the duration to 11 minutes.
    -End the meditation by chanting Sat Nam.

    Editor’s note: Kundalini Yoga kriyas can be very advanced in nature, and it is strongly recommended that you explore them with the guidance of an experienced KRI certified teacher, especially if you’re a beginner.
  • Your struggle: “I feel like I’m just floating along in life. I don’t know where I’m headed.”

    Try: Kundalini Yoga Meditation to feel more grounded

    There will be times in life when we may lose sight of our purpose and feel like we’re drifting untethered in a melange of confusion, anxiety and questions. If you feel temporarily lost, refocus your energy and meditate to re-centre yourself.

    The technique:

    -Cover your head with a light-coloured scarf.
    -Sit in Easy Pose on the floor with your spine straight and your chin lightly tucked in.
    -Position your hands in Gyan mudra on your knees, and keep your eyes gently closed.
    -Chant “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” to begin.
    -With your eyes still closed, gently bring focus to the area between your brows.
    -Extend your arms straight up above your head, and position your hands in Sat Kriya mudra (interlace your fingers and press your index fingers together, keeping them pointing upwards). For men, keep the right thumb above the left one. For women, keep the left thumb over the right one.
    -Chant Sat Nam (pull in your navel as you chant “Sat” and release is as you chant “Nam”). Repeat thrice.
    -Keeping your hands in Sat Kriya mudra, move them down to your heart centre in one swift motion, while slowly chanting Waheguru (a Sikh term which refers to the “creator of all”).
    -Continue the meditation for two minutes.
    -End the meditation by chanting Sat Nam.

    Editor’s note: Kundalini Yoga kriyas can be very advanced in nature, and it is strongly recommended that you explore them with the guidance of an experienced KRI certified teacher, especially if you’re a beginner.
  • Your struggle: “My mind is always wandering and I find it hard to focus.”

    Try: *Trataka Meditation

    This method involves bringing energy to your “third eye” by staring at a single point (such as a candle flame, a black dot, or a small object) during meditation. During the initial stages, keep your focus on the single point for just 10 to 15 seconds. Slowly increase the duration to a minute as you become more experienced (this recommended length of time should not be exceeded). This practice strengthens the ability to concentrate and develops the ability to visualise.

    The technique:

    -Sit cross-legged and position a candle about an arm’s length away from you. The wick of the candle should be around the same height as your chest. Note that if the candle is placed too high, too much tension can be created at the brow centre, causing a burning sensation in the eyes. Make sure that the flame is still and not flickering in a draft.
    -Close your eyes and then open them. Now look at the flame without blinking. Concentrate on the tip of the flame where it burns the brightest. Keep your body still.
    -Close your eyes again. If the image of the flame appears within, concentrate gently on it without creating any tension in your brows. Avoid trying to “hold on” to the image as it will face and disappear more quickly.
    -Repeat thrice.

    *This practice is not recommended for those who have eye problems or who are suffering from heart disease.
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