Breath Meditation, Visualisation

Peace, Calm

A MEDITATION TO UNITE THE WORLD!

During a recent loving kindness meditation I had a vision. The entire world had stopped to hold hand to heart; to breathe in peace and to breathe out calm.

I thought to myself, how powerful this practice could be to make the planet breathe a little easier!

It turns out there is already a movement rallying us together to collectively pause for humanity – Global Silent Minute.

Inspired by England’s silent minute during the First World War – whose collective pause for peace and freedom at 9:00pm each evening has been attributed as the “secret weapon” to diverting Germany’s invasion – Global Silent Minute takes place in Australian time on December 22 at 8am, AEDST.

All we need to do in the name of peace, harmony and global cooperation is stop what we’re doing and shoosh for 60 seconds!

So that’s what I’ll be doing on December 22 – how about you?

In the meantime, here’s a meditation you can try any time you’re wanting a little peace and calm in your own life or the life of others.

Merry Christmas!

Welcome. This is a meditation you can try if you’re feeling alone, or disconnected from life.

BECOMING PRESENT

Before we commence just gently harness your attention in to where you are; to settle on your body, and on your breath.

Elongating the spine as much as you can to feel alert but also remain comfortable. Feeling an opening of the chest, a dropping of the shoulders, and a softening of the tummy.

And having a quick check-in with yourself. How am I feeling in this moment? Just giving your mental state a little label. Busy, relaxed, sleepy – whatever it may be. Accepting this state.

And establishing a connection with your breath now. Following the in-breath as far as it goes, until it turns around and comes back out again. Feeling each breath envelope different parts of your body.

Perhaps noticing your breathing start to settle as you allow the body and the mind this time to be still; to rest; to simply be.

MEDITATION

What I invite you to do now is place your hand on your heart; or if you prefer just to imagine holding your hand to your chest.

And with every in-breath and out-breath, synchronise the phrases:

Breathing in peace
Breathing out calm

Inviting peace and calm into your experience with every in-breath and every out-breath.

Breathing in peace
Breathing out calm

And now, bit by bit, imagine others are stopping to do the same.

In the suburbs. People sitting at traffic lights. People filling up their cars.

Breathing in peace
Breathing out calm

Farmers in their fields. Teachers in front of their classes. World leaders and the homeless alike.

Hand on chest. Breathing in peace, breathing out calm.

People you know and love; and those people you find hard to love.

Each stopping to breathe in peace and breathe out calm.

Imagine the entire world has stopped all at once to partake in this one simple gesture. All together, hands on chest.

Breathing in peace
Breathing out calm

Generating loving energy. Dissolving hurt and fear. Becoming aware of everything we share; of our similarities, rather than our differences.

Breathing in peace
Breathing out calm

How much easier the planet would breathe if we could all pause and take in these symbolic breaths? The oxygen that this earth provides us and that we transform to give back.

I’ll leave you here to continue on in silent meditation. Continue to breathe in peace and breathe out calm and if you can keep the visualisation going, imagining all sorts of people near and afar stopping to hold hand to heart and do the same.

Peace. Calm.

Open Awareness

Vanish

A MEDITATION ON THE AWESOMENESS (AND INEVITABILITY) OF CHANGE

Don’t like change? This meditation may change your mind.

Recently I sat down to meditate and quite spontaneously the idea came to me that today, instead of focusing on my breath or things that come in to my awareness (cars passing by; itch behind my left knee; feelings of agitation, boredom or whatever) I should instead notice things as they vanish. As in, stay with whatever is happening in the meditation until it disappears. Until it is in the past.

What happened next was quite profound. I had the sense; the direct experience or knowing; that every single thing we do, see, hear and feel is the first and last time we’ll ever experience that exact thing – in that exact moment – ever.

What a revelation!

Change is happening MOMENT TO MOMENT. If you’re stuck – in a job, in a marriage, in an emotional sh*t-storm – what a relief to know that nothing is the same as it was, like, 5 minutes ago. THINGS CHANGE.

And if you’re resisting change – also, what a relief! To realise that change is not such a big deal after all. Because literally, nothing is that same as it was, like, 5 minutes ago.

YOU’VE GOT THIS.

BECOMING PRESENT

This is a meditation on change.

First getting comfy. And adjusting your body so that you can rest comfortably in a relaxed but alert way without needing to move too much for the duration of this meditation.

And bringing some awareness to your immediate surroundings. Wherever you are. Indoors or outdoors. Alone or with others. Sitting, standing, or laying down. Paying attention to however you are.

HANDS

And knowing that you’re here… and not over there – by the touch of your hands.

Honing your focus in on your hands touching each other, or touching your thighs. Feeling the skin, feeling the temperature and texture of your fingers and your palms and the back of your hands.

BREATH

And if you’ve not really paid much attention to the breath today, then we’ll mark this moment with three big sighs.

Three deliberate deep breaths where the exhale draws out slightly longer than the inhale and there’s a pause at the bottom.

Deliberately switching off any tense, short breathing you may be experiencing, and encouraging a deeper, more relaxed natural breath.

And any time through this meditation you can always bring your hands and your breath back into the foreground of your awareness as a reminder of where you are. Here in your body, here in this moment.

MEDITATION

And for this meditation we’ll spend some time examining the idea of impermanence.

The fact that nothing lasts. And everything changes.

And that every single moment we have will be the first and the last time we’ll ever experience that one unique moment.

The last time I’ll ever speak these exact words in this exact way.

And the last time you’ll ever hear them on this day, at this time, in this precise situation again.

Or, the last time you’ll ever experience this breath.

This very in-breath. And this very out-breath. Ever again.

It really is quite a miracle. That nothing lasts, bestows us the gift of appreciating everything while it’s still here. And that everything changes; a comforting reminder during times of pain and anguish.

So let’s try to develop this understanding in meditation by focusing not only on things as they arise, but trying to stay with them until after they vanish.

Just sitting wherever you are ready to receive with an open awareness of your surroundings.

Ready to receive sounds.

To receive sensations in the body.

To receive thoughts and emotions.

To receive each and every breath.

And as the observer of all these occurrences, whichever is the most dominant in any given moment, staying with it until it vanishes. Until it disappears.

Every second of a ticking clock.

Every car that passes by.

Every itch that you scratch or leave to fizzle out on its own.

Try to stay with these moments until all that’s left is the space on the other side. A momentary blankness that marks the start of something new. A space for a brand-new moment to arise, pass on through, and then vanish gracefully into the past.

And see what’s it’s like to relate to all these moments not as if they were our last – but because they are.

Feel free to keep this going in silent meditation. And come back to the hands and the breath whenever you’ve lost the connection.

Enjoy.

Concentration Meditation, Open Awareness

Labelling Senses

A MEDITATION TO SHORT-CIRCUIT OVERTHINKING

Do you remember watching the film The Sixth Sense for the first time? How shocking it was when the wedding ring drops to the floor and we learn that (spoiler alert!) Bruce Willis was actually dead all along?

If you’ve seen the movie a second time you’ll know that without the same curiosity and suspense, it’s a pretty different experience. Pleasant and enjoyable perhaps, but not nearly as vivid, exciting and alive.

We tend to live our lives a bit like a re-run — on autopilot, consumed in an exclusively-thinking mode where we live out our day through thoughts and barely give our senses the time to show us what they’re all about.

And they’ve got so much to offer!

So here’s a meditation that brings a couple of the senses centre stage to give thoughts a back seat for a while.

Hello. This is a meditation that brings our senses into the foreground of our experience.

HANDS

First, finding yourself a comfortable position. Adjusting your posture. Finding a comfortable place to rest your hands. And just while you’re doing that, noticing how the hands feel. Noting the temperature; which parts feel cool and which parts feel warm. And feeling all the different sensations running through the fingers. Prickling. Throbbing. Pulsing.

If you haven’t already, you can close your eyes; but of course, if you prefer to keep them open, just lower your gaze a little way in front of you.

And at any time through the meditation feel free to open your eyes if you’re feeling sleepy or are in need of a reset.

BREATH

Now we’ll connect in with the breath. And we’ll make this connection with three deliberate deep breaths. Taking a big full in-breath to fill up the lungs and then gradually letting it escape your body.

Allowing the breath to leave the body until all that’s left is a pause and a space before the need for the next big in-breath.

And then after three big breaths, noticing how you settle down into a more relaxed and natural way of breathing that needs no effort.

MEDITATION

And for this meditation we’re going to do a variation on the noting or labelling technique.

But instead of labelling thoughts as they arise, which you may have had experience with before, we’re going to work with just two labels – ‘hear’ and ‘feel’ – and use these to note your experience of sound and sensations in the body.

Because when we experience life through our senses – such as hearing and feeling – we experience what’s happening in real-time. Not as a preview. Or a re-run. But the live broadcast of our life as it unfolds.

And what this does, is help us switch from an exclusively-thinking mode into more of a sensing mode. And it’s in sensing mode when our body softens, our breathing slows and thoughts have the chance to retreat to the background.

HEAR

So, we’ll begin with the sense of hearing. And all you need to do, is use the label ‘hear’ whenever you’re aware of sound.

Tuning in to all the sounds that come into your experience and acknowledging them with the label ‘hear’.

TV in the background. Hear

Footsteps coming and going. Hear

Car door closing outside. Hear

Even thoughts can be heard in your mind’s ear if they’re dominant enough; so, for the really loud ones, you can label them ‘hear’, too.

FEEL

Now we’ll move on to the sense of touch. Tuning in to all the different sensations in the body, and using the label ‘feel’ to note your experience.

Itchy scalp. Feel

Thighs resting on the chair. Feel

Breath going in and out. Feel

And of course, emotions. We feel those too, so if an emotion presents itself like frustration, calm, or impatience, it too, can be labelled ‘feel’.

And as you go about the rest of the meditation, you can continue switching between these two senses, noting ‘hear’ whenever sounds are dominant, and using ‘feel’ whenever you’re drawn to a physical sensation.

Remembering that this technique doesn’t need a great deal of effort, just approach it quite passively. It’s a place that you can return to in between sessions of thinking and daydreaming. And if you start to feel settled then you can drop the labelling altogether.

Enjoy.