Dee Ogden

Meditation Guide and Creative, Surf Coast Australia


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Have you got a minute?

‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you’. Annie Lamott

Science shows the positive affect meditation has on our physical, mental and emotional health and so many of us are looking for an antidote to the stressful demands on our lives. We know that meditation will be ‘good’ for us but our days are already bursting at the seams. I often hear people say that they would like to meditate regularly but they just simply don’t have time. I believe that any meditation practice is better than none, so I often recommend beginning with as little as 5 minutes a day.

5 minutes of meditation can be integrated into your day so easily. You get to work 5 minutes early – you sit in the car and meditate. You set your alarm 5 minutes earlier – you sit or lay in bed and meditate. You take the dog for a walk – you sit and meditate somewhere along the way. You may choose to make it part of your daily rhthym, meditating at the same time every day.  Or just simply set the intention that you will do 5 minutes every day, squeezing it in when you can. If by the end of the day you haven’t yet meditated, quickly take five minutes to do so before you settle in for sleep.

In our busy lives there is a lot of value placed on being busy and productive, many  of us have learnt to believe that stopping to meditate or even rest is lazy or a waste of time. The logic, egoic mind loves to be busy so will often think of a hundred things that need to be done over meditation. It can take a great deal of discipline to convince yourself to actually sit still and do nothing. Let’s not even talk about the challenges that arise when you actually do manage to sit still (we will go there another day). We don’t all have the time and discipline to sit for extended periods of time each and every day. If you are a beginner then this is even more difficult because it takes practice to get the hang of slowing the mind down.

The most affective way of building a regular and consistent meditation practice is to start small. Behavior experts will tell you that if you want to establish a new habit that lasts it helps to begin in small increments, making it achievable and something you can build on. If we are told that our meditation practice should consist of 20 minutes every morning and evening, many of us wont even begin. We have our work, a fitness regime, meal prep, kids to run after, friends and loved ones and other passions and interests that also need our time.

If you are wanting to establish a regular and consistent meditation practice that you can stick to, my advice is always start with 5 minutes a day. It most definitely isn’t pointless, studies have shown that doing short regular meditations are better than one long  session every now and then. In fact many people that begin with 5 minutes each day often begin to notice improvement to their sense of wellbeing and this motivates them to not only continue but to lengthen their sessions too.

It doesn’t need to be perfect, you may have kids playing loudly around you, be on a train, in the bathroom, on the bed, in the car park, at the beach or the park. The important thing is that you carve 5 minutes out of your day for yourself. To stop and take a break. As Annie Lamott says ‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you’. This small amount of time can have a huge impact on your life. It creates a pause and this pause is the difference between you operating with a mind that is full to one that is mindful.

I’m not here to say that this five minutes is always going to feel blissful and calm. You need to have some techniques and tools to help you settle in and a realistic expectation of how calm the mind can become in only 5 minutes. The longer we sit the deeper we can sink into calm. To help you get started I have created this little 5 minute meditation. Once you have done it a few times you can try setting a timer and going it alone.

Did you give this practice a go? I would love to hear your feedback and if you have any questions please post them below or feel free to send me an email.

If you are looking to further explore meditation check out my events page here, I also offer one-on-one sessions where I can work with you to build a toolkit of meditation techniques that suit your needs and lifestyle.

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dive deep

‘’The body benefits from movement, the mind benefits from stillness’’ Sakyong Mipham

The mind is often likened to the ocean. The surface of the water is heavily influenced by the weather. It may be wild and turbulent or calm and peaceful. Yet when you dive deep enough there is a space where it is always still, no matter what is happening up on the surface, this space of peace and calm exists within us also.

I find so much comfort in this. Life may be crazy, sending situations, stresses, worries that can throw us off centre. Yet no matter what is happening on the surface of our external lives, if we allow ourselves to release the grip, we can sink, deeply into the space within that is always calm. Thoughts and emotions can be swirling around us, but this quiet place is always there. Even on days where it feels impossible to connect with the calm take comfort in knowing it is there. A tiny pocket of our being, no matter how small is always still. Unwavering. Centred. Grounded.

In my experience using the sensation of the body as a tool to access this space is very effective. When we turn our awareness from the stories that run through our thinking mind and settle into feeling our body we can anchor ourselves in the present moment. This helps to break the cycle of our thinking.

When we purely focus on the senstations in the body we are making these neural shifts. As we hear today ‘neurones that fire together wire together’. You could even see this practice as a form of brain training. Strengthening your ability to see these mental narratives for what they really are…stories. They may feel real but they aren’t always  true. By improving our ability to see our thoughts we realize that we are not defined by them and there lies the peace, the stillness, the calm that so many of us are seeking these days.

If all this sounds like something that is only available to very experienced meditators then try this simple practice. Take your awareness to your left hand. Using your full attention, scan through your fingers and see if it is possible to detect a sensation in each  finger. Now think about the space between your fingers. The palms of your hands. The backs of your hands. The space created in the palm of your hand. Then see if you can widen your awarenss to include the whole of the hand, all at once. Do you notice that as soon as you consciously send your awareness to the hand the stories in the mind cease, you may even feel slightly relaxed? You may be more aware of the sensitivity in the hands, perhaps even a buzzing, tingling sensation.

Short simple practices like this can help us to relax when we are feeling stressed, calm ourselves down when we are feeling anxious and connect us to the stillness that is always present within us.

Want to see how this practice works for you? Find yourself a quiet spot and listen to this short guided meditation designed to help you connect to sensations in the body and settle into your place of stillness.

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simply breathe, simply be.

 

We live in such a fast paced world, so to sit and be still with the breath can be very challenging. When we pause to focus on the breath we are connecting to our natural rhythm and pace. There is a lot to be learnt from the simplicity of the breath.

Breath awareness lowers our center of gravity.

We have a physical connection to the breath. The nature of the human mind means that it will always wander. When we use the breath as an anchor for our awareness we have something physical to our return our focus to. Every time we return to the breath we are training the brain to increase it’s capacity to focus. We are also creating breaks in the cycle of habitual thinking. So be kind with yourself and don’t stress if you feel like it is difficult to stay with the breath. Some days will be easier than others and the more you practice the easier it will be for you to surrender to whatever state of mind you find yourself in.

Rest and digest.

The stillness that comes from tuning into the breath allows the nervous system to slip into a parasympathetic state. As opposed to ‘fight and flight’ this is a ‘rest and digest’ or ‘attend and befriend’ state of being. When our body is operating in this mode healing can occur and our body and mind can reset.

Just like life, the breath cannot be controlled.

Whilst we can manipulate it, the breath cannot be controlled. When we learn to align with the breath we allow space for things to be just as they are. We are much better off co-operating with the breath rather than clinging to it or resisting (much like life). For this reason it is important to listen to your body and not to push any breathing exercises that don’t feel right.

Stay present.

When we anchor our minds with the breath it enables us to enjoy the present moment. We can practice being still, steadfast, calm. Without regularly taking the time to do this we are more likely to be thrown off course by the ups and downs of daily life. When we align with the breath it helps us to synchronize the mind and body and bring us into a state of present awareness. This is the place of contentment. Lucky for us, the breath goes everywhere with us.

The simple art tuning in to the breath can be done anywhere, no meditation cushion required. As little as 5 minutes a day can have profound effects on our sense of wellbeing. Here is a quick 5 minute guided meditation to help you take some time out, unplug and reset the mind by using the breath as your focus.

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