Most Commonly Asked Questions about Guided Meditation, Visualization, and Mindfulness
“Like the body needs sleep the mind needs rest also”–Swami Adiswarananda Guided Meditation, Visualization and Mindfulness with Krista Magidson
Commonly Asked Questions about Meditation and Mindfulness
- “What is Meditation?” Meditation is simply the practice of being here now. It is the practice where we learn to release ourselves from the burden of past and the anticipation of the future.
- “How does â€˜being here now’ create better health and wellbeing?” Stress and anxiety come from our mind’s tendency to be focused on thoughts and images about our past and/or the future. When we move our attention away from these thoughts and images then what’s left is no-stress, just the present moment.
- “Is Meditation Religious?” Typically the purpose of meditation is two-fold:
- To use it as a tool to help you manage everyday stressâ€”these are short term solutions where you’ll learn various breathing techniques, toning, simple stretching exercises and affirmations and/or to use it as a tool for personal transformation. However, meditation in and of it self is not religious and it is non-dogmatic, although you could use it in conjunction with an already established religious practice.
- “What are you going to teach us in this class?” My intention with this class is to address both aspects of meditation, with specific emphasis on explaining and experiencing the three aspects of mind: Ego (Reactive/Thinking Mind), Personal/Witnessing Mind and Impersonal/Higher Mind, to teach the methods of acquiring long term stress relief, how to be deeply relaxed and yet alert, to enhance your knowledge of the body/mind, to deepen your natural intuitive abilities and to activate the body’s natural resources for self-healing. It has been my experience that guided meditation and visualization are not only enjoyable but are extremely helpful to center even the most active mind.
- “What if Guided Meditation and Visualization doesn’t work for me?” It is important to note that there are many forms of meditation practice and practitioners so it’s perfectly alright if this class and this method doesn’t work for you.
- “What topics will we cover?” Topics will include:
- The nature of stressâ€”Closing the Stress Gap
- Thoughts, Emotions and the Physiological Loop
- The three fold nature of the Mind (ego, witness, higher mind)
- How to build and support a consistent meditation practice at home.
- “I have trouble keeping my mind focused, so making my mind go blank seems impossible. Will this interfere with my practice?” Meditation is not about willing your mind to go blankâ€¦this will create tension and stress in the body/mind. In this practice you learn very simple techniques that will help you to move your attention away from the thoughts and into the refuge of the body and the sanctuary of the breath. The guided visualization portion of this class will be especially helpful in training your attention to remain in the present moment as well as helping you to feel really good and relaxed.
- “What if I fall asleep during class?” It is normal to dose-off during class. However, if you find that you are falling asleep consistently, then practice keeping your eyes slightly open during the meditation and sitting in an upright position.
- “Sometimes I feel discomfort while meditating. Am I doing something wrong?” It is also very normal to feel discomfort during meditation. You may feel anxious, your limbs may fall asleep and your back may hurt from sitting. In addition you may find it difficult to concentrate or to follow the flow of the meditation. This is normal and will ease as the class goes on.
- “What is Mindfulness?” St. Theresa of Avila said that, “mindfulness is not the same as thinking.” To be mindful is to be aware, when we practice mindfulness we practice doing one thing at a time. For example, when you are eating you pay attention to each bite, when your child is speaking you look her in the eye and listen, when you are driving you are not talking on the phone, etcâ€¦ Mindfulness is surrendering to each moment, moment by moment by moment. In time this surrendering becomes a way of entering into the arena of life thoughtfully, compassionately and joyously. With mindfulness practice the entire world becomes the object of your practice.
- “What are the benefits of Guided Meditation, Visualization and Mindfulness?
- Stress Reduction
- Clearer thinking, focus and concentration
- Emotional stability
- Physical well being
- Freedom from the burden of the mind
- Inner Peace
A few comments on proper breathingâ€¦
- “What is the proper way to breathe?” In this class we practice the yogic style of breathing. You always inhale through the nose allowing the belly to expand first, then the ribs and then the chest. On the exhale the chest falls, ribs collapse and belly moves towards the spine.
- “It’s easier for me to take a deep breath when I suck in my stomach and puff out my chest.” This is a very common comment. In yogic breathing the idea is to reconnect with the natural way of breathing. If you watch a baby while she’s asleep her tummy rises and falls. Her breaths are full and deep and easy. Shallow breathing is a learned behavior. If you are mindful, you’ll notice that you hold your breath throughout the day especially when stressed. Shallow breathing is synonymous with imbalance, while natural breathing is synonymous with balance.
- “But it feels uncomfortable when I breathe in this way.” This is because you are not used to utilizing your full lung capacity. When you breathe deeply and fully, you have to stretch your intercostal muscles (the ones between the ribs) to expand your lungs fully. Balance is natural for you. Within a couple of weeks deep breathing will once again be second nature.
- In short, please breathe in and out through your nose, taking the breath all the way down to the belly unless otherwise directed (there is a technique where we exhale the mouth).
- “Are there any other reasons why I should breathe in and out through my nose?” Yes, breathing through the nose:
- Makes exercise mush easier because it restores sympathetic/parasympathetic balance so that you finish a workout energized, not exhausted.
- Keeps the rib cage flexible. As a result, lung capacity is optimized and you can oxygenate your body and brain more efficiently.
- Minimizes occurrence of colds and sinus infections, because air that is breathed into your lungs through the nose has been warmed and filtered by the cilia in your nasal passages.
- Improves metabolism because the better aeration of the lungs oxygenates the blood and burns calories more efficiently. (Mother Daughter Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, M.D.)