Lucid dreaming is a unique process that can be leveraged for spiritual and personal growth. It’s fascinating in and of itself, too, as we’ll see in a moment. In this article you’ll read about what lucid dreaming is, how to do it, and how to make it into a growth practise.
What Is Lucid Dreaming?
First of all, what is lucid dreaming? In brief, lucid dreaming is when you realise that you are dreaming while you are still dreaming. When this happens, you gain the ability to control your dream rather than cycle through a seemingly externally-prepared script. Your ability to remember the dream (dream recall) usually goes up too, which is convenient, because lucid dreams are worth remembering.
The glory of lucid dreaming is in the details. Within a lucid dream you have a huge, if not infinite, power to control what happens, rather like Neo after he gains his powers in the Matrix. You can conjure up almost any situation you can imagine, practise mind-over-matter skills, fly, have sex, have a conversation with your own subconscious, and so on. If it were a game, it’d be like playing in “cheat mode”.
How To Lucid Dream
How to lucid dream? Lucid dreaming occasionally happens spontaneously, though it’s most fun when you can take the reigns of the process and get it to happen more often.
One of the first things you can do to start lucid dreaming, and one of the most simple, is to simply *decide* to. That is, take a moment to address your subconscious, or your inner being, or your deepest self, and simply say, “I experience lucid dreams more and more frequently from now on.” Try and feel the truth of those words.
Use any means you feel drawn to to make sure that your inner being fully receives the message. You could meditate on those words and try and go very deep within yourself so that they will be fully received. You could repeat them once every morning as part of your waking up ritual. Or you could use self hypnosis or get a friend to hypnotise you. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do all of these things; just pick something that works for you.
This is not necessarily the most effective method, though. There are many different methods for creating lucid dreams. A full list is beyond the scope of this article, but for now, we’ll explain the most important one: the reality check.
A reality check is when you ask yourself, “am I dreaming right now?” – and, for effectiveness, you make a test.
You need to make a test when you ask yourself that question because when you are dreaming, you never *feel like* you’re dreaming. Pink elephants could be jumping around on pogo sticks, but in a dream this will just feel normal.
One of the most popular tests – almost a cliché – is to pinch yourself. In a dream, you won’t feel any pain from it. You can also try moving things with your mind to see if you are able, or look closely at the scenery to see if it shifts around a lot.
To start getting lucid dreams, you’ll want to start doing reality checks as frequently as possible in your everyday life. Once you start doing that, inevitably you’ll eventually do a reality check within a dream.
Instead of testing reality, you can also do this simple powerful technique: look at your hand. Looking at your hand is hard to do in a dream and when you manage it, it will normally jar you into lucidity. In real life, it can also be a good meditation to cultivate wakefulness.
Lucid Dreaming For Spiritual And Personal Growth
Lucid dreaming is an excellent tool for personal and spiritual growth.
For one thing, it is, in a way, an experience of an alternate sort of reality; and, in the same way as perception altering drugs, it can be a gateway to questioning your experience and finding new insights into reality itself.
There are a lot of parallels between lucid dreaming, which can be thought of as “waking up” to the reality of your dream, and spiritual awakening. In real life, as with dreaming, you can often go through the motions automatically, doing everything in a reactive mode, and your presence as a conscious being in the whole pattern is almost irrelevant. On the other hand, you can “wake up” within either the dream or real life, and then a whole new dimension of options are open to you.
The unquestioned reality of the dream or life itself comes into question. Things are viewed in a more humorous light, as it’s understood that nothing really matters and there is no real danger out there. And the very understanding of the behind-the-scenes mechanics of the reality you are living in – be it a dream or real life – gives you a greater control of what happens. In particular, understanding the nature of real-life reality lets you take advantage of such things as the Law of Attraction. A lucid dream can give you a taste of what it’s like to wake up to such an understanding of things.
Lucid Dreaming For Personal Exploration
Lucid dreaming also provides an incredibly rich sand-box for your personal exploration.
If you are experiencing a dream which has a significance for your growth and become lucid in the middle of it, it’s actually possible to decipher the meaning of the dream while you’re still in it. Your ability to think clearly while still experiencing the dream clearly will give you an excellent perspective to do so. You can even ask the dream what it means: either conjure up an avatar which represents the dream and ask it questions, or directly address yourself to the different elements of the dream (including objects) and ask them to explain themselves.
You can also conjure up situations that let you practise skills or work out how you feel about different things. For instance, if you’re thinking of going through a change in style you could conjure up a mirror and look at yourself while dressing in different items of clothing and seeing how it feels. Or you could put yourself into a situation where you felt helpless before in real life, and go through different permutations of that scene until you’ve worked out a response you feel good with.
Finally, a lucid dream can give you two important indicators as to your growth. First, the amount of light and space you have within your dream represents the amount of spiritual “light” you have in you at that moment, that is, your level of consciousness. This will, of course, vary from night to night, but looking at the general tendency of your dreams in this respect will give you an idea of your progress.
Second, your image in a mirror is your self-image. If you have self-love issues, they will be impossible to ignore here: you will look ugly, even distorted, no matter how you look in real life. If this is your case, take it as a sign to make a real effort to improve in this area, and check back in a lucid dream every few months to see your progress.
Lucid dreaming is a powerful and fascinating experience. Seeing as you’ll spend 1/3 of your life dreaming anyway, it just makes a lot of sense to take advantage of this time to enjoy yourself and work on your spiritual growth!
Collective consciousness is a term used to describe the phenomenon of individual consciousness merging into a collective whole.
Most people will identify with the occasional slight telepathy they experience with close friends or relatives. For instance, you might be thinking of a song, and your friend might start singing it spontaneously. Or, you might be thinking of a person, and your friend might ask you about that person. The most common manifestation of this sort of collective consciousness would be when you are thinking of a sentence and your friend says it before you do, or you finish the same sentence together.
Telepathy isn’t just about communicating without words. This and other things can be seen as signs of a field of collective consciousness that is evolving in our society and people. Telepathy isn’t really communicating; it’s more like sharing thoughts!
Eventually, as humanity evolves we will hopefully reach a point where a lot more of our individual functioning is shared. Our thoughts will often be shared, as well as our feelings and desires. Through collective consciousness we should eventually be able to connect with each other to function as a single being in various bodies, while maintaining the best parts of our individuality as well.
The Cell In The Body Metaphor
The famous personal development blogger Steve Pavlina is fond of using the “cell in the body metaphor” to explain collective consciousness.
A body is made up of billions of individual cells. Each cell has its own form; they have a defined shape and a cell membrane to act as a boundary between them and the outside world. Yet, without the body which they are a part of, each cell would quickly die.
It doesn’t just go one way though. The cell was made by the body and was designed to be a part of the body. Its life and livlihood is oriented towards being part of the body.
The cell and the body exchange information, nutrition, waste, and other products. They operate together from a position of perfect trust, and perfect interdependence. The body depends on its cells, while the cells depend on the body. And in a way, the body lives for its cells, while the cells live for the body. It looks a lot like love, you know.
But then, sometimes we get cancers. Cells that forget their place in their body and want only to grow and grow, selfishly.
I hope you can see how all of this can be seen as a metaphor for the greater body of humanity.
Each individual human is a cell in the body of humanity. Humanity is a single being.
Each cell gives to humanity. And humanity gives to each cell.
There’s a lot of cancerous cells in the body of humanity, and the individual cells are often not that aware of their role in the greater collective consciousness. But I think all of us could admit that without the rest of humanity, we wouldn’t survive.
Mostly, our functions as a part of the greater body of humanity are automatic. We realise that we must live at least somewhat in harmony with our environment for us to feel okay. We all have a sense of morality to a greater or lesser extent and are capable of feeling other’s wellbeing as our own. Our lack of consciousness stops us seeing the majesty and extent of this web of interrelated feelings and energy, but we act within it as we are able.
Experiment In Collective Consciousness
Try this experiment to discover a hint of your own interconnectedness with those around you. It’s really recommended that you try doing this for yourself and don’t just read about it, as the impact of the information will be much stronger if you experience it directly.
1. Get a piece of paper and a pen.
2. Center yourself now and take a few conscious breaths. Using whatever meditation technique you’re familiar with, get yourself feeling in tune. If you’re not familiar with a meditation technique, try Vipassana Meditation.
3. Now, think about your different friends and close connections. Try to “tune into” them and find out how they are, and possibly what they’re doing.
Be neutral with your thoughts. Don’t assume that they’ll be doing or feeling any one thing (though you may have your own opinions on what they are likely to be thinking or doing). The trick is to try and hold an open space in your mind where an answer can apparently enter of its own accord.
This open space can be in your vision (close your eyes and hold a space in your imagination for an image to appear), your hearing (hold a space to let a sound or idea come to your inner sense of hearing), your body (allow a feeling or sensation to enter your body) or occasionally your other two senses. If you’re aware of your dominant psychic modality you will know which of these to use. Otherwise you may have to experiment to find which gives you clearest results.
Note: The main psychic modalities described above are called clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience respectively. Claircogniscence, or receiving information in the form of “just knowing”, is also relatively common.
When an answer appears to you, write it down. If you have a mental opinion of what your friends are likely to be doing, write that down too, especially if it’s different from the information you received. Later you can call or talk to your friends and verify if the information you received is correct.
As a variation on this experiment, you can do this with a friend and try and tune into the friends you have in common between you. Write down your answers separately, and then check them to see if they match up.
The results of this experiment will vary from person to person, but in general it’s shocking how well we are connected to those people we know well. Although information can be received psychically about anyone with practise, there is a deep entwining of consciousness between people who know each other well.
As we evolve more and more as people, we will more and more be able to experience us through the eyes of collective consciousness; not only as individual beings, but as individual beings connected to and irreplaceable parts of the collective.
Through collective consciousness, what is called love is not only good, it’s simply common sense.
When we know what we are, living in accordance with that knowing follows naturally. Through collective consciousness, we know we are intrinsically part of something greater. Just as a cog is nothing without the machine it was made for – or a cell is nothing without the body is was created for. We are made for something more.
And our truest identities are as part of that something more – it’s inescapable, and, eventually we will realise, there was never any sense in trying to escape it in the first place.
Spiritual growth… what is it? What does it really mean when we say “spiritual growth”? Is it important for our lives? How important?
What place should spiritual growth have in our lives? And, how can we combine it with our other pursuits, such as making money? Is it incompatible with such activities? Or can spiritual growth and material pursuits actually feed into each other?
We’ll tackle each of these questions one at a time in this article.
What Is Spiritual Growth?
Spiritual growth means growing to be more and more in tune with your true essence.
You could say that it’s about integrating the spirit with the mind and body, and thereby growing into a holistic organism rather than a split and separate one.
But plenty of people are undergoing serious spiritual growth without necessarily referencing the concept of spirit in their attempts to do so. The spirit could be seen as just our “essence”, our “soul”, our “spark of life”… or maybe our sense of self, our creativity, or our “centre”. Zen, as well as other meditation traditions, are dedicated to cultivating spiritual growth, but don’t all make reference to the spirit itself. Sometimes, it’s not needed.
The spirit is what drives you to seek what can only be described as “something more” out of life. The spirit is also what gets expressed or shines out of you when you reach high levels of spiritual growth.
The spirit contains all that is healthy and beautiful about human beings, such as love, harmony, peace, health, and joy. Spiritual growth can bring us to those things, and is often initiated by a longing to grow towards these things or have more of them in our lives.
You discover what the spirit is as you go about your own path of spiritual growth. Spiritual growth itself is something which is likely to redefine itself many times as you go about changing your perspective. In the end, we can only say that it’s the path we take when an internal impulse pulls us towards that ineffable “something more”.
How Important Is Spiritual Growth
So, how important is spiritual growth? In a sense, I’d say it’s hard to answer that question. We are always growing spiritually, whether we want to or not. Our spirit or essence is always a part of us, and it’s always trying to get itself expressed in our lives; it’s always trying to get us to grow to be more spiritual.
However, people who are not aware of that “something more”, who aren’t seeking a closer connection with their essence, may be lost in their own pursuits and not interested in helping their spirit manifest itself. Spiritual growth, for these people, is often a long and gruelling process, with lots of resistance. Think of an old person who stubbornly resists learning to use modern technology. Eventually they’ll have to learn, have to grow, but their free will isn’t helping the process along.
I think it’s maybe the most key thing in our lives to make the conscious decision to help our spiritual growth along. I think that without consciously assisted spiritual growth, our lives are in danger of remaining stuck in a rather unpleasant pit of ignorance and suffering. This is “so much more” out there than this – just as you may have heard your spirit say to you, strongly and persistently.
What Place Should Spiritual Growth Have In Our Lives?
I believe that unlike a lot of concepts of spiritual growth suggest, ALL our lives are the backdrop for our spiritual growth. We don’t only grow spiritually while on the meditation mat, though I think that’s an important part of spiritual growth. We grow spiritually in and through all the activities of our lives.
What’s more, all situations in our lives are either symptoms of our current state of spiritual growth, or perfectly designed opportunities for us to grow spiritually. Naturally, they can also be both of these things at the same time.
Being poor can be a symptom of your current state of spiritual growth. A sense of lack inside can manifest itself as a sense of lack outside.
So if you’re poor and are tugged by the need for “something more” in this arena, perhaps this is your spiritual instinct at work. You may be able to grow financially and spiritually at the same time by healing the spiritual root cause of the matter.
On the other hand, some people may find themselves up against outer situations which don’t reflect their inner situations. You could be rich but have an inner sense of lack which pursues you wherever you go. Or, you could be poor but feel a creative abundance inside you that seems to directly conflict with the reality you’re experiencing. Either situation could be a case of the spirit trying to get itself discovered and expressed. Either situation, definitely, could be used as a way of growing closer to your spiritual essence.
So make spiritual growth an important part of your life. Or, if you already feel that tug towards “something more”, just admit that spiritual growth is an important part of your life. Get exploring. Explore how your spiritual essence pulls you to realise and express yourself in new and changing ways.
And if you have a problem in your life you want to solve, try tackling it as a spiritual problem. Solve it with spiritual growth.
To parallel the famous words of Hippocrates, “Let your life be your spiritual practise and your spiritual practise be your life.”
Mindfulness meditation is a meditation technique oriented towards the cultivation of what the Buddhists call “mindfulness”.
Mindfulness is what many contemporary authors such as Eckhart Tolle have called “consciousness” or “present moment awareness”. It involves having your awareness centred in the present moment, including in such things as your feelings, sensations, and vital force. In doing so you re-channel energy that was previously stuck in the mind. This includes energy that was wasted in compulsive thinking and the continuous mental labelling of your moment-to-moment experience.
You could say mindfulness is our natural state and that compulsive thinking is what removes our awareness from that state. Therefore mindfulness meditation involves a sort of relaxation, where you simply cease to do what was preventing you from your natural mindfulness.
photo credit: Glenn R Carter
It’s not a “zoning out” sort of relaxation, but can also be guided with a certain amount of focus. However it’s good to keep in mind that the least effort needed to keep the meditation on track, the better. View your mindfulness meditation almost as an exploration with your consciousness, and keep the emphasis away from particular meditation techniques. Let your awareness simply flow into greater states of mindfulness through your meditation practise.
The meditation teacher Adyashanti in his book True Meditation said to cultivate “A relaxed focus” and added, “It’s up to you to work out what this means for you.”
Mindfulness Meditation Techniques
To practise the most basic technique of mindfulness meditation, simply sit or lie in a posture that is comfortable for you and bring your awareness to your breath. This mindfulness meditation technique is also called “breath awareness meditation” for obvious reasons.
Allow your awareness to rest naturally and effortlessly on your breath. Feel how the air enters and leaves your nostrils and observe, rather than control, the natural rhythm it takes. Over time you may start feeling a sense of euphoria or pleasure in your body. Just keep it up for as long as you feel comfortable.
Alternatively, it can be a good technique to have a timer set and practise mindfulness meditation for a set length of time: 5 to 20 minutes is probably enough.
Thinking In Mindfulness Meditation
A lot of people worry about thinking too much in their mindfulness meditation or in similar meditation techniques. It’s not a good thing to focus too much on thinking, because trying to stop thinking can become a distraction and can prevent you from developing true mindfulness. Instead, aim to rest your focus on your breath.
When thinking comes up, instead of fighting it, a good technique is to take it simply as – a message. Let thinking be a message that says, “You have lost your focus.” When you receive that message, thank it and return your focus to your breath. Allow your breathing to be your centre of focus again.
Other Mindfulness Meditation Techniques
There are many other mindfulness meditation techniques you can learn. As always, remember to remove the focus from the “technique” element and aim to simply “allow” them to happen, as if you were allowing a stream to flow downhill.
You can use Eckhart Tolle’s inner body awareness meditation technique to cultivate mindfulness. In this technique, you flow your awareness into the inner energy field of your body.
It’s easiest to become aware of the inner energy field of your body through your hands, lips, and feet, where there are the most nerve endings. You’ll first be able to notice the energy field as a slight tingling, which will grow as you deepen your mindfulness. Spread your awareness from your hands to the rest of your body, feeling the tingling in every area of your body if you can. Eventually, you may be able to sense the entire inside of your body as one boundryless expanse, almost a portal into the infinite. Remain in this awareness for as long as you feel comfortable, and return.
Another technique you may find useful is the “remembering” technique. It’s almost more of a habit than a meditation technique, but the idea is to simply remember throughout the day to be mindful. Whenever you have this sudden remembrance, spend a few moments – perhaps a minute, or 10 mindful breaths – returning to mindfulness. Then go about your day and aim to keep that mindfulness in the activities in which you partake in.
The Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation has a lot of great benefits, such as improved health, a greater sense of wellbeing, more intution, more mental clarity, a greater sense of perspective and general wisdom. It also has the benefit of, of course, more control over your emotions, and a greater prevalence of positive emotions in general.
Actually, cultivating mindfulness may be said to one of the keys to happiness in general. It’s possible to have a sense of euphoria and a deep appreciation of the beauty of life through mindfulness that you couldn’t have through all of the more traditionally recognised avenues to happiness (such as money or even relationships).
Remember to make mindfulness your way of life. Don’t confine it to meditation techniques or meditation practise; these can only take you so far. Whenever you sit down to meditate, do it with the intention to take the mindfulness you cultivate *beyond* the meditation mat and into your life. Whenever you have a seed of mindfulness, be sure to care for it and make it grow.
Studies have shown that being in nature for as little as five minutes can have a beneficial impact on mental health. Whether it’s a sparkling full moon in the dark sky above breaking ocean waves or a mountain trail winding its way through the reds and yellows of autumn trees, there is something about nature that connects us to the divine and soothes the worried soul.
With the industrial age, our civilization lost its strong ties to the earth and to the rhythms of time. We cut trees, built factories, and drilled oil wells. Our lives changed forever. Even when nature is there for us to enjoy, we often miss it because we’re tuned in to our cell phones, laptops, or GPS systems.
Fortunately, our society seems to be figuring out that technology is not the answer to all of our problems, and that science alone is no panacea for our stress-related diseases and internal conflict. Indeed, there seems to be rising a new era of science and spirituality that embraces the mystical forces of our universe.
Well-known physicians are embracing energy medicine as an adjunct to their most advanced techniques, and ancient practices, such as meditation and yoga, are becoming main stream. Beneath it all is the need to be grounded, to feel a connection to the creator and the rest of life.
Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, “Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into.” Perhaps we are discovering that nature has always had a soul. Maybe we just have to slow down and realize we’re all part of the same grand scheme.
Vipassana is a Pali word that means “to see things as they really are”, and that is the goal of this Indian meditation. Because of this, Vipassana meditation is often known in English simply as “self- insight meditation”. The meditation form derives its benefits from an inward turning of the attention, which is trained to view all internal sensations with equanimity or non-judgement. Vipassana meditation then allows us increasing freedom from the uncontrolled impulses of the body and mind, state teachers such as S. R. Goenka of the Sayagyi U Ba Khin tradition. In this way, Goenka states, Vipassana meditation allows us to understand the nature of what originates and goes beyond both the body and the mind.
Vipassana meditation is said to be the meditation which the Buddha rediscovered and used to reach Nirvana. It’s not limited to any one tradition, however, and its principles may be found in Hindu schools of meditation and in contemporary spiritual works such as The Power of Now. In its purest form, Vipassana could be said to be any meditation which aims at self-insight.
Vipassana meditation schools are found worldwide, a testament to its universal appeal.
The Benefits of Vipassana Meditation
The benefits of Vipassana meditation are not just limited to those people whose personal beliefs include the concept of Nirvana. Government officials who practised Vipassana meditation were shown to have improved levels of Subjective Well Being (an established psychological measure) and Occupational Stress, according to studies that were performed in 2001 and 2002. For both metrics, greater benefits were measured in those who had spent a greater number of years practising regular Vipassana meditation.
Those who perform Vipassana regularly often report that it results in a calmer mind, more clarity of thought, more positive emotions, and a greater sense of happiness in general. As Vipassana meditation helps you focus peacefully on your surroundings, those who practise it often report getting more pleasure out of their daily experiences, even simple activities such as doing the housework.
How To Do Vipassana Meditation
In order to learn to do Vipassana meditation fully, it’s advisable to read a good book on meditation theory. Recommended books include the contemporary bestseller “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, and “True Meditation” by the Zen teacher Adyashanti.
Now that you have learnt the foundation principles of Vipassana Meditation, you can create a daily practise. Consistency in your practise of Vipassana meditation is more important than quantity. It’s advisable to find a comfortable length of time for your daily practise of Vipassana and stick with it.
As you will learn in your meditation book, your Vipassana practise should start with breath-awareness meditation to root your attention in the present moment. Rooting your attention is a practise that requires discipline as the mind has a natural tendency to go off in all directions and not to settle in the here and now.
To practise rooting your attention, choose any meditation position that is comfortable and not distracting to you, and direct your attention towards your breath. As thoughts come up, gently and firmly return your attention to your breath.
Try not to keep track of your successes and failures in thinking or not thinking as this is a sure way to get frustrated; instead, try to see consistency of practise as a success in itself. If you maintain consistency, slowly but surely you’ll notice a wide variety of benefits appear in your day-to-day life.
As your attention becomes more rooted in the here and now, you will be able to find benefit in self insight meditation. Transition in your meditation from a focus on your breath to a generalised inward focus without thinking. Feel the energy on the inside of your body and allow your attention to rest in it. As you move your attention and energy inwards, release yourself into a profound sense of allowing everything you find to be as it is. This is a deeply healing state.
A personal practise is excellent and vital in the case of Vipassana meditation, but it’s also worth looking for one of the many worldwide Vipassana retreats you can attend for free. A ten-day course allows you to go much deeper than you would in a normal day’s practise, and can be a great boost to start off a lifetime Vipassana meditation practise on the right track.
However you choose to do Vipassana meditation, its practise could become a cornerstone of your life. Its benefits have the power to affect you so deeply that you may one day wonder how you ever lived without it.
The market is flooded with self hypnosis recordings, most of them going for a fairly decent price. However, if you aren’t interested in going with what someone else has created, why not consider making your own self hypnosis recording? It’s easy to do and you will have a program that is tailored to your specific needs.
First, you will need to write your script. This is the most important part of the whole process, since the wording can make or break a hypnosis session. Using words that are meaningful to you will make the hypnosis session more effective, so make it personal and don’t worry about using people, pets, etc.
The first phase of your self hypnosis recording will be the relaxation phase. This is where you relax your body, muscle by muscle. You may want to record yourself going through the various body parts to relax, from your scalp to your toes. Use whatever method has worked for you in the past, as there are various methods and people tend to respond to them differently.
Next comes the deepening phase, where you will put yourself into a far deeper relaxation. You may want to use certain triggers to cause this to happen, for example, you may say “With each breath, you become more relaxed.” This stage will lead into the suggestion phase.
For the suggestion phase, you’ll want to decide what it is you are trying to accomplish, then write down how you will suggest it to yourself. Think this step through carefully. For example, if you want to quit biting your nails, it might be better not to say “Biting your nails will kill you.” Imagining yourself in a stressful situation where you don’t want to bite your nails may be just as effective, without causing any problems down the road (freaking out when someone else bites their nails in front of you).
The last part of your cd will be the awakening phase. Counting is a very popular way to come out of the hypnosis state and you may want to use that. However, if you have another technique that you want to employ, that’s fine, too.
Once you have your script, sit down and start recording. Try to keep your voice fairly calm and don’t get too forceful during the suggestion phase. Then burn your masterpiece to a cd and use it during your self hypnosis sessions.
As you can see, making your own self hypnosis cd is fairly easy to do. Once you have your script down, you can simply record yourself (or someone else, if you prefer) and that’s it. Go ahead and try making your own self hypnosis recording today.
Walking meditation is a form of meditation which has been performed by Buddhist practitioners for thousands of years. It is an alternative to sitting meditation, which allows you to practise mindfulness (the art of being in the present moment) in a more dynamic way. In doing so, walking meditation arguably allows you to bring this state into your every-day life more easily.
According to Zen master Adyashanti in the book “True Meditation”, many people are capable of attaining states of mindfulness while on the meditation mat. However, Adyashanti points out that these people often lose their meditative state when they get up and return to their normal lives. He explains that “True Meditation” is to meditate in all situations, whether you are driving in a car, going shopping, sitting, or, of course, walking.
This means that as an intermediate step between formal meditation and being in a state of mindfulness in every moment of your life, you can learn to do meditations which have a dynamic element in them. This will help you maintain mindfulness even in the midst of activity, which is normally something that causes people to become less mindful. Several sorts of meditation are suitable for this, including Tai Chi, Qi Gong, free movement meditation, and meditations through exercise such as walking meditation.
Studies on dynamic meditations have linked them to improvements in mood and overall psychological wellbeing.
Studies have also shown numerous benefits for both exercise and meditation, which include an increased neuron density in the brain (meditation), an improvement in immune system function (exercise) and reduced cravings for addictive substances (meditation and exercise).
How To Do Walking Meditation
Walking meditation can be practised by simply taking the principles of meditation into a walk around the park or some other place that is tranquil and conducive to a peaceful state of mind.
This means that as you walk, bring your attention to things that are close to you – things that are in the real world, not just your head. That is, stop thinking and start directly experiencing your senses.
Try bringing your attention to your breath, which serves to anchor your attention in the present moment. This is a good way to start any meditation. As your attention is on your breath, allow your breathing to come naturally and without impediment; do not try to change it or control it in any way. If, while you’re doing this, thoughts come up, gently dismiss them and return your attention to your breath.
You can begin to place your attention in your body after you have “anchored” your consciousness in your body with breath awareness. As this is a walking meditation, allow your attention to flow into your legs, the soles of your feet, and all parts of your body, with special focus on the rhythm of your body and the way it moves. As you place your attention in different parts of your body, you will be able to notice a sense of tingling or aliveness in those parts. With further application of attention, you will notice a sense of general wellbeing or pleasure.
Now allow your attention to go outwards. While you do this, keep some attention in your body and movements: the sensation will be almost as if you are looking with your whole body, not just your eyes. As you do this, experience every sensation of your walk in a meditative way, that is, without placing labels or making judgments. See what you see, hear what you hear, feel what you feel. When you send your attention outwards, it will feel almost like you are “radiating”, as if your attention were a beam of light. Think of the expression “a beaming smile” to get an idea.
Indeed, a smile is the most natural way to accompany this meditation. Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Thich Nhat Hanh recommends it strongly in his book on walking meditation, “The Long Road Turns To Joy”.
Walking meditation can be a powerful tool in your spiritual practise. Try doing it whenever you find yourself walking. Instead of focusing on getting from one place or another, focus on the act of walking itself. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “If you think peace and happiness are somewhere else and run after them, you will never arrive.”
Visualization is a powerful technique to get what you want in life. Many people come up with a list of desires and wants, and they often wonder why they do not get what they want. More often than not, they have been unclear in their thoughts, and they fail to use visualization as a tool to achieve what they want. Many successful athletes use visualization as a technique during their training and in the competition arena. It is a simple three-step process which everyone can use.
Step 1: Decide What You Want
Having clarity in what you want is important. It allows you to make decisions on the things you really want. Some people want to be rich, but they have no idea what the new lifestyle entails. Before you embark on such ambitious projections, start with something simple, as we need to train our minds first. For example, you may want to be free of parking woes. What we need to do is to decide what it means to have problem-free parking. It could mean that you will always get a parking lot next to the lift lobby, or you will always get a parking lot in a busy shopping mall within three minutes. Once you have decided on what you want, you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Put Images In Your Head
Most of us think in terms of pictures. Visualizing an empty parking lot is a good step, but for this to really work, make the still image into a moving picture. Imagine yourself driving in your car, reaching the place you want to go. Think of how effortlessly you spot an empty lot, and then run through the image of how you reverse your car into the parking lot. If you know the place you are heading to is always very crowded, then think of a car coming out of the lot just when you enter the car park. By running a movie in your head, it helps to make the process real and believable.
Step 3: Attach Feelings
When we want something, we need to make sure we really know what we want. Some people want to be rich, but they are scornful of rich people, thinking that these people must have made their wealth through depriving others of their money. Such conflicting feelings are not helpful in your visualization. Continuing with our parking example, you should think of how happy you are to get a parking lot near the lobby.
You are extremely happy because it would mean that you have more time on your hands. Less frustration is felt and instead, you feel relaxed. It is also easier for you to manage all the things you have in your hands, such as your groceries and a smiling baby in the pram since you do not have to walk a long distance. Once you are able to get a good parking lot of your choice most of the time, it means you have succeeded in your visualization technique. It is time to apply the technique to other matters.
In conclusion, the visualization technique is a simple process that takes a few practices to get it right. On some occasions, you may have interfering images that may threaten to derail you from achieving your goals. It is important to be able to spot them, and quickly replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. Once you are able to use this tool constantly in various areas of your life, you will find that success comes more easily and you can get what you want.
Stress in the workplace is something most people have to deal with, particularly if they work in a hectic environment with quick deadlines, long hours, and competitive co-workers. Although this kind of corporate stress is perfectly normal, it can have detrimental effects on a company’s overall productivity once it soars to higher levels. This is the reason many companies today are starting to take a very proactive stance against the rise of stress in the workplace.
photo credit: stevensimbox
For many years, companies tried to relieve corporate stress by holding regular team-building seminars and other similar activities for their employees. These days, however, such activities don’t seem to be enough. Many big companies today have taken corporate stress management to an entirely new level by installing recreation and relaxation facilities for their employees right inside the office building. Take Google, for instance. If you visit the Google headquarters (nicknamed Googleplex) in Mountain View, California, you’ll see things such as massage chairs, pool tables, foosball, ping pong tables, volleyball courts, and gyms where employees can attend dance and yoga classes. The funny thing is that with all these amenities that seem to encourage laziness, Google has some of the most productive employees in the world today, according to BusinessInsider.com. The lesson is simple: if employees are allowed to work in a stress-free environment, their productivity levels will rise considerably.
If you are running a company and you want to see such results in your own workplace, a great way to begin is to encourage your employees to take part in regular yoga sessions. This age-old meditative practice is one of the best ways to combat stress, whether in the workplace or in other areas. Instead of taking your entire staff on time-consuming and potentially expensive out-of-town team-building workshops, hire a yoga expert to instruct them on the best techniques they can use to conquer work-related stress instead. You can even have one of your conference rooms converted into a yoga center where your employees can relax and de-stress anytime they want during the workday.
photo credit: adifansnet
Even if you can’t provide your staff with a separate room dedicated to yoga and meditation, the concepts and techniques you can introduce to them will still be useful in helping them deal with their own work-related stress. This is because most yoga exercises can be done practically everywhere — while sitting on an office chair, standing in the elevator, or waiting in line at the office cafeteria. The most useful yoga techniques that can be used to relieve corporate stress are breathing exercises like Vinolum and Anulem. When done properly, such yoga exercises can help clear up an employee’s thinking process and enable him to focus fully on the task at hand regardless of how many distractions there may be around. Other popularly used techniques include the Hatha yoga and the Yogic Kriyas.
In addition to being an effective stress reliever, yoga also brings a lot of advantages to a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. So by introducing your employees to yoga, you will not only be increasing their productivity but boosting their overall health as well.