Meditation101

Recent studies from Harvard University found that long-term meditators have increased amounts of gray matter in the insula and sensory regions, and the auditory and sensory cortex.

Why meditation?

Meditation because it helps reduce stress, promote emotional health, lengthen attention span, and much more.

Step 1: Choose Your Mantra!

A mantra is a word, sound or phrase repeated or chanted to aid in your concentration and focus while meditating. Find your inner peace and begin exploring which mantra may work for you. Some mantras are meant to focus on breathing, while others may have a certain rhythm associated with them. A mantra can be as simple as a breathing pattern that gets you into the mental state to concentrate and relax.

Some Mantra examples:

Om Mani Padme Hum(Ohm Mah-Nee Pad-May Oom)

Sat Nam (Sawwww-Tuh Nuhm)

So Hum("Soooo" while inhaling, "Hummm" while exhaling)

-If you choose you just breathe during meditation, release your jaw and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth

Step 2: Take a Seat, and Sit Comfortably.

Sit in a comfortable position, legs crossed, bent, extended, etc. Make sure you can sit up straight and your back is elongated and your chin is very slightly pulled down and back towards your chest. This allows for more alignment of the spine and a more evenly distributed equilibrium.

Step 3: Relax Arms and Hands in a Symmetrical Position.

You can place your arms anywhere that is comfortable so long as it doesn't interfere with your posture. Ideally, you want to find a position that will be comfortable for a couple of minutes. Remember to maintain an elongated back and chin position.

Step 4: Close Your Eyes and Relax

Even though meditating with one's eyes closed can be challenging for some people, it is important to focus on the positive energy and balance within your body that only you can feel. Closing your eyes while awake can help with internalizing your equilibrium, and it gives your eyes a much-needed break from the near constant use while awake.

Step 5: Begin Your Breathing/mantra

Try to breathe normally while meditating, because the point is to make your body work as little as possible. If you find that you are having trouble keeping a steady breathing pattern, try using a rhythm-based mantra and use a slow rhythm that you can complete with one breath cycle.

Step 6: Focus Your Attention on Breathing/mantra Chant

Try to feel everything your body is processing in order to complete that breath/mantra chant. Focus on the little details about your body position that may make it easier to breathe or balance for those few minutes. (Position of your shoulders, arms, neck, mouth, etc.)

Step 7: Start With the Extended Child's Pose (Utthita Balasana)

1. Start by getting down on all fours in a tabletop position with knees shoulder-width apart.

2. Point and touch your big toes together with the bottoms of your feet facing up.

3. Bring your belly to rest between your thighs comfortably and gently rest your forehead on the floor/mat.

4. Fully extend your hands/arms on the floor/mat above your torso, palms down release your shoulders toward the floor.

5. Release your shoulders and feel the weight relax your shoulder blades down across your back.

6. This pose is best practiced with simple humming or regular breathing patterns.

7. Close your eyes and begin breathing/humming.

8. Maintain this position for 2-3 minutes, slowly moving arms down and out toward the torso with palms facing up.

Step 8: Move on With the Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

1. To begin, lie down comfortably on your back and bend your knees about 90 degrees, keeping your feet on the floor.

2. Bring the bottoms of your feet together (if you can), relax, and release your hips out and to the ground.

3. Allow gravity to support the weight of the legs, and bring your feet in toward your torso as far as you can comfortably.

4. Let your arms rest weightlessly at your sides on the ground in a symmetrical position, palms facing up.

5. Close your eyes and begin breathing/mantra chanting and maintain for 2-3 minutes.

Step 9: Finish With the Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

1. Begin by standing with your arms at your side.

2. Shift your weight onto your balance leg/foot.

3. Bend your other knee, then reach down and pull up your ankle.

4. Pull your other foot up to your balance leg's thigh/knee. (Your legs should look like a 4)

5. Find balance and press your palms together in prayer-like position at your chest/sternum.

6. Keep your elbows out and up while keeping your shoulders down.

7. Maintain steady breathing/chanting and find your balance, closing your eyes is optional.

8. Balance for 90-120 seconds then switch legs.

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