I think we all know or have heard by now about how good meditation is for us. I would go so far as to say it’s better than good, it’s straight up magical!
Now the scientists would disagree with my magic statement, but that’s ok. They’ve been studying and proving what the yogis have known for thousands of years, which is meditation = pure awesomeness.
All we have to do is pull up a comfy seat, keep your spine tall, close your eyes, breath with awareness and let the meditation begin to dissolve all those distractions.
Well let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
So, real talk. Meditation is easy to learn, but hard to do. That’s why were going to do this together.
This challenge is happening from April 2 – May 11.
Here’s a link to the video I made kicking off the first day: https://www.facebook.com/KashiAtlanta/videos/10154252012971987/
If you join later, just do the math and extend your end date as needed.
The actual scenario as you learn to meditate looks like this.
We sit down, start to breathe, maybe set an intention and all of a sudden all these thoughts and emotions come barging into our space, demanding attention.
We sit a little taller, breathe a little deeper and try to force those thoughts out and come back to what we were doing. I mean how hard can this meditation, sitting still thing be?
Honestly – it’s hard in the beginning.
But it gets easier.
Some of you might think, why bother? Well think about this.
We are not our thoughts or emotions, as my teacher Swami Jaya Devi says.
Yet we get lost in that illusion of our mind and those thoughts dictate our reality way too often, leading us into anxiety, displaced anger, depression, lack of confidence, jealousy, addiction…the list goes on.
Really, we are the boss of our own minds. Well, we should be. But so often our experience is the other way around. We’ve let our mind become the boss of us.
It’s time for a change. It’s time to befriend the mind, as opposed to coming at it like you’re going to conquer it. This isn’t a war. And honestly when we use that strategy, does it really help? War is never the answer.
Instead, we can think of our mind as a puppy in training. In the beginning, when you tell that puppy to sit and stay, it might be there for half a second before being distracted and running off. With positive reinforcement and compassion, you start over with the puppy and repeat the process as you hold it’s attention for longer and longer periods of time. That’s how it is with your mind.
The time is now, let’s make a change for the better.
Thoughts you might have:
- 40 days is intimidating.
- I don’t have time to meditate everyday, let alone for 40 days.
- What am I supposed to be doing for this meditation challenge?
- I don’t know how to work with a mala.
- What’s the point of doing it everyday?
I got you. All your questions will be answered here on this page or you can connect with me through social media or use the contact form on this page, all of which is included below.
So sit back, relax and get ready to get grounded, reconnect and meditate.
Why 40 days?
Here’s the deal. Our world is filled with endless ways to indulge in instant gratification. Our attention spans have been reduced to 150 characters, an endless, scrolling feed on social media and binge watching our favorite shows through the magical internet. And, voila, we fall into bad habits. All this has done quite a number on our ability to concentrate. And concentration is one of the first steps in meditation.
So some bad habits have snuck into your everyday life. Ah, to be human! No reason to worry, because you are amazing and have this ability to transform, evolve and create new habits. Habits that actually empower, nurture and support you being your best self.
Swami Jaya Devi loves to remind us that we have to go just beyond our comfort zone and into our growth zone to begin real transformation.
That’s where a 40 day practice comes in. The ancients mystics and spiritual beings from many traditions use 40 days as a way to deeply rewire the brain and nervous system, changing old habits and allowing us to adopt new ones.
Keep in mind, there’s a catch.
This practice must be completed over 40 consecutive days. If you miss a day you need to start over.
You have to use the honor system with your Self. So what if you miss a day and have to start over? Look at it this way, time will keep rolling by anyway, giving you opportunities to jump back in. No loss really. Though the lower ego may not agree, but that pesky ego is always trying to start trouble isn’t it?
Now that you have some answers to why we would do this kind of practice, here’s the how:
1. Choose a place to meditate
Make it a place that is relaxing and quiet. In the beginning, it’s best to create a space that will become your go to spot. When you keep using the same space over and over for meditation, the energy of your practice accumulates. It becomes like a magnet that draws you in, making it easier to get into your meditative groove. Just like when we walk a path over and over again, it becomes well marked, easier to follow.
You can also have a back up place or impromptu session somewhere else, like outside and the magic will still happen if you set your intention.
2. Prepare your body
- Do some conscious movement for a few minutes before you sit. That could be yoga, tai chi or something else.
- Yoga asana practice (postures) was actually designed to help yogis sit for long periods in meditation.
- Do a few sun salutations.
- Take several deep, conscious breaths before beginning your mantra practice.
- Maybe take a short walk outside before you get started.
3. Find a good seat
This is the original yoga posture.
- Find a good cushion or meditation pillow, sit on the floor, with a tall spine, legs crossed with the knees relaxing down, lower than the hips. If the knees are not dropping down, sit on something higher.
- You can even sit in a chair, moving towards the edge of the seat so you’re not slouching. You could place a pillow behind your back to help.
- Lift your sternum and gently roll your shoulders up, back and down.
4. Using the mala beads
- Count the beads on your mala, or count on your fingers – I demonstrate how to do this in this video: https://www.facebook.com/KashiAtlanta/videos/10154252012971987/
- With the mala, extend your index finger on the right hand and drape the mala over your second finger.
- Use your thumb to move the beads as you chant. You’ll start at the first bead just past the “guru” bead, the one with the tassel hanging from it.
5. Learning to use pranayama and mantra for your meditation
- Watch the video I shared to learn the pranayama and mantra practice that we’re using in this challenge.
- Repeat the breath 12 times.
- Repeat the mantra 108 times while counting the beads. 108 repetitions will bring you back to the beginning of the mala.
- If you don’t have 10-15 minutes at one time to dedicate to this, try repeating the mantra 54 or even 27 times. Then do it again in the evening.
- Repeat the mantra with what the Buddha would call right attitude, opening to the idea that you are immersing your Self into potent, sacred energy that has been used for literally thousands of years to help us align with that vast, immeasurable presence of the Infinite.
- Repeat the mantra at a medium speed, to keep your mind engaged.
- When you complete the mantra practice, sit quietly for a few moments and enjoy the effects.
- When you feel ready, slowly open the eyes and welcome the world back in.
- I’ll keep sharing more about pranayama and mantra meditation when I post on social media throughout this challenge.
Traditionally as you begin using mantra as a meditation tool, you will chant out loud to help train the mind to stay focused. Then with time you can whisper the mantra. With practice and as your mind becomes accustomed to being more concentrated, you can do it silently. After you’ve practiced it out loud for awhile and your focus has become noticeably stronger, you can practice it however you like, out loud, half and half, whatever feels natural.
I think this is one of the hardest parts in the beginning.
Here are a few suggestions to help make time and space:
- Choose two times that work best with your schedule. If you work full-time, carve out 10 extra minutes in the morning after waking up (set your alarm just a few minutes earlier) and save a few minutes before heading to bed. If you’re a stay at home parent or a solopreneur type, choose the times that best fit with your schedule. But stick to them!
- Practicing at a consistent time everyday is best and helps make the habit stick. It’s just like how you make time for that cup of coffee every morning. Would it serve you as well if you had that cup of joe at different times everyday? Ok, silly metaphor, but you catch my drift 😉
- Write it down in a planner. Literally schedule a meditation date with yourself.
- For your meditation space: Hang up an inspirational photo, quote, or anything that serves as a reminder. Dress up your area with a candle, crystals, that special seashell that reminds you of the sound of the ocean, or whatever connects you to the vibe you’re trying to create.
Are you ready?
Let’s do this together, one day at a time. I’ll be sharing my journey on Kashi Atlanta’s facebook page and I’d love to have you join this 40-day meditation tribe! I’m using the hashtags #meditatefor40 and #kashiatlanta. I would love for you to add those hashtags with your reflections on your own journey. Do it everyday.
Post a little something everyday to help keep you accountable.
It could be as simple as sharing a photo of the candle you lit, a peek into your meditation corner, a snapshot of the beautiful day you’re walking into after meditation, an inspiring quote that resonated with you after meditating, whatever strikes you. Join the community and let’s do this one meditation at a time.
Plugging into a community of like-minded people who are creating a movement of higher consciousness, mindfulness, exploring radical shifts into positivity and self care is contagious.
I don’t think you’ll regret it.
Kim Candika Alford
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