How to meditate using abstract artImprove your well-being with these easy meditation techniques and freebies
What is meditation?
To me, meditation is a simple, conscious activity (meaning you are aware of your surroundings at all times) in which you choose to focus your mental attention by being in the present moment, in the ‘’now’’ (meaning you decide to let go of past experiences and thoughts of what may happen in the future).
Ahhhh… the list of reasons is long but the main ones are because meditation…
- brings a sense of calm and inner peace into your daily life
- reduces stress, anxiety and insomnia
- improves memory, concentration and our ability to learn new things
- helps create more harmonious and loving relationships
- improves creativity and problem-solving skills
Simple meditation routines
– Find a quiet place, ideally away from bright light/noise/distraction and sit comfortably (you can do this in front of your compute, tablet or iphone too! Just download one of the free image on the right)
– Find something pleasant to focus on.
I usually use one of my abstract paintings because I can really focus, especially if the painting is large (I feel like I ‘’enter’’ another world). If I’m not at home, I look at a photo of a painting on my ipad or computer. The flame of a candle lit in front of me is also one of my favourites. The important thing is to look at something that feels good but without a lot of details to avoid your mind wandering.
– Focus on your breath going in and out
While looking at your image/painting, notice how it feels cooler going in and warmer going out. Visualise it going in from your nose down to your stomach then back out through your mouth. Do this until you are breathing gently and feel calm.
– Now find a spot on your image/painting and simply look at it, while breathing gently, without making any judgements or comments in your head. If you notice any thoughts or your mind wandering off, simply return your focus to your spot (or flame).
– Focus for a few minutes (or as long as you can as this takes practice) and when you are ready to ‘’come back’’, slowly look just around the painting/candle then at other things around you. Then gently roll your shoulders and move your body until you feel completely awake.
Be comfortable in a quiet place.
Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. It doesn’t matter whether you sit or lay down as long as you are comfortable. You can sit cross-legged, on the floor, or on a chair. If you can sit erect, then great. If not, it’s just important to have your body in a somewhat stable position. Then have the palms of your hands face the sky.
- Become “present.” This means becoming totally aware of your current surroundings. What do you hear? How does it feel to sit? Do you feel tension? Where are your thoughts?
- Focus on your breath. As you take long and deep breaths, feel your breath move from your lungs and out through your nostrils or your throat. (Breathing through your nostrils is better though either will work). Your mind will wonder (which is okay), just try your best to be as focused as possible.
- Feel your body. Once you’re focused, take notice of your body and how each body part feels. Start with the toes and work your way up to your head. If your mind continues to wonder then bring your thoughts back to your breath. Breath 5-10 times with full concentration on each breath. If you wish, you can take it a step further and hum “Om” as you breathe out. (source)
Find a space outside, and simply walk at a slow or medium pace, focusing on your feet.
Try to distinguish when your toe touches down the ground, when your foot is flat on the ground and when your toe points back upward.
Feel the roll of your foot. Observe sensory details: a tingle here, a pull of the sock there.
1) When your mind wanders, and it will, gently bring your attention back to your feet. You’re building a skill of noticing when your attention drifts into default mode and bringing it back into focus. This ability can help you be more present and in control of your attention every day, especially in times of stress.
2) Plus, this practice is a mild form of exercise. Start by dedicating a specific time and place to practice, and when you become comfortable with walking meditation, try it as you walk to the bus stop, office or just about anywhere. (source)
What are your first thoughts as you awake? Maybe: What am I going to wear today? When is my first meeting? Where’s my coffee? Even as we’re still yawning and stumbling out of bed, we often dive head-first into default mode. Try to delay that by two minutes!
Take two minutes when you first awake to find focus.
Try this exercise right now:
- Close your eyes. (Well, maybe read through this first, and then close them.)
- With your eyes shut, imagine you’re waking up this morning, as you picture the layout of your room.
- Now think of the first person for whom you’re grateful.
- Bring that person’s face in front of your eyes and focus on one part of their face that you really like.
- Now send them a “silent gratitude,” or “just a note of thankfulness that this person is in your life.”
- Do this for a second, third, fourth and fifth person – perhaps someone who has died.
- Picture him or her happy; try to imagine the color of their eyes.
People often cry when they try this exercise. If for example you can’t remember the colour of your child’s eyes, this may be because you spend a lot of your time together in default mode…
These silent gratitudes work for early mornings, as well as between appointments, waiting in the checkout line or stopped at red lights. This exercise will help you feel connected with all kinds of wonderful people in your life and help you start feeling like you’re not missing out on life. (source)
How to make meditation a part of your life + overcome common issues
All you need is 5-10 minutes a day to get started with meditation and like any other activities, practice makes perfect so make sure you dedicate a little time every day and practice, practice, practice!
Don’t get discouraged!
The more you do it, the easier it will get and the longer you will be able to meditate. At first, you may only last for a couple of minutes and that’s ok! Just keep trying. Simply remember you are doing this for your own well-being, not because you plan on becoming a monk in Tibet in the next month or so – not that there is anything wrong with that ;-)!
Be gentle with yourself
If you try to control your mind and push too hard, you’ll end up doing the opposite of what meditation is all about, relaxation. Just hang in there and when you noticed yourself getting distracted, don’t get angry with yourself, it’s completely normal and expected! Simply return your attention to the spot you were focussing on and to being present.