How to Meditate Properly

January 14, 2019 in Articles

Each time you set out to do a task, whether it’s painting a room, planning a vacation, or simply folding the laundry, you want to do it the right way. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who intentionally seeks to do something the wrong way. What’s the point of that? Doing something the right way increases the likelihood that you will accomplish your goals and expectations.

The same goes for meditation. Meditating correctly will foster greater fulfillment and ease in your practice. Learning how to meditate properly is an essential part of your meditation journey.

Have you ever painted a room? This almost universally-hated chore has a lot of nuances: the paint finish and color, cleaning the room before and after, protecting the flooring and trim, using the right brushes and rollers to apply the paint, not to mention the fact that you’re probably going to have to do more than one coat. Everyone seems to have their own method of painting a room, but there is a proper way to do it.

When you take the time to meditate, you want that time to be well spent. You expect your meditation to increase fulfillment and ease, but if you fail to meditate well, you will be sorely disappointed in your practice, just as a sloppily painted room disappoints every time you walk into it.

It is very important not only to meditate, but to meditate well. Meditating, when done properly, has some incredible health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, it has been known to:

  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Lessen the impacts of asthma
  • Ease the burden of cancer
  • Alleviate chronic pain
  • Reduce depression
  • Lessen the risk of heart disease
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve the quality of sleep
  • Alleviate irritable bowel syndrome
  • Reduce the incidence of tension headaches

These aren’t baseless claims; they are backed by science. Numerous studies have documented stress reduction as a result of regular meditation. Meditation has specifically been proven to reduce stress in people suffering from a chronic illness. One study even showed that regular meditation could reduce stress in cancer patients by 31 percent.

Yet another study showed that symptoms of depression could be reduced in adults who practice meditation. There is also evidence that meditating before bed can help those with sleep disorders not only sleep sooner but sleep longer as well.

The studies mentioned here are only a handful of hundreds of similar research projects that have routinely proven the efficacy of meditation. The trick is to do it well.

Meditating isn’t easy. It takes a great deal of practice and discipline. If you are new to meditation, heed this advice and start your practice on the right foot. If you are an experienced meditator, read these tips with an open mind, you may discover new ways to improve your practice. Let’s learn how to meditate properly.

Find the Time

This seems obvious, but it isn’t. In a single day, we pack in as many appointments, meetings and commitments as possible, but are any of those appointments with you? Take the time to schedule an appointment with yourself. Put it on your calendar and regard it with the same level of commitment that you would any other meeting. Meet yourself in your meditation space and commit to the time you have set aside. Don’t allow other responsibilities or or tasks, no matter how important they may seem, keep you from this time.

The monotony of the day-to-day tasks are very short term. The emotional, cognitive and physical benefits of meditation are long term. Time is more valuable than money, because it’s a finite resource. You can’t create it, but you can squander it. Choose to invest in yourself and don’t allow anything to get between you and the self-care of meditation.     

Also consider the context of the time you choose. Will your environment be distraction free at the start and the end of your practice? Consider what could happen in your environment in the next 5 to 10 minutes. Are the kids due to get home from school? Is the UPS guy going to ring your doorbell? Are you expecting a phone call? If these are possibilities, you may want to choose a different time to meditate.

Don’t pick a time simply because it is convenient at the moment. Think about potential outside distractions that could barge into your practice and negatively impact the quality of your meditation. Meditating well depends on your ability to find a time that is completely distraction free.

Set Up Your Meditation Environment

Choose a place where you would like to meditate. It could be your patio, a sofa, your bed or even in a designated meditation room, if you are so lucky. The most important thing is to find a place where you are comfortable. It could be extremely distracting to settle in on an itchy carpet or in a room that’s too hot or too cold. Consider everything about the environment and how it may impact your practice before you select the place where you should meditate.

Your meditation environment should also have a pleasant aura and be relatively quiet. Negative energy and background noise may case your mind to wander. Find a place that easily enables you to rid yourself of distractions and find joy.

If you like, you can decorate your meditation environment with things that inspire you. Making the space personal will increase the intimacy and quality of your meditation. This could include:

  • photos of love ones,
  • mementos from cherished memories,
  • religious icons,
  • beautiful crystals and plants,
  • comfy cushions, blankets and rugs,
  • candles to set the ambience
  • few of your favorite books.

If it brings you joy and a sense of peace, it should be in your meditation space.

Practice Good Posture

If you want to learn how to meditate properly, posture is key. When you think about it, adjusting your physical stance is the first thing you do when you come to a place of meditation. You can meditate in any position. Standing, sitting or laying (or some variation of the three) are all acceptable positions in which to meditate. Regardless of your position, create excellent posture to meditate well.

Good posture fosters many health benefits, including increased concentration, better breathing and reducing the stress on your joints. Each of these benefits will enhance your meditation practice.

If you struggle to find good posture, start by getting into your meditation stance. Squish your shoulders up to your ears, then roll them back to push your chest forward. Lift your chin so that your jaw is parallel to the floor. This may feel strange at first, but the longer you do it the more natural this position will become.

Great posture will also help reduce distractions. If you aren’t in a comfortable position when meditating, you will inevitably begin to feel stress in your joints and muscles. These aches are often very distracting. Don’t let those distractions creep in; start with great posture.

Release Distractions

We live in a world that has no shortage of distractions. According to a recent report by eMarketer, the average American consumes more than 12 hours of media, that includes TV, radio, print and digital, per day. That’s an incredible amount of distraction. Enough is enough! In order to meditate well, you must be able to rid yourself of these pervasive outside distractions.

Do not bring your phone to the place where you meditate. Make your meditation environment relatively soundproof and, if necessary, add blinds or curtains to prevent the sunlight from distracting you.

Before you begin to meditate, think about what you are wearing. Is it comfortable? Does it make you feel good? Does it distract you? The same goes for your jewelry or any other ornamentation you may choose to wear. Change your clothes or remove your jewelry if needed.

Think about how you feel. Are you struggling with cold symptoms? Treat them! Are your lips chapped? Apply lip balm. Have you had enough food and water? Be sure to come to your practice well hydrated and with a full-ish stomach. There’s nothing more distracting than being hungry or thirsty.

These small efforts will pay off in spades with the benefits you receive from meditating well.  

Observe Thoughts Without Judgement

You may have mastered the art of emptying your mind, but you will always have thoughts from floating through your head. How you respond to those thoughts is what separates simply meditating and meditating well.

When a thought enters your mind, allow it to pass by, not giving it any brain energy or consideration. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t revisit those thoughts post-meditation. Often, these passing thoughts provide great insight into your emotions and mental well-being.

No matter what the thought may be, acknowledge it, accept it and don’t pass judgement on yourself for having the thought in the first place. Thoughts are just that: little ideas that stay inside our heads unless we make a conscious choice to act upon them. The art of meditating properly depends on your ability to not judge yourself for such thoughts.

Eliminate Expectations

What are your meditation goals? How long do you think it will take to reach them? If you have answers to either of these questions, you aren’t meditating properly.

Just as meditating well is contingent upon not judging oneself, it is also devoid of expectations. Sure, you may choose to begin a meditation practice because you want to reduce stress or anxiety, which is completely reasonable. The problem arises when a value is attached to the goal; it not only undermines the whole point of meditating, but it also opens you up to another avenue to judge yourself.

Leave your goals at the office.

Be Receptive to Change

No two meditation sessions will ever be the same, and they shouldn’t be. If you begin to notice patterns of distraction, thoughts or other enemies to meditating well, you may need to alter your practice.

Maybe you find a new environment to meditate, or perhaps you find that repeating a mantra helps you to stay more focused. Whatever it is, make the adjustments you need for your practice to produce the best possible results.

You may also want to try a guided meditation to help maintain your focus. There are many guided meditations available on the Mindbliss meditation app. Download the app today to begin your guided meditation journey.  

Allow Flexibility

Meditation can take many forms. Allow it to do so, without question or hesitation. You may be moved to meditate at work during a stressful day. You may typically meditate when you get home but know that in a certain moment, you could really use the support of meditation. Honor that.

You don’t always have to meditate in the same place and at the same time every day. There are many points in the day that may require meditation. Engage in your practice whenever you need. It’s your practice, own it and do it your way to meditate well.

Repeat

Create a pattern of meditation. Try to find time to meditate every day and carry out your meditation at the same time each day, if possible. Our busy schedules won’t always allow for this, but no matter when you come to your practice, come with an open heart and an open mind.

Research tells us that is takes 21 days to form a new habit. If the prospect of daily meditation is a daunting one, give it three weeks and see how repeating this practice can enhance your well-being. As with most things in life, the more you do it, the more fruitful your meditation practice will become. Use this guide to learn how to meditate properly and allow your practice to blossom.

Meditation is a practice. If you want to do it properly, you must practice. As with most things that you ‘practice,’ it’s not easy and is often downright challenging.

Bleacher Report recently named Michael Jordan as the most successful athlete of all time. How did he get there? Practice. He didn’t achieve this designation overnight It took thousands of hours of blood, sweat and sacrifice to achieve such an honor. Meditation is no different.

Well, it is a little different in that it’s not about competition, but the notion of tirelessly practicing at something to gain honor holds true.

Anything that is worth doing is worth doing well. Don’t shortchange yourself with a sub-par meditation practice. Honor yourself. Put in the work and begin to meditate properly today.

If you’d like to dive further into your wellbeing and personal growth, download our Mindbliss Meditation App HERE from your iPhone/Android. We have a large and diverse range of 400 (and growing) quality meditations and are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜

With Love,

The Mindbliss Team.

10 Easy Ways to Become More Mindful

January 14, 2019 in Articles

Mindfulness. Whether you realize it or not, it’s something that you engage every day. You mind the time as you are getting ready in the morning (you don’t want to be late!), are mindful of the other drivers as you commute to work (nobody wants to get in an accident) and mind your kids as you try to throw dinner together (probably should’ve ordered pizza). These are all involuntary, unintentional examples. But what about intentional mindfulness, in the form of mindfulness meditation? The kind that involves specifically meditating on your thoughts or actions to bring inner peace and relaxation?

Mindful meditation is just that: being mindful. It is practiced by settling down in a calm environment, quieting your mind and focusing on your breath. During mindful meditation, you explore your mind and allow passing thoughts to drift by, not succumbing to distraction. This is much easier said than done, especially in our fast-paced world with unlimited distractions.

Eliminating distractions is difficult; most people can only manage to do so in small doses. There are few among us who can sit for minutes, even hours on end successfully practicing mindful meditation. Fortunately, you can easily center yourself and quiet your mind in as little as one minute.

Despite the limited time commitment, many believe that they can’t fit meditation into their life. They are wrong. Every day, we are presented with countless opportunities to practice mindfulness, and instead, choose to check our phones or complain about the traffic.

It’s time to make a change! Here are ten quick and easy steps to become more mindful.

1. Check-In With Yourself

When was the last time you took time for yourself? You probably don’t even remember. When you check in, you practice much-needed self-care by taking the time to consider your physical, emotional and mental well-being. This consideration is a form of mindful meditation. You can do this is the car, as you are taking a coffee break, or while waiting in line at the grocery store.

Start by taking a deep breath. Think about every part of your body. What sensations each part may be feeling and if there are any ways you can improve or savor those sensations. Perhaps you discover that you are hungry and want a snack? Maybe you realize that the tag of your shirt is itchy and you should cut it off. Whatever it may be, take the time to check-in with yourself, you may be surprised by what you learn and how easily you can increase your comfort.

2. Be Mindful About Your Music

US consumers spend an average of 24 hours per week listening to music. That applies to 91 percent of the population who reports listening to music on a regular basis. That’s an incredible amount of time spent on one activity. Granted, most people listen to music while doing other things, like riding in a car, working or exercising.

The next time you listen to music, you can easily practice mindful meditation, too! Reduce as many external distractions as possible, like your cell phone. Don’t skip around stations or songs, focus on listening to a single song from start to finish. As you listen, try to isolate the different sounds: the vocals, bass, guitar and drums. Notice any emotions that are evoked by the lyrics and explore the motivations for those emotions.

Listening to music is a simple thing, but when done mindfully, it can make a huge difference in your self-awareness and well-being.

3. Add Inspiration to the Unexpected

Life can be pretty dull if we allow it to be. We get in the car, we run an errand, we go online. Do these things inspire us? Not really.

But what if you conscientiously wove intentional, inspirational symbols into your routine? This could be anything from a charm on a keychain, a photo of a cherished loved one on your dashboard or creating a meaningful password for your email account.

When you see these things, you are triggered to become mindful and spend a moment meditating on that idea or person. You can take your daily routine from being just that – a routine – to being a journey into mindful meditation.

Interestingly, most of us were much better at this in our adolescence. As a means of expressing ourselves, we would decorate our lockers, scribble on our sneakers and hang posters on the wall; all of which would bring people, places and things to mind.

We’re not asking you to start bedazzling your notebooks, but maybe you add a post-it note to the fridge that has a favorite verse or saying written on it? Adding small cues to daily life will inspire you to practice mindful meditation on a regular basis.

4. Relax With Purpose

What do you do to relax? Read a good book? Sit outside and watch the sun go down (or come up)? Maybe you like to binge watch your favorite shows? Whatever you to do unwind, do it with purpose.

As you settle into whatever it is you do to unwind, rid yourself of distractions. Turn of your phone, put the kids to bed and get into a place where you can fully engage in what you’re doing. Think about how you feel in the moment. Explore your emotions and consider not only what you are feeling, but why. Fully immerse your senses to truly enjoy doing nothing.

This is difficult to do. It’s challenging enough to find time in the day to do something for yourself, let alone incorporate mindful meditation into the activity. When you do, you are not only giving your body and mind the break it needs, but you are feeding your soul.

5. Be Intentional About Your Routine

There are a few things we do every day. We brush our teeth, get dressed, make breakfast, etc. We do them the exact same way every day with little effort or thought put into it. Many of these tasks are as involuntary as breathing.

As you are preparing for the day, be mindful of every part of your body that is being used to complete a task. Think about how your arms move, how your mind processes and the outcome of your symphony of senses coming together to reach a common goal.

Take it a step further by using your non-dominant hand to do things like shaving, brushing your teeth, or curling your hair. In order to complete those tasks with your non-dominant hand, you must be extremely mindful of every step and intentional about the way you do it.

6. Create a Mindful Environment

The environments where you live, work and play can have a profound impact on your ability to be mindful. If any of these environments are messy, unorganized or just plain ugly, you will have a hard time enjoying the stress-reduction benefits of mindful meditation.

Take the time to make these environments comfortable and happy for you. Declutter, clean up and add some personal pieces that encourage mindfulness. Things like favorite books, family photos and religious icons are simple, inexpensive additions to your décor that will prompt you to engage in mindful meditation.

Also, consider adding art to places where you spend a great deal of time. According to researchers at the University of London, looking at art creates a surge of dopamine in the brain, evoking the same feeling as being in love.

7. Love Thyself

As the saying goes, “we are our own worst critics.” It’s absolutely true. We give those around us immeasurable grace but fail to extend the same courtesy to ourselves. Despite our best efforts to remain positive on the outside, the reality is that most of us are very negative about ourselves on the inside.

When you notice yourself doing this, take the time to be mindful and rid yourself of the negative thoughts. Acknowledge that what your doing is hurting you in the long run and know that almost every other person has the same struggle.

Dig deep and consider why you are so hard on yourself. Is it being caused by a past hurt, an insecurity, or a childhood wound? Whatever it is, shift your focus and mindfully meditate to foster more self-love.

8. Actively Listen

As our world becomes less and less personal, this skill becomes more and more important. Sure, you may have 500 Facebook “friends” but how many of those people would you call in an emergency or take on a vacation? The fact of the matter is that many of us – a third of Americans, in fact – are lonely. We have fewer and fewer face-to-face interactions and when we do, they lack quality.

Combat loneliness by bringing mindfulness to your next conversation. Listen to your companion with each of your senses. Resist the urge to think about what you want to say next and instead hang on their every word. Lean in, nod, make eye contact and don’t let distractions keep you from truly listening. Mindfully meditating on the conversation will help you become a better listener and friend.

9. Complain and Consider 

Complaining, although considered negative by most, is actually a healthy expression of emotion. When you have strong feelings about something you want to vent about it; it’s a natural human response to adversity. Don’t judge yourself for being honest about your feelings (see Love Thyself). But do explore the cause of the complaint.

When you find yourself complaining, be mindful about the root cause of the issue. Is it that you have an inherent bias against the subject and no matter what they do, it will be met with your disapproval? Does the person or experience causing the complaint remind you of something negative in your past? No matter what the source may be, mindfully meditate to explore it and consider ways you can avoid having the same complaint in the future.    

10. Slow Down

Everyone wants to go fast. It doesn’t matter if you are running 10 minutes early or five minutes late, even the slightest delay on the road can send an otherwise sane person into a road-raging tailspin. Why? Society pressures us to be first in everything, even first in a line of traffic. Don’t give into the pressure!

No matter what your destination, whether you are 10 minutes early or five minutes late, the outcome will be the same. It’s easy to let our blood pressure rise when we are in a rush and want to be on time. The reality is that our obsession with the clock is never worth the stress. The next time you feel the urge to rush, be mindful about what you are doing, where you are going and that you will get there, one way or another, whether you are early or late. Making a certain time is simply not worth the fuss.

Slow down, take a deep breath and rest easy in the calm of mindful meditation.

Everyone, no matter what their schedule can find time for mindful meditation. It’s easy if you have the right tools. Enjoy the benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction by using these 10 quick tips to transform the way you see your world.

If you are already on the path toward mindfulness and would like to take it a step further, consider using a guided mindfulness meditation. Download Mindbliss meditation app to begin your journey.

We have a large and diverse range of 300 (and growing) quality meditations and are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜

With Love,

The Mindbliss Team.

Positive Affirmations: How They Work, 10 Tips and 13 Examples.

November 19, 2018 in Articles

“What You Think, You Become”.

Behind this seemingly empty #instaquote is something truly profound. The philosophy that we can envision an ideal version of ourselves and then manifest that image into reality is not only hopeful, it is possible. This is not to say that we can envision ourselves into becoming perfect superheroes, BUT we can become the best version of ourselves. This is not Hocus Pocus. This is science.

So, what does the science say?

In one study using fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans, the reward centers of the brain associated with pleasure were activated in participants who practiced self-affirmations. These feelings of pleasure acted as a motivating factor toward the continued practice of self-affirmations.

Another study also found that practicing affirmations increased activity in the self-processing systems found in the brain’s cortex. These self-processing systems act as emotional buffers counteracting painful, negative, or threatening information that contradicts a person’s positive self-regard. This neural activity positively predicted increases in the desired behaviours of participants practicing affirmations.

In other words, a regular practice of positive affirmations increases the likelihood of turning affirmations into positive actions and positive feelings. This is because the more you repeat something to yourself the more your brain believes it. The more your brain believes it, the more likely you are to act on it because you already believe it is possible.

In the same way the practice of learning a new language restructures and strengthens your brain, so too does the practice of learning to think positively. Due to neuroplasticity, the brain continues to rewire itself overtime in response to various changes in our emotions, thoughts, body, and environment.

How to Practice Positive Affirmations?

There are 10 essential elements that will help turn your positive affirmations into positive results.

#1: Discover what you want to change or conjure more of into your life.

Start by making a list of the areas of your life where you would like to see changes happen. You can also make a list of the areas that are going well and that you would like to see continue. Is it a desired emotion you want to feel more regularly? A change in your environment? A behaviour you want to let go of? Whatever it is add it to your list. Now circle your top five desired areas.

From this smaller list pick just one area as your starting focus. You can always return to this list when you want to practice other positive affirmations.

#2: Be SMART.

As with any goal, the most successful aspirations must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable or Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. Even if your unique positive affirmation does not meet all of these criteria it is essential to keep it as focused as possible. This will help create a very specific image in your mind’s eye that is attainable in the real world.

#3: Focus on the positive.

To increase the likelihood of success it is important to state your affirmation as a positive sentence rather than using a negative sentence structure. The brain focuses on key words rather than a full sentence, so, if you make the statement “I am not weak” your brain will ultimately focus on the word “weak. It is therefore best to rephrase this as the positive statement “I am strong”.

#4: Focus on the present.

Write your positive affirmation in the present tense instead of future-focused. For example, “I am strong” instead of “I will be strong”. Writing your statements in this way helps your subconscious mind believe it is already happening. This will help naturally ease the transition from affirming to doing. It also helps your brain create the positive feelings associated with your desired change and this reward will encourage your continued practice.

#5: Affirm in first person.

Write your affirmation with “I” instead of “you”. For example, “I am happy” rather than “You are happy”. This helps instil a stronger sense of identity in the brain. You can also add your name if that is helpful for example, “I, Alex, am happy”.

#6: Connect the feeling to the behaviour.

Desired behaviours that are tied to positive feelings are more likely to turn into real actions. This is because pleasure acts as a reward that you will want to repeat again and again. For example, “I stand up for myself and I feel empowered” rather than “I stand up for myself”. The feeling word “empowered” strengthens the affirmation.

#7: Create a detailed image.

Incorporate the previous steps into a detailed visualization of your positive affirmation to keep in your mind’s eye while you state your mantra. Be specific on where you are and who you are with but most importantly focus on how you feel. Remember, your feelings are the greatest motivating factor toward your desired goal.

#8: Practice on a regular basis.

As with any desired change, whether it is breaking an unwanted habit or learning a new skill like playing an instrument, “practice makes perfect”. Or as close to perfect as possible. The more frequently you practice your positive affirmation the stronger your brain rewires itself to accept these mantras as true. This will follow into desirable behavioural changes and the associated positive feelings will take hold.

#9: Be mindful of triggers.

There may be certain positive affirmations you are not ready to hear. For some people, using kind words towards themselves can actually be very painful. This is often the case if abusive words were heard during childhood. For example, the positive affirmation “I am worthy” can actually make some people feel worse because it may be unlocking painful memories where they were made to feel the opposite.

These negative abusive words can feel more truthful than any positive affirmation. If this is the case it may take longer to believe your positive affirmations but that is ok. Pace yourself, stop as needed if it becomes too painful, use a different mantra, and return to the original positive affirmation when you are ready. There is no rush, so take your time and be kind to yourself as much as possible.

#10: Find the best way to practice for you.

There is no one way to practice positive affirmations. You may want to create your own mantras, or you may want to use other people’s words. Some people may find it best to listen to guided positive affirmations through the Mindbliss app, especially if it is too painful to hear your own voice saying the words.

The key is to make sure you schedule a consistent practice, visualize your positive affirmation as vividly as possible, and try to feel the mantra take hold in your body.

Here are some common positive affirmations to get you started.

Be sure to add your own name and details to make it as specific to your needs as possible. 🙂

1. “I am strong.”
2. “I am worthy.”
3. “I am doing my best.”
4. “I am lovable.”
5. “I love myself.”
6. “I feel happy.”
7. “I feel empowered.”
8. “I have what I need and I feel content.”
9. “I exercise for an hour a day and I feel strong.”
10. “I am successful at______and I feel confident.”
11. “I take care of myself everyday by______and I feel loved.”
12. “I practice______ and I feel in control of my life.”
13. “I achieve______ and I feel accomplished.”

 

Alexandra Trottier is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). She has a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology degree from Yorkville University and is certified in Applied Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation from University of Toronto.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to listen to affirmation audios and more Mindbliss meditations, download the app by clicking HERE from your iPhone or Android.

At Mindbliss we have a large and diverse range of 370 (and growing) quality meditations. We are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜

Let us know how this meditation worked for you, we would love to hear about your own progress.

With Love,

The Mindbliss Team.

Chakras, What Are They and How To Use Them

June 4, 2018 in Articles

What are Chakras? Most people have heard of the “7 Chakras,” but what are they really?

In essence, the chakras are dynamic energy centers within the body that influence the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states of being. Each chakra has its own characteristic, name, and color, and governs different areas of the body. 

The chakra points are located along the spine; starting at the tailbone and ending at the crown of the head. Although the chakras are rooted in the body, however, they actually extend outside of the physical body, composing the auric field. In order to better understand what the chakras are and how to use them, it’s smart to start at the root and work your way up. 

A Brief History of the Chakra System

The word “chakra” comes from Sanskrit, meaning “wheel,” and the first mention of the chakra system can be found in the Vedas (an ancient Indian text). However, many metaphysicians believe that the concept was around long before this. The chakras are often linked to yoga in ancient descriptions, as the benefit and purpose of the practice help to strengthen the chakra system, and vice versa. Moving from the Vedas into yogic philosophy, the chakras have been well-documented and explored. However, oral tales and traditions are also responsible for keeping the knowledge alive. 

Interestingly enough, the chakra system is also historically connected to Tantric practices, which are largely misunderstood in Western culture. Tantra means “loom,” which suggests that Tantric philosophy supports the chakras by deepening the exploration of polarity, the above and the below, and the balance of the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine. 

Chakra studies were introduced to the Western world by Sir John George Woodroffe, also known by his pen name, Arthur Avalon, who authored the book The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga in 1919. Two decades later, former priest C.W. Leadbeater wrote The Chakras, which offers a clairvoyant take on the chakra system via detailed descriptions and colorful illustrations. 

Interest in the chakras swelled in the 1960s, during the “hippie” revolution, quickly picking up speed and forming the basis of the “New Age” movement. In modern times, chakra has practically become a household word. While not many are aware of the full system and how it works, there’s at least a base understanding and an open-minded interest in learning more about these dynamic centers of life.

Chakra One: ROOT

The Root Chakra is where our journey through the chakra system begins. This is our center of survival, security, and primal needs.

  • Location: Base of the spine
  • Color: Red
  • Element: Earth
  • Corresponding areas of the body: Feet, legs, bowels
  • Theme: To “be”
  • Balancing chakra: Crown (located at the head)

When a chakra is blocked or closed, the energy within it is slow or stagnant, affecting the body parts and organs that it’s connected to. On the flip side, when a chakra has “too much” energy, it can absorb the energy from surrounding chakras, as well as overwhelm the entire energy system. The idea is perfect balance and harmonybetween chakras.

Symptoms of a blocked, closed, or excessive Root Chakra:

  • IBS and other digestive issues
  • Weak ankles/knees
  • Feeling ungrounded
  • Financial problems
  • Concerns about personal safety
  • Irrational fears
  • Greed and possessiveness
  • Nervousness

Consider the sensations that arise in the body when we’re thrust into fearful situations, such as a reaction to fire, snakes, spiders, or even a near-death experience. We’re often intensely focused on our physical safety, becoming instinctive and animal-like in what we perceive to be a life-or-death situation. Our Root Chakra is our connection to our primitive, needs-based side, where the main concern is safety and survival.

Although many of us enjoy a life that meets our basic needs (like food, clothes, and shelter), we can easily succumb to a fear state when the Root Chakra isn’t functioning properly. To keep the Root open and flowing, there are many activities that you can practice that can help you form a deeper connection to your body and the earth.

Steps to Unblock Your Root Chakra:

  • Grounding: An easy way to ground is to kick off your shoes and simply allow your feet to touch the earth. Take a few moments each day to sit on the earth, as well, allowing this chakra point to touch the earth.
  • Aromatherapy: Woodsy, earthy essential oils and scents can help balance the root. Try pine, oak, juniper, and cedarwood to offer your root stability and security.
  • Veggies: Root vegetables are great for this chakra of the same name. Anything that’s grown in rich, dark soil can help nourish your first chakra.

Chakra Two: SACRAL

Moving up to the second chakra of the 7 chakras system, we come to the Sacral Chakra. This is where our deepest emotions and sensations are held and expressed, as well as the balance of light and dark, yin and yang, and our creative potential.

  • Location: Underneath the navel, within the lower abdomen
  • Color: Orange
  • Element: Water
  • Corresponding areas of the body: Reproductive system, kidneys, bladder, hips, lower back
  • Theme: To “feel”
  • Balancing chakra: Throat

Symptoms of a blocked, closed, or excessive Sacral Chakra:

  • Addiction
  • Emotional imbalance
  • Bladder issues
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Kidney disease
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Sexual confusion or shame

The key is to allow our emotions, pleasures, and creativity to flow unencumbered, but maintain equilibrium.When we’re overcome by desires and emotions, we can easily get thrown off kilter. Practices that encourage honest, healthy expression and deep emotional connection can help strengthen the Sacral Chakra.

Steps to Unblock Your Sacral Chakra:

  • Baths: This practice not only allows you to surrender to the senses, it encourages you to literally “go with the flow.” If you’re able to bathe in fresh, moving water (such as a river or the ocean), even better!
  • Artistic expression: Paint, garden, cook – anything that allows you to create.
  • Sweets: Naturally-sweet foods, such as carrots, papaya, and mangos are great for the sacral chakra (especially when consumed in liquid form).

Chakra Three: SOLAR

The Solar Plexus is the next stop on our journey up the chakra points. This is where our inner fire stirs, igniting self-confidence and willpower.

  • Location: Above the navel, within the upper abdomen
  • Color: Yellow
  • Element: Fire
  • Corresponding areas of the body: Stomach, spleen, gallbladder, liver, pancreas
  • Theme: To “do”
  • Balancing chakra: Third Eye

Symptoms of a blocked, closed, or excessive Solar Plexus Chakra:

  • Indigestion
  • Weight issues
  • Fatigue
  • Insecurity
  • Lack of self-esteem (or overabundance of it)
  • Weak will
  • Control issues
  • Excessive anger

Overly-confident people are often characterized by a protruding midsection, proudly strutting their stuff. On the flip side, people who don’t have much confidence are usually seen hunched over, as if in defeat or timidity. Make sure to aim for the perfect balance of the elements.

Steps to Unblock Your Solar Chakra:

  • Exercise: This chakra thrives on doing, moving, and action, so incorporating an exercise routine into your wellness practice is recommended.
  • Mantras: Creating empowering mantras or affirmations that you can chant throughout the day can help build your willpower and confidence. Some examples would be, “I can do this,” or “I embrace my fire.”
  • Willpower: Make a list of goals and stick to it. Checking off tasks or accomplishments helps us with accountability, further enhancing self-confidence.

Chakra Four: HEART

This chakra is known as the Heart Chakra. It’s the area where we nurture and express our love and compassion.

  • Location: Center of the chest
  • Color: Green (can also be pink or gold)
  • Element: Air
  • Corresponding areas of the body: Heart, lungs, arms, circulatory system
  • Theme: To “love”
  • Balancing chakra: All of the chakra points balance the heart

Symptoms of a blocked, closed, or excessive Heart Chakra:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Tightness or pain in the chest
  • Circulation problems
  • Heart disease
  • Tendency to hold grudges
  • Codependency
  • Loneliness
  • Self-sacrifice
  • Grief
  • Jealousy

Here in the middle of the 7 chakras lies the literal and metaphysical heart. When our lives are out of harmony, especially in giving and receiving love, the heart chakra may become affected. Quite often, when our hearts get hurt by betrayal, grief, or unrequited love, we close the heart off completely. While this may work as a temporary protective method, closing the heart interrupts the flow of the entire body.

The heart chakra thrives only on open, unconditional love. Thankfully, there are many ways to heal this chakra and use it to deepen your connections.

Steps to Unblock Your Heart Chakra:

  • Open your heart: Not only do we need to trust our hearts to others, we literally need to expand the chest. Deep-breathing exercises can help with this – expanding and invigorating the lungs and the heart.
  • Practice gratitude: Nothing is more inspiring than thankfulness when it comes to this chakra. When we take the time to express our appreciation for ourselves, our family, and the whole of humanity, we nurture our hearts while expressing pure, unconditional love and compassion.
  • Respecting boundaries: Be more mindful of the balance of give and take, and disengage from any relationships that are not equal in this regard. Try not to over-sacrifice or adopt a martyr mentality.

Chakra Five: THROAT

Moving higher, we come to the Throat Chakra. This is where we express ourselves and honour our personal truths.

  • Location: Throat
  • Color: Bright blue
  • Element: Ether
  • Corresponding areas of the body: Throat, neck, shoulders, mouth, jaw, thyroid
  • Theme: To “speak”
  • Balancing chakra: Sacral

Symptoms of a blocked, closed, or excessive throat chakra:

  • Jaw tightness
  • Throat discomfort
  • Shoulder pain
  • Thyroid disease
  • Excessive talking (or excessive silence)
  • Speaking issues
  • Pathological lying
  • Problems with communication

Offhanded comments such as “Be quiet,” or “You’re wrong” can unknowingly do a lot of damage to this delicate chakra point. Whenever someone shuts down our expression, we go even deeper into hiding.

The key is open communication that’s expressed in constructive, encouraging, and safe environments

Steps to Unblock Your Throat Chakra:

  • Chant: Find a healing, inspiring mantra or affirmation that you can repeat to open up the throat area. Simply encouraging purposeful movement and expression here can go a long way!
  • Sing: If anyone ever told you that you “can’t” sing, it’s imperative that you include this practice in your life. Whether you think you can or not, try it anyway. Don’t worry about how your voice sounds, but instead concentrate on the act of expressing without fear.
  • Journal: Writing is a very healing, introspective form of communication that can help you explore any emotions, memories, or wounds that are at the root of your expression issues.


Chakra Six: THIRD EYE

The sixth chakra, also known as the Third Eye Chakra, is where deep knowing and intuition dwells.

  • Location: The center of the forehead
  • Color: Indigo
  • Element: Light
  • Corresponding areas of the body: Eyes, ears, pituitary gland
  • Theme: To “see”
  • Balancing chakra: Solar Plexus

Symptoms of a blocked, closed, or excessive Third Eye Chakra:

  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Illusions or hallucinations
  • Denial of intuitive abilities

We’re all born with a “sixth sense” that helps us channel our inner knowing to feel out people and situations.When this area gets muddled, we can fall victim to confusion or disillusion, not knowing if our feelings are our ownTo embrace your inherent intuitive abilities, you will need to unblock your Third Eye Chakra:

Steps to Unblock Your Third Eye Chakra:

  • Meditation or hypnosis: The fastest way to connect with the third eye is to disengage from all outside senses and go within. Guided meditation, hypnosis sessions, and binaural beats can help you reach a state of stillness that encourages deeper introspection.
  • Chromatherapy: Incorporate more indigo hues into your daily life, including clothing, crystals, and furniture. Opting for an indigo eye mask and/or bed sheets can help you enhance your intuition while you sleep!
  • Trust: To nurture this chakra, you must trust it. When you get a “vibe” about someone or something that your logic can’t explain away, trust these impressions. Create a deep connection with your intuitive abilities and watch them blossom.

CHAKRA SEVEN

Finally, we reach the 7th chakra of the 7 chakra system! The Crown Chakra, where our connection to the spiritual realm, and the source of the divine is situated.

  • Location: Top of the head
  • Color: Violet/White
  • Element: No corresponding element
  • Corresponding areas of the body: Cerebral cortex, pineal gland
  • Theme: To “understand”
  • Balancing chakra: Root

Symptoms of a blocked, closed, or excessive Crown Chakra:

  • Feelings of disconnect
  • Dogmatic attitude
  • Issues comprehending spiritual concepts
  • Fear of mysticism, the occult, spirituality
  • Denial of the existence of source/God

When our Crown Chakra is closed or depleted, we become disconnected from source itself; closing ourselves off from the the wisdom of our higher selves. It’s only when we can accept our connection to divine understanding that we can enjoy a more fulfilling, enlightening existence. To tap into the potential of the crown chakra, you can practice these steps.

Steps to Unblock Your Crown Chakra:

  • Chanting and exploring the “Ohm”: This mantra is soothing to the crown, and simply uttering it can help balance your other chakra points, too.
  • Transcendental meditation or Vedic meditation: This form of meditation is known to go much deeper than common meditation practices, “transcending” thoughts and the containment of the physical body. It often incorporates a mantra, as well, which further enhances the experience.

Once we deepen our knowledge of the 7 chakras and how to use them, we’re well on our way to optimum health and spiritual enlightenment. As always, balance is the key to fulfillment of the body, mind, and soul.

Let’s start the healing and unblocking of our Chakras with a Mindbliss meditation called Grounding and Alignment. This meditation is designed to stimulate and open the first chakra – the Root Chakra. This cleanses and aligns the vertebral column, purifying and grounding your roots into Earth. Achieving a symbiosis of your heartbeat with the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

GROUNDING & ALIGNMENT by Nancy Fuoco

If you enjoyed this meditation and would like to listen to the rest of Mindbliss Chakra meditations to heal and unblock Chakras 2 to 7, download the app by clicking HERE from your iPhone or Android.

At Mindbliss we have a large and diverse range of 300 (and growing) quality meditations. We are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜

With Love,

The Mindbliss Team.

What is the Pineal Gland’s Function and How to Amplify It

June 4, 2018 in Articles

Did you know that you can develop intuition and improve your health at the same time?

Well, you can, through the pineal gland.

You may be asking, well, what is the pineal gland?

The pineal gland, also known as the pineal body, is a small pine cone shaped gland that lies deep inside the center of the brain in the epithalamus. It is a part of the endocrine system and helps to regulate melatonin, which is a chemical produced in the brain that helps the body sleep at night. The pineal gland function lies in governing the production of hormones as well as the maintenance of the circadian rhythm, which is essentially our sleep/wake cycle.

Continue reading »

Gratitude Meditation: Mastering the Art of Being Intentionally Thankful

June 4, 2018 in Articles

What did you think about when you woke up this morning?

Did you lay in bed and begin to make an endless list of things you hoped to accomplish today? Did you hit the snooze button a few times to try to get some more sleep, only to be roused by a hungry pet? Maybe you got up the moment you woke and headed straight to the coffee maker, anxiously awaiting your brew as you hovered over the coffee maker in your pajamas. How ever you begin your day, have you ever considered starting with gratitude?

It may sound strange, but what if you began every day by meditating on things for which you are grateful? You could think about a cherished family member, friend or pet. You could even be grateful for an experience, be it positive or negative, and the impact it made on your life’s journey. Whatever gratitude is to you, meditating on what you value most has the power to change your life. 

In Tibet, many Buddhist monks start their days with gratitude meditation. They are even known to express thankfulness for their struggles and the role those difficulties have played in their lives. Gratitude meditation has roots in Native American Indian culture, as well. It has been said that the elders of some Native American tribes began their days with ceremonies of gratitude for the earth and all its bounty.

Gratitude meditation has existed, in some form, for hundreds of years. It has brought happiness to the sad, peace to the worried and rest to the hurried. This article will explore what gratitude meditation is, meditation techniques and the benefits of gratitude meditation. 

What is Gratitude Meditation?

Before diving into this, it is important to have a solid understanding of the words gratitude and meditation. According to Google, gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. That is a good start, but understand that gratitude is not the same as thankfulness; gratitude takes thankfulness to another level by adding an element of recognition for whatever it is you are thankful for. True, authentic gratitude enables you appreciate and acknowledge all people, circumstances and things in your life.

Meditating is to think deeply or focus one’s mind in silence (or with the aid of chanting) to foster spirituality and relaxation. It is somewhat like prayer, but less goal-oriented in that you aren’t asking for something when you meditate, as is often done in traditional praying.

Put gratitude and meditation together and you get a focused practice of being grateful. You could be grateful for anything from people to places, experiences, possessions, and more. What you choose to be grateful for is truly limitless.

As you consider what it is you are grateful for, you may realize that you ought to develop an appreciation for things in your life that you once perceived as negative. This is not a natural human reaction to adversity, but exploring those areas of your life can open your heart to a whole new world of thankfulness. You may consider a marriage that ended in divorce but produced thriving children, or the death of a dear pet who left behind many cherished memories of joy.

Gratitude meditation enables you to truly be thankful for all things, the good and the bad, because it’s all happened for a reason. Every experience, heartache and milestone took place to specifically shape you into the person you are; what a thing to be grateful for! 

Gratitude meditation is all about being intentional and thankful. It is a free tool that anyone can use at any time to increase their joy and decrease their stress. Who doesn’t want that?

How do you Practice?

Before beginning gratitude meditation, familiarize yourself with the basics of meditation. Meditation can truly take place anywhere, but it is most easily achieved when done in a quiet, comfortable room while seated or laying down. You may also want to make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes that won’t cause your mind to wander.

Choose something upon which you can focus. It could be the sound of a repetitive gong, the flame of a candle, or even repeating a single word or mantra. Start to focus on your breath and notice how it causes different parts of your body to rhythmically rise and fall. When you begin to wander, go back to your original point of focus, focus on your breath and empty your mind.

This is far easier said than done, especially in this fast-paced world of distractions. If you are new to meditation, consider a daily meditation that lasts just a few minutes, adding a minute or so to the meditation as your skills allow. The mobile application, Mindbliss, is a great resource to get you started.

Gratitude meditation is very similar to the concentration method of meditation described above. Follow the steps to prepare for meditation; when practicing gratitude meditation, your point of focus should be on something for which you are thankful. If you struggle to maintain your focus when silent, consider repeating a mantra like, “I am grateful,” to maintain focus in your practice.

If you’re struggling to get started, download the Mindbliss app for some additional assistance. In the app, you’ll find guided gratitude meditation tracks, which will help you focus your thoughts and quiet your mind. 

If you would like to listen to Mindbliss meditations, download the app by clicking HERE from your iPhone or Android.

You could also complement this practice by writing a gratitude journal. This can help you narrow your focus while enhancing your experience. It also provides an outlet to deeply reflect on your life and why you should be grateful. The journal could also serve as a place where you write letters to the people who have, for better or worse, played an integral role in shaping who you are. Putting those thoughts on paper can be deeply therapeutic and may open your heart and mind to a whole new way of being.

What are the Benefits?

The benefits of meditation are well-documented. According to the American Meditation Society, 30 years of clinical studies on meditation have consistently demonstrated that it:

  • Normalizes blood pressure
  • Improves immune function
  • Slows aging
  • Reduces anxiety and improves stress-related disorders
  • Increases relaxation throughout the day
  • Decreases insomnia
  • Improves psychological health and self-esteem
  • Lowers incidence of depression, anger and irritability
  • Improves concentration
  • Increases positive thinking
  • Enhances creativity
  • Facilitates psychological development (http://americanmeditationsociety.org/meditation/benefits/)

Meditation, when practiced properly, certainly has the power to transform your life.

Additional research has been conducted on how meditation, specifically gratitude meditation, can benefit your health. Although it has not been studied as extensively as meditation at large, clinical research has found that it has many of the same benefits – and more.

The benefits of gratitude meditation were explored in a 2016 edition of the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. In this study, Online Training in Specific Meditation Practices Improves Gratitude, Well-Being, Self-Compassion, and Confidence in Providing Compassionate Care Among Health Professionals, researchers trained medical professionals how to use different meditation techniques, including gratitude meditation, and examined how it impacted their patient care. This is what they found: 

These practices (including gratitude meditation, positive-word-focused meditation, loving kindness meditation, and others) benefit patients with chronic pain, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety, but could also be useful for health professionals. According to Fredrickson’s ‘‘broaden-and-build’’ theory, positive emotion leads to better cognitive function, social support, and mental health, all of which can contribute to an overall sense of well-being. Even a fleeting experience of positive emotion temporarily broadens thinking and allows individuals to consider ideas they would not have otherwise considered. Positive emotion gives rise to greater creativity, attention, and ability to integrate many sources of information; in other words, meditation focused on increasing positive emotions could improve clinicians’ cognitive functioning (http://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Rao_Kemper2016.pdf)

What does this mean? The patients whose practitioners received gratitude meditation training had an increased sense of well-being. As a result, their patients received better care and ultimately had better prognoses. It found that gratitude meditation helps doctors, nurses and others charged with patient care have better interactions with their patients, which in turn makes the patients happier and ultimately, healthier. Incredible.

Another study, The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions on Well-Being, found that respondents who practiced gratitude meditation on a regular basis (four times a week for three weeks) experienced reduced levels of stress and depression and increased levels of happiness, these participants also kept a gratitude diary (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25826108). Many other studies have discovered similar patterns; regularly practicing this meditation, even for as little as a minute a day, will increase your overall well-being.

Not surprisingly, most of the research on gratitude meditation has shown that the more you practice gratitude meditation, the more grateful you will be. Certainly, if you are making a concerted effort to be grateful when meditating then you will become a more gracious person. But have you ever considered the benefits of simply being gracious?

Another recent study examined how gratitude impacts patients with chronic illnesses. In this study, Gratitude Uniquely Predicts Lower Depression in Chronic Illness Populations: A Longitudinal Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Arthritis, researchers found that gratitude was negatively associated with depressive symptoms in patients with chronic illness. They also found that those patients were less stressed and didn’t have as great a sense of helplessness. These patients also had positive assessments of their own health and were more willing to accept their diagnoses. Not surprisingly, gratitude was also strongly correlated to good psychological well-being (http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/104189/1/Gratitude%20%26%20chronic%20illness%20HP%20rev4%20FINAL%20preprint.pdf).

Even though this study did not specifically deal with gratitude meditation, it provides valuable insights on the role of gratitude can play in your life. In the case of these people who are struggling with chronic illness, their diagnosis doesn’t define them. They have gratitude for the path they are on and are able to lead fulfilling, productive lives because they are grateful.

The benefits of gratitude meditation are many. These benefits, which have been proven in countless clinical studies, have revealed that practicing gratitude meditation will:

  • Decrease depression and suicide
  • Increase happiness
  • Increase sleep quality
  • Increase levels of gratitude in day-to-day life
  • Help you overcome obstacles and hardships in a healthy, positive way

In addition to these benefits, gratitude meditation is completely areligious. You do not have to be a part of a religious group or sect to meditate. Although some religions, like Buddhism, use it as a tool to enhance spirituality, it can be used by any person be they a Jew, Muslim, Christian or Atheist, to clear their mind and control their thoughts.

Tomorrow, when your alarm goes off, what will you do? Will you start to start to think about the day’s to-do list, or will you close your eyes, quiet your mind and say, “I am grateful”? Will you hit the snooze button to get five more minutes of sleep, only to get out of bed frustrated by the demands of the day, or will you sit up when that alarm goes off and take a minute to be thankful for a restful night’s sleep? Will you hop out of bed to make your java, staring blankly at the coffee maker, or will you use that time to be grateful for the job you will soon head off to, even though it’s not your dream position?

No matter how you begin your day, consider starting it with gratitude. Gratitude meditation will open your eyes to all that you have to be thankful for, ultimately offering a more positive perspective on life. Start your practice today and see first-hand how gratitude meditation enables you to marvel at the mundane, have hope for the helpless and find peace in persecution. 

With Love,

The Mindbliss Team.

P.S.

If you enjoyed the Daily Gratitude Ritual meditation and would like to listen to more Mindbliss meditations, download the app by clicking HERE from your iPhone or Android.

At Mindbliss we have a large and diverse range of 300 (and growing) quality meditations. We are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜

Let us know how this meditation worked for you, we would love to hear about how your daily gratitude ritual has impacted your life 🙂

Our Top Tip for Getting Deep Restful Sleep

June 4, 2018 in Articles

Sleep disorders affect over 60 million Americans each year.

People try everything to get those precious and much needed hours of sleep from prescription pills, to melatonin supplements, to late night workouts. People even try to use reverse psychology to convince their minds that they don’t really want to go to sleep. This supposedly makes the brain rebel, and then fall asleep. Counting sheep, taking a shot of whiskey (although alcohol actually blocks the much needed REM sleep), or trying to watch a movie or TV show in the background, are all things people desperately try to get to sleep. Most scientists say that you shouldn’t eat after 7 PM, and that you shouldn’t use electronic devices before going to bed. This is because the blue light emitted from the computer or phone screen suppresses melatonin (Scary Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep, n.d.).

The brain functions using five different brainwaves which serve different arenas of our lives. These include gamma, beta, alpha, theta, and delta.

Gamma is the fastest functioning brainwave and is only encountered in high states of epiphany, clarity, or ah-ha moments. This typically occurs during creative processes or during drug-induced awakenings.

Beta is the everyday brainwave that is slower than gamma, but helps us concentrate, work, communicate, and function in our day to day lives. The next slowest is alpha.

Alpha is that wonderful state of relaxation where meditation is accessible, and you find yourself receiving bursts of insight about your life.

Theta is a deeper level of relaxation that occurs during very deep meditation (trance or hypnosis), sleep, and during REM sleep. 

REM is when our mind is awake, but our body is asleep. During REM, our mind is working out the details of our day and the bigger picture of our life through the symbolism of dreams. This is an important part of sleep because it helps us feel good about where we’re heading, or it alerts us to potential dangers in our current perspective or relationships.

The slowest brainwaves occur in delta where the brain has no thoughts or images, and the body is the most relaxed. Delta is very important for our physiological functioning. This is when the body heals itself and “resets” so that it feels charged and refreshed the following day (Plagued by Insomnia? 2018 https://sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/).

As you can see, sleep is very, very important. However, we live in a world that is filled with distractions and makes our minds hyper active, making it difficult to calm down before hitting the hay.

Artificial light kills our ability for deep restful sleep

Another strange thing that has occurred over time and through the integration of industrialization and civilized society, is the advent of artificial light. This can confuse the mind. When it is completely dark our brains produce melatonin naturally. This is part of the body’s natural biorhythm, and signals to the brain that it’s time for sleep. Artificial light can confuse the mind and halt melatonin production. Melatonin is not only important for sleep, it’s also a very important hormone associated with the menstrual cycle, and the pre-menstrual phase. This is why women get tired when they are experiencing PMS symptoms. It is important to make sure that your room is totally dark, even blocking out moonlight when you go to bed. It’s even been said that in older times people would make sure that there was no moonlight entering their rooms at night, because they believed it was an interference, and also that it brought about strange dreams.

What can we do then, when insomnia is occurring in our lives?

These days people are becoming more involved and educated about the benefits of meditation.

Learning to calm down the mind is like stepping down the brainwave stairs into the arena of theta, delta, and deep sleep.

This means we need to learn how to calm down, how to breathe deeply, and how to quiet the mind. This is not always an easy task! But this is why we’ve created this article, to teach you how to become calmer so that you can get your beauty and brilliant sleep.

First let’s talk about the 3 basic steps to enter into any type of meditation.

These include deep breathing and muscle relaxation technique. Practicing meditation twice a day can keep you in between beta and alpha, and beyond helping you sleep, meditation can help you feel relaxed at work, and ready to take on challenges. So, even if you are meditating in the morning, afternoon, or before you go to bed, start with these steps.

Step 1: You can either lay down with a small pillow to support your neck, but make sure your forehead is parallel to the ceiling. Or you can sit on a chair and make sure your feet are flat on the floor, and that your spine is supported. Next get comfortable. It is very important that you get your limbs in the coziest position possible, get out any coughs or sneezes, and attend to any itches! This way you won’t be distracted once you get started.

Step 2: Next you are going to take in ten deep breaths, then exhale ten times slowly. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. When you take in your first breath say the number “one” in your mind. This helps your mind to focus on something so that you’re not distracted by thoughts that might want to break through and distract you from relaxing. Another great trick is to roll in the inhale and imagine that your breath is the tide ebbing back into the ocean. Roll in as you say “one” slowly until you are at the top of your lungs and you can’t inhale any more. As you pull your breath in imagine that it is being pulled to the top of your head. Hold your breath for a few seconds and become conscious of your body. Is your heart racing? Do you feel jittery? Tell your body to calm down, and to relax. In between counting, continue to tell your body to relax. When you exhale imagine your breath stretching out like the flow of the tide over the sand. Breathe in and out of your nose, and when you exhale say “one” again. Do this ten times slowly until you feel yourself becoming more and more relaxed.

Step 3: The third step is called muscle relaxation technique. Sometimes in order to fall asleep a person only requires these two steps! After doing deep breathing you’re going to go through each part of your body and tell it to relax. Sometimes visualizations are helpful, like imagining that you are sinking deeper into the chair or your bed with each suggestion. Or you could imagine your body filling with light and warmth, or maybe filling with darkness and deep sleep. Start with your toes and say, “My left toes are relaxed.” Then focus your attention and consciousness on your left toes, and feel them getting more and more comfortable. From there tell your right toes to relax. Then your ankles, ankles to your knees, and knees to the top of your thighs. Next tell the trunk of your body to relax, then your lower abdomen and lower back. After this tell your fingers, hands, and wrists to relax. Then tell your solar plexus and middle back to relax. Next tell your wrists to your elbows to relax. Then your chest, heart, lungs, upper chest, and upper back and shoulders to relax. Finally focus on the neck, the throat, the face, and the back of and sides of the head, until you reach the top of your head. When you’ve gone over your entire body, once more tell yourself to relax.

If you are still awake say a simple affirmation over and over again slowly, such as, “I am good, and all is well in my world.” Or, “I will have dreams that will show me what I need to focus on in my life.” Or you can say, “I allow my body and mind to enter into sleep.” If your mind is still active enough for affirmations or mantras, it might do well to use guided imagery. Guided imagery is great because it uses a story, symbols and metaphors to usher you into dreams. You can imagine yourself sitting on the beach watching the tides go in and out. Or you can imagine yourself floating on clouds in the sky. As soon as you enter into imagery without words or language, you will be able to more quickly move into REM sleep.

While using deep breathing and muscle relaxation technique might seem simple enough, sometimes we need a bit of extra help. By downloading our app, The Mindbliss Meditation App on your phone,  you will have access to guided meditations, relaxing soundscapes, soothing nature sounds, and binaural beats specifically for lulling you into deep sleep.

All of these guided meditations and soothing sounds can help your mind focus on something other than the worries or anxieties of the day.

They will distract your mind and help pull you into another world, one that fits your likes or passions. Deepak Chopra really does say it best about the negative cycle of insomnia. He said, “The biggest reason for insomnia is actually worrying about insomnia. Anxiety of not going to sleep is the biggest cause of not being able to sleep.” This is so true. The more we fret and worry about not being able to sleep, the more we spiral into a wormhole of doubt and fear that we won’t be able to perform at work, or that we won’t be able to make money to pay our rent or to buy food, and before you know it you’ve made yourself homeless in your mind! But of course, this is ridiculous. Fear escalates and spirals out of control because physiologically, your body and brain are not rested.

On a more spiritual or emotional note, meditation is not just helpful for sleep because of its calming and relaxing affects. Meditation is a way to help you become more aware of your world, your relationships, and the things that make you happy, sad, or anxious. Becoming aware of what is truly keeping you up at night can be found through meditation.

In my experience, I have endured insomnia when I was not working the right job, when I was not in the right relationship, or I had forgotten to pursue and work on my dreams and life purpose. Our intuition is key when meditating, and it can keep you awake at night so that you can contemplate the things that need changed in your life. Using meditation during the day to work out these issues will prevent your mind from overthinking or being overactive at night. Whichever way you choose to look at it, with meditation you can’t go wrong, and your life will improve no matter what. 💜

If you would like to get deep restful sleep every night, have a listen to our collection of guided meditations, relaxing soundscapes, soothing nature sounds, and binaural beats specifically for sleep, download the app by clicking HERE from your iPhone or Android.

At Mindbliss we have a large and diverse range of 300 (and growing) quality meditations. We are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜

Let us know how these sleep meditations worked for you, we would love to hear about your experience. 🙂

With Love,

The Mindbliss Team.

What You Need To Know About Vedic Meditation

June 4, 2018 in Articles

Jaimee Gallagher, aged 24, is a college athlete and a student working towards a degree in biology. Because she needs extra money for food and rent, Jaimee also works at a local breakfast restaurant. Jamie rarely has time for relaxation, let alone indulging in activities such as going out to the movies or out dancing. Recently Jamie’s favorite grandfather became ill, and she’s been trying to squeeze in time to spend with him, and to help take care of him. To say it lightly, Jaimee is stressed, and doesn’t have time to practice meditations or relaxation techniques that are time-consuming or difficult.

During track practice one day she heard her coach telling another student about Vedic meditation. The student was also enduring an intense amount of stress. Jaimee joined the conversation and learned that Vedic meditation can be practiced as much or as little as one wants, but it is like a super-charged version of meditation, because it uses a mantra or soothing sound to settle down the mind automatically. One doesn’t need to focus or use concentration, they merely have to say a mantra over and over again in their mind. This ability to keep the mind occupied basically skips a step in traditional forms of meditation that require that one empties the mind by sitting in complete silence. With Vedic meditation, the work is done for you, and you reap the benefits with as little as 20 to 40 minutes a day.

What is Vedic Meditation?

Vedic meditation is a form of meditation that focuses on a soothing affirmation or sound to distract the mind from what usually occupies it. Our minds are always focusing on something, even when we’re dreaming. Typically, we are focused on minute details that don’t really matter in the big picture. We think about so many things that are out of our control. We focus on the details of our day. We question how we’ll do on an exam in college, a presentation at work, or an assignment for a client. We question ourselves, our worth, our abilities, our looks, and we compare ourselves to others.

Many times, our thoughts are unhealthy, because they’re running on autopilot. Our thoughts loop on a pattern based on the psychology of our past. Our thoughts are a product of our deeply ingrained self-beliefs. This is why meditation is so important, and for people who have a hard time slowing down, Vedic meditation is a wonderful solution for giving our minds a break.

A wonderful analogy for thoughts functioning in our minds is to imagine a highway. Many cars are cruising along at high speeds on multiple lanes, and in opposite directions. For a highly distractive brain, the cars represent their thoughts. They’re moving so fast, even side by side, that an individual, half the time, can’t even comprehend what is going on in their own head! Beyond this, these thoughts are based on unconscious programs that are neurologically hardwired. In order to break these patterns and rewire our brains, we need to integrate meditation.

When we meditate, we’re slowing down our brainwaves. There are five brainwaves, which include (from fastest to slowest) Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta.

Gamma is a very fast brainwave that is typically found in people who are having major epiphanies or are being flooded by creative ideas or processes. One could even say it’s a hyper state of awakening. This is a rare brainwave and can also be triggered by hallucinogens or psychotropic drugs.

Beta is the next slowest brainwave and it is the state in which most people exist in regular day to day exchanges and thought processes. This is where we communicate, cook dinner, clean the house, and use our brains to work, study, or perceive everyday reality.

The next slowest is Alpha, this is a state of relaxation that is a deep calm where thinking does not occur, or if it does, it’s typically like a drop in the ocean of consciousness, and brings clarity and wisdom. Theta is the slowest beyond Alpha where deep meditation and even REM and dreaming take place.

Delta is the slowest brainwave where our minds are “turned off” while our bodies are in the deepest stage of sleep. During Delta, the body repairs itself.

Theta, REM, and dreaming is the state where the mind processes what is happening in our lives, and works to make sense and bring repairs, and healing as well.

When we are using Vedic meditation, we are in Alpha. The Earth resonates somewhere between Alpha and Theta. Using Vedic meditation means that we are slowing down the frequency of our thoughts. In this sense, our brains are no longer functioning like speeding cars on a highway, instead it is like looking out at a sunset, or a beautiful forest, or the slow ebb and flow of the ocean on a calm summer day. The difference between other forms of meditation and Vedic is that we don’t have to actively halt our thinking, the mantras or sounds do it for you.

What are the Origins of Vedic Meditation?

Vedic is a term that began in ancient India. It refers to the “Vedas,” which were ancient Hindu texts written in Sanskrit. These books contained poems, hymns, and rituals. They were thought of as guides for priests and those wanting to learn and understand the secrets of Hinduism.

These Vedas were filled with wisdom and ancient philosophies, so in a sense, they were read to fill the mind with calm and soothing thoughts and ideas. Sanskrit is the ancient language of the Hindu people, and in Sanskrit the word veda means “revelation, science, truth, or knowledge.

It is also said that the Vedas are arranged similarly to a staircase. Each step has more knowledge than the last step, but every step is leading towards the same goal of enlightenment. The whole process of taking in the wisdom from the Vedas is a subjective experience. Everyone will take their own time making their way up the staircase. Bits of knowledge are not laid out as you might read in a self-help book of today. The knowledge is rich and poetic, and you could even say it lies between the lines. Like the Veda texts, Vedic meditation works in a similar fashion. There is no straight rules or instructions on how to reach a state of internal bliss, this is something that will happen naturally and independently depending on the person. This kind of process already feels carefree and relaxing, doesn’t it? Just knowing that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. It’s your journey, and there is no right or wrong way of going about it. 

Who it is Vedic Meditation For?

Vedic meditation is for everyone! Especially those who live in our distraction-filled, busy, stressful society. This is because it can be practiced anywhere at any time. While closing your eyes and getting comfortable in a quiet room at home might make it easier, you can use mantras while standing in line at the store, riding on the bus, or walking to or from your destination. It is simple and easy, and where some forms of meditation require doing something, Vedic meditation requires that you don’t do anything other than say a mantra over and over again.

We are no longer living close to nature. We no longer hear the sound of natural animals in their natural habitat. We rarely see wildlife other than squirrels, bugs, and birds. We live in a world with superficial distractions, obsession with entertainment, and a media drenched in negativity. It is no longer simple enough to get away from the tribe to walk along the river or commune with the sky or nature. Now it can take hours to find our way to an empty beach, forest, or hiking trail. We do not have time to do this in a world where working forty hours a week is the norm. We have families to raise, friendships to maintain, hobbies and dreams to work on in our spare time, and for most of us—we need at least eight hours of sleep. Relaxation nowadays means turning on the TV.

Vedic meditation is for those individuals who are looking for more; a spiritual connection, divine guidance, or just simply a drug-free way to relieve stress, anxiety, or depression. It is for those people who live a hard-working life, who are going after their goals, and who spend time helping others. Mostly, however, Vedic meditation is for those beautiful people in the world who deserve to take a break from the constant barrage of the external world, and to give themselves permission to bask in self-love, and to fill themselves up with positive energy. 

What are the Benefits of Vedic Meditation?

The benefits of Vedic meditation are many. Science is now telling us that we can rewire the brain with something called neuroplasticity. This is a process that changes core self-beliefs through meditation or other meditative techniques used in psychotherapy and by cognitive practitioners. Rewiring the brain actually changes our DNA. This means that hereditary diseases or ailments can be eliminated by using Vedic meditation.

Using Vedic meditation helps you sleep without having to use toxic or habit-forming medications, it can alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression, and it can make you actually look forward to working out! Using mantras or affirmations while working out can increase serotonin levels and self-confidence. 

Cortisol is the major stress hormone, and it is connected to our reproductive hormones, which are connected to the skin. Acne is more common in adults today than ever before! Using Vedic meditation can help decrease stress, which will in turn decrease acne, eczema, psoriasis, or any other skin problems. Other stress hormones in the brain such as epinephrine is actually released as adrenaline. When our bodies are in a constant state of adrenal stress, we’re constantly releasing cortisol. In this society, we are so stressed that our bodies can run and run on adrenaline without stopping, even to the point of affecting our immune system, which causes us to get sick more often. This is especially true for individuals who have Post-Traumatic Stress or endured childhood trauma. In indigenous times this would be the equivalent of running from a tiger or jaguar all the time. 

Additionally, Vedic meditation helps you tap into your creative side and your imagination. It helps you become more present and to live in the moment. It helps heal past pain or trauma, allowing you to have control over your emotions so that you do not react unconsciously to stressful situations or relationships.

Vedic meditation will increase your ability to concentrate and understand complex theories or concepts. You will find that you have more energy than before, and that you don’t need to turn to that five o’clock glass of wine to unwind from a hectic day. You will attract better relationships and in general, have a more grateful and compassionate perspective on life. 

How Does One Do Vedic Meditation?

Find a quiet place to sit if you can, if not, as mentioned earlier you can practice Vedic meditation anywhere you wish. Try to make sure your spine and back are supported.

Take in a few deep breaths and begin to recite your mantra. The mantra that is specific to you will require the help of a guru, or some research. You will want to use Sanskrit words, and can use the word in a chant or sing-song way in your mind.

A term that you are likely familiar with is “Om,” which relates to the celestial sound of the universe. Before beginning your yoga practice (which also stems from the Vedas), it is customary to say the word “Om” three times, holding it out as long as your breath exhales, sort of like the sound of a bell being tapped three times.

In Vedic meditation, different vowels are pronounced and elongated in different ways. If you are unsure what word to use as a mantra, check out our Mindbliss App, download the app by clicking HERE from your iPhone or Android. We have so many wonderful Mantra based meditations for your enjoyment 🙂

At Mindbliss we have a large and diverse range of 300 (and growing) quality meditations. We are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜

Let us know how these mantra based meditations worked for you, we would love to hear about how meditation has impacted your life 🙂

With Love,

The Mindbliss Team.

23 Effective Meditation Techniques to Try Today

June 4, 2018 in Articles

Meditation is widely regarded as an effective means to empty your mind, gain clarity and relax. It’s an amazing tool that can be used by any person, at any time, regardless of their physical or emotional state. Sounds pretty versatile, right? It is. But, just like picking the perfect pair of jeans, one size does not fit all. There are a myriad of meditation types, each one offering a unique path to peace. But before we dive into the different types of meditation, it’s important to gain an understanding of what meditation is and how its practiced.

Meditation is a reflective, contemplative practice developed to help people reduce stress and foster clarity.When meditating, you typically find a quiet place where you can comfortably sit alone. For a pre-determined amount of time (usually starting with a minute or two), you choose to empty your mind and focus developing a sense of peace and calm. As you hone your practice, you can work up to meditating for longer periods of time. This is a very basic description that does not take meditation’s many variations into account.

Before selecting a type of meditation that will work for you, take a personal inventory of where you are and where you want your meditation to take you. Are you hurting? Are you happy? Is there something missing in your life? There is a meditation available for every need, you simply need to identify it. The following details 25 different types of meditation. Take stock of your head and your heart, read this article and select the meditation that’s right for you.

1. Vedic Meditation

Vedic meditation is one of the oldest meditations with its origins coming from ancient India. This type of meditation is a mantra-based meditation where you repeat a particular phrase that has been chosen for you by your teacher. It is not associated with any religion, but rather with the Vedic philosophical system which helped birth mathematics, yoga, and more. The mantras have specific qualities that calm the nervous system and the brain to relax from daily life and increase the path toward spiritual living. It is performed in a seated position, and the length of time varies depending on the mantra.

2. Gratitude Meditation

Gratitude meditation is a type of meditation that focuses on the feeling and expression of gratitude for your life and everything in it. Gratitude meditation can be practiced informally at any time during your day; it is not something you have to sit down, sit, and practice. Rather, it can be done immediately upon waking in your bed or even done over your next meal. Giving thanks for what you have and the things in your life, both good and bad, challenging and happy, enable the practitioner to grow through times of change and understand life from a greater perspective. To practice this technique, think of what you are grateful for and allow yourself to sit with what that feels like.

3. Daily Meditation

Daily meditation is the act of meditating on an everyday basis. When something is practiced every day, it becomes a habit. Meditation on a daily basis is a positively reinforcing habit because it helps to reduce stress, cultivate mindfulness, cope with change, and enhance the overall quality of life. It is said that meditating every day, even for only 5 minutes, is better than meditating for 30 minutes once a week. It is helpful to do it at the same time every day.

4. Sleep Meditation

Drifting off to sleep may be a sweet dream for some while for others it may be a restless night of tossing and turning. Sleep meditation is an all-natural antidote for insomnia and sleep deprivation that leaves practitioners feeling refreshed, energized, and reinvigorated to start the day with a clear head. Meditation for sleep calms the mind by allowing it to focus on the present moment through breath and body awareness. It can be performed in bed or as a practice before sleeping. The reason for this is because meditation increases the brain waves which induce sleep such alpha, theta, and delta and decrease beta waves, which can cause insomnia.

5. Morning Affirmations

Using affirmations in the morning upon waking is a way to set your mindset for the day. Using positive affirmations is a meditation tool to train your brain to be at its very best from the moment you wake up. They are a great way to prepare your mind for meditation by letting go of worry, promoting tranquility, and bringing the mind into the present moment. It is beneficial to use one or two as an anchor point at the beginning or end of a meditation through which you can focus your mind on. It is important that you use positive, present-tense affirmations when using this technique. An example would be “I am free from stress today”.

6. Merkaba Meditation

The word Merkaba has Egyptian roots and is an energy body meditation technique. Mer means “a light that rotates”, ka means “spirit”, while ba means “physical body”. This merkaba meditation technique activates this particular energetic shape around your body to accelerate consciousness and enlightenment. It is performed through particular breathing techniques with 18 steps. The shape of the merkaba is are 2 intersecting 3-dimensional triangles with one pointing downward one pointing up. The meditation helps rotate this merkaba energy field around your body to assist in the ascension process.

7. Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-Kindness Meditation, also called Metta Meditation, is a Buddhist form of meditation that involves cultivating and sending the feeling of loving-kindness toward yourself and others in your life. First, you must cultivate loving-kindness toward yourself, then toward someone you respect (such as a teacher), someone you love highly (such as a family member), someone neutral (such as the grocery store clerk), and someone you feel disregard toward (which may be the most difficult). You can cultivate the feeling of loving-kindness through visualization or reflection of the feeling itself. This meditation helps cultivates an attitude of serenity and care through any situation, especially in the face of challenge.

8. Zazen Meditation

Zazen meditation is the core meditation practice of Zen Buddhism. It helps cultivate a sense of inner and outer peace. It is practiced in a seated position, often on a cushion called a zafu, however, a variety of positions can be used to accommodate anyone. The spine is long with the hips relaxed. The gaze lowers to a 45-degree angle and the eyes stay open. The hands form a mudra in the lap with the left hand on top of the right, palms upward and the thumbs touching. Then the focus turns to the breath, in order to still the mind. It is best not to force it, rather to just let it happen.

9. Guided Meditation

A guided meditation is performed under the guidance of a teacher or alongside a recording. This technique is very useful when learning how to meditate. It helps keep the mind on track and free from distraction if one is not disciplined to the act of meditating yet. The meditation can be any style, but the important aspect of this one is that you let go of some of your control and surrender to whatever you are being told to do. It requires a deep sense of listening in order to get the full benefit and build a disciplined meditation practice.

10. Visualization Meditation

Visualization meditation, also called Guided Visualization, is a type of meditation that uses the imagination to paint a picture inside the mind’s eye. It is not an object-focused meditation but is rather a subjective experience for the practitioner. It is often used as a tool to create positive change in one’s life. One is often guided through an experience, such as walking into the forest to promote relaxation or perhaps even visualizing success in a relationship or career move as a way to accomplish goals.

11. Letting Go Meditation

A letting go meditation is one that is used to release excess emotional baggage. This type of meditation is helpful in order to create space for new energy to grow. It is useful to help release old emotions or attachments to people, relationships, jobs, ideas, or things which may be preventing the development of ourselves. When you are able to let go, you can plant new seeds to start anew. It is often performed through visualization and breathing. For example, you can inhale white light and exhale toxic black smoke as a way to release negative thoughts. Or you can visualize yourself moving towards a goal after releasing an old habit and see what that all plays out to be inside your mind.

12. Third Eye Meditation

The third eye meditation is a gazing meditation focused on the third eye area. The third eye is located in the space between the eyebrows and is associated with the pineal gland. According to yoga philosophy, the third eye is the seat of intuition and wisdom. It is a spiritual center of peaceful inner knowing. To perform this meditation, you can first warm up the eyes by gazing right with both eyes for 1 minute and then to the left for 1 minute. Then follow the nose tip down to a single point on the floor and hold there for 1 minute without blinking. Then, you will perform shambhavi mudra, which is gazing at the third eye. This is done by turning the eyes upwards and slightly inwards to gaze at the space between the brows without blinking. Start with 3-5 minutes and work your way up from there.

13. Chakra Meditation

A Chakra is a spinning wheel-like vortex of energy. There are seven Chakras in the human energy body located along the spine which all relate to different qualities of being. They each have associated colors and mantras, among other things. A Chakra Meditation will help to balance aspects of energy in the body, from stability (root), creativity (sacral), willpower (solar plexus), love (heart), communication (throat), intuition (third eye), and bliss (crown). The meditation can be performed by visualizing the color associated with each chakra at the location (colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and white), reciting the mantras, and even visualizing the chakra spinning.

14. Walking Meditation

A walking meditation is exactly what it sounds like… a walking meditation! It stems from the Buddhist mindfulness tradition of paying attention to what is occurring in the present moment, which in this case would be the act of walking. This meditation is calming and stress-relieving. It is recommended to practice this at least once a week for 10 minutes to see results. To practice walking meditation, it is best to find a nice spot outdoors (which also helps you connect with nature). Begin walking slowly in one direction and notice the following about each step: how your foot connects to the ground, how it lifts off, which parts of your feet you feel more than others, how shifting your weight feels in the body, and what the ground under your feet feels like. When the mind wanders, bring it back to sensing each step slowly one-by-one. This technique helps one to slow down during daily life.

15. Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana is a Buddhist meditation technique that means “to see things as they really are”. It is done through purification of thoughts by self-observation of the breath and body. The Vipassana theory believes when one is freed from the suffering of the mind and body, true joy can arise as a harmonious experience of life instead. It is traditionally taught on 10-day silent meditation retreats, which are donation-based, at centers around the world.

The meditation technique itself is sectarian and can be practiced by anyone. A series of moral agreements are made by the practitioner upon starting the practice, which prevents harm to be done. The first three days focus on the breath, which helps control the mind. Then the practice of Vipassana is taught, which permeates the entire mind with clarity and insight to let of toxic and negative thoughts and patterns. The technique itself provides a way for the mind to categorize the small and subtle experiences of simply sitting, breathing, sounds in the environment, etc. On the 10th day, the silence is broken and the practitioner can ease back into normal life with greater insight and peace.

16. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation originated from traditional Buddhist meditation practices as a Western interpretation. It is also frequently called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which was popularized by John Kabat-Zinn in the West. This style of meditation is performed by focusing on the present moment. This can be done through certain indicators such as the breath or the body to hold the focus of the mind. When thoughts or feelings arise, the mind is invited to go back to the object of focus without judgment. Ultimately, the mind will get distracted at some point; it is a practice in letting go of how that distraction feels.

17. Tonglen Meditation

Tonglen Meditation is from the Buddhist tradition. It is also called the “taking and sending” meditation. It is a practice to develop compassion. This technique is a breathing meditation. On an inhalation, you inhale someone else’s pain and suffering and as you exhale, you send them comfort and ease in order to relieve them of their suffering. This style of meditation reverses the way we think about pain, which is usually avoiding it and forces the practitioner to face it without fear. It can help break old patterns and develop self-love and love for others in our lives.

18. Japa Meditation

Japa Meditation is Hindu in origin and is a mantra-style of meditation. It is performed by repeating a specific mantra 108 times, which is a multiple of 9. This number is auspicious in Hindu philosophy and astronomists say the diameter of the sun is 108 times that of the Earth and the distance between our planet and the sun is also 108 times the diameter of the sun. Japa is typically performed with mala beads, which are strands of 108 beads counted on one hand with the middle finger, bringing the beads toward you. This helps the practitioner ensure they do the correct amount, which can be any multiple of 9 (so more than 108 times is okay). A popular mantra is “lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu” which means “may all being everywhere be free and at peace”.

19. Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation, also known as TM, originated from India and was spread throughout the world by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi starting in 1955. The practice and the guru were popularized by international pop stars such as The Beatles. It is a mantra-based meditation practiced from 15-20 minutes per day seated with the eyes closed. It has to be learned at a TM center under the guidance of a teacher.

20. Trataka (Gazing Meditation)

Trataka is another meditation technique that arose from India and is used in the yoga tradition. Also called “blinkless gazing”, it is practiced by staring at an object without blinking for several minutes. Traditionally a candle is used but it can also be performed with the moon, images of gurus or deities, or a dot on the wall. It is a practice to awaken the third eye. One must remove contacts or glasses and stare without blinking for 1-3 minutes. Then close the eyes and observe the afterimage in the mind’s eye without trying to control it. Over time, the practitioner can build up to longer periods of gazing.

21. Kundalini Meditation

Kundalini Meditation also arises from the yoga tradition of India. According to yoga philosophy, kundalini is the energy of spiritual awakening that travels from the base of your spine and up through the crown of your head through the central energy highway called the Sushumna. It is often likened to a coiled serpent resting at the base of the spine that uncoils upward once awakened from its slumber. There are various types of kundalini meditation practices that can awaken this energy through mantra, breathing techniques, and even movement itself. The practice is also associated with what is called “kriyas” in yoga, which are essentially internal cleansing techniques using mantras, the breath, and mudras (hand positions). One such kriya, called Sat Kriya, from the kundalini tradition, is performed by chanting the word “sat” on the inhale and the word “nam” on the exhale, which means “truth”.

22. Sound Healing Meditation

The use of instruments in meditation has a long history and sound healing meditation continues that tradition. Various types of instruments are used like flutes, drums, singing bowls and indigenous instruments like the didgeridoo from the aborigines of Australia. Sound healing meditation can help relieve depression, anxiety, and stress as it is very calming for the mind and nervous system. It helps shift the brain into the delta stage, which is the stage of deep sleep. They are often performed in group settings over the course of an hour in a circle with the facilitator playing the instrument personally for each individual for the desired and relaxing results.

23. Emptiness Meditation

Emptiness meditation is a Taoist meditation that seeks to find the quiet space inside. It is performed by attempting to empty the mind and body thoughts, feelings, and sensations. It is a natural way to just let anything that occurs to happen and simply surrender it away without attachment. It teaches the practitioner to not engage with what is unnecessary and become an empty vessel instead through which creation can be reinvigorated and move freely.

Enjoy 300+ Meditations on our Mindbliss App

We hope that this article helps you find a meditation type that resonates most with you. If you’d like to dive further into your wellbeing and personal growth, download our Mindbliss Meditation App HERE from your iPhone/Android. We have a large and diverse range of 300 (and growing) quality meditations and are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜

With Love,

The Mindbliss Team.

Daily Meditation: 8 Tips to Keep You Motivated & on Track

June 4, 2018 in Articles

In any given day, you may go to work, get groceries, pick up your kids from school, make dinner, sweep the floor, fold laundry and more. And that’s just a weekday! Sound familiar? Chances are, you’ve done all those things, if not more, in the last 48 hours. Have you done anything for you? Life is as complex as ever and allows little, if any time for self-care and daily meditation.

The world has set high expectations for what you should be able to accomplish in a day and the pace is grueling. The demands of modern life often prevent us from taking proper care of ourselves, both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, this includes seeking solace in meditation.

What did you do yesterday? Did you take time to meditate? If the answer’s no, you’re not alone. Many people struggle to set aside a few moments to quiet their mind and unwind from the rigor of the day. Daily meditation is a proven method to decrease stress and increase clarity, but there are so many things to distract you from getting on a schedule.

The thought of starting a daily meditation routine may be daunting. Where do you start? How do you choose a practice that will work for you? All though questions, and more are addressed here as we discuss 8 ways you can buck the busyness and get motivated to meditate today.

1. Recognize the Benefits – How Will Meditation Help?

The benefits of meditation are well-documented. According to the American Meditation Society, 30 years of clinical studies on meditation have consistently demonstrated that it:

  • Normalizes blood pressure
  • Improves immune function
  • Slows aging
  • Reduces anxiety and improves stress-related disorders
  • Increases relaxation throughout the day
  • Decreases insomnia
  • Improves psychological health and self-esteem
  • Lowers incidence of depression, anger and irritability
  • Improves concentration
  • Increases positive thinking
  • Enhances creativity
  • Facilitates psychological development (http://americanmeditationsociety.org/meditation/benefits/)

Many people pursue daily meditation to reduce stress. Stress can be a terrible distraction in life, but its side-effects are far more destructive than what many people realize. Stress increases the level of cortisol, a hormone, on our bodies. Excessive amounts of cortisol can wreak all kinds of havoc, including sleep disruption, increased anxiety, depression, increased blood pressure and decreased cognitive speed. Countless medical studies have demonstrated that daily meditation reduces stress and therefore, reduces cortisol levels.

In addition to reducing stress, meditation has the power to alter our physiological makeup. In 2008, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine studied adults with high blood pressure. Of the 60 participants, 40 were able to stop taking their blood pressure medication after establishing a daily meditation routine. When these participants were meditating, they could more easily relax. The feeling of relaxation increases the body’s production of a compound called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to open, allowing blood pressure to drop (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/19/meditation-benefits_n_5842870.html).

Getting on a daily meditation schedule will also improve your self esteem and awareness. When you take time to quiet your mind, you can get to know who you are on an intimate level, fostering an appreciation for yourself that is otherwise difficult to achieve. It gives you an opportunity to fully examine who you are, which is so important when engaged in self-care.

A recent study examined the self-esteem levels of 21 women who were fighting breast cancer. It showed that those women who participated in a tai chi program has much higher self-esteem than their peers who had attended a social support group (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8129703). This is interesting, because even though these women were facing a life-threatening illness, a regular meditation practice was still able to break through the barriers of self-doubt and increase their self-love.

The benefits mentioned are proven and tangible. But what about you? How will daily meditation benefit you? If you are unsure, think about the way you feel during and after meditation. Many people describe feelings of euphoria, clarity and focus during and after a successful meditation. Allow those good feelings, whatever they may be for you, to motivate you to stay the course and pursue meditation daily.

2. Consider Your Goals – What Do You Want to Accomplish?

What are you trying to do? Do you want to let go of a hurt? Are you trying to forgive someone? Do you want to become a better version of yourself? Maybe a combination of all four? There’s no wrong answer here, but you must consider what you want to know to determine how you will get there.

Your goal could be as broad as gaining enlightenment or as specific as wanting to show a certain person love. Take stock of your head and your heart to identify the areas that need some work. Without taking a personal inventory, it is difficult to determine your goals and how you will reach them. If you can’t pinpoint an area in your life that needs work, consider cultivating a greater sense of gratitude or grace – two things that you can never have too much of!

Meditation, when done properly, is powerful. It is strong enough to heal even the most hardened of hearts. Trust yourself and your practice to guide you down the right path to reach your goals.

3. Find the Right Practice – How Will You Reach Your Goal?

There are many, many types of meditation. And that’s a good thing, because one size does not fit all. In fact, ancient Buddhist tradition refers to meditation in the same way we refer to sports, as a group of activities, not a single activity itself.

Before diving into the myriad of meditation, look inside. Consider your character, where you are in life and your personal goals. Also think about what you want to get out of your meditation. These factors should be the guiding force behind choosing any type of meditation practice.

There are so many types of meditation to consider, they would be too numerous to detail here. However, if you are interested in learning more about different types of meditation, check out this article.

To get you started, here are 3 main types of meditation to consider:

i. Focused Attention

In this practice, you focus on a single object. It could be anything from a spot on the wall to a stripe in the rug. Some people choose to internalize an image, like a candle, or an intention or saying. Focused attention takes just that, focus, and may not be well-suited for someone who leads a busy life and struggles with stress. It is an effective strategy to enhance or develop characteristics, like generosity or compassion. 

ii. Open Monitoring

The goal of this practice is to detach from your thoughts to objectively identify thought patterns and emotions. It is achieved through awareness of breath and passing thoughts. Open monitoring has been correlated to positive psychological and physiological outcomes, as well as aiding in reaching worldly goals, like a promotion at work.

iii. Automatic Self-Transcending

This one requires no concentration, just the repetition of a simple mantra. It could be as simple as, “I am free.” It is a soothing, rejuvenating practice that takes very little effort to do well. Many people who struggle with addictions and compulsions have success with this practice. It helps them retrain their brains and accept their new identity as a person free from those types of problems. It has also been shown to cause high levels of brain wave synchronicitywhich has been proven to relieve anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia and migraines (http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12793/how-meditation-changes-your-brain-a-neuroscientist-explains.html).

4. Define your Space – Where Will You Practice?

Find a place to meditate. Your meditation place can be anywhere you choose, just as long as it is comfortable and free of distractions. It’s important to meditate in the same environment every day; it trains your brain to develop patterns and allows you to reach a meditative state faster.

If you have a spare room to use as a meditation room, great! If not, find a place in your home that makes you happy. It may be a guest bedroom, on your patio or in your sunroom, or perhaps next to a treasured piece of furniture or in your garden. Where ever you choose, make sure it’s a place where you can easily relax.

A word of caution: avoid transient places like cars or public spaces. Your car or a neighborhood park may be comfortable to you, but there are too many variables outside of your control. When you are in a space that you aren’t in full control of, distractions can (and will) easily arise.

5. Schedule the time – When Will You Practice?

If it’s not important enough to put on your schedule, then it’s not important enough for you to do, plain and simple. Get in the habit of considering your day, it may be the week before, the night before or the morning of, whatever works for you. Figure out when you will have spare time to practice and actually add it to your calendar.

Don’t get hung up on trying to find the same exact time to meditate every day. In fact, most people’s schedules simply do not allow them to practice at the same time daily. Each day is different, the important thing is that you look at what you have going on and choose a time that makes sense for you.

6. Do the Work – How Will You Practice?

Productive meditation doesn’t happen overnight. Once you’ve determined what practice will work best for you, set realistic expectation and follow through on your practice every day. For many, these expectations center around the amount of time spent truly meditating. Start small, with just a minute, and work yourself up at a reasonable pace.

It’s called a practice for a reason – you must practice. 

7. Drop the Judgements – Just Be

Meditation isn’t easy. For many, not achieving the goals they set for their practice is a disappointment. It’s easy to turn that disappointment into judgement. Don’t fall into that trap. Accept yourself and your practice right where you are and trust that the practice will come (with practice).

If you struggle to stay connected, every time your mind wanders, give a smile. This serves as a gentle reminder that you owe yourself grace and should not give up on your practice. You may also want to meditate on the mantra, “just be.” It reminds us that we should just be where we are, accepting of ourselves without reservation.

Everyone who meditates struggles with focus; the fact that our minds wander is one of the many things that make humans great! Don’t punish yourself with judgement if your practice isn’t perfect. Remember, we do not meditate to become better at meditation, rather, we meditate to become the best version of ourselves.

8. Find the Best Version of You – Be Your Best Self

Sounds great, right? Who doesn’t want to be the best version of themselves? Daily meditation practice can take you there.

The benefits of meditation are well-known, but what it will do you and the people you love is another matter entirely. Consider what additional grace, understanding and clarity could do for you. Think about how it would impact the relationships with the people you love. Do you think you’d be a better wife and lover? A better mother and daughter? A better friend?

Daily Meditation enables you to fully examine yourself, from the inside out. Proper self-reflection inevitably leads to life change, allowing you to become the best possible version of you. When you are your best self, you give a gift to everyone around you. You are fulfilled and able to lavish love on others, a true feat in today’s impersonal world. If you are willing to do the work, daily meditation makes it possible.

When you think about the laundry list of things you need to accomplish in a day, adding meditation to your schedule may seem impossible. It’s not. Considering the benefits, and the simple steps you can take to do it well, it can easily become a top priority.

Are you tired? Meditate. Was your last shower three days ago? Meditate. Have you been working 12-hour days? Meditate. It won’t make your problems go away, but it will elevate your ability to cope and enhance your character.

Meditation isn’t easy, but life isn’t, either. You deserve this. You need this. Think about what you need (what you reallyneed) and make it happen through meditation. Set your goals, stay the course and see your life transformed by meditation.

If you’d like to dive further into your wellbeing and personal growth, download our Mindbliss Meditation App HERE from your iPhone/Android. We have a large and diverse range of 300 (and growing) quality meditations and are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜

With Love,

The Mindbliss Team.