Self-Awareness 101 Episode 30: Basic Meditation Exercises
In this Episode Willard shares some basic meditation exercises that he has personally used to improve focus, gain clarity, relieve pain and even induce self-healing.
Willard mentions a free meditation audio during this episode. You can download it here: A Meditation For Higher Awareness
Today we're going to discuss Basic Meditation Exercises.
What is meditation?
The first time that someone suggested that I meditate, was a little over 20 years ago. When they mentioned it, I immediately had visions of people in weird clothing, sitting in weird positions, spacing out. Based on my upbringing, I was instantly judgmental of what I perceived meditation to be, and thought it was definitely not something I could do. But what I found out was, yes, meditation can be that, but when it comes to basic meditation exercises, it is something much simpler, and also something that really had some great benefits for me personally.
One of the benefits that I found in early meditation, was the ability to shut off the "monkey chatter" that was going on in my head. At that time in my life, my mind used to be running off all over the place and I didn't know how to stop it. Meditation helped me learn how to do that, how to quiet my mind. It also helped me learn how to increase my ability to focus on a singular purpose or project. The reason I say that is because, I would be scattered with my attention all over the place, even when working on something, I would find myself off thinking about something else. Some of the other benefits of these basic meditation exercises were helping me sleep, helping me relax, and helping me relieve pain. Not only relieving pain for myself, but for others.
Now, what is meditation? Quite simply for me, it is about being able to be fully present in the moment, without thinking about the past, without projecting the future. Being fully present, being fully "aware". The first experiences that I had with basic meditation exercises were where I was being directed to focus on listening to external sounds. Some of it was piano music. Just very soft, soothing melodies. George Winston was actually an artist that I used to listen to a lot when I first started. Sometimes it was nature sounds. You can get those nature CD's that have birds or rain or streams and other natural sounds; and the idea is just to focus on the sounds. Now I know when I began, I would still have those stray thoughts that come in from time to time that would take my focus off the sounds,, but when you have that one thing you can keep coming back to, it was easy to catch myself and say, "Let me just focus on the melody, let me just focus on the melody, let me just focus on that sound of that piano." That was my introduction to meditating.
Because people shared basic meditation exercises like this with me, meditation took on a whole new meaning. I realized that I didn't have to try this yogi type of approach to it that I had been envisioning.
From those first basic meditation exercises, I moved on to breathing exercises. The breathing exercises were something I used to help me go to sleep at night. I would have a specific rhythm that I would breathe. I would focus on a rhythmic count that I would have of inhaling and then exhaling. One that I suggest is inhaling for the count of six, hold for three, exhale for the count of six, then hold for three. Then repeat that process. As I would do that I would fall into a rhythm, and as I began relaxing what I would start paying attention to was what was happening with my body. Every time that I would exhale, I would feel the tension flow out of my body and release. I would pay attention to things like the feeling in my chest expanding when I inhaled, and contracting when I exhaled.
Guided meditations are another kind of basic mediation exercises that I was exposed to. You can actually buy CD's and audio tapes of guided meditations where people talk you through relaxing, and visualizing things that will improve your awareness and even help you with self-healing.
One of the most powerful demonstrations of how guided visualization worked was an experience I had with my grandmother. She was 93 years old and she had recently suffered a stroke. She had lost the ability to communicate verbally, but we knew she was in a lot of pain based on the way that she was clenching her hands and also moaning. It was really hard to watch her knowing she was in so much pain, and there was an opportunity for me to sit with her where we had a great experience together, where for about 30 minutes, I took her through a guided meditation. I had her visualizing and remembering hearing sounds that she had associated with some great memories she had of being at the beach. And for those 30 minutes, her body relaxed and she stopped writhing from being in pain. That experience really drove home for me the power of focus and meditating. It was just an amazing tool for creating that level of focus.
Again, this is about basic meditation exercises. If you choose, you can get into some very deep meditation where you lose actual awareness of your physical body; but again, I want to just explore basics with you now.
A couple of things I would like to suggest as basic meditations exercises are, for the next week, spend five minutes every evening before you go to sleep just focusing on your breathing. The one that I suggest is inhale for six, hold for three, exhale for six, and hold for three and then repeat. As you continue to do that, as you get into the second or third minute, just start paying attention to the sensations in your body. The idea again is to shut off the external things that are going on and just be aware of what's happening with yourself.
The next thing I would like to share with you is a quick guided meditation. I've shared this with people to help them relax, or to bring peace to themselves when they feel stress. It only takes about 30 to 45 seconds. You can do it when you're waiting in line in the check out counter, you can even do it when you're sitting at a red light. Just take a deep breath in, exhale slowly, and as you do, close your eyes. Then I want you to imagine this brilliant white light, coming down from above. Imagine it coming down on the top of your head. Imagine the brightest, most brilliant white paint that you could ever imagine. Then just like somebody is pouring this into your head, imagine this brilliant liquid white light, just painting the inside of your skull; in that brilliant white color until every spot on the inside of your skull is this brilliant white light. Now, every time that you inhale, just feel more of it coming in and imagine it going down into your neck, and then down into your shoulders. Imagine it flowing down into your arms, and out into your fingertips. Imagine it coming down into your chest, this brilliant liquid white light, just filling your body up. And just focus on that light flowing down through your torso and down through your stomach, down into your hips. Focus on that brilliant white light again coming from above through your head, filling up every cell in your body as it goes down into your thighs, down into your calves, down into your ankles, down into your feet and out through your toes. Now, take a deep breath in, and imagine that light glowing even brighter. Exhale slowly, and open your eyes. And as you do, notice the way that you feel, now that you've just spent 30 seconds, simply focusing on that sensation created by that visualization.
Guided meditations are a great tool, especially when you're beginning. Basic meditation exercises, having somebody else walk you through it can help you easily get into more advanced exercises. Again, there are levels of meditation that you can get to where, you lose complete awareness of your body, and connect with some very deep and spiritual experiences. What I do invite you to do is explore different types of meditation; there are several options available to you.
Also I'd like to invite you to download a longer, guided meditation that we have on the website, it is about 30 minutes long and is something I put together a couple of years ago, and it's free so come to the site and download it.
I look forward to hearing about your experiences with these basic meditation exercises. I also look forward to hearing what techniques you may already be using, that you could turn me on to.
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Self-Awareness 101 Series with Transcription Plus
Introduction To Self-Awareness 101: To Inspire, Educate and Empower
SA 101 Episode 1: The Importance of Developing Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 2: How to Truly Learn from Mistakes
SA 101 Episode 3: To Soar, I Needed To Let Go Of The Past
SA 101 Episode 4: The Meaning That We Give Things
SA 101 Episode 5: Kind Words And Good Deeds Are Eternal
SA 101 Episode 6: Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone
SA 101 Episode 7: Two Most Powerful Words You'll Ever Say
SA 101 Episode 8: Making Time For What's Truly Important
SA 101 Episode 9: Expectations and Desires About How It Ought To Be
SA 101 Episode 10: Tap Into The Sources Of The Universe
SA 101 Episode 11: The Four Agreements
SA 101 Episode 12: Courage-Being Scared But Saddling Up Anyways
SA 101 Episode 13: The Power Of Belief Systems
SA 101 Episode 14: Change Is Inevitable, Growth Is Optional
SA 101 Episode 15: You Always Have Choices, It's OK To Say No
SA 101 Episode 16: Encountering External Resistance To Change
SA 101 Episode 17: Creating A Supportive Environment
SA 101 Episode 18: Our Decisions Determine Who We Become
SA 101 Episode 19: Questions To Ask When You Overcome An Obstacle
SA 101 Episode 20: A List Of Excuses Vs. Results
SA 101 Episode 21: The Meaning Of Honesty
SA 101 Episode 22: Living In Gratitude
SA 101 Episode 23: Repetitive Patterns
SA 101 Episode 24: Non-Verbal Cues
SA 101 Episode 25: Be Brave Enough To Accept The Help Of Others
SA 101 Episode 26: Positive Thoughts And Positive Intentions
SA 101 Episode 27: Active Listening Skills
SA 101 Episode 28: How Self-Awareness Relates To Spirituality
SA 101 Episode 29: Positive Affirmations
SA 101 Episode 30: Basic Meditation Exercises
SA 101 Episode 31: Personal Development At Work
SA 101 Episode 32: Toxic Shame
SA 101 Episode 33: Eliminating Clutter
SA 101 Episode 34: How To Forgive Others
SA 101 Episode 35: Self-Forgiveness
SA 101 Episode 36: Deepening Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 37: What Is Fear?
SA 101 Episode 38: How To Overcome Fear
SA 101 Episode 39: Dealing With Your Anger
SA 101 Episode 40: How To Find Your Passion
SA 101 Episode 41: Increasing Your Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 42: How To Feel Deserving
SA 101 Episode 43: How To Be A Humble Observer
SA 101 Episode 44: Progress Not Perfection
SA 101 Episode 45: Expectations And Perfectionism
SA 101 Episode 46: Dealing With Anger
SA 101 Episode 47: Taking Responsibility For Yourself
SA 101 Episode 48: Achieving Higher Consciousness
SA 101 Episode 49: Trust Life
SA 101 Episode 50: Being Skeptical
SA 101 Episode 51: Benefits Of Closure
SA 101 Episode 52: The Final Episode