In hectic times, seeking your zen can offer respite, says writer Judy Darley. Why not take a moment to drift away with this guided meditation?
Choose a space where you can give yourself permission to rest. Depending on what you find most relaxing, this might mean lying on your back or side, or simply sitting in a favourite chair. Close your eyes and become aware of how you feel suspended inside your body. Draw in a long, deep breath through your nose and then release it slowly through your mouth. If you find you make a sound sighing it out, invite the whoosh to sweep over and around you. Think of this noise as a wash of air blanketing you within your surroundings. Repeat the breath-in, sigh-out several times, counting for four or more beats on the ‘in’ and at least twice as many on the ‘out.’
Alternatively, you might like to try ‘square’ breathing, whereby you inhale for a count (the suggestion is for eight, but do whatever feels comfortable), hold your breath for a matching count, and then exhale for the same number. Because the counting process absorbs the more industrious part of your mind, it should enable you to maintain a centred state. You might call this sensation finding your ‘zen’.
Identify any areas of your body that feel tense and focus on easing them as you pull air in and let it out. Notice where you feel the inhalation and exhalation most powerfully, whether that’s your diaphragm (beneath your lower ribs), your stomach or nostrils. Think of this spot as your anchor. You may find it helps you to stay centred if you lie one hand on your upper breastbone and the other below your ribcage, as though holding yourself securely in place.
Naturally, thoughts will begin to rise up. Your mind is a busy and active part of you. Rather than struggling to subdue them, encourage each thought to travel past you, and then revert your awareness to your anchor.
You may find yourself gaining a vivid clarity, as ideas and solutions bubble upwards. Welcome these and promise to come back to them when you emerge from your zen state.
Learning to return to that peaceful space is a beneficial skill that will develop as you practise. Simply having the intention to attain your zen will begin to soothe rattling thoughts and slow things down. Listen to your breath in, breath out until your focus on that act fully envelops you.
If you’re not quite there yet and find this is challenging, try conjuring some calming visual imagery, such as sunlit plant leaves or a pool of water, and visualise this whenever a negative thought threatens to intrude on the moment. Concentrate on the various shades of green or of dazzling, translucent azure, and imagine the rustle of a breeze moving through trees or water rippling gently.
If unbidden images rise up, seek the beauty in them. For instance, an annoyance about an unwashed cereal bowl might bob to the forefront. Think of the way sunlight catches on the circumference and how soap bubbles adhere to the china as it becomes clean. Then set it to dry, metaphorically, and reclaim the quiet of your scene of leaves, water or whatever you prefer. Remain in that space and frame of mind for as long as time and your own consciousness allow.