10 Minute Meditation for Beginner Minds
My meditation practice is completely gone. The most I can manage as a daily practice is morning prayer and puja to Ganesha with a little kirtan while I make breakfast. Being super super pregnant, I cannot do asana practice like I could and that has helped flushed the remainder of my meditation practice down the toilet. But I need to get back and my ego has fully surrendered that I need to start at step 1. Here are my top 10 minute meditations. Set a timer, try them all.
This is an adaptation of the Zen-Buddhist meditation focused on noticing sounds, thoughts, emotions, and sensations. The idea is to sit, close your eyes and centre then spend two minutes each on sensations in your body, sounds you hear around you, feelings and finally thoughts. It’s a bit laborious because it’s hard to follow time limits in meditation, especially if you are new. I have adapted this for the subway, or anytime you are waiting for a friend, in line at the bank etc.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out of your nose
- Notice your breath, focus in on the inside of your body, on the stillness, on the sound of your breath
- Then start to tune into sounds around you, try to pick out as many sounds as you can without naming them, examples include: birds, the hum of the subway, any machine noises, human noises etc
- Next, tune into your heart and see if you can hear your heartbeat, try to feel your body, your emotions, without naming them
- If your mind wanders, just bring it back, don’t worry if this happens a lot, just bring it back
- When your stop comes, you’re done
Loving Kindness Meditation
This is one of my favourites, but it’s hard for me to do it lately because I am so bitter right now. Having said that, when you are bitter, that is the BEST time to do this. It’s also called Metta, and spiritual types who like to look smart throw that word around like a balm. It’s a goody though. Here’s the instructions straight from the Chopra Centre – Loving Kindness is “unconditional, inclusive love—a love with wisdom. It has no conditions. It does not depend on whether someone “deserves” it or not. It is not restricted to friends and family, rather extends out from the personal to include all living beings.”
- Start by centring, closing your eyes, setting a timer and coming into your breath – listen to your breath in your ears as it goes in and out
- Focus in on your heart centre and imagine your breath is coming from that centre
- Start to build a loving feeling for yourself – don’t worry if you don’t believe it, just do it, no questions. Notice if you feel you are sending negativity to yourself in any way and just apply the love there
- Use an internal mantra in your head, it can be as simple as “I love myself” or “I am loveable” but the suggested buddhist ones also work: “May I be filled with loving kindness, may I be well, may I be peaceful and at ease, may I be happy”
- Next, think of someone you love a lot, someone you feel positive for and then use the same mantra but turn it to them saying, “I love you”, “may you be happy” etc.
- Next, expand to include the whole world saying silently over and over, “may all beings be happy” etc.
- Another alternative to this is to work specifically with someone who is frustrating or bothering you and send them love using the mantra, then you can work outwards to your neighbours, family or community and finish with the world – some people find that focusing on just a handful of people they know is easier than picturing the entire world and some people find that keeping it on positive people works for them – try some shit on and see what works for you
Walking Meditation Using Mantra
I walk everywhere – it’s all I can do for exercise right now in my last few weeks of pregnancy and this works for me on the daily. It’s also a good one for busy people who don’t care if strangers on the street hear them singing Indian chants – truth be told, if you live in a city, then most people around you have iPods on anyway, so that can’t hear and don’t care.
- Download some chants – look up the ones you like, the weirder the better – make sure they are 108 repetitions long at least, some good searches are: Kirtan, Deva Premal, and Krishna Das
- Personally I like the boisterous Indian chanting and I chant to Ganesha to remove obstacles in my life, “Om Gan Ganapataye Namaha” but sometimes it’s Shiva and sometimes Shakti and if I’m feeling really spicy, I bring that Kali energy in and get destructive
- Set the song on your iPod device, start with a cleansing OM (chanted as “Aum”), cast your eyes downward so you are not distracted and focus on the chanting
- If your mind wanders, don’t worry about it, just bring it back and keep going, try to stay in the music and out of your head
- You can chant low or get really weird and belt it out, and if you feel you can’t do it out loud, you can chant along in your head as well
- When you’re finished take a deep breath in, chant “Aum” one more time and then come back into the space
This is a very basic meditation and I suggest this as a beginner meditation for anyone who is entering into yoga and meditation. Often because of cultural, religious, or gender reasons, we are unaware of our bodies. I have taught yoga classes filled with students who cannot tell their right arm from their left either with verbal cues or by mirroring my movements – this is a sign of disconnect with the body. It’s very common and nothing to be ashamed of. This is a great starting point and a good meditation practice of anyone who finds it difficult to focus on their breath, find their heart space or notice sensations in the body as cued by other meditations. It’s also a great one for people who find it hard to sleep at night.
- Lie down on the floor, or sit up straight in a chair, get comfy
- Close your eyes and come to your breath
- Slowly start with your head or your feet and work up or down, isolating different parts of the body
- I like to start with the top of the head, moving to the space between the eyebrows, through the face and jaw, down to the neck etc
- As you stop and focus on each body part take a breath or two and focus on relaxing that part of the body
- Feel that part get heavy and relax, use your exhale to relax further, focusing on the letting go part of the breath
- If you’re lying down and it’s a meditation before bed, you might fall asleep, but don’t worry about that, it’s a good sign that you were really relaxed
- If your mind wanders, don’t worry, just bring it back