Dee Ogden

Meditation Guide and Creative, Surf Coast Australia


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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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