Category Archives: meditation techniques

What Meditation is NOT.

Some facts about meditation.

  • Meditation is some new FAD.
    No, mediation is not new age FAD. It has been done for thousands of years and has been extensively studied and found to bring specific benefits, especially reduced anxiety and depression.
  • Meditation is a religion
    No, meditation is being used by people of all sorts of religions. Religion is a belief system, meditation is to aid your mind/body health.
  • Meditation is just relaxation
    No, meditation has been shown to produce specific chemical changes in the brain. If you want to relax, go and get your mp3 player, your headphones, something to lay upon and some quiet place to be and listen to your favorite songs. Transcendental meditation, however, is known to cause the brain to release a soothing hormone known as prolactin, it is associated with positive, upbeat feelings.
  • You cannot meditate if you cannot sit in the lotus position
    No, to meditate you only have to be comfortable. Some people can do this in the lotus position, some people sit in a chair, meditation can also be practiced while walking and please refer to swimming-training-as-a-meditation. However, it should not be so comfortable that you go to sleep.
  • Everyone can do it.
    Yes and No. Meditation is a learned skill, you need to seek teaching, but once taught everyone can do it.
  • Meditation is hard work.
    Yes and No. If you start meditation and you are in a busy job, (maybe) unhealthy life style, depressed, not relaxed, stressed and have never done it before, yes it will be hard work – but that is the same with everything new, start playing hockey it is really hard to keep the ball close to the stick but after a while it is natural and other things (e.g. strategy) is hard. Same with meditation – it will be hard at first to concentrate on your breath and keep concentrated for 1 minute – but after a while this will be natural and you can aim “higher”.
  • Meditation will take years to show effects.
    This is very untrue. You will have signs after the first session but you can only know this once you have done it. So go and find yourself a teacher and get meditating – the sooner you start the sooner you will see the effects.

Happy meditating.


Reflecting on Reflecting

I don’t know about you, but I often find myself reflecting on a whole range of things in my life including my professional  career and wondering at all the things I have learned over the years.

Conscious reflecting on my personal and professional life has now become almost a daily occurrence for me. There are so many aspects to reflect upon.  For instance the many roles I play as mother, partner, boss, leader, peer, sister, daughter, friend and so on.  There are many other areas that affect me and my participation in the world such politics, the environment, wars, excessive consumerism, values, morals, ethics, events locally and around the world and my view and interpretation of them.  Then there is my view of myself and how I see and feel about myself.  

So it was with some amusement that I found myself reflecting on reflecting itself and how valuable it is to our continued development and overall healthy functioning in this ever-changing world.

In this busy world, too many of us do not take the time to self-reflect. Yet self-reflection can be one of the best things you can do for yourself personally and professionally. In fact research reveals that self-reflection and self-appraisal are the top key attributes demonstrated on a regular basis by top performing sales people. Is it any wonder then why they are top of their field?

So I thought it might be worth reflecting on Self-reflection.

Self-Reflection involves both skills and an attitude of acceptance

Reflection is “thinking about a thing, particularly with a notion of meditation upon a previous experience or event and its significance” (Penguin Dictionary of Psychology)

In the context of Competency enhancement and self-development, Self Reflection relates to what a person thinks about the feedback received, whether it be direct feedback or your observations of others’ reactions to your actions and the outcomes you achieve.

Reflecting on Self involves:

· Making realistic self-appraisals

· Being willing and able to see those aspects of yourself you are less happy with, i.e. your shadow self

· Being motivated to grow, learn and willing to change

· Creating opportunities to receive feedback – It is hard to give feedback at the best of times. We can enhance the likelihood of others’ giving us feedback by giving them invitations to do so

The benefits obtained from Reflecting on Self can be enhanced through the use of the following key skills.


Self Awareness – the condition of being aware of, or conscious of oneself – in the sense of having a relatively objective but open and accepting appraisal of one’s true personal nature.

Self-Appraisal – the process of providing an appraisal of oneself

Adopt an attitude of…

Acceptance – seeing yourself as you really are, even if what you see feels unpleasant, being receptive to any aspect of yourself without trying to avoid it or deny.

Non-judging – taking an objective and impartial approach. Being aware of your judgments of yourself and others and then taking a step back to watch, listen and understand.

I encourage you to take time in your day to reflect on yourself, your goals, your plans, your career and your life.

The time you take to self-reflect might just be worth it.

Swimming (training) as a meditation

No kidding, it works!
First lets find out what meditation actually means:

Meditation describes a state of concentrated attention on some object of thought or awareness. It usually involves turning the attention inward to the mind itself and is usually defined as one of the following:

  • a state of relaxed concentration on the reality of the present moment
  • a state that is experienced when the mind dissolves and is free of all thoughts
  • focusing the mind on a single object (such as a religious statue, or one’s breath)
  • a mental “opening up” to the divine, invoking the guidance of a higher power
  • reasoned analysis of religious teachings (such as impermanence, for Buddhists).

From a Buddhist point of view the main aim of Medidation is to get rid of the clutter and internal chatter the mind produces bringing yourself into a state of calm, then being able to think about something without the internal clutter/chatter.
Now with all of those points I made above lets have a look what swimming training does.

  • Repeated laps (possibly in sets)
  • you breath at regular and defined intervals (e.g. every 3 strokes in freestyle)
  • you concentrate on your stroke technique to better it and do not think of anything else.
  • you release all the other thoughts you have at other times during the day, thus you are free of all thought (other off course the stroke technique)
  • Although you are straining your body (as in your muscles) you are reaching a state of relaxed concentration, due to the fact you are concentrating on swimming (as in one thing only).
  • as an add on bonus you do not get during other type of meditation you get a dose of a drug your own body produces (Enkephalins).
  • all you ever see is the black line on the bottom of the pool, and once again another “thing” you are concentrating upon … For backstrokers its the sky (even better) or the roof of the pool (but even that isnt terribly exiting 😉 )
  • as an add on bonus you are getting fit, thus hitting two birds with one stone.

I think it works, I go swimming training at least for times a week and I call it “Black Line Fever“.


The Attentive Heart Meditation

Breathing in – breathing out, slow deep inhale, slow deep exhale. Quieting the body, quieting the mind.
Breathing in-breathing out, slow deep inhale, slow deep exhale

I woke this morning under the graceful arching branches
Of fir and cedar trees
All night the trees have been conversing under the full moon
Weaving me into their stories
Capturing my dreams with their leaning limbs
And generous trunks.
Breathing together as I slept,
As they rested
We danced in the spring night.
Their great confidence framed a circle for my waking
Their sturdy presence
Offered an invitation to be still.

Inside this large ring of trees lies an island of stillness
A protected area in a war zone
The central grassy area is open and spacious, framed by the comfort and stability of trees.
But this meditation is not about trees
It is about the attentive heart
The heart that feels the presence of others and the call to respond
The heart that lives in relationship with other beings

The capacity for compassion and response grows slowly from cultivation and practice
From mindfulness and attention. Breathing in – Breathing out – with awareness

I walk with bare feet,
Soaking up the sunlight in the grass
Crinkling the green leaves with my toes
In the centre of the soft lawn I bump into the roots of an old cedar stump.
A tiny seedling has taken shelter in the crack of the stump
Drawing on the tree’s remaining nourishment
The tree roots protrude a few centimeters above the ground
Worn and smooth they are like firm hands touching my feet
My feet the tree’s feet – we meet each other in the deep breathing that connects body to the ground.
In the slow time of meditation I practice observing each sound with attention.
A bee on the lawn
Gathering the morning pollen with self-absorbed buzzing
A large blue dragonfly whirs through the open air
Each sound is surrounded by a generous spaciousness
Each sound is connected
In the silence of walking I hear each relation.

Cultivating this practice of mindfulness is painstaking and demanding
In each moment of observing a leaf, a squawk, a firm touch
There is the temptation to make it something more than it is
An object of fascination
There is also the danger of thinking it something less than it is
Missing the context and history of the tiny event striking the senses
Either way one falls off the impossibly thin razor’s edge of bare attention

Each step – breathe
Each step – listen
Each step note what is actually happening
Breath – Relax
Observe the mind of resistance

It seems like an indulgence to take the time to cultivate mindfulness when so much is being lost …
But this is the tension
To find a considered way of acting not based on reaction
To be willing to breathe with the tension of emotional response
To be willing to cultivate tolerance for unresolved conflict

Stretching out in the midday sun
I let go of the strain of knowing so much
And paying attention with such discipline
I catnap on the warm rocks
Resting like a lizard -Wavering on the edge of consciousness
My mind drifts with the sounds of the stream and the warmth of the sun
Thoughts skim across the surface, finding no anchoring place in the ponds of my imagination
The tension of acting/not acting is swallowed up in a cat’s yawn
As I turn on my back to face the full sun – I am with my friends and companions

Absorbed in the practice of remembering where we are
Remembering our relations
We walk sharing the silence
Giving each other support as we investigate and celebrate our lives
We forget and remember – Moment after moment
We are breathing in a circle of companions and friends
In this steady silence we ask for help to walk more gracefully – for patience to cultivate an attentive heart.

Breathing in breathing out, slow deep inhale, slow deep exhale. Awakening the body, activating the mind. Breathing in breathing out, slow deep inhale, slow deep exhale.

Adapted from The attentive heart: conversations with trees by Stephanie Kaza – Shambhala 1993