Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Doron Hanoch, author of the new Yoga Lifestyle.
How much should you meditate? All the time! Meditation is not necessarily sitting down to quiet the mind, as for most of us, sitting down means either watching the mind with awareness or drowning within the stories of the head. For some meditation does allow a dropping into the present moment, and a sense of ease and peace. For some it even goes deeper beyond our conscious awareness, but this is rare, and hard to repeat even for those that have experienced it.
To make life a lot more blissful, we simply need to practice awareness, or mindfulness, repeatedly. A simple exercise is to stop every hour for two minutes and focus on your breath as it passes through the nose, and at the same time focus on your breath as it fills up the belly. This may appear to be multi-tasking—and you may know by now that I do not recommend to multi-task—but in actuality this is one task of being aware of the entire process. Since it takes more of the mind to be able to stay focused both on the nose and the belly at once, the mind has to soften and drop away from thoughts, as this is already a big task. This really allows the mind to rest for two minutes so that as you get back to whatever task you have at hand, you will see how much more focused and calm you are.
- Stop for 2 minutes (have a timer always ready).
- Take a breath in and notice the air as it passes the nostrils AND at the same time try to notice the belly fill up.
- Exhale slowly and notice the belly empty AND at the same time feel the warm air through the nose.
- You may want to stay for a few extra breaths just enjoying the peace.
- Enjoy! Really, you are getting a break.
In between these two-minute breathing practices, keep practicing staying present. The more present you are with tasks that do not require creative thinking, the less useless thinking you will add to your mind. Simply follow with your eyes the process of any action, from beginning to end. If you are placing a glass down on a table, watch your hand placing it down, as well as your hand leaving the glass and moving on to your next task. You can begin by doing this practice while eating, and then expand it further to other things you do that do not require creative thinking.
If you do have a meditation practice, it works well to sit at least twenty minutes, and even thirty or forty minutes. It takes the mind a bit of time to settle, and to allow repeated thinking to soften. Sitting for these longer periods is great in the morning. Start with ten minutes, and build it up from there. Maybe once a week do a longer meditation period of thirty to forty minutes.
More techniques and happy yoga lifestyle practices can be found in my book The Yoga Lifestyle, published by Llewellyn.
Our thanks to Doron for his guest post! For more from Doron Hanoch, read his article, “5 Uncommon Tips to Release Stress Using the Flexitarian Method.”