Mindfulness Meditation: What It Is & How To Do It

The most basic form of meditation practice is simple mindfulness. Mindfulness is the core of all other types of meditation, so it’s important you master this skill before continuing on to other forms of meditation. What is Mindfulness Meditation? Mindfulness meditation is a practice where you become focused on the thoughts, feelings, and senses that arise in the present moment. The practice of mindfulness is the practice of being present. When you notice thoughts, sounds, and emotions you are becoming aware of what is happening now. The key to mindfulness is approaching the practice non judgmentally. Mindfulness allows us to see things clearly as they are right now. Mindfulness Historical Background The modern mindfulness we know today in the West is directly descended from Buddhism. The practice of mindfulness originated in Buddhist philosophy in 500 BCE. Mindfulness was made mainstream in the West due in large part to the efforts of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. His work brought mindfulness practice from the East and turned it into the therapeutic practice known as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). How To Practice Mindfulness Meditation Let’s go over how to actually practice mindfulness meditation. 1. Find a comfortable location and position The first step in mindfulness meditation is finding a comfortable place to sit. This should be a location that is distraction free and comfortable. Sit in a position that you won’t get too tired in. There are all kinds of meditation positions, but a simple cross legged position on a pillow, chair, or grown will do just fine. Get yourself settled in this position and location before beginning meditation practice. 2. Bring attention to the breath The core of mindfulness is your ability to focus your attention. To foster this focus we set an anchor point to come back to for refocusing our attention. The best and easiest anchor point for your attention is your breath. Your breath is a constant force that you will always be able to come back to now matter where you are as long as you’re alive. At the beginning of your mindfulness meditation practice, bring your attention to your breath to begin relaxing and to get present. 3. Bring attention to the body After you focus your attention on your breath you can begin noticing other sensations in your body. A body scan is a great activity for this part of the meditation. Just bring your attention to every body part and notice how it feels. Does it have pain? Is it comfortable? Cold? Warm? As you bring your attention to those body parts just begin to relax the muscles in those areas. As your body relaxes, your mind will unwind with it and your mindful focus will improve as well. 4. Notice thoughts and feelings Once you have that mastered, bring your mindful awareness to your thoughts and feelings. What is the quality of your mind? Notice any recurring thoughts that keep popping up in your mind. Your job in mindfulness meditation is simply to notice a thought, hold it in your awareness and let it pass. You should not be trying to force yourself to stop thinking, rather just notice it nonjudgmentally. 5. Return to the breath Any time you find yourself too overwhelmed by your, body, or emotions simply return to your breath Our breath is our refocusing point throughout the meditation. Whenever you get lost or overwhelmed simply begin the meditation again by refocusing on your breath. If you’d like you can also make your breath the sole focus of the entire mindfulness meditation session. Bringing Mindfulness Into Daily Life Mindfulness doesn’t always have to be a strict discipline. You can bring mindfulness into just about anything you do. Bringing a quality of attention and presence to whatever you do can grow your mind and spirit by leaps and bounds. That’s what I love so much about mindfulness. You can bring it anywhere. Whether you’re practicing mindfulness meditation for spiritual or mental benefits, there’s no doubt about it… mindfulness meditation can have a profound effect on your mind, body, and spirit. Happy meditating!

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Can You Meditate With Music?

Can you meditate while listening to music? Why would you even want to use music with meditation? You can certainly use music while you meditate. Music can help you relax more deeply into a meditative state and give you something to focus your attention on during a meditation session. Benefits of meditating with music Auditory stimulus has been used during meditation practice since ancient times. The Buddhists use Tibetan singing bowls to signify the beginning of their meditation sessions. If you’re considering using music for meditation, these are the benefits you may want to know about. Focusing The Mind Music can give you something to focus your mind on. You can use music as an auditory focal point for your mindful practice. Beginner’s may find that their mind wanders during silent practice. Using music gives meditators a focal point to stay engaged in meditation. There is even a certain type of meditation known as transcendental meditation that utilizes focusing on specific sounds in your environment to calm the mind. Music can be that audio focal point and bring you deeper into meditative practice. Enhanced Relaxation Meditation music can get you in a relaxing state of mind for meditation. A slow paced calming type of music will aid in the relaxation process. Relaxing music helps release bodily tension and slow heart rate and breathing. When you feel calmer it will be easier to tap into the present moment. Meditation will become easier when you’re able to relax the mind and body. Music can be useful for this calming process. Tuning Out Distractions Music can be a great way to tune out distractions and begin to focus inwards. This can be great for when you’re in a busy place like an airport or café. If you’re someone who struggles with distractions when meditating, using headphones and a meditation soundtrack could help you stay present. Emotional Release Music may aid in emotional understanding for those that use meditation as a way to reflect on their mind and emotions. Certain music can evoke strong emotions in the meditator. Bringing these emotions out into your awareness could be helpful to processing and understanding them in a mindful state. Why You Might Meditate without music Though meditating with music has many benefits, not everyone finds it to be helpful. Here are the reasons you may decide meditation without music is right for you. Music Can Be Distracting Some people find that music causes more distractions than it takes it away. If you find any extra auditory stimuli to be distracting, perhaps music is not right for you mindful practice. Others may find that the emotions and thoughts that music brings up may be particularly distracting as well. If you want to keep your emotions at bay during meditation practice, music may not be for you. Preference For The Natural Environment Many traditional meditation practices value silence and the natural auditory environment. Without music you can become more tuned into your internal environment without any external distraction. Others prefer to use their natural environment as their auditory focus. There are all kinds of interesting sounds to focus on in your immediate environment without any extra added music. Natural noises like birds chirping and water can offer greater relaxation and focus than music. What’s The Best Meditation Music? The best music for meditation is relaxing and without lyrics. You want your meditation music to aid in the relaxation and focusing process. Any lyrics or words will most likely cause more distraction. You’ll also want to have slow pace and relaxing music, nothing fast paced. This is the playlist that I personally use for my meditation sessions: Using A Gong or Singing Bowl You may want to use a gong, bell, or Tibetan singing bowl to signify the beginning of meditative practice. Creating a ritual where the sound of the bell or bowl signifies starting meditation can be helpful for getting into a meditative mindset. At the end of the day, using extra auditory stimuli like music can have many benefits for meditation practice. Though it does have its benefits, meditating with music is not for everyone. Experiment for yourself to find out what works best for you. Happy meditating! Still learning to meditate? Check out “The Beginner’s Guide to Meditation”

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Is Meditation Pointless?

The Buddhists have a famous saying, “Zazen is good for nothing” – Kodo Sawaki Roshi Zazen is the Buddhist tradition’s form of meditation. If meditation is good for nothing why do Buddhists meditate all the time? Well, that’s the joke in a sense. When you hear that saying the first time you’ll think meditation is pointless. But the more you meditate the more you’ll see what they truly were saying. Meditation is good for nothing. Perhaps by the end of this article, you’ll understand the true meaning of that. Meditation is not pointless. Though the practice can seem monotonous, boring, and pointless there are actually dozens of proven benefits. Meditation can help you make great strides in many areas of your life from developing spiritually to improving your sense of wellbeing. > see my article, “How to Transform Your Life With Meditation” Why meditation Can Seem pointless Meditation can at times seem pointless, purposeless, and boring. You may be thinking “should I be wasting 10 minutes everyday doing essentially nothing?” Despite the many benefits, meditation in the beginning can feel a bit pointless. It feels like you’re wasting your time When you sit down to meditate you’re actively doing nothing. You’re intentionally doing absolutely nothing for 10-20 minutes or more. This can really seem like a waste of time. Remember the Buddhist saying! “meditation is good for nothing”. Why should you waste your time on doing absolutely nothing? ‘Nothing’ is actually incredibly beneficial. In meditation you’re fostering that nothingness. It’s in the practice of doing nothing that the benefits arise. Though it may feel like a waste of time, sitting down to meditate is fostering slow growing benefits that accumulate with practice. You’re not seeing any benefits yet If you’re in the beginning of building your meditation habit you may feel like meditation is pointless simply because you haven’t tasted the sweet benefits that meditation has to offer. Like all good things, this will take time too. Though there are some immediate benefits to meditation, a lot of the truly life changing benefits come weeks, months, and years into a meditation practice. This doesn’t mean that meditation is pointless though. Even if you only want short term benefits, meditation can still help you. But the super profound mental shifts you might have been promised will take time. Meditation can be hard and frankly boring Establishing a meditation practice is hard. Getting yourself to sit for 10 or more minutes a day for meditation truly isn’t an easy thing. Especially at the beginning. Meditation is hard because it’s boring. We as human beings like to be doing things, building, and learning. Meditation seems like the complete opposite of an enjoyable task. You may have other more pressing things in your life that would be far more interesting to attend to. To get past this meditation struggle you need to shift your perspective. View meditation as a building, doing, and learning activity. Although yes, you are slowing down and doing nothing, you are actively slowing down and doing nothing. It’s important to see that you’re meditating for the purpose of building a better mind, learning more about yourself, and nurturing your spirit. > see my article “Struggling to Meditate? 7 Common Issues And Their Solutions” The benefits of meditation The truth is that meditation truly isn’t pointless. There are so many benefits for your mind, body, and spirit that come alongside a meditation practice. Here are some of the benefits you could see if you stick with your meditation practice. Benefits for the mind Benefits for the body Benefits for the spirit Meditation is good for nothing… So yes, meditation is good for nothing… well actively doing nothing. And doing nothing (meditating) has so many benefits for your life in the short term and long term. Yes, meditation may seem pointless at the beginning. Especially when building the habit of meditation can be boring and difficult. But you’ll find out for yourself if you keep at it for just 10 minutes a day. You’ll come to find the meditation is NOT pointless.

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Why Are My Ears Ringing During Meditation?

If you’ve experienced ringing in your ears you know that it’s not an enjoyable experience. However, some people experience ringing in their ears when they meditate and are confused as to why this happens. The truth is that you may have ringing in your ears during meditation for several reasons. One reason is that you may have Tinnitus which is a medical issue that causes someone to hear ringing or buzzing in their ears. Another possibility is that you are becoming more aware and conscious leading to you perceiving a ringing sensation. Whichever of the possibilities is true for you, none of them are of any real concern. You may have tinnitus Tinnitus is a medical condition that causes a high pitched ringing sound to be perceived. The experience of tinnitus is often described as annoying and unwanted. This type of ear ringing may not be caused by your meditation session, rather it points to a medical cause. You may have tinnitus if you recently: Of the 15-20% of the population that experiences tinnitus, meditation may exacerbate or make your tinnitus more apparent. Your awareness is increasing Meditation is the practice of deepening your present experience by focusing your attention. During this process of mindful observation you are raising your level of awareness. When you increase your awareness through meditation, you may become aware of subtle noises and sensations you usually don’t notice. It’s possible that during meditation you become aware of a subtle ringing in your ears that’s always present. Simply, now you’re noticing it because of your mindful practice. In fact, most people have some subtle ringing in there ears all the time, but your brain tunes it out naturally until you become hyper aware of all your senses. It’s also entirely possible that as you increase your awareness through meditation you’re coming close to a spiritual awakening. Ringing in the ears is a sign of spiritual awakening Ringing in your ears is also a sign of spiritual awakening. As your awareness increases to the point where you start to notice subtle things like ears ringing, don’t be surprised if you find yourself having profound spiritual insights. You may be becoming aware of many other things in your environment, psyche, and mind. Some claim that ringing ears is a sign of the opening up of the third eye chakra, leading to great spiritual insight. Dibba-Sota Dibba-Sota is a Buddhist word meaning “divine ear” known as one of the 6 higher powers associated with spiritual practice. What can you do about ringing ears during meditation? You have a couple options when it comes to what to do about this annoyance during meditation. 1. Continue meditating anyways Most likely ringing in your ears during meditation is nothing to worry about. You can instead use it to your advantage during a meditation. Try using the ringing in your ears as a focal point for your attention. After all, focusing on a specific sound is the root of transcendental meditation. > see my article “7 Best Types of Meditation: Which is Best For You?” Overcoming the annoyance and frustration of your ringing ears could be the next step to having a meditation breakthrough. 2. Play white noise or music You can always play music or white noise to cover up the ear ringing. Playing some form of white noise will allow your brain to focus on some other noise and tune out the ear ringing. Can You Meditate With Music? 3. See a doctor If you genuinely feel like your health is at risk or that the ear ringing is truly a sign of a health problem, you can always consult your doctor. Tinnitus could be a symptom of something else going on in your ears or brain. This most likely this isn’t the case. But if you really are concerned, by all means reach out to a medical professional. What does it all mean? Well, here’s what we know for sure. You’re probably not going to die and probably nothing is wrong with you if you have ringing in your ears. Yes, it may be annoying or possibly indicative of another health problem. But most likely you’re just noticing something that’s always been present throughout your life as you bring careful attention to your senses in meditation practice. It could also be a sign that you’re making progress on your spiritual journey of raising your consciousness. My suggestion is to look deeper into the ringing in your ears. Become even more aware of it and see what happens.

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Meditation With Pets: How to Meditate With a Distracting Pet

Does your dog get confused when you meditate in front of them? Maybe your cat can’t keep away from you while you sit for your morning meditation. Or perhaps you struggle with getting distracted by the curious creatures you’ve adopted into your home. Having pets in your home while you’re trying to cultivate a meditation practice can be a tricky situation. Today we’re going to go over everything you need to know about meditating with pets in the house and how to deal the common struggles that can ensue. Why won’t my cat/dog leave me alone during meditation? There’s a lot of reasons why your pet might be bothering you so much during your meditation practice. The main reasons your pet is bothering you during a meditation session is most likely because they are either curious, want attention, or need to go potty. 1. They’re curious Your furry friend might be curious of what you’re up to. Afterall, curiosity killed the cat remember? Animals are naturally curious and will want to investigate what you’re doing if it’s a new behavior they’ve never seen you do before. Although it may be bothersome, they’re just following their furry little instincts and checking out what’s going on. 2. They want attention When you meditate your pet may feel ignored. This can then cause them to come over get that attention back from you. Your dog or cat may also just want some extra love and attention from you. When you meditate you are pulling your attention away from your pet and they may feel jealous of that attention and try to come get some back. This can prove to be frustrating when a pet comes up to you or sits in your lap as you meditate but this could simply be because they want your love and attention. 3. They want something else from you It could very well be that your pet is bothering you during a meditation because they need something from you. Perhaps your dog needs to go outside and use the bathroom. Or maybe your cat is hungry and wants you to put out the food bowl. Make sure to take care of all the things your pet needs before you start your meditation to ensure they are content and taken care of. Why does my cat/dog Freak Out when I meditate? You know that curiosity I was talking about earlier? Sometimes your pet’s curiosity may turn into anxiety or worry. Sitting still for long periods of time on the floor may seem like unusual behavior to your pet. If your pet suspects something is wrong they may start to freak out and get really anxious. If your dog or cat seems agitated by your meditation, just give them a few pets of reassurance to let them know you’re alright. Then keep on meditating. What can you do about a bothersome pet? There are a few things you can do when it comes to dealing with a curious pet interrupting your meditation practice. 1. Move them to another room The simplest solution to your problem is to just lead them to another room and shut the door. If they can’t see you meditate they may just ignore you and go on their merry way. You could also put them outside if you have a fenced in backyard or yard leash. This could backfire though and make them feel more anxious as they wonder what’s going on. It’s worth a try, but these other options may work better 2. Include your pet in your meditation Something you may want to try is to meditate with your pet. If they are distracting you, notice that distraction. Bring your mindful awareness to what your dog or cat may be doing. If your cat comes to lay on your lap, try to allow and accept the situation for what it is. Meditation after all is about observation, acceptance, and flowing in the present moment. Try to notice why something they do bothers you. Observe that annoyance as you would any other thought passing through your mind. This might work for minor distractions, but if your dog is being particularly loud and obnoxious it’s probably best to move them or yourself to another room in the house. 3. Wait for your dog or cat to fall asleep Does your dog usually take a nap in the afternoon? or maybe your cat snoozes in the evenings. Keep track of when they usually sleep throughout the day and take advantage of that time for a meditation session. If they’re asleep, they can’t be bothering or worrying about you. This one requires a bit of waiting however, so if you’re not up for that its okay to just move them to another room. Is it OK to meditate with a pet in the room? Of course it’s okay to meditate with a pet in the room! Pets can be easily incorporated into a meditation session. Simply observe them as you would anything else that arises in a meditation session. However if your pet proves to be especially difficult you can move behind closed doors to meditate in peace. Either is fine and at the end of the day it’s up to personal preference.

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Meditating While High: How to Use Marijuana With Meditation

Look, we’ve all been there. You took an edible, but you forgot you still need to get your 10 minutes of meditation in for the day. Now you’re wondering if meditating under the influence of some OG Kush is a bad idea or if it’ll enhance your meditation session. Although it’s totally up to personal preferences, there’s nothing wrong with meditating while high on cannabis. In fact, adding marijuana to your meditation session may actually enhance or deepen your meditative practice. However others claim meditating under the influence simply isn’t enjoyable or helpful at all for them. The benefits of meditating while high So now that you’ve gotten yourself into the sticky situation of being under the influence of cannabis, you’re wondering what the benefits of meditation are in this scenario. Here are a few benefits of meditating while high: 1. Cannabis enhances your senses After all marijuana is known for this sense enhancing quality. Things done while high may feel more pleasurable and intense and meditation is no exception. Marijuana can heighten your awareness and make sensations stand out much more than they usually would. When you get high you might find that your meditation senses are heightened and you feel more tuned into how your body feels. Often times when using cannabis you can feel your heartbeat more clearly, notice vibration sensations in and on your body, and feel your breath more fully. 2. Meditation can help with paranoia If you deal with paranoia or anxiety when under the influence, you may want to try meditation. Sometimes a high can be too intense and you need a method of calming yourself down. For my high friends that struggle with anxiety, you may want to add meditation to your smoke session. Meditation has long been known to lower cortisol levels and stress in the mind and body. A quick meditation may be just what you need to get you over the hump and start enjoying your high. 3. They synergize to relax your mind and body Continuing on that note, combining meditation with cannabis may create a deep relaxation effect. The combination of the two can create a synergistic affect multiplying the relaxation. Cannabis, THC, and CBD are notorious for relieving muscle tension and relaxing the body. When the body relaxes the mind follows suit. This can create a perfect environment and foundation for a deeply satisfying meditation session. If you’re using marijuana and meditation as a method to relax, combining them could definitely be what you should try. 4. Cannabis deepens your spiritual experience Some meditators claim that substances can induce intense spiritual states of consciousness, and it’s not just DMT, psilocybin, and psychedelics we’re talking about here. Marijuana can absolutely facilitate a spiritual experience. I personally have had several deep insights and profound spiritual experiences under the influence of cannabis. The mindset and state of consciousness that cannabis gives you could absolutely help you see a new deeper perspective. I know this to be true not only for me, but for other meditation practitioners as well. 5. Meditation can help if you get too high If you get too high you may want to give meditation a try. Being too high is the worst. Feeling disoriented, dizzy, and anxious after a particularly strong edible could potentially be mitigated with mindful practice. Mindful meditation can be a practice you can try if you lose touch with reality and get too high. Grounding yourself in the present moment with meditation can help you come back from the edge of a bad and overly strong marijuana high. Although this isn’t guaranteed to work, mindful breathing and present focus definitely couldn’t hurt in a situation like this. The cons of meditating high Don’t get me wrong, though meditating high has its benefits it definitely isn’t right for everyone. Here are a few downsides you might want to consider: 1. Easily distracted while high Being high might actually make it more difficult to focus during a meditation practice. It’s entirely possible that you get high and just completely forget to meditate in the first place. The increase in distractibility could hurt your focus and attention in mindful practice. I know that this tends to be something I experience in these states of consciousness. 2. Could be too intense Getting too high before a meditation session might make it nearly impossible to meditate at all. If you know what a strong THC experience is like, then you know that it would be hard to meditate in that state. If you can barely concentrate on walking from one room to another, how do you expect yourself to properly meditate? This is why I suggest you start very small if this is something you want to experience for yourself. 3. Brain fog the next day This is absolutely the biggest con for me. I hate having brain fog or foggy consciousness the next day after being high. In fact, I don’t use marijuana much at all anymore because of this. My awareness always feels blunted the day after a cannabis high. I struggle to be present and mindful the day after. So if you do decide to meditate on marijuana, just remember you may struggle to meditate or be mindful the next day. Brain fog is real and it happens all the time after being high. What meditation Practitioners have said But don’t take these claims from me, let’s hear it from people who have experienced high meditation themselves. Here are a few things that people have said about meditating under the influence of the ganja. One meditator that found high meditation beneficial claimed, “I’ve reached some great places meditating high, like deep states of meditation that brought insights which felt very valuable at the time, it’s easy for me to get into that state high.” Another reddit meditator found that high meditation was not right for them, “The practice of meditation is the work towards being completely present in life. Can a person

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Can You Meditate With Your Eyes Open?

According to a recent poll of 137 meditators only 10% of them regularly meditate with their eyes open. According to this pool, meditating with eyes open appears to be an uncommon practice but some people do find it helpful. The real question that needs to be asked is, should you meditate with your eyes open and why? There’s no right or wrong way to meditate when it comes to having your eyes open or closed. There may be different times to have your eyes open and different times for them to remain closed during a meditation. So ultimately it depends on your personal preference. Let’s dive into what those 10% of meditators enjoy or find helpful about meditating with their eyes open. When should you meditate with your eyes open? You can meditate with your eyes open anytime you’d like. In fact in Zen Buddhism it’s customary to meditate with your eyes open. Your sight is one of your 5 senses after all, and shouldn’t be neglected in mindful practice. Just like you might focus on feelings in the body or noises that arise in mindful practice, it can also be incredibly beneficial to focus in on your visual environment. Think of all the beauty there is to be present with in meditation practice. Many claim that meditation with eyes open makes their practice easier and more enjoyable. If you feel like you’re forcing yourself to meditate or are getting burnt out on the practice, try open eye meditation to refresh your practice. Here are some scenarios where you’d want to meditate with your eyes open: > see my article “Can (And Should) You Meditate While Driving” Meditating with your eyes open while doing anything important like driving or any other potentially dangerous habit is obviously a must. Meditating when it’s a beautiful day or if you’re in a particularly nice visual setting can bring you further into the present and enhance your meditation practice. Open eye meditation should definitely be explored when in these situations. When should you meditate with your eyes closed? Although it’s perfectly okay to meditate with your eyes open, you may decide that closed eye meditation is best for certain times. Here are a few of the scenarios where closed eye meditation is ideal: Deeply inward focused meditations are best done with eyes closed as it allows you to focus all of your attention on your thoughts, feelings, and internal environment. Meditation is also a great practice to use to help you prepare for bed or to fall asleep. If your goal of a nighttime meditation is to fall asleep, then closing your eyes will definitely help with that. If you’re doing any type of visualization meditation, having your eyes open will make visualizing difficult. It’s best to keep your eyes shut when trying any type of visualization technique for the best experience possible. Benefits of open eye meditation What’s the purpose of meditation other than to deepen our present experience, enhance our awareness, and feel better. Luckily, open eye meditation can help with all of those things and more! Here are a few of the benefits to meditating with your eyes open: I just can’t describe how amazing it is to open eye meditate in a beautiful place. The connection and joy that it can bring is truly awesome and should at least be explored or tried a couple of times. How to meditate with your eyes open To meditate with your eyes open you’ll want to follow these steps below 1. Choose a comfortable setting Setting can really make all the difference when it comes to an amazing open eye meditation. First you’ll want to pick a place where you find a lot of beauty and that is relatively calm and not too busy. Secondly you’ll want to make sure you find a comfortable seat so you’re not too fidgety once you start. I recommend bringing a yoga mat, meditation cushion, or blanket to sit on. > see my article “Everything You Need For The Ultimate Meditation Setup” 2. Choose a meditation technique There are all kinds of meditation techniques to choose from for your open eye meditation session. here are a few that work best for meditating with your eyes open. It’s best not to try any type of meditation that requires visualization. Having your eyes open while trying to procure a vivid visualization will be distracting and more difficult. > see my article “7 Best Types of Meditation: Which is Best For You?” 3. Begin your meditation and take it in At this step you’ll start your meditation as you usually would. You can try focusing in on things in your environment and taking the detail in vivid detail or widening your gaze to allow for any sights to softly enter your visual awareness. Both a focused and unfocused gaze are good to try in your open eye meditation. Both have their benefits. 4. Come back to the visual field You may find yourself getting lost in thought, in which case just gently remind yourself to come back to your visual field. Notice what arises and disappears in your visual field. Maybe there’s a particular visual focus you’d like to set. This visual set point could be a great way to center yourself back into the present moment when you get lost in thought. Continue to recenter yourself throughout the meditation, reminding yourself of the physical space around you that you can see. Am I allowed to blink? Of course you are! You’re not meant to be a dictator to yourself in meditation practice. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to relax and accept what comes up in mindful practice. If you need to blink, go ahead and blink. If you need to move because you’re uncomfortable, you can move. If you have an itch, by all means it’s okay to itch! Unless you’re specifically doing meditation on expert mode, but there’s really no need to do that. Try

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How to Use Incense For Meditation

Incense has been around for as long as humans have had fire. One of the most effective ways to enhance your meditation experience is by burning dried aromatic plants and items (also known as incense). Incense has a long history of use in spiritual practices and is known to have a calming and centering effect on the mind. But how exactly do you use incense for meditation and how can it help you to deepen your meditation practice? Though incense use was originally used to consecrate a sacred meditation space, you can use incense during your meditation as a focus point for your session. Some people may find incense to be distracting during their meditation while others find it to enhance their meditation session. The origins of incense for meditation Incense burning has its origins rooted in ancient spiritual practices. The original approach to using incense was to offer the incense to God, the Buddha, or the divine nature of the universe. Burning incense was a way to offer it to whatever greater power the practitioner believed in. Burning incense was meant to be a sign of non-attachment in the form of an offering, instead of trying to get something from the burning of the incense. The idea of using incense as a way to reject attachment is a very Buddhist way of using incense. However, most people who use incense today just like the aroma the incense gives off. Why use incense during meditation? Burning incense during a meditation session is not for everyone. Some meditators find it to irritate their eyes and nose especially in a small closed room. Others claim incense helps them deepen their meditation practice. But how? Using incense to mark the beginning of a meditation session You can use incense to mark the beginning of a meditation session. There’s just an unfathomable quality to burning incense that can help center you into a meditation. Beginning your meditation by lighting some incense can quickly remind you of your intention for this time. If you use incense regularly during your mindful practice you will start to create a ritual associating the smell of incense with the start of your practice. Incense will then remind you every time going forward that this session is sacred. > see my article “Everything You Need For The Ultimate Meditation Setup” Timing a meditation Yes, incense may smell really good. But it has a really practical use in meditation as well. You can use different size incenses to time your meditation practice. Light your incense at the start of your practice and use it as a timer. Short incense sticks last about 25 minutes, while long incense sticks can last around 45 minutes. Using incense as a focus point If you’re practicing mindfulness meditation, the smell of incense can be something to focus your attention on. Your sense of smell is often neglected during mindful practice. Incense can fill that neglected gap. In your meditation practice try focusing on the scent your incense gives off. The smell can be an anchor point for your awareness. Every time your mind gets distracted, just bring your attention back to the breath and the smell of the incense. By doing this, incense can be used to help center you further into the present moment. > see my article “How to Transform Your Life With Meditation” Choosing the right incense Everyone has their own preferred incense. There’s no better or worse type of incense to use in your meditation practice. However, here are the most popular types of incense and what they’re used for: 1. Nag Champa Nag Champa is probably the most well known and common type of incense available. This incense originates from incense has several combined aromas such as sandalwood, champak, and frangipani. Nag Champa incense is used by (and originated in) Buddhist and Hindu monasteries of India and Nepal for spiritual practices. 2. Sage This herb is known for its strong and earthy aroma. Sage is one of my favorite incense types, as it usually comes in a bundle of leaves unlike most other incenses that come in the form of a stick. In my experience sage does burn fairly quickly, especially when dry. So if you’re looking for incense that burns more slowly, you may want to consider others on this list. 3. Sandalwood Sandalwood is another India native known for its woody, smooth, and creamy fragrance. Sandalwood is known for being a particularly dense wood making it perfect for slow burning. This incense has been used for thousands of years for spiritual purposes in India. 4. Frankincense Frankincense is unique to this list because it’s a resin that comes from the Boswellia tree. Frankincense has been used for thousands of years for medicinal and spiritual practices. Frankincense is known for its complex aroma that’s simultaneously both earthy/woody and sweet/citrusy. 5. Japanese incense Japanese (or Zen) incense can be used as an offering, as a way to focus your meditation intention, and to time your meditation session. Japanese incense has historically been used by the Zen Buddhist tradition for spiritual and meditative purposes. Incense sticks vs cones There are generally 2 forms that incense comes in: sticks and cones. An incense stick is a long piece of wood that has been wrapped in incense ingredients. A cone on the other hand is just purely incense ingredients that have been compressed into a conic shape. Incense sticks will generally burn more quickly than incense cones as cones are denser than sticks. If you want your incense to burner more slowly and last longer you may want to go for longer incense sticks or cones. If you also want to burn incense in its purest form, cones may be better. This is because incense sticks are burning also burning the wood that’s holding it up. A cone is burning purely the incense ingredients and nothing more. Wrapping up Incense can be an excellent tool to enhance your meditation practice. It has

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How to Transform Your Life With Meditation

What if I told you there was just one practice you could implement for only 10 minutes a day that could completely change your life. Yep you guessed it, meditation is the practice I’m talking about. By cultivating a meditation practice for as little as 10 minutes every day you could: “Just with a 10 minute practice once a day?” you ask. And the answer is of course yes, the compound return on a 10 minute investment of meditation has been proven to do all of those things. What is Meditation? I’m sure if you’re reading this article you probably already know what meditation is, but just to be safe I want to give a full explanation of what meditation really is before we continue for anyone that doesn’t know. At its core, meditation is the practice of training the mind to focus and become more aware of the present moment. It’s about cultivating a state of mindfulness, which allows us to observe our thoughts and emotions without judgment. Meditation is the tool of observation and awareness of the present moment. Awareness is the key to all meditative practices and its the thing that allows for real change to occur in your life. If you aren’t fully aware of yourself, your thoughts, your behaviors, and your environment you definitely won’t be able to change it. You need to know what needs to change first before you can change it. What’s the one practice that can jump start this process of positive change in yourself and your life? Meditation. How meditation can transform your life Establishing a meditation habit in my life has been extremely beneficial. If you’re looking to transform yourself into a overall better human being, meditation is a powerful tool to help you achieve that. Meditation can physically change your brain People who regularly meditate have a more developed brain areas responsible for concentration, decision making, emotion regulation, and memory. By implementing meditation into your daily routine you can physically transform your brain to function at a higher level. Here are a few of the brain structures you can literally change with a 10 minute daily meditation practice: Improve your sleep and overall wellbeing I can’t begin to count the number of times I couldn’t sleep, put on a YouTube guided meditation, and 10 minutes later found myself dosing off to sleep. A quick session of meditation at bed time can help unwind your mind, let go of tension, and fall asleep quickly. Not only can a meditation session at bedtime help you fall asleep, but people who meditate during the day have an easier time falling and staying asleep compared to non-meditators. Modern science tells us that meditation fosters the autoregulatory nature of the brain, helping you produce melatonin at the right times and amounts for restful sleep. But that’s not all. What if I told you that people who regularly meditate physically require less sleep. Yep, meditation can actually replace the and reduce the amount of sleep you need every night, giving you more waking hours of the day. Research from Oregon State University found that 10 minutes of meditation could replace 44 minutes of sleep. Now this doesn’t mean you can just meditate for 2 hours a day instead of sleeping. However, it does mean that if you lost an hour of sleep last night, a quick meditation may make up for that lost hour. Increase your self awareness Are you the type that likes to introspect and understand yourself better? I definitely am, and meditation has been a fantastic tool for increasing that self awareness. It’s not just meditation that allows for this increase in self awareness, but the cultivating of mindfulness and practice of self observation. Slowing down and focusing the light of your awareness on yourself can unveil all kinds of hidden thoughts and emotions inside. I find that I’m much more likely to discover something about myself when I’m being mindful versus when I’m being unconscious. Without mindfulness we can brush all of our problems under the rug and focus our attention on the distractions of the external world. The problem with this is that no real internal progress is ever made if we don’t turn our awareness on ourselves. We first need to become aware of the problems before we can change them. A simple meditation habit every day can make a much larger difference in this area than you might think. Reduce stress and anxiety This one is pretty well known and deeply researched. Meditation can absolutely cause a reduction in stress and anxiety. As you saw earlier in this article, meditation literally shrinks the area of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety. There is all kinds of scientific literature you can read out there that will all say the same thing: Meditation leads to greater peace and lower levels of stress and anxiety. You don’t need to read the science to know this however, It’s pretty self explanatory. Just give a quick 5 minute meditation a try and you’ll see for yourself that you’ll just feel better after slowing down and being mindful. It’s not complicated, in fact it’s the simplest thing you can do and you can start right now with nothing but your mind and 5 minutes. Become a kinder human being There’s actually a whole subsect of meditation called “loving kindness meditation” that focuses on fostering a loving and kind attitude. I find that just by mindfully breathing for a few minutes before a social event I’m almost always kinder and more understanding of the people around me. But hey don’t take my word for it, let’s look at the science. The Journal of Experimental Psychology recently found that mindfulness meditation leads to an increase in empathy and kindness towards others. This makes complete sense to me because if you’re able to create some space between your thoughts and behaviors with mindfulness practice you can start to have more control over them and

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Everything You Need For The Ultimate Meditation Setup

I began meditating back in early high school. Developing a meditation practice has helped me grow into a better human and access more peace. I fell so much in love with mindful practice and the peace and joy it instilled in my life that I became a certified meditation instructor. Here’s the thing, you can start meditating right here and now without the purchase of a single item. However, if you do plan on cultivating a life long meditation practice there are a few items you might want to consider investing in to make the process a bit easier and encourage a daily meditation practice. Best Meditation Cushion A meditation pillow can be so central to cultivating a meditation practice. If you’re trying to sit upright on the floor in a proper meditation posture, your butt, legs, and feet can get sore digging into the ground beneath you. A meditation cushion like this one will help you stay comfortable for those longer duration meditations. Best Yoga Mat If you’re like me and enjoy meditation in the park or on the beach, you may want to invest an easily portable yoga mat like the one I bring on the go. Getting an extra cushioned yoga mat is ideal for meditation on the go as it rolls up nicely and offers support for your travel meditation practice. Warm Lighting You’re going to want some form of soft and warm lighting to add to your meditation space at home. I use this warm Himalayan salt lamp to make my meditation space feel cozy and welcoming for meditation practice. Having some form of lighting in your room or meditation space is good to keep you awake and alert during meditation, especially if you like to meditate early in the morning or late at night. Incense This is my at home incense set up for meditation practice. I love to burn sage or incense during a meditation session as the smell gives me something to focus my mindful awareness on and reminds me to return to the present moment. Incense has long been an important part of meditation and spiritual practice. Burning a bit of incense can be the perfect thing to set the mood for your meditation session. You can get a simple incense set on Amazon for as little as $6.60. > see my article “How to Use Incense For Meditation” Tibetan Singing Bowl Some of my favorite meditations have included a Tibetan singing bowl. A singing bowl has that classic pure vibratory sound that can be used to focus in mindful practice. The hum of a Tibetan singing bowl can remind you to recenter yourself. The chime of a Tibetan singing bowl is a great way to begin and end a meditation session and a meditation set up just isn’t complete without one. Candles An easy and cheap way to enhance your meditation set up or mindfulness session is simply by lighting a few candles. You can get these for a couple cents at your local dollar or grocery store. The flame can be a great visual anchor if you like to keep your eyes open during a meditation session. In addition to a being a great visual focal point, the aroma can promote peace and relaxation in your meditation space. Best Meditation Apps A fantastic tool to add to your meditation tool belt is a meditation app. There are tons of free meditation apps out there, however you may want to consider a subscription to one of the most premium apps as well. Here are a few of my favorite meditation apps: Mala Meditation Beads Meditation beads have been used for thousands of years as a way to focus the mind and calm the body. Mala beads are simple but effective, just like meditation is basic but can have profound effects on your mind and life. You can get a super handy Mala bead bracelet on Amazon for fairly cheap. Plants What makes a room or space feel more homey than adding plants to it?! Adding another lush growing life force into a meditation space can give it a sense of lightness and purity. As you grow through your meditation practice, so too will your succulent or little fern grow. Water Simple and straight forward but never the less make sure you have a bottle or glass of water with you in your meditation space to stay hydrated, happy, and healthy. Final Thoughts Congratulations! You’re ready to start building your meditation space and mindfulness habit. Although these items are entirely optional, they really can help enrich your mindfulness and meditation practices. If you find starting up your meditation habit to be a bit difficult, a few of these items on this list might just do the trick. > see my article “7 Best Types of Meditation: Which is Best For You?”

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