We’re continuing the series of tips for meditation – in part 1 we talked about timing, the environment, and our posture. Let’s get deeper, with more practical advice!

Start with concentration

Here’s a challenge for you: Out of the blue, just try to make your mind calm and quiet. Remove all thoughts. Keep that state for 1 minute.

Quite difficult, is it not?

That’s why concentration exercises are of great help before we even start meditating. Actually, it is said that concentration leads to meditation!

One easy exercise is taken from the Zen Buddhism – you make a black dot on the wall at eye level. You then stand in front of it and direct your whole attention to the dot. Try to leave aside any thought, any urge to look around you, anny tendency to lose sight of the dot. This as well will be tricky at first, but with practice, you’ll see you’ll have an easier time staying focused on the dot for a longer period of time.

Instead of the black dot on the wall, we can use any small object or stimuli – like the flame of a candle, for example.

Just as well, we can focus on our breath – with a double benefit – not only are we improving our power of concentration, but we’re also calming our minds down through controlling our breathing.

Proper breathing

Breathing is one of the key components of meditation. As said earlier, whenever we feel our minds start to wander, we can return our focus to our breath. Also, by focusing on controlling our breath, we help our bodies to relax and unwind, which in turn makes it easier for the mind to calm down as well!

Try inhaling as slow as possible. When exhaling, try exhaling even slower! Leave a short pause between the end of your exhalation and the start of your next inhalation. After more practice, you can even hold your breath for a few seconds in between. In the process, pay attention to the actual sensation of breathing – the rhythm, the air entering your nostrils, your belly expanding and contracting.

Diffusing calming oils like Lavender, Frankincense, Stress Away help you calm your mind faster. Inhale deeply and feel the aroma bringing joy, vitality and energy into your body. Then with every exhalation, let go of your negative emotions, tension and stress. Imagine they are leaving your body together with the warm air you’re exhaling. 

If you want to take it one step further, you can even try more advanced breathing techniques, like the 4-7-8 (inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds) or various Pranayama techniques.

And finally, meditation

There are countless forms of meditation:

  • Breathing meditation
  • Visualisations
  • Guided meditations
  • Mantras (repeated sounds)
  • Music
  • Active meditation
  • Zen meditation
  • Transcendental meditation…

The list could go on, and on, and on, and on. Some swear by various phone apps helping them with guided meditations, others prefer to stick to visualisations. This is where you will have to step in, do your research and choose the form that you resonate with the most. 

Photo by Le Minh Phuong on Unsplash

Once you have everything covered, one last tip…

Stick with it!

Like training a muscle, it takes time until you notice progress. Stay consistent with your practice. And I’m not saying you should just be disciplined and meditate, as much as possible, every day at the same time. More than that, try to stick to one form of meditation for a longer period of time. Do not practice zen meditation today, use mantras tomorrow and change to active meditation the day after. Otherwise, your progress could be slowed to the point of frustration – and giving up.
Stay consistent, practice regularly, use your favorite essential oils to help you out.  Over time, you will definitely notice changes – and you’ll have an easier time to start meditating and spending more time in a mindful state.

What are some of your favorite oils you use during your meditation practice?

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