Enjoy this playlist of our most popular 10ish-minute meditations. If listening on mobile phone, please click “listen in browser” within the image and it should play on the same screen.
The simple act of breathing in and out of our nose accesses the parasympathetic nervous system, which automatically calms and relaxes us. Paying attention to our breath is a simple way to connect to your present moment and become more self-aware and more mindful. The best part? You can practice breath awareness anywhere.
Focusing our attention on physical sensations helps to relieve stress by shifting our attention to the present moment. If your attention drifts (and it will!), simply bring yourself back to the physical sensations. As you explore the physical sensations as they come and go, you become a witness to your body and breath, and this helps you develop present-moment awareness.
When you pay attention to your heartbeat or the area behind your breastbone, you enliven its qualities of peace, love, compassion, joy, gratitude and inclusiveness. The heart sends signals to the brain that change the entire nervous system, reducing stress hormones, enhancing your immune system, and increasing anti-aging hormones. As we tap into our heart center, we experience more lightheartedness and present-moment awareness in our day-to-day.
The Loving Kindness Meditation is a simple, heart-centered meditation technique with roots in Buddhism, sometimes called Metta. Practiced around the world, Metta cultivates compassion for one’s self and others. Compassion is the natural state of the heart and mind, which is motivated by cherishing other living beings and wishes to release them from their suffering. In this meditation practice, you gather your attention to focus on a specific compassionate phrase that you repeat silently. During this practice, it is important that you don’t force a warm and fuzzy feeling or get rid of unpleasant or undesirable ones. Instead of expecting to feel a particular way or judging and analyzing what you do feel, allow whatever happens just to happen – with a beginner’s mind. If your mind wanders, notice what has captured your attention and then gently return to the practice at hand.
Mantra in Sanskrit means a tool to train the brain. It is an effective tool that requires only a gentle repetition and can be especially effective for those of us who have type “A” tendencies. Repeating any phrase over and over again (aloud or silently) can settle down the nervous system and create new neural pathways. Repetition in a formal meditation practice, which can involve repeating a number, phrase, mantra, prayer, or affirmation, can help train one’s attention to focus more easily on one thing at a time. (Note: Best not to practice before bedtime as it can stimulate brain activity).
Silence can feel intimidating when we first start meditating, but with time, you will find that you crave it. Today’s practice will still include background music and a bell to start and end your practice. Use this practice as an opportunity just to sit in silence, or you can try one of the techniques you’ve discovered (breath, body, heart, mantra).