The simplest and often most effective techniques for meditation are those you can practice whenever and wherever you are, and even better, in the actual moment of drama.
In our fast and busy lives, we don't always have the time or space to create the ideal meditation setting: lighting candles, turning on some peaceful music, burning incense, finding the most amazing cushions, surrounding ourselves with crystals and then finally actually getting to our meditation. As nice as it is to set ourselves up for meditation, often I've noticed that we become seduced by the preparation for the meditation or the idea of it rather than actually doing the meditation.
In reality, we may find ourselves in a difficult situation or interaction with someone in our daily lives and we need a quick fix. So in addition to our longer meditation practices where we have the time and space, we also find power in equipping ourselves with quick accessible tools that can instantly bring us inner calm.
We then cultivate strength to face the challenges of the day with recharged light. A mantra or a shift in perspective may just be thing (or quick fix) we need to find our peace, anchoring us to the present moment. Just a few seconds of mindfulness can bring you home to you.
Here is just one of the many tools we can create to ground us in the present. Use this mantra meditation technique (inspired by one of my favorite teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh) anytime, anywhere, when you are on the go or feeling stressed, anxious or frustrated. No one is immune to such situations. Saying a mantra brings focus and calm in the actual moment of stress. This is perfect in our world of busyness and instant gratification.
No preparation required. You don't even need to sit or close the eyes. In fact, keeping the eyes open helps you to practice finding your center, even amid the storms and distractions of life. It takes only a few seconds to be free from sorrow, fear, and uncertainty.
Here's the technique:
1. Right here, right now, bring all your awareness to your breath. Shift your focus down to the belly and allow the belly to soften as you deepen your breath.
2. Now mentally repeat to yourself, "Breathing In, I calm myself. Breathing out, I smile." Say this like a mantra as many times as you need until you feel the shift.
3. Notice the corners of your mouth begin to curl, even if just a tiny little bit, even if you have to pretend. Notice how your breath becomes a bit more even and deep. The subtle smile brings relaxation and carries the message "all will be OK" to your mind and body.
4. That's it! So simple and quick. Try it and feel free.
The technique with a twist:
Expand this mindfulness practice by making it experiential in the body. In this particularly difficult moment or challenge, you may also notice that there is a part of your body where you feel some tension.
Bring your awareness to that place of tension. If, for example, you feel tension in your shoulders, mentally say, "I am aware I have tension in my shoulders." Then mentally repeat, "Breathing in, I am aware of this tension in my physical body. Breathing out, I relax this tension." So simple. So effective.
By being so aware of the words of the mantra (the variations for it are infinite), you focus your attention on the present moment. As Thich Nhat Hanh shares, you RELEASE the future and LET GO of the past and you come home to the present moment. Freedom and lightness embody the present, with the breath being the vehicle. You can return to your day fortified with the power of this mantra meditation, feeling more strength and determination to move forward and not get stuck by anything that holds you back from feeling free.