I have been consistently meditating for a few months now. I began by focusing solely on visualization exercises during meditation because visualization felt powerful and transformative to me and I didn’t have to deal with the frustrations of “clearing my mind of all thought”.
I have experienced life changing visualization meditations and I cannot express how helpful they were for me, and still are. *(If you are interested in learning more about my top 5 visualization meditations download my free FIVE DAYS OF TRANSFORMATION pdf)*.
However, recently someone used this metaphor to describe mediation to me,
“Prayer is all about asking and clarifying desires and meditation is all about listening and receiving guidance!”
The more I thought about this description, the more visualization felt like asking or praying or clarifying desire. Although this is a super important half of the equation, I was missing out on the listening half. Visualizations make me feel clear and connected, powerful and in control of my energy BUT they do not feel like listening or surrender or trust to me. When I focus on creating visualizations during meditation I do not feel like I am really listening. Listening is more about quieting the mind and being open to receiving guidance.
At first, I put up a lot of resistance to the concept of clearing my mind and just listening, because it brought me back to the first times I tried to mediate and how frustrating it was to TRY to clear my mind. I remember feeling like as soon as I pushed one thought out of my head, six more thoughts were there to replace it.
This made me feel like I was bad at meditating, which is not a good feeling to have and totally not true!
Today, using mediation to listen and receive guidance feels amazing and I want to share with you the subtle shift that had to happen in order for me to enjoy meditating in this way.
I had to stop trying so hard!
I had to stop trying to force thoughts out of my mind and instead use some techniques to ease myself into a state of quiet, calm allowing. My mind does not like going from 60mph to 0mph instantly and I should not expect that it be able to do so (especially since I am so new to this meditation style).
So here is what I have been doing recently step by step...
5 Step "Listening" Meditation:
Step 1: Make yourself comfortable!
Wear comfortable clothes and sit or lie down in a way that feels great to you. Set a timer if you have a limited amount of time to work with, so that you are not worried about meditating for too long. Make sure that you won’t be disturbed or interrupted. I have found 15-25 minutes to be enough time for me, but I think the time requirement is different for everyone so as you experiment with this meditation you will determine the perfect amount of time for you to set aside.
Step 2: Establish a breath pattern.
You will notice that as you practice steps 2 and 3, stray thoughts will come in. This is fine and a natural response of your brain. If thoughts come in that are neutral or elicit a negative feeling response, simply release them by returning your focus to what you were doing. Don’t push them away or try to erase them, just turn your attention to what you were doing.
If you come across a thought that makes you feel amazing, follow that thought and see where it leads. This could easily be divine inspiration and you don’t want to just push it away because your “not supposed to think during meditation”. This is a time to be easy and to not try too hard or take yourself too seriously.
Here are my current two favorite ways to establish a breath pattern:
1. Count how many seconds your natural inhale takes and try to exhale for the same amount of time. My first inhale is normally 3-4 seconds and then I exhale for 3-4 seconds. Then slowly try to increase your inhale and exhale until you find the number of seconds that feels expansive without feeling difficult, 7 seconds is my typical stopping point. Once I have a 7 second inhale and a 7 second exhale I start elongating the pause between my inhale and exhale until the pause is 7 seconds. Finally, I pause briefly after the exhale, just long enough to acknowledge the feeling of emptiness before inhaling again.
It may take me up to 20 breaths to establish my pattern of …
- Inhale 7 seconds
- Hold 7 seconds
- Exhale 7 seconds
- Hold empty 2-3 seconds.
And again, your pattern may be different and it may take a different period of time to establish and that’s okay. Once you get it, stick with it until it seems like your natural breath.
2. Another option, if you don’t like counting, is to focus on the way that your breath feels! Focus on how cool and refreshing the air feels as it flows through your nose and into your lungs. Imagine the oxygen nourishing your body for a time and then feel the warmth of your breath as you exhale. Notice that your breath will naturally want to deepen and lengthen. Allow the breath to stabilize at a point that feels best to you and stick with it.
Step 3: Add a mantra.
You are more than welcome to just stick with step 2 for the entire meditation if you want to. For me the counting starts to naturally fade and these mantras start to take its place. You will know instinctively when it is time to shift to step 3, if you even need to shift at all. This step can also be used instead of step 2 or just on its own if you find that you are drawn to this style.
Here are the mantras that I am using right now. You can certainly create your own, but it helps if they follow the breath pattern you have already established.
1. Inhale: “Light and love flows into me”
Hold: “It nourishes my body and soul”
Exhale: “I release all resistance to love”
Hold empty: “I now have even more room for love”
2. Inhale: “Abundance flows into my life easily”
Hold: “I enjoy the abundance already in my life”
Exhale: “I release my abundance with generosity”
Hold Empty: “Now there is room for more abundance to enter”
3. Inhale: “I enjoy the process of creating my reality”
Hold: “I appreciate each manifestation I create”
Exhale: “I release all blocks to my desires”
Hold empty: “I trust and allow”
Step 4: Allow Guidance:
So normally after some time in step 3 (I don’t know how long I take for each step, as I am meditating and not conscious of the time) I will be guided to release the mantra and the breath pattern. My breathing will return to an easy normal state and I will feel...connected.
How you view, or visualize or imagine your connection is personal and unique to you. You can connect to Love, to God or Goddess, the Universe, Source energy, Spirit Guides, Angels, your Higher Self. There is no wrong way to view the energy that you are connecting to.
For me I normally feel connected to my higher self, who holds my right hand, and a chain of spirit guides who hold my left hand. I know that I am connected when I feel my hands being held and energy tingling in my hands and up my arms. I instantly feel full of love and my body feels lighter.
Your signs of connection will probably be different, but if you are open to the connection you will know without question that you are connected.
This is the time when I can just bask in love, or listen to guidance, or ask questions and have a conversation. When it is time to conclude my guides normally let me know, or my timer will go off or I will decide that I am done and will thank them and open my eyes.
***It is important to note, that although this meditation may seem intense, you are always aware of what is going on around your physical body. I still hear cars go by and birds singing, but although I am aware of these things, they are not interruptions. Do not be afraid of becoming lost in your meditation, you can choose to open your eyes at any time. You are never “taken over” and you never lose control. If your intention is to connect to love and light and your highest, truest version of yourself there is no reason at all to be afraid. I know that these fears can surface especially for those of us brought up in religious households. ***
Step 5: Journal
This is certainly an optional step that is not a part of the meditation per say, but since this is an account of my process I wanted to include it. If I have time after my meditation, I like to record in my journal any insights or answers that I received during my meditation. Sometimes, I am just in such a good mood when I open my eyes, that I journal about all the wonderful things in my life that I appreciate. Also, there have been times when my guides will instruct me to open my eyes and open my journal and free write and have a conversation through writing (normally I will think of a question and will write the answers that come to me on the page).
And That’s It…
Those are the meditation steps that I am currently using. I believe that starting with counting the breath, then moving on to mantras and not worrying so much about trying to make my mind a blank slate right away, allows my brain some time to relax and, before I know it, I am connected and I don’t even have to think about stray thoughts. I like giving myself permission to meditate in a way that feels easy instead of trying to force myself to follow meditation guidelines that don’t serve me.
On that note, I want to extend one more reminder that this is my meditation process that is working for me at this time in my life. If I hadn’t started practicing mediation with the visualizations, I may have just given up on meditation all together. There is no wrong way to meditate. Use the tools that work best for you in the moment and don’t compare your process and your journey to other people’s processes or journeys. My intention is to put all the tools that I am using out there in the hopes that some of them will be useful to someone at some point. I certainly do not believe that my methods are the only methods or even the right methods for everyone.
Sending all my love out there to you! Please let me know what you think in the comments section below. I want to know what works for you and what your meditation journey is like!
Love and light,