I am a flight attendant and I am also a yoga instructor. When I reveal my “alter ego” to fellow flight attendants they usually say, "I've always wanted to get into yoga!" or they express that they've tried yoga and or meditation but it is "just so hard"! Of course meditation can be hard for the beginner's mind, but it can also be hard even for the most dedicated practitioner. We all struggle to quiet the mind! In today's busy world it sometimes seems impossible to take a moment to get quiet and still. Don't let that stop you from trying. As I have expressed in my previous blog, the benefits of meditation have been scientifically proven to improve your brain. Read this article if you don't believe me.
The following are a few meditations that I really enjoy. Maybe you're still thinking, "Okay lady, I seriously have no time to meditate." Don't worry, you can even meditate while you brush your teeth, wash the dishes, or sit on the jump seat. I know I know, I’ll explain below.
I usually suggest giving yourself at least 3-5 minutes at the beginning of your mediation to settle in. First thing: obtain the proper posture. Traditionally the proper meditation position is cross legged with a straight spine (or in lotus if you're an advanced practitioner). It helps to sit on a cushion so your hips are a little above your knees making it easier to keep your spine straight. If this is extremely uncomfortable for you feel free to use a chair. Keep your chest lifted but shoulders relaxed. Ever so slightly tuck your chin to elongate your neck. Relax your face (especially your jaw, your tongue inside your mouth, and your brow), slightly lift the lower belly to support the spine, and start to focus on your breath. Relax. Don't become too attached to the thoughts that pop up. Observe them, honor them, and let them pass. This is easier said than done, I know, but with time it becomes more natural.
Sphere of love.
Shay (owner and creative genius of bunglo.co) says she doesn't remember teaching this meditation to me, but I swear she did!
You can do this meditation anywhere. You can do it on your meditation pillow in your room or walking through a crowded street. Think of yourself surrounded by a giant spherical orb of crystal clear white light energy. At the edges of this sphere there is an ever expanding iridescent rainbow light that reaches for miles and miles. Imagine this light is pure love of infinite proportions. You can start small and imagine this light is bathing everyone within a square mile, then all through your city, then state, then country, the globe, and eventually you imagine this white light love energy expanding infinitely all throughout the universe. Feel this energy in your heart center and let it fill you up. In my experience it can really change your mindset if you're in a bit of a funk. I like to practice it while walking through a crowded airport or subway. I imagine the white light of infinite love is healing everyone around me.
Watch the breath.
The next meditation is basically the original meditation taught by the Buddha himself thousands of years ago and believe it or not, it is the most simple. It is not at all the easiest, but by far the most simple. Once you settle in and obtain the proper spinal alignment, start to become hyper aware of your breath. Think about the way it feels coming in and out of your nose. Is the air cool or warm? Do your nostrils flair a little when you inhale? Feel your belly rise and fall with every breath. Allow your thoughts to come and go. You will most certainly get caught up in your thoughts and eventually remember you're supposed to be meditating. Don't fret. Don't beat yourself up. One of my favorite teachers once taught me to bring the mind back to the breath just as you would bring a lost puppy back home. Would you beat the puppy up for running away? Of course not! Lead your mind back to your breath gently and sweetly, just as you would carry your dear puppy home.
If you are one of those people who has very little time to yourself, you can bring the above mediation into your every day tasks. However, instead of focusing 100 percent on your breath, focus 100 percent on your task. Become completely consumed with the task at hand. If you're washing the dishes think about how the water feels on your hands along with the foaming of the soap, the roughness or softness of the sponge. If you're cooking dinner become engulfed by the smell of the spices you are using. Increase your awareness and pay attention. Increased awareness is key in this meditation.
Chakra cleansing meditation
The final meditation is a chakra meditation. If you are unfamiliar with the energetic chakra system, click here. Once you have familiarized yourself with the Chakra system and you have settled in to your meditation posture, imagine a white light energy from the universe dives through your crown chakra, down your spine, and then all the way down through the earth like a giant tree root. Then, imagine that same pure white energy coming back up, back through the earth, through the root you created, and finally pausing at the root chakra. Imagine the root chakra as a fiery red ball of energy blooming open. You can imagine it blooming and closing several times until the energy just feels right in this chakra. Once the chakra feels sufficiently energized imagine this white light energy moving up to the next chakra, the sacral chakra, but imagine this blooming fiery energy as an orange light. Do this with all the chakras and their corresponding colors. After you have finished your crown chakra, imagine the pure white light energy you have taken from the earth just exploding out over the top of your head and raining down into the floor next to you. Bask in this beautiful feeling for as long as you like. Revel in it! When you are ready, imagine the white light energy going back down your spine and back down the center of the earth. Thank the earth and the universe for its energy you have used to cleanse and energize your chakras, and gently open your eyes. You should feel a little more balanced and refreshed. Practitioners who feel they have a good understanding of their chakra system may want to spend more time on specific chakras.
The Buddha was once asked, “What have you gained from meditation?”
“Nothing!” The Buddha replied. “But let me tell you what I have lost: Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Insecurity, Fear, and Fear of Old age and Death.”
I guarantee that meditation will change your life. I encourage you to commit to just 5 minutes a day. Spending 5 minutes in meditation at the beginning of each day will help you clarify your thoughts and put you in a better mood to accomplish more of your goals. It will also help you be a better human for yourself and for those you love the most.
Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das