At this time of year, it’s easy to get into the self- improvement trap. No matter how cynical – or even realistic – we think we are new-year resolutions, the prospect of a few changes dissolving our insecurities is still very seductive. Taking time out of your day to connect to your inner world has immense benefits, and you can do this with meditation.
CALMING THE MIND
I learnt the following sapphire meditation many years ago and have found it unfailingly useful for understanding what I deeply need in my life. Unlike many meditations, which ask you to empty your mind, this practice uses visualisation so your mind has something to focus on, for example an area of your body, a chakra or ‘energy centre’, or an image of yourself. This distraction stops your mind from overthinking, in turn, enabling you to connect with a deeper sense of intuition. The practice also involves visualising a precious stone on your body – in this instance a sapphire, which is associated with truth and wisdom.
Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, and turn off your phone. You don’t need to sit crossed legged on the floor to meditate; in fact many practitioners advise sitting on a straight-backed chair and placing your feet flat on the floor, to help you stay grounded.Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths into your belly to centre yourself, then bring your attention to an area about eight fingers’ width above the crown of your head. Spend a few moments becoming aware of the area, then allow yourself to ‘open’ to a feeling of light there. Next, take your attention to your occiput, the small bump at the back of the centre of your head and use your fingertips to find a small indentation there. Spend a few moments sensing the area, then visualise placing a sapphire in the dip.
6 Types of Meditation: Which One Is Right for You? Photo Gallery
BENEATH THE SURFACE
Focusing on the sapphire, connect to the word ‘truth’ and ask yourself about a situation you might want to change, for example, ‘What is the truth about my career?’ Or ‘What is the truth about my relationship to food?’ If there’s nothing specific you want to work with, simply ask, ‘What is true in my life at the moment?’ Spend five to 10 minutes allowing responses to come to you, then take your attention to your third-eye chakra – the area between your eyebrows.In your mind’s eye, place another sapphire here, let the experience register, then return your attention to the area above your head. This time, visualise an image of yourself, either your whole body or just your face, then connect with the words ‘I need’.
Again, rather than use your cognitive mind to answer the question, simply rest in quietness, and allow the responses to come to you. Spend up to 10 minutes here, then quietly open your eyes.If this kind of meditation is new to you, be patient and take it slowly. There’s no right or wrong, just be curious and notice what you feel – or don’t feel. Simply allow yourself to tune in to the quality of the body part, chakra or stone, meditating on how your body feels and what the stone looks and feels like. Don’t be surprised if unexpected insights or images come forward – the aim of the meditation is to bypass conscious thought and enable you to connect with that part of yourself that instinctively knows what’s best for you.
Each issue, we bring you the best advice from the latest self-help books
This month we look at Living the Dream is… by Louise Hughes (CreateSpace, £5.99)
In a nutshell: This short, easy- to-read book is the gateway to creating change in your life. Each chapter heading offers a wealth of insights on topics that help transformation, such as ‘being true to yourself’ or ‘knowing your life is a mirror image of your thoughts’. Deceptively simple, if you read it with an open mind and heart, trying out its advice, you’ll soon begin to notice a significant difference.
A nugget: ‘Give everything to this moment, because this very moment is creating your life.’