A Brief Guide to Mindfulness Meditation

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Meditation is a relatively easy and completely free activity that has an incredible effect on your moods, anxiety, and stress levels. I discovered this about a decade ago, during a challenging summer when I was really depressed and randomly picked up a few books on Buddhism and meditation to read.

A few years later, I found this wonderful meditation group on my university campus that I went to once a week. I had never received guided meditation before, and being in a relaxed atmosphere gave me a lot of positive space to grow my meditation practice.

Over the years since then, I kept up my meditation practice, until I moved to another state three years ago. Prior to that move, my practice had definitely been faltering. I had swung into another deep depression, and whenever I’m feeling that way I have trouble motivating myself to do even small tasks.

Meditation has been on my mind a lot recently because my mental health these past two or three months has been terrible. Even with anti-depressants and bipolar medication that is helping more than anything else I’ve taken, the stress of my job combined with general life stuff has had me feeling unmotivated and deeply unhappy.

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Which is why I’ve started meditating again. I wish I had never stopped, but it’s interesting to see how different my mind is during periods when I’ve meditated than when I haven’t. During long periods when I forgo meditation, I find that it takes less provocation to set off a panic attack or wild mood swings. However, when I meditate regularly, even when it’s just fifteen minutes a day, it’s obvious that I’m handling stress better, have more patience, and find myself having fewer high-anxiety days.

There are so many different ways to meditate, and how you meditate really comes down to what you get the most benefit from. I tend to focus mainly on mindfulness meditation, where I simply follow my breath. I’ve also used walking as a form of meditation, although that’s no longer possible where I live. Some people prefer guided meditation or meditating on an idea or feeling. There’s religious-based meditation and even people who use music or sports (such as running) to give them feelings similar to meditation.

Essentially, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate. 

Today, I want to give you guys a quick lesson on how I meditate. It’s very simple, although it isn’t always easy. The instructions below will lay out the basics for you, and I’ve provided some additional tips and advice afterward.


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A Simple Mindfulness Meditation Guide
For Beginners

First, start by finding a comfortable, quiet place to sit. It doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy, I usually meditate on my couch or floor. You can do it outside if you want, or in your bed. Just make yourself comfortable.

Set a timer for however long you want to meditate. I usually aim for 10-15 minutes per session, but you can do as little as five minutes or as much as an hour (or more). When you’re first starting out, I recommend keeping it to just 5-10 minutes, and then gradually increasing the time as you get more comfortable.

Now, you’re ready to start meditating! Close your eyes and begin to move your focus to your breath. Some people find this easier to do while silently saying corresponding words to yourself, such as “breathe in/breathe out” or counting your breaths until you get to ten and then starting over. Personally, I either focus on the rise and fall of my chest as I breathe or use the “breathe in/breathe out” method.

Any time a stray thought comes forward, just gently acknowledge it and go back to your breath. Try not to get frustrated when this happens – it’s inevitable. Even people who have been meditating for years have trouble keeping their thoughts entirely at bay.

When your timer goes off, slowly bring yourself out of your practice. I usually take a moment or two to appreciate how relaxed my body feels while slowly opening my eyes. Take as long as you can before getting up and carrying on with your day. Trust me, once you feel how relaxed your body is even after a short meditation session, you’ll want to!


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Things to Remember

  • There’s no need to get into a full-lotus position or sit in front of an altar of crystals or statues. For this kind of meditation, the only important thing is that you’re in a sitting position that you can comfortably maintain for the duration of your practice.
  • It’s okay if you can’t turn off your thoughts! Meditation isn’t easy and it takes years of practice to be able to empty your mind of all thoughts. I’ve been meditating for years and I still find random thoughts popping up every time I sit. When this happens, just acknowledge the thought and go back to your breath.
  • If it’s hard for you to focus on your breath, try guided meditations. There are tons of free resources! My favorite app is Headspace. You can also just search guided meditation on YouTube or find CDs at your local library. I’ve seen guided meditations for five minutes all the way up to a couple of hours. Find what works best for you.
  • While you can meditate anywhere, some people prefer to set up a little meditation area and find that it helps them maintain the habit. If you have space and think this will help, go for it! It’s easy to set up a nice meditation area. Grab some cushions, candles, plants, or whatever else reminds you of relaxation.
  • Most cities have meditation groups available, so if you’d like to find a meditation group or class, do a Google search of your area or check Meetup.com.
  • If you have pets, prepare to have them invade your personal space. Over the years, I’ve lived with cats and dogs and it never fails that once I sit down to meditate, they become fascinated and walk over to plop down into my lap or start sniffing at me. Just like those stray thoughts, try to ignore it!

As I said before, meditation is really important to me. If you give this lesson a shot, let me know if it worked for you! This is a topic that I love, so if you want to see more meditation lessons, just let me know!


Do you have a regular meditation practice? Tell me about it in the comments!




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Book Review: Invincible Living by Guru Jagat

We’re in a new trajectory on the planet. This is a new time with new challenges, requirements, and rules of engagement than even five years ago. And part of what’s happening is that the entire psychomagnetic field of the Earth is changing.

As a result of this shift in the Earth’s psychomagnetic field, there’s a pressure on our own individual psychomagnetic fields. Our own psyches, our own magnetic energies, have to change in order to keep up with the changes on the planet.

The Book
Invincible Living - Guru Jagat

Invincible Living: The Power of Yoga, the Energy of Breath, and Other Tools for a Radiant Life by Guru Jagat
Genre: Wellness, yoga, new age
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2017
Amazon | Goodreads
Author’s Links: Website | Facebook

What It Is

Using the power of Kundalini Yoga, Guru Jagat’s book Invincible Living is a guide to living a better, happier life. From yoga and meditation to beauty and anti-aging, this book covers every aspect of wellness.

It’s broken up into several parts, such as “Ancient Tech for Self-Healing,” “Balanced Emotions,” and “Sex is Science,” and each chapter includes directions for breathing exercises, meditations, mantras, and more.

Guru Jagat uses her own experiences to guide us through the practices and advice. She tried to write the book in such a way as to make it easily accessible to everyone. As she says several times:

“We don’t want to get caught up in fancy yogic terms for the sake of some idea and lose sight of the point of yogic technology – which is just to feel better now and into the future.”

What I Liked

(Full disclosure: I did not finish this book. I got about two-thirds of the way through it, and had to add it to my “did not finish” pile because I was getting frustrated at trying to finish it.)

The book is very well put together in terms of product quality. Beautiful glossy pages, a lot of eye-catching illustrations and typography, and a very spa-like color scheme. It’s literally a relaxing book to look at.

I also always appreciate books that include directions and information about meditation, because I’m a firm believer in how much better our lives can be with just a few minutes a day spent on a cushion watching our breaths.

Finally, she discusses the benefits of dry brushing before taking a cold shower, which is something I can get behind. I was first introduced to dry brushing when I worked in a spa, and it makes you feel wonderful.

What I Disliked

There was one glaring omission to the book that I’m shocked was never discussed: the entire book is about Kundalini yoga, but Guru Jagat never actually explains what that is, except vague statements regarding its founder, Yogi Bhajan, or that it’s beneficial to its practitioners. Some history of the practice would have been helpful.

Throughout the book, Guru Jagat makes a lot of far-fetched statements with no references to back them up, despite countless statements about her being a “yogic scientist” and Kundalini yoga being a practice with a scientific purpose. I enjoy reading books about wellness, so I’m used to some of the more woo-woo aspects, but some of her statements left me speechless and stunned. Here are a few examples (there were a lot, so I narrowed it down to these five):

  • “Hair maintains the body’s electromagnetic field and acts as an antenna for the aura (think Avatar movie). Hair is the only instrument that directly feeds vitamin D from the sun straight into the brain… This kind of concentrated solar energy also stimulates the pineal gland, the gland of enlightenment.”
  • “Your whole physical form can – and does – change based on your consciousness. And if you are consciously conscious of that, then you can have more direct control and influence over it.Now, what the priestesses of Avalon and the ancient yogis and tantrikas were doing was a little bit different. They were projecting through their auras, a special aspect of the aura called the circumvent force.”
  • “I’ve worked a lot with burn survivors. The ones who didn’t mentally and emotionally identify with the blistering of the skin healed faster and more completely. There was a study done proving this, and I can personally attest to its accuracy. Essentially, the people who had massive burn experiences but didn’t go into “burn consciousness” minimized the whelping and damage to their skin.”
  • “…you get to someone who’s going to give you something for your depression. And you figure you should probably take it because you’re really depressed. I mean, you have convinced yourself and everyone around you that you’re depressed. And when that doesn’t work, they give you an anti-anxiety pill, and then they give you the antidepressant for the antidepressant. It can be a very detrimental and harrowing cycle.”

The final two points, regarding burn victims and depression, struck a serious nerve in me. One of my family members was severely burned in a house fire (and thankfully recovered fully!), and the healing process is not as simple as “thinking yourself better.” I can’t disagree that having a positive mindset in the face of such a terrible ordeal can be beneficial to the person going through it, but it’s not how you heal from it.  And, as for the second point, I’ve dealt with depression for most of my life, and it’s not caused by repeatedly believing you’re depressed (which is what she writes). Advice like Guru Jagat’s can be harmful, as there are so many people who need the assistance anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication can provide. At least, it can help much more than her solution:

“Jump with your arms reaching up toward the ceiling for one minute. Breathe deeply….

Every time you jump off the ground – every time you try to pull your body weight off the ground – the body associates that with ‘I have to get lighter,’ so the brain and all the ten bodies associate that activity with getting lighter. When this occurs, you’re starting to dump the negativity.”

She also offers dangerous health advice like mono-diets (which can leave you nutrient-deficient), and uses un-verifiable myths as facts:

“For aeons, yogic practice has produced a plentitude of individuals called baal yogis. Baal yogis are men and women who appear eternally youthful, as though suspended in time in a seemingly ageless state. One of these yogis was a man named Baba Siri Chand. Baba Siri Chand is one of the most powerful yogis of the Kundalini Yoga lineage, and it is said that in his documented 150 years of his life, he looked forever like a boy. And Baba Siri Chand is just one of many yogis who have achieved such a feat.”

And then there’s the yogurt douching and putting ghee in your eyes. (No, I’m not kidding.)

Finally, this book feels like a lot of empty, general statements that don’t actually mean anything. There are a plethora of buzzwords like “wellness,” “bliss,” and the like, but the book doesn’t have much intellectual depth to it. I found that I had to force myself to read on, before eventually giving up on page 154 of 263.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)

Skip. There are a lot of great yoga and wellness books out there, but there are too many problems with this book for me to recommend it.