Practising Affirmations

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Affirmations With Feeling

Before beginning, ask yourself if you really want what your positive affirmations are affirming. Should you have any doubts or are not really sure about what you want, your doubts will get in your way. Doubt is one of the reasons why people do not achieve results with affirmations, and then they lose their belief in the power of affirmations. Practise your affirmations with love, faith, feeling and interest. Feel and believe that your desires have already been fulfilled and this will accelerate the fulfillment of your affirmations. It is only natural for your mind to raise doubts and negative thoughts, especially if your current environment and situation are very different from what you want to achieve. Stick with it and do not let your negative thoughts and doubts defeat you.

Affirmations Routine

The power of positive affirmations lies in repeating them to yourself regularly. For positive affirmations to be successful you need to repeat them several times daily:
  1. Allocate at least one special time each day, preferably first thing in the morning;
  2. Do them wherever you are, whenever you have the time;
  3. It is also a good idea to repeat your positive affirmations as soon as you start a negative thought or behaviour pattern that you want to overcome.

Affirmations Procedure

Establish a procedure for your affirmations. Try not to rush through them and try not to rush off when finished as they are much less powerful if you rushing through them on the way to get somewhere else or doing something else. An example procedure may look like this:
  1. Prepare for your affirmations, maybe taking a few deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling to a count of 10.
  2. Say each affirmation slowly and clearly, 2 to 5 times and really focus on the meaning of the words.
  3. When finished, take time to let your body absorb the positive feeling of the affirmations, maybe taking a few deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling to a count of 10.

Morning Affirmations

Some people prefer to use affirmations in the afternoon or evening. However, the benefit is far greater if you use them in the morning. The main reason is that if you use your affirmations in the morning, you begin your daily routine in a more positive frame of mind. You should therefore see benefits throughout the whole day. In addition, repeating positive affirmations when you wake up can help you eliminate any negativity from your dreams or difficulties from the previous day.

Writing Affirmations

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Affirmation Writing Tips

When writing affirmations, you usually target a specific area, behaviour or belief that you are struggling with. Consider the following points to help you write affirmation statements that best fit your needs:
  • Topic - Think about an area of your life that you would like to change or behaviours that you want to work on. Be sure that it is compatible with your core values and the things that matter most to you, so that you genuinely feel motivated to achieve it.
  • Positive - If you struggle with negative self-talk, write down persistent thoughts or beliefs that bother you and choose a positive affirmation that is the opposite of that thought or belief. Ensure your affirmations are positive statements. If you tell yourself you are discarding negative behaviour and thoughts, your focus will be on those rather than on what you want to do and be. Do not use words negatives (e.g. don't, won't, am not, can't, not, doesn't, or am stopping, etc).
  • Realistic - Be sure that your affirmation is credible and achievable. Base your affirmation on a realistic assessment of the facts. Affirmations are not magic spells. If you cannot believe it, it is unlikely to impact your life.
  • First Person - Begin your affirmations with "I" or "My" whenever possible as you are making a statement about yourself. Using these are more effective as they begin with you.
  • Present Tense - Write your affirmations in the present tense, not as if they are something in the future. It is also better not use a time frame in your affirmations, such as a certain date or time period, because doing so limits when what you desire can happen.
  • Already True - Write and speak affirmations as if they are already happening as it helps you to believe that the statement is true right now. Do not start with "I want" or "I need" because you do not want to affirm that you are wanting or needing something. Instead, write your affirmations as being grateful for already having and being what you want.
  • With Feeling - Saying affirmations with feeling can be more effective when they carry emotional weight.
  • Meaningful - You need to want change to happen, so affirmations you choose to repeat should be phrased in a way meaningful to you.
  • Short - Make your affirmations as short as possible so they are easier for you to remember. Even statements as short as four or five words can be powerful.

Specific Affirmation Examples

By definition, your affirmation should be personal to you, and specific to what you want to achieve or change. Here are some examples for inspiration:
  • I am happy.
  • I am generous.
  • I am excellent at what I do.
  • I am grateful for the job I have.
  • I am enjoying working with my team.

Benefits of Affirmations

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General Affirmation Benefits

By using positive affirmations to affect the subconscious mind, you can influence your attitudes, behaviours, habits, actions, reactions and lifestyle. You can also use positive affirmations to inspire, energize and motivate yourself. Positive affirmations can also help you challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. If your affirmations are about relaxation then you can use these your relaxation affirmations to create a more relaxed lifestyle for yourself. Positive affirmations are good for your body and your mind. By changing the way you think, they can help you to slowly transform your whole life. You can use affirmations in any situation where you would like to make a positive change in your life. Affirmations can help you to:
  • Control negative feelings such as frustration, anger, or impatience;
  • Deal with your low self-esteem, depression, and other mental health conditions;
  • Enhance your self-knowledge, making you better at knowing what you really want in life;
  • Feel more positive, energetic and active, and therefore better able to transform your life;
  • Change the way you think and behave which can bring you into contact with new people and experiences;
  • Make you more aware of your thought processes and therefore more likely to challenge negative thoughts as they arise;
  • Reconnect you with feelings of gratitude and enhance your outlook on the good things in life, which in turn can help boost your happiness;
  • Make you more optimistic, and research shows that optimistic people tend to have better cardiovascular health, so affirmations could help you to live longer too.

Specific Affirmation Benefits

Affirmations can help you in a variety of ways. For axample they can help you to:
  • Calm your nerves;
  • Increase your confidence;
  • Overcome your bad habits;
  • Increase your self-esteem;
  • Reduce yout feelings of stress;
  • Increase yout motivation level;
  • Improve your chances of success;
  • Improve your performance at work;
  • Keep your mind focused on your goal;
  • Boost your problem-solving abilities.

Affirmation Tip On Self-Esteem

Evidence suggests that the higher your self-esteem, the more effective affirmations can be. However, if you have low self-esteem, then positive affirmations may make you feel worse, because they set up a conflict between the positive state you desire and the negative feelings you currently experience. If this applies to you, work on Boosting Your Self-Esteem before you use affirmations.

About Affirmations

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What Are Affirmations?

The word affirmation is usually used as a shorthand for the term positive affirmation and is sometimes called a self-affirmation. Positive affirmations are sentences, or positive statements composed with the aim of affecting your life in a positive way. These positive statements create mental images in your conscious mind, which then affect your subconscious mind. In other words, you use your will power to program your subconscious mind which can be considered a form of guided meditation.

Repeating Affirmations

Positive affirmations are repeated in order to help you focus your mind on what you want. When you first start saying positive affirmations, they may not be true. Often, they are designed to reflect what you want to be true. Over time, the consistent repetition of daily positive affirmations helps to reshape your beliefs and assumptions about yourself and the world around you. This reshaping gives you a more positive perception of who you are, where you stand, and then you can start to make positive changes in your life.

Affirmations Success Timescale

Some people consider positive affirmations to be unrealistic or wishful thinking. However, consider viewing positive affirmations as follows: many people do exercises repetitively in an attempt to improve their physical health. In a similar way, positive affirmations can be viewed as exercises for your mind and your outlook on life. By repeating positive affirmations, you can reprogram your patterns of thinking so that, over a period of time, you start to think and act in different positive way. The time these affirmations take to bring about results varies from immediately to a couple of hours, to days, weeks or even longer. Your success depends on your focus, belief, strength of desire, the depth of feeling you put into your affirmations and the scale of what you want.

Affirmations Health Warning

Negative thinking can cause severe health problems and, in extreme cases, death. While positive affirmations have been shown to have a positive effect on reducing occasional negative thinking, they are for guidance only. You should take advice from a suitably qualified health professional if you have any concerns over related illnesses or if negative thoughts are causing you significant or persistent unhappiness.

Meditation Techniques

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Variety Of Meditation Techniques

Meditation is available to everyone and can be practised using many different techniques. Some are mantra-based, some are based on compassion, mindfulness, and transcendentalism, among others:
  • Transcendental Meditation (TM) - This is the most popular type of meditation around the world, and it is the most scientifically studied. It is a specific form of mantra meditation, using a mantra or series of words that are specific to each practitioner. The goal of TM is to reach the state of enlightenment. Enlightenment means that you experience a state of inner calmness, a quiet state of least excitation, even when you are dynamically busy. This form of meditation traditionally requires you to sit in a Lotus position with your eyes closed for 15–20 minutes twice per day. You internally chant a mantra and focus on rising above your negativity. If you cannot sit in a Lotus position due to physical inability then sitting upright in a chair is acceptable. The mantra is not unique, and is given to the practitioner based on his gender and age. The mantras are not meaningless sounds but Tantric name of Hindu deities. To effectively learn TM, expert guidance is recommended. This practice is for those who like structure and are serious about maintaining a meditation practice. Transcendental meditation is not taught freely. The only way of learning it is to pay to learn from a licensed instructor but you do get good support. However it is expensive and cheaper alternatives exist such as Natural Stress Relief (NSR) or Mantra Meditation.
  • Mindfulness Meditation - This is an adaptation from traditional Buddhist meditation practices and is the most popular meditation technique in the West. The Buddhist term sati translates to mindfulness. With mindfulness, you intentionally focus on the present moment, accepting and non-judgmentally pay attention to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that arise, without becoming involved with them. This practice combines concentration with awareness. You pay close attention to the movement of your breath. You do not judge any feelings, thoughts or emotions that arise, you simply observe observe them, accept them and return your attention to your breath. The purpose is to not intentionally add anything to your present moment experience, but just be aware of what is going on, without losing yourself in anything that arises. Formal practice usually involves sitting on a cushion on the floor, or on a chair, with straight and unsupported back. However it can be done in any posture. There are also daily practices you can do with activities such as while eating, walking or talking. With these, you pay attention to what is going on in the present moment, to be aware of what is happening and not living in an auto-pilot mode. If you are walking, be more aware of your body movements, your feet touching the ground, the sounds you are hearing, etc. If you are speaking, pay attention to the words you speak, how you speak them, and to listen with presence and attention. This type of meditation is good for people who don’t have a teacher to guide them, as it can be easily practised alone. For most people, this may be the only type of meditation they will like, especially if their focus is only the physical and mental benefits of meditation. If you want a deeper transformation and spiritual development then this may be just an initial step for you before moving on to other methods such as Vipassana, Zazen, or other types of meditation.
  • Vipassana Meditation - This is a traditional Buddhist practice where you start with focusing your attention on an aspect of the breath, called the primary object, such as air passing through the nostrils, with the goal of calming the mind. You then move on to develop a clear insight on any perceptions and sensations you notice, called secondary objects. These can be through the senses (sounds, feelings in the body, smells) or through the mind (thoughts, memory, emotions). You observe them moment by moment but do not attach to any of them. If secondary objects distract your attention, focus on them for a moment or two, label them with a general mental note, such as thinking, desiring, memory, hearing, smelling or feeling, and return your attention to your breath, the primary object. As a result you develop a clear seeing that the observed phenomena is pervaded by three marks of existence: impermanence or constantly changing (annica), insatisfactoriness or suffering (dukkha), and emptiness of self or no soul (annata). As a result, calmness, peace and inner freedom is developed in relation to these inputs. The ideal posture is to sit on a cushion on the floor with your legs crossed and your spine erect. However, a chair may be used as long as the back is not supported.
  • Zen Meditation (Zazen) - This is at the heart of Zen Buddhist practice and translates to "seated meditation." You sit in a comfortable position with your back completely straight and centred, your mouth closed and eyes lowered, with your gaze resting on the ground about two or three feet in front of you. You then focus your attention on the movement of your breath going in and out through your nose. This may be assisted by counting your breaths in your mind, counting down from 10 on each inhale to 1, then resuming from 10 again. If you are distracted and lose your count, gently bring back your attention to 10 and continue counting down. This method is easy to begin with and engage with as it only relies on self-guidance. However, the lack of guidance can make it difficult to progress in the future.
  • Metta or Loving Kindness Meditation - This practice stems from Buddhist traditions and Metta is a Pali word that means kindness, benevolence, and good will. Benefits include: boosting your ability to empathise with others; development of positive emotions through compassion; a more loving attitude towards oneself; increased self-acceptance; greater feeling of competence about one’s life; and increased feeling of purpose in life. With this practice, you sit down in a meditation position, with closed eyes, and generate in your mind and heart, feelings of kindness and benevolence. Begin by developing loving kindness towards yourself, then progress towards others and all beings. For example, follow this progression: yourself; a good friend; a "neutral" person; a difficult person; all four of the above equally; then gradually the entire universe. You develop the feeling of wishing happiness and well-being for all. This can be aided by: reciting specific words or sentences that evoke a feeling of boundless warm-heartedness; visualising the suffering of others and sending love; or by imagining the state of other beings, and wishing them happiness and peace. You may benefit from this if: you are sometimes too hard on yourself or on others; or if you feel like you need to improve your relationships. It is beneficial both for selfless and self-centred people, and it will help increase your general level of happiness. You cannot feel loving-kindness and depression (or any other negative feeling) at the same time. It is also help with insomnia, nightmare, or anger issues. The more you practice this meditation, the more joy you will experience.
  • Mantra (OM) Meditation - Mantras are used in Hindu, Buddhist and other traditions. Some people call mantra meditation "om meditation", but that is just one of the mantras that can be used. A mantra is a syllable or word, usually without any particular meaning, that is repeated for the purpose of focusing your mind. It is not an affirmation used to convince yourself of something. Some of the most well-known mantras from Hindu & Buddhist traditions are: om; so-ham; om namah shivaya; om mani padme hum; rama; yam; ham. With this you repeat the mantra in your mind, silently, over and over again during the whole session. Some practices couple the mantra with being aware of the breathing or coordinating with it. In other practices, the mantra is whispered very lightly and softly, as an aid to concentration. As you repeat the mantra, it creates a mental vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness. As you meditate, your mantra becomes increasingly abstract and indistinct, until you are finally led into the field of pure consciousness from which the vibration arose. Repetition of your mantra helps you disconnect from your thoughts filling your mind so that maybe you can slip into the gap between thoughts. You can meditate for a specific period of time, or for a set number of repetitions, in which case, beads are typically used for keeping count. As your meditatione deepens, you may find that your mantra continues on its own like the humming of the mind. Or the mantra may even disappear, and you are left in a state of deep inner peace. As with most type of meditations, this is usually practiced sitting with spine erect, and eyes closed. Some people enjoy mantra meditation because they find it easier to focus on a word than on their breath. Because a mantra is a word, and thoughts are usually perceived as words, it can be easier to keep the focus on a mantra rather than on the breathing. It is useful especially when the mind is racing with many thoughts, since it mantra meditation demands constant attention. Meditating with a mantra can also make it simpler to integrate your meditative state into your daily life. Whatever activity you find yourself going, it can be as simple as repeating the mantra in your mind. This is also a good practice for people who do not like silence and enjoy repetition.
  • Yoga Meditation - The word Yoga means union. Yoga is not a single type of meditation but refers to several meditation types. Classical Yoga divides the practice into rules of conduct called yamas and niyamas, physical postures called asanas, breathing exercises called pranayama, and contemplative practices of meditation called pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Yoga tradition is the oldest meditation tradition on earth and also has the widest variety of practices. Here are some types of Yoga meditation. The "third eye meditation is the most common and universal. Other popular ones involve concentrating on a chakra, repeating a mantra, visualisation of light, or gazing:
    • Third Eye - This focuses your attention on the "spot between your eyebrows", called "the third eye" or "ajna chakra”". Your attention is constantly redirected to this point, as a means to silence the mind. Over time, the silent gaps between your thoughts get wider and deeper. Sometimes this is accompanied by physically looking with your eyes closed towards that spot.
    • Chakra - This focuses on one of the seven centres of energy in the body, called chakras. You typically do a visualisation and chant a specific mantra for each chakra (lam, vam, ram, yam, ham, om). Most commonly it is done on the heart chackra, third eye, and crown chackra.
    • Gazing (Trataka) - This fixes your gaze on an external object called, such as a candle, image or a symbol called a yantra. It is done with your eyes open, then with your eyes closed, in order to train both the concentration and visualisation powers of your mind. After closing your eyes, you should still keep the image of the object in your "mind’s eye". This meditation is very important and powerful.
    • Kundalini - This type of meditation has roots in both Buddhist and Hindu teachings, and in Sanskrit it translates to "coiled." This practice focuses on a rising stream of energy and has a very complex system, with the goal of: awakening your "kundalini energy" which lies dormant on the base of the spine; the development of several psychic centres in the body; and, finally enlightenment. To access this energy the individual must concentrate on their breathing as it flows through the energy centres in the body. Once that energy is felt, the individual can experience an altered state of consciousness. There are several dangers related with this practice so it should not be attempted without the guidance of a qualified yogi.
    • Kriya - This is a set of energising, breathing, and meditation exercises. and is more suited to people hose who have a devotional temperament, and are seeking the spiritual aspects of meditation. To learn it, you can apply free of charge to receive the Self-Realisation lessons.
    • Sound (Nada) - This focuses on sound. You start with meditation on external sounds, such as calming ambient music such as Native American flute music. You focus all your attention on just hearing, as a help to quieten and collect the mind. Over time the you evolve to hearing the internal sounds of the body and mind. The ultimate goal is to hear the "Ultimate Sound" called para nada, which is a sound without vibration, and that manifests as "OM".
    • Tantra - Tantra has a very rich tradition, with dozens of different contemplative practices. "Tan" means expansion and "Tra" means liberation. Together, Tantra means to expand your consciousness in order to obtain liberation. The goal of Tantra is to take you on a journey, taking your individual consciousness and merging it with infinite consciousness. In essence, Tantra is a practice that combines movement, breath, meditation and sound, to assist your Chakra energy system within your body to open. This opening allows dormant energy, known as Kundalini, to move up from the pelvis, along the spine. The movement of this life-force energy can help you to heal by loosening constrictions within your body that have developed over time. The expansion of your energy body also increases sensation, clairvoyance and your ability to connect with others. It feels good to practice Tantra and has the side benefit of ecstatic orgasms.
    • Pranayama - This is about breathing regulation. Although not strictly meditation, it is excellent for calming the mind and preparing for meditation. There are a number of types of Pranayama, the simplest and most commonly taught one being the 4-4-4-4 breath. This means breathing in to the count of 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds, breathing out for 4 seconds, and holding empty for 4 seconds. You breathe through your nose, and let the abdomen move, but not the chest. You go through several cycles like this, regulating your breathing to balances your moods and pacify your body. This and can be done anywhere.
    As Yoga has many types of meditation you are likely to find one that suits you. For musicians, nada yoga may be attractive. For devotional type people, kriya yoga is a good option. Kundalini and Chakra meditation should only be attempted with a teacher. The "3rd eye meditation" is probably the simplest to try and yields results fairly quickly. Other types would probably need more instruction, either of a teacher or a good book. Also, Pranayama is definitely something anyone can benefit from.
  • Self-Enquiry (I Am) Meditation - Self-Enquiry is actually "atma vichara" in Sanskrit which means to "investigate" our true nature to find the answer to the question "Who am I?". It culminates with intimate knowledge of our true Self, our true being. It is very simple and very subtle but sounds very abstract when explaining it. Your sense of "I" (ego) is the centre of your universe. It is behind all your thoughts, emotions, memories, and perceptions. However, you are not clear about what this "I" is and confuse it with your body, your mind, your roles, your labels. It is the biggest mystery in your life:
    • To begin, you ask yourself "Who I am?" within yourself.
    • You reject verbal answers that arise, simply using the question as a tool to fix your attention in the subjective feeling of "I" or "I am".
    • You become one withe it, going deep into it to reveal your true "I" or real self as pure consciousness, beyond all limitation.
    • This is not an intellectual pursuit. It is a question to bring your attention to the core element of your perception and experience: the "I".
    • This is not your personality. It is a pure, subjective, feeling of existing without any images or concepts attached to it.
    • When thoughts or feelings arise, you ask yourself, "To whom does this arise?" or "Who is aware of it?". The answer is "It is me!"
    • You then ask "Who am I?" to return your attention back to the subjective feeling of self, of presence, as pure existence, object-less and choice-less awareness.
    In essence, this practice focuses your mind on your feeling of being, the non-verbal "I am" that shines inside of you. Keep it pure, without association with anything you perceive. With other types of meditation, the "I" (yourself) focuses on an object, internal or external, physical or mental. With self-enquiry, the "I" focuses on itself, the subject. This is attention turned towards its source.There is no specific posture for this practice, although general suggestions about posture and environment are helpful for beginners. Self-Enquiry is very powerful in bringing inner freedom and peace. However, if you do not have previous experience with meditation, it may prove very difficult to follow through. To get a feeling for it, start with some guided meditations from Mooji on YouTube.
  • Taoist (Daoism) Meditation - This is a Chinese philosophy and religion which emphasises living in harmony with Nature, or Tao. Its main characteristic is the generation, transformation, and circulation of inner energy. Its purpose is to quieten the body and mind, unify body and spirit, find inner peace, and harmonise with the Tao. Some styles of Taoist meditation focus on improving health and longevity. There are several types of Taoist meditation, sometimes classified as: "insight", "concentrative", and "visualisation". Here is a brief summary:
    • Emptiness (Zuowang) - You sit quietly and empty yoneself of all mental images (thoughts, feelings, etc.). You "forget about everything" to experience inner quiet and emptiness. In this state, vital force and "spirit" are collected and replenished. Similar to the Confucius discipline of "heart-mind fasting", it is regarded as "the natural way". You simply allows all thoughts and sensations to rise and fall by themselves, without engaging with or "following" any of them. If you find this too hard or "uninteresting", then visualisation and Qigong may be better for you.
    • Visualisation (Cunxiang) - This is an esoteric practice of visualising different aspects of the cosmos in relation to your own body and self.
    • Breathing (Zhuanqi) - You focus on your breath, or "unite mind and qi". The instruction is "focus your vital breath until it is supremely soft". At times it is done by quietly observing the breath in a similar way to Mindfulness; at other times it is done by following specific patterns of exhalation and inhalation, so that you become directly aware of the "dynamism of Heaven and Earth" through your ascending and descending breath. It is a type of Qigong and similar to Pranayama in Yoga.
    • Inner Vision (Neiguan) - This visualiees the inside of your body and mind, including the organs, "inner deities", qi (vital force) movements, and thought processes. It is a process of getting to know yourself with the wisdom of nature in your body. There are specific instructions for following and a good book or a teacher is required.
    • Internal Alchemy (Neidan) - This is a complex and esoteric practice of self-transformation that utilises visualisation, breathing exercises, movement and concentration. Some Qigong exercises are simplified forms of internal alchemy practices.
    Most of these meditations are done seated cross-legged on the floor, with spine erect. The eyes are kept half-closed and fixed on the point of the nose. Although not easy, ideally you should practice by "joining the breath and the mind together"; if you find that too difficult, focus on the lower abdomen (dantian). If you are more connected with your body and nature you may like to try Taoist meditation, and enjoy learning a bit about the philosophy behind it. Or if you are into martial arts or Tai Chi, this might interest you. However, Taoist centres and teachers are not as easy to find as Buddhist and Yoga ones.
  • Qigong (Movement) Meditation - Although most people think of yoga when they hear of movement meditation, this practice may include walking through the woods, gardening, qigong (chi kung, or chi gung), and other gentle forms of motion. It is an active form of meditation where the movement guides you. Qigong is a Chinese word that means "life energy cultivation". It is a body-mind exercise for health, meditation, and martial arts training. It is one of the oldest forms of meditation originating from ancient Chinese society. It is a meditation favourite because this method improves posture, respiration, and the ability to relax with greater ease. It uses breath to circulate energy through the body and energy centres. The focused combination on breathing techniques, movement, and meditation helps the individual to control their reactions to stress. It typically involves slow body movement, inner focus, and regulated breathing. Qigong has thousands of different exercises with over 80 different types of breathing. Some are specific to martial arts to energise and strengthen the body; others are for health to nourish body functions or cure diseases. There are others for meditation and spiritual cultivation. Qigong can be practised in a static position (seated or standing), or through a dynamic set of movements. The meditation exercises are normally done sitting down without movement. Here is an overview of seated Qigong meditation:
    • Sit in a comfortably with your body balanced and centered.
    • Relax your whole body - muscles, nerves, and internal organs.
    • Regulate your breathing, making it deep, long, and soft.
    • Calm your mind.
    • Focus your attention in the "lower dantien" - center of gravity, two inches below the navel. This helps accumulate and root the qi (vital energy). Where your mind and intention is focused, iw where your qi will be. Focusing on the dantien gathers energy in this natural reservoir.
    • Feel the qi circulating freely through your body.
    Movement meditation, or specifically Qigong, may be better for people who like to be more active, find peace in action and prefer to let their minds wander.
  • Heart Rhythm Meditation (HRM) - This meditation is a downward meditation as it focuses energy on developing the application of consciousness. It concentrates primarily on the heart, with an emphasis on breathing, and the purpose is to experience the mystics’ mantra, "I am a part of all things and all things are a part of me." It is described as a triple threat form of meditation as individuals experience physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. It helps the individual better handle stress and develop an appreciative and joyous spirit.
  • Guided Visualisation - This is a newer technique that can be used for spiritual healing, stress relief, or personal development. The inspiration comes from Buddha, "The mind is everything. What you think you become." Among other factors that set this form of meditation apart, the emphasis on one specific goal is defining.By imagining relaxing and positive experiences, the body will respond by releasing chemicals that generate feelings of positivity. This method can be done casually by imagining a certain situation in the brain.
  • Focused Meditation - This is a widespread style of Buddhist practice which involves concentration using any of the five senses. For example, you could focus on something internal, such as your breath, or use an external influence to help focus your attention, such as counting mala beads, listening to a gong, or staring at a candle flame. Although this is simple in theory, it can be difficult for beginners to maintain their focus for longer than a few minutes to begin with. If your mind does wander, it is important to come back to the practice and refocus. As the name suggests, this type of meditation is ideal for someone requiring additional focus in their life.
  • Spiritual Meditation - This is used in Eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Daoism, and in Christian faith. It’s similar to prayer in that you reflect on the silence around you and seek a deeper connection with your God or Universe. Essential oils are commonly used to heighten the spiritual experience. Spiritual meditation can be practised at home or in a place of worship. This practice is beneficial for those who thrive in silence and seek spiritual growth.


Guided Meditation


I have separated guided meditation from the meditations above as it is a relatively modern phenomenon. As the term suggests, guided meditation is assisted. It is an easy way to begin learning meditation and is usually based on one or more on the above traditions.

To practice meditation requires some degree of determination and will power. In times gone by, people interested in meditation were more committed to it, and usually had strong ideals motivating them. Past lives used to be more simple and there were fewer distractions.

These days, life is busier and will power is a less common personal asset. Distractions are everywhere, and people usually seek meditation to develop better health, enhance performance, or improve themselves. It is for these reasons that guided meditation can be a good way to introduce people you to the practice of meditation.

However, once you get to grips with meditation and want to develop your skills further, it would be better to try meditation unassisted. It is up to the individual to decide when to move on to the next stage. Once you understand the main principles you can step out and meditate on your own. That way your meditation will be different, tailored to you, and hence more powerful.

Guided meditations usually come in the form of audio and/or video formats. Many guided meditation will fit within one of the following categories, with some overlap between them:
  • Traditional Meditations - With this types of recording, the voice of the instructor is simply there to guide the way for your attention, in order to be in a meditative state. There will probably be more silence periods than than voice instructions in it, and often no music or other sounds. The purpose is to develop and deepen the practice itself, with all the benefits that come with it.
  • Guided Imagery - This uses imagination and visualisation powers of your brain, guiding you to imagine either an object, an entity, a scene or a journey. The purpose of this type of recording is usually heal or relax.
  • Relaxation and Body Scans - This helps you achieve a deep relaxation in your whole body. It is usually accompanied by soothing instrumental music or nature sounds. In Yoga these are called yoga nidra. The purpose is to instil relaxation and calmness.
  • Affirmations - These are usually combined with the relaxation and guided imagery categories. The purpose of these meditations is to imprint a message within your mind, usually a positive one.
  • Binaural Beats - This is when the signals of two different frequencies are presented separately, one to each ear. Your brain detects the phase variation between the frequencies and tries to reconcile that difference. This is used to generate alpha waves at 10 Hz, the brain wave associated with initial levels of meditation.
While they all have their merits, it is the first type that most naturally evolves into individual unguided practice. If you feel that unassisted, non-guided traditional meditation is a little too hard for you, or you are not sure where to begin, then guided meditations can be a good way for you to begin. Also, if you want a very specific experience or benefit such as: improving self-esteem; working through a trauma; or just letting go of some tension in your body; then guided meditation will probably suit you.

Practising Meditation

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Where Is A Good Place To Start With Meditation?

A good place to start with meditation is through your breath. Focusing your attention on your breath will help you develop concentration skills and also calm your mind.


When to Practise Meditation

Everyone can do some form of mindfulness as you do not need any skills, or have any problems. You do not even need to feel stressed to benefit from meditation. You do not need to practise meditation every day, but because meditation is a beneficial practice, you will probably discover that the more you practise, the more you find it beneficial to your life.

It is a matter of finding the right technique for you to use in the situation and time of day you decide you want to practice. You can try the various techniques and see which work for you in different situations, be it:
  • Early in the morning after rising from sleep;
  • When you are stressed;
  • During a lunch hour;
  • At the end of your work day; or
  • Just before going to sleep.


How to do Meditation

It is probably best to begin meditation in small moments of time, even five or ten minutes, and grow from there. How you do a meditation will depend on the individual practices you choose. Remember that meditation is a journey, and journeys take time. You may think you have messed up when you practise meditation because of how busy your mind is. However, getting lost in thought, noticing it, and returning to your chosen mindfulness meditation practice is actually how it is done. If you are doing that then you are doing it right!

Whatever meditation techniques you use, here are some general tips on how to meditate:
  • Take Time – You do not need any special equipment, such as a meditation cushion, to practice your meditation skills. However, you do need to take some time out to practice it, even if only a few minutes at a time.
  • Understand Meditation Principles - Beginners often think the goal of meditation is to become focused without being distracted. A more useful goal is to become aware of when your mind has drifted away sooner.
  • Observe The Moment – The goal of meditation may ultimately be to quiet your mind, or achieve a state eternal calm but to begin with, you simply need to pay attention to the present moment.
  • Let Go Of Judgement - When you mind wanders off, it is more useful to learn to return your attention back to the present moment than to criticise or judge yourself.
Okay, that is how to practise meditation in general. Although it is very simple, it is not necessarily easy. As with most things in life, it just takes practise, so keep doing it.


You May Find It Difficult To Practise Meditation

With meditation you are attempting to retrain yourself to be focused and stay in the present moment, but your mind likes to resist. You are likely to be experiencing challenging emotions or a restless mind or feel uncomfortable during your meditation.

Your mind will try to avoid doing anything that it finds difficult to do. It is a lot easier to permit your mind to dart about in the usual chaotic way it normally does instead of maintaining attention or focus. If you are aware that your mind is being resistant then this will help you to overcome your resistance. With continued practise you will be able to achieve a calmer state of mind.

Whether you are looking to reduce stress or find spiritual enlightenment, find stillness or flow through movement, there is a meditation practice for you. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try different meditation types. It often takes a little trial and error until you find the one that suits you.

Benefits of Meditation

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Meditation Benefits

Meditation gives you the opportunity to be calm and relax your mind and body. By focusing your mind on something, for example: a candle or a visualisation script, you can free your mind of busy thoughts and help to rest your brain. Meditation has a positive impact on your health and well-being and the benefits of a meditation are no secret.

Meditation is often publicised as a habit of highly successful, happy people. It is also highly recommended for coping with stress and anxiety, and for improving general physical and mental wellness, reducing negative emotions and mood swings. Meditation reduces your heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol, slows and deepens your breathing and relaxes your muscles, providing your body with an opportunity to revive. Longer term, continuous practise can lead you to a different view on life, bringing you more happiness, harmony and peace of mind.

There are many types of meditation and their aims may be different but they share common benefits:
  • Reduces mind chatter - Have you noticed a nattering, chattering voice in your head which seems never to leave you alone. Meditation gives you the opportunity to be calm and relax your mind and helps provide the time to take a little break and reduce your brain chatter.
  • Reduces stress and increases happiness - Stress creates agitation, which most people deal with on some level. Meditation enables you to take charge of your own nervous system and emotions to alleviate the psychological and physiological symptoms of stress.
  • Reduces anxiety and drug dependency - Anxiety in society is increasing, as is the use of anti-anxiety medications. Meditation alleviates anxiety and reduces dependency on drugs.
  • Improves focus and concentration - Meditation promotes being more centred and focused in everything you do and you find it easier not to be distracted. Greater concentration is related to the increased energy meditation provides. Improved concentration through meditation is also linked to improved working memory and an improved ability to multitask and process visual information.
  • Alleviates pain - Pain may be a reality in your life but it does not have to dictate it. Meditation can assist you in redefining your relationship with either physical or mental pain and improving the symptoms.
  • Improves sleep - Meditation gives you enhanced REM sleep and increased levels of melatonin, and can even help serious sleep problems like chronic insomnia. Meditation reduces total wake time during the night, improves relaxation before going to bed, and reduced the severity sleep problems.
  • Increases self-awareness - Meditation teaches you to recognise your own feelings and become more detached from it. It clears your mind and creates a stillness within. It makes you more comfortable in your own skin. When you take more time to go inside yourself, you become more comfortable showing others who you are.
  • Increases happiness - Meditation puts you in the fast lane to being happy. Brain signals increase in the left side of the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for positive emotions, while activity decreases in the right side, responsible for negative emotions. Meditation helps you gain awareness of your mind, so you are aware of negative thoughts and disown them. As you become less identified with your emotions and thoughts, those thoughts lose their power.
  • Improves communication and relationships - Meditation helps you to better recognise your own emotions, and those of other people around you. You therefore more easily experience increased levels of satisfaction, closeness and acceptance of each other, reduce relationship distress and more empathy and understanding of others.
  • Increases acceptance - Meditation helps you accept things. You explore your inner self and realise that it is just as big as travelling the globe.
  • Improves cardiovascular and immune health - Meditation induces relaxation, which increases the compound nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to open up and subsequently, blood pressure to drop. Meditation also improves your immunity, reduces your heart rate and provides your body with an opportunity to revive.
  • Improves brain function and creativity - Meditation causes changes in brain waves that actually improve the brain function. You can more easily find success in your life, think more quickly to deal with problems. Meditation can help boost your divergent thinking. By doing a meditation session before a brainstorming or idea creation session, meditation helps you to be less distracted, fully focused and produce better quality ideas.


Meditation Is Not Just For Bad Times

Meditation is not useful just when you are feeling unwell or stressed. It can help you enjoy, a more wakeful, healthier, happier life. You do not have to be stressed at the moment in order to do meditation. Actually, meditation can be particularly useful to do, when you are not stressed. Once you develop your meditation skills, you can then use them more easily when you do get stressed, or life becomes a challenge.


Meditation Is Not A Quick Fix

Meditation is not a quick fix. Part of meditation practice, is being willing to let go of instant solutions. However, if you are motivated, a fresh outlook on things can start to emerge. It can extend, to the whole of your life. When you start practising meditation, you are embarking on a journey that can help you, to live more fully, and to really be alive.


Who Can Practice Meditation

There are many types of meditation, most requiring only mental abilities and are suitable for everyone. However, some types of meditation may require the use of physical physical postures and therefore are may not be suitable for some people. Mindfulness meditation requires only mental abilities so anyone can do it, no matter how old you are or what your physical ability is. Everyone already has the ability to be fully present in the moment and you are not required to change who you are.

Meditation and Relaxation Relationship

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Passive Relaxation


You may think of the following as relaxation: watching the television; sitting down with a drink; reading a good book; sitting in the sun; walking in the park; or listening to music. There are many different ways to simply relax where you simply find yourself feeling relaxed through doing something pleasurable. This can be referred to as subconscious, or passive relaxation.


Active Relaxation

There are also techniques especially designed to achieve true relaxation, where you practise and develop something consciously, or actively, using a variety of relaxation techniques. When using active relaxation techniques, you slowly relax your major muscle groups in your body, with the purpose of stimulating your relaxation response; a protective mechanism against stress that reduces your heart rate, lowers your metabolism, and reduces your respiratory rate. A secondary, or side benefit of relaxation is that you may also calm and quiet your mind.


Relaxation Is Secondary Benefit Of Meditation

On the other hand, meditation is a technique practised in the mind to train yourself to be more aware of the here and now. The main purpose of meditation is usually to calm and quiet your mind. With meditation, you develop a mode of consciousness in which you are not focused on actively thinking. Instead, you focus on sitting and breathing, which in turn, allows you to clear your mind. When you meditate, relaxation is a lovely side effect, not the goal. Many people that meditate benefit from using active relaxation techniques before meditation as they help them access the inner stillness needed for meditating. However, with meditation, relaxation is often a secondary benefit, while some forms of meditation can be anything but relaxing.


Meditation And Relaxation Summary

Thus, it all comes down to the intention and purpose of the technique you use: With relaxation techniques your main aim is to calm the body. With meditation techniques your main aim is to calm the mind. Relaxation is a secondary benefit of meditation and many meditation techniques can be considered as a specific form of relaxation technique.

What is Meditation?

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Meditation Approach

Coping with stresses and challenges, is part of our lives. With meditation, you discover a different way of handling them, and how you can enjoy life more.

Meditation practices are not new, they have been around for thousands of years. However, recent scientific research shows, how useful they are for reducing stress, anxiety and depression, helping people manage a wide range of physical conditions, and for our general well-being.

Most meditation practices do not contain any religious material and you do not need to accept anything except what you experience for yourself during meditation.


Meditation Definition

Meditation is the concentrated focus of your mind something such as a sound, object, visualisation, the breath, movement, or even your attention itself, with the purpose of increasing your awareness of the present moment, reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and enhancing your personal and spiritual growth.

One could describe meditation as awareness, where you are relaxed but at the same time you are also focused and aware on what you are doing right now. When you act with awareness you are also meditating.

Meditation techniques teach you to remain in the present moment, training your thoughts to be focused instead of letting them dart about untamed. Meditation teaches you to eliminate distracting thoughts to calm your mind. There are different techniques, for example: breath control or focused gazing.

You can still be meditating when walking or listening to music. As long as your mind is free from distracting thoughts, you are meditating.


What Meditation is not!

There are some common myths about meditation that are simply not correct:
  • Meditation is not about “fixing” you;
  • Most meditations do not belong to a religion;
  • Meditation is not an escape from reality;
  • Meditation is not a panacea.
Once you start to practise meditation, you may discover that the experience is rather different to your expectation. You will most likely be pleasantly surprised.

Mindfulness and Meditation Relationship

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Relationship Between Mindfulness And Meditation

Many people ask what the difference is between mindfulness and meditation. Both of these terms are used quite a lot these days, and are often used interchangeably. Often they are used to refer to the same general idea, that of calming your turbulent mind.

The differences between mindfulness and meditation have been deliberated in many ways, and this is likely to continue. Both are rooted in ancient Buddhism and can be considered as two sides of the same coin. They both complement each other, and often overlap. At the same time, they both have their own specific definition and purpose.

So what is meditation? It is a higher level, umbrella term that encompasses many techniques, one of which is mindfulness. Meditation refers to the practice of reaching an ultimate state of consciousness and concentration, acknowledging the mind and, in a way, self-regulating it. Mindfulness also acknowledges the mind and can therefore be considered a form of meditation.


Informal Mindfulness And Formal Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness is simply being aware, and can be practised both formally and informally:
  • Informal Mindfulness - When you practice mindfulness informally, it means that you simply attempt to be more aware in whatever you are doing in your daily life.
  • Formal Mindfulness Meditation - This is when you intentionally pay attention to whatever is here in the present moment. Your goal is to learn to be in the present moment. You do this to the extent that when, in a future present moment, you feel yourself reacting in a particular way, you will be so aware of the present moment, that you will be able to take a step back. You can then actually change your reflex reactions so you do something in a different, and hopefully more beneficial way.


Mindfulness And Meditation Summary

Hers is a summary on the relationship between mindfulness and meditation:
  • Meditation is when you intentionally allocate time to do something that is good for you, and there are many types of meditation.
  • Mindfulness is both a general awareness of the world as well as a formal meditation practice.
  • Mindfulness refers to two things, not just one, informal mindfulness amd formal mindfulness meditation.
  • Meditation and mindfulness overlap in mindfulness meditation.

Practising Mindfulness

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When to Practise Mindfulness

Everyone can do some form of mindfulness as you do not need any skills, or have any problems. You do not even need to feel stressed to benefit from mindfulness. You do not need to practise mindfulness every day, but because mindfulness is a beneficial practice, you will probably discover that the more you practise, the more you find it beneficial to your life.

It is a matter of finding the right technique for you to use in the situation and time of day you decide you want to practice. You can try the various techniques and see which work for you in different situations, be it:
  • Early in the morning after rising from sleep;
  • Whilst travelling to work or waiting in a queue;
  • During a short break at work;
  • Whilst travelling home from work or waiting in a queue;
  • At home after a day at work;
  • Just before going to sleep; or
  • Any situation that is suitable for you.


Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness is available to everyone in each and every moment, and can be practised using many different techniques, including:
  • Mindful Breathing;
  • Mindful Body Scan;
  • Mindful Walking;
  • Mindful Listening;
  • Mindful Observing;
  • Mindful Daily Tasks.


How to do Mindfulness

There is no right or wrong way to do mindfulness. You may think you have messed up when you practise mindfulness because of how busy your mind is. However, getting lost in thought, noticing it, and returning to your chosen mindfulness meditation practice is actually how it is done. If you are doing that then you are doing it right!

Whatever mindfulness techniques you use, here are some general tips on how to be mindful throughout the day:
  • Take Time – You do not need any special equipment, such as a meditation cushion, to practice your mindfulness skills. However, you do need to take some time out to practice it. 
  • Observe The Present Moment – The goal of mindfulness is not to quiet your mind, or even to try and achieve a state of everlasting calm. The goal is simply to: “pay attention to the present moment, without judgement”.
  • Be Kind To Your Thoughts – When you mind wanders off, do not judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up. Simply recognise when your mind wanders off and gently bring it back to observing the present moment.
  • Let Judgement Go – When you notice judgements arising during your practice, simply make a mental note of them, let them go and return to observing the present moment.
Okay, that is how to practise. Although it is very simple, it is not necessarily easy. As with most things in life, it just takes practise, so keep doing it.

Benefits of Mindfulness

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Mindfulness Benefits

Learning and practising mindfulness techniques leads to a greater appreciation and engagement with life. It does not really help you to focus on the benefits when you do mindfulness, just do your practices and the benefits will accrue. However, there are many benefits and here are six good reasons to practise mindfulness:

  1. Stress – There is a lot of evidence these days that excessive stress can cause many illnesses and make other illnesses even worse. Mindfulness can help lower your level of stress.
  2. Pain – Pain may be a reality in your life but it does not have to dictate it. Mindfulness can assist you in redefining your relationship with either physical or mental pain.
  3. Concentration – Do you ever recall being frustrated when your mind strayed off what you were doing and being pulled in a number of different directions. Mindfulness improves your inherent ability to focus your mind.
  4. Chatter - Have you noticed a nattering, chattering voice in your head which seems never to leave you alone. Mindfulness can help provide the time to take a little break and reduce your brain chatter.
  5. Communication – Have you ever found yourself gazing vacantly at a friend, partner or child, and you had no idea what they were saying? Mindfulness can help you give people your full attention and make a better connection with them.
  6. Creativity – Mindfulness can help boost your divergent thinking. By doing a mindfulness session before a brainstorming or idea creation session, mindfulness helps you to be less distracted, fully focused and produce better quality ideas.

Once you spend some time practising mindfulness, you will probably discover that you have a shift in your thinking and feel kinder, calmer, and more patient. As you experience these shifts in thinking, you are likely to generate positive changes in other parts of your life as well.


Mindfulness Is Not Just For Bad Times

Mindfulness is not useful just when you are feeling unwell or stressed. It can help you enjoy, a more wakeful, healthier, happier life. You do not have to be stressed at the moment in order to do mindfulness. Actually, mindfulness can be particularly useful to do, when you are not stressed. Once you develop your mindfulness skills, you can then use them more easily when you do get stressed, or life becomes a challenge.


Mindfulness Is Not A Quick Fix

Mindfulness is not a quick fix. Part of mindfulness practice, is being willing to let go of instant solutions. However, if you are motivated, a fresh outlook on things can start to emerge. It can extend, to the whole of your life. When you start practising mindfulness, you are embarking on a journey that can help you, to live more fully, and to really be alive.


Who Can Practice Mindfulness?

There are no barriers to doing mindfulness. Anyone can do it. No matter how old you are or what your physical ability is. Everyone already has the ability to be fully present in the moment. You are not required to change who you are. You can nurture your natural inborn ability with simple daily practices.

What is Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness Is A Different Approach

Coping with stresses and challenges, is part of our lives. With mindfulness, you discover a different way of handling them, and how you can enjoy life more. Mindfulness, means paying attention, to your thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and your environment.

With mindfulness, you gently bring awareness to your experience in each moment. By being present in this way, not forcing things, or hiding from them, but actually being with them, you create space, for new ways of responding. You may not always, have full control over your life, but you can work with your mind and body, learning how to live, with more appreciation, and less anxiety.

Mindfulness practices are not new, they have been around for thousands of years. However, recent scientific research shows, how useful they are for reducing stress, anxiety and depression, helping people manage a wide range of physical conditions, and for our general well-being.

Mindfulness does not contain any religious material. You do not need to accept anything except what you experience for yourself during mindfulness.


Mindfulness Definition

Mindfulness is your ability to be fully present in the moment, being aware of where you are and what you are doing, not being judgemental, too reactive or overcome by what is going on about you. You are being mindful whenever you bring your awareness to:

  • What you are directly experiencing through your senses, or
  • Your state of mind through your thoughts and emotions.

Mindfulness helps you pause between yourself and your reactions. It helps you break down your habitual responses.

So, mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, such as focusing completely on a specific task or activity, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and body sensations.

An example task might be: drinking a hot cup of tea; taking in its aroma; feeling its warmth; tasting its flavour; and when your mind drifts away into all sorts of thoughts and emotions, gently returning to the task of drinking the cup of tea.

Mindfulness can therefore be applied to many different daily tasks or activities in many different daily circumstances.


What Mindfulness is not!

There are some common myths about mindfulness that are simply  not correct:

  • Mindfulness is not about “fixing” you;
  • Mindfulness is not about stopping your thoughts;
  • Mindfulness does not belong to a religion;
  • Mindfulness is not an escape from reality;
  • Mindfulness is not a panacea.
Once you start to practise mindfulness, you may discover that the experience is rather different to your expectation. You will most likely be pleasantly surprised.

Active Relaxation Techniques

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What Are Active Relaxation Techniques?

To effectively counteract stress, anxiety and tension you need to activate the body's natural relaxation response. You can do this by practising various relaxation techniques. Image Relaxation Videos (IRV) focuses on the use of active relaxation techniques such as:
  • Breathing relaxation - There are various breathing techniques. A popular one is deep breathing where you place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly as you take slow, deep breaths. Two other breath techniques are the complete breath and the bumble bee breath.
  • Autogenic relaxation - Autogenic means something that comes from within you. In this relaxation technique, you use both visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress. You repeat words or suggestions in your mind to relax and reduce muscle tension.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation - In this relaxation technique, you focus on slowly but actively tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in your body. As the tension abates, you focus on how the muscle groups feel. It is sometimes referred to as a mind-body technique.
  • Guided imagery - This involves listening to a guided imagery audio to move you into a state of deep relaxation. Once you are in a relaxed state, the images that come up in your mind can help you uncover important realisations about your emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
  • Meditation techniques - There are many forms of meditation and they involve focusing on something. The most popular forms are Transcendental Meditation where a mantra is repeated, and mindfulness meditation where the focus of attention is on thoughts and sensations.
  • Guided meditation - Guided meditation is separate from meditations and is a relatively modern phenomenon. As the term suggests, guided meditation is assisted. It is an easy way to begin learning meditation and is usually based on one or more traditional meditation techniques. Positive affirmations are positive statements that describe and guide you to a desired state, situation or something you want. The are repeated to imprint the statements on your subconscious mind, which in turn strives and works on your behalf, to make the positive statements become reality.
  • Contemplation - This involves the thinking about a specific topic as a means of focusing the mind and is similar to mindfulness meditation. Quotations about a specific topic are an example and can be used to invoke your focused contemplation about the topic. Depending on the topic, the quotations can be meditative, relaxing and entertaining.
By making time for relaxation activities in your life you can help reduce your everyday stress, tension or anxiety; boost your energy and mood; and bring your nervous system back into balance.


What Is Pranayama?

Pranayama means breath (Prana) control (Ayama), which helps cleanse and strengthen your body and mind by controlling your prana or vital energy. If you consciously control your breath then more oxygen enters the body, which helps burn up nutrients and provide more energy to your body. Breathing deeply can provide additional oxygen to your brain, which in turn helps relieve tension headaches and has calming effects on your mind. The breath can improve your concentration, help to control your emotions and relax your body.


How Do Breathing Techniques Benefit Me?

By practising breathing techniques you can improve your concentration, help control your emotions and relax your body. Slow, smooth breaths, bring a sense of peace and harmony and can be created naturally through emotions such as joy, love and forgiveness. Therefore you can recreate these feelings through consciously controlling the breath. As your nervous system can control your emotions and breathing, then by bringing your breath under control you can also control your emotions. If you are suffering from painful emotions like sadness, anger or resentment your breath can have great benefits by bringing your nervous system back into balance. This is done by reducing the effect of your sympathetic nervous system which is activated during your "fight" or "flight" response and stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system which promotes rest and relaxation.


What Is Autogenic Relaxation?

Autogenic relaxation is where you tell yourself that you are relaxed and the body follows. Suggesting to your mind that you feel relaxed and calm allows your body to respond in the same way. It is used to enhance the physical effects of progressive relaxation, working a bit like a Mantra or positive thought that you repeat to yourself. This continued suggestion that each body part feels relaxed and heavy results in the physical body responding in the same way. This can have a calming and soothing effect on your mind and give your body a chance to let go, relaxing tight muscles and relieving aches and pains.


What Is Progressive Muscle Relaxation?

Progressive relaxation is a way of focusing your attention on each part of the body, being aware of any tension before relaxing that part and moving on. You physically tense and relax each area of your body, then as the tension abates, you focus on how the area feels. This helps focus your mind and stop thoughts wandering as well as allowing your body to let go of any stress or strain. Progressive relaxation draws your awareness to each part of your body and encourages it to relax. Taking one body part at a time, physically tensing and relaxing your body part and letting thoughts drift away, provides a very effective way for you to relax.


What Is Guided Imagery?

Guided imagery is a relaxation technique where you listen to guided imagery audio, to help guide you to a state of deep relaxation. Once you are in a relaxed state, the images that come up in your mind can help you uncover important realisations about your emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Guided imagery is a gentle but powerful technique that focuses and directs your imagination in proactive, positive ways. Guided imagery can use not only your visual sense but all of your senses.


What Is Meditation And Mindfulness?

Some people consider meditation and mindfulness to be one and the same, some consider them to be different. One could describe meditation and mindfulness as awareness, where you are relaxed but at the same time you are also focused and aware on what you are doing right now. When you act with awareness you are also meditating or acting with mindfulness. Mindfulness is considered a specific form of meditation. Both techniques teach you to remain in the present moment, training your thoughts to be focused instead of letting them dart about untamed. However, meditation teaches you to specifically eliminate distracting thoughts to calm your mind. Mindfulness teaches you to simply be aware of distracting thoughts and accept them before returning to your mindfulness. There are different techniques, for example: breath control or focused gazing. You can still be meditating or being mindful when walking or listening to music. As long as your mind is free from distracting thoughts, you are meditating or being mindful.


What Is Contemplation?

Contemplation is the concentrated thinking of the mind about something such as an idea, a topic, a desired state of thought or state of existence. Contemplation is a practice that is practical and transforming with the capacity for developing deep concentration and the calming of your mind. Mindfulness is related to contemplation where you do not think about thoughts, but you do become aware of your thoughts. However, contemplation actually involves active thinking about something. During contemplation you explore the meaning, purpose and values associated with a topic to help you create focus and thus exclude distractions and create a state of calmness. Contemplation helps you develop greater empathy and communication skills, improve your ability to focus your attention, and reduce stress, tension or anxiety.


Is Guided Imagery Also Self-Hypnosis?

Yes, in a one sense guided imagery is also a type of self-hypnosis which is limited to the use of imagery. However, guided imagery can be considered a sub-category of self-hypnosis which may use just verbal suggestion and thoughts without images. For example, telling yourself that you will be calm and confident qualifies as self-hypnosis, whereas seeing yourself calm and confident, in sights, sounds or feelings is imagery. Self-hypnosis may also use images but it is not limited to images.

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