Inhale, exhale… Grab your mat, blankets, bolster and blocks. Find a comfortable seated position with a straight spine rooting yourself into the mat. Gently close your eyes or soften your gaze allowing yourself to dive inwards.
- Choose Your Mantra:
Take a moment to choose your mantra to guide you through your meditative practice. What brought you to your mat today? What intention did you set this morning when you awoke? What emotion does your mala evoke within you? Your intention is personal to you- it can be a thought, a word, a sentence or song. Once you have chosen your mantra chant it aloud or silently.
- Japa Meditation:
Hold your Mala Beads in your right hand allowing it to drape between the thumb and middle finger. Starting at the Guru Bead or the sacred stone- gently roll each bead while repeating your mantra. Repeat this 108 times, or until you are back at the sacred stone.
- Yoga Practice:
Place your Mala beads at the top of your yoga mat. Allow your mantra and intention to flow through you guiding you through your asanas. If you feel yourself getting lost in the physical practice, use the intention you set with your Mala Beads to bring yourself back to the present.
Finish your yoga practice on your mat with a juicy savasana. You may choose to end with another round of Japa Meditation bringing your practice full circle.
By now we’ve heard and know many benefits of meditating (less stress, stronger immune system, higher levels of creativity, and such). Most of us have also heard of chanting, in some form or another. When you mixed the two of those together, what do you get? Japa Meditation!
Japa meditation is a form of meditative relaxation where the deliberation is to focus completely on one word or mantra being repeated for a period of time. Meditation can be very intimidating when you’re first starting out—Just sit there and do nothing? But I have a giant “to-do” list for the day ahead and that’s all my mind keeps thinking of, not nothing! Stay with the practice. Japa Meditation can be a great way to start a regular meditation practice because it provides you a focus to relax the mind. I actually started doing Japa Meditation for my meditation practice without even knowing the name of it!
Here are my top 8 tips on how to do Japa Meditation:
1. Set a time and stick to it every day. Find a time of day where you can dedicate 10-15 minutes to yourself with few distractions around you. You can even set daily reminders using your smartphone or computer to keep yourself accountable. Consistency is key! Make it a ritual, like brushing your teeth. For me, mornings work best, while I still have a somewhat clear head before I get tossed into the midst of the day ahead. Remember, 15 minutes a day is only 1% of your entire day, so you can make the time!
2.Create a sacred place. Set up a spot that is free from clutter, somewhat quiet, and that is inviting to be in. You might add a statue of a deity (a Buddha or a Genesha statue), some photos of people you are dedicating your meditation to, fresh smelling flowers or incense, and maybe add some cushions or old pillows you can comfortably prop up on. Think of it as your sacred, peaceful place to return to.
3. Choose a word, phrase or mantra to repeat. Ask yourself, what are your intentions are for the day ahead? Does something in your life need some extra attention or awareness? Has a thought been lingering in your mind all night that you need to let go of? Your mantra can be as simple as one word (such as peace, love, release, free), using a phrase (I honor the love within me, Peace comes from within, Go slowly, Be easy), or using a mantra prayer (Om Namah Shivaya, Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu). Pick something that resonates with you and has positive personal significance.
4. Have some malas handy (literally). Malas are sacred and used for mantra practice and prayer, similar to the use of rosary beads in the Catholic religion to keep track or a count of the recitations of the mantra or prayer said. Generally handled in the left hand, one bead is counted for each recitation of the mantra, beginning with the first bead after the “guru” bead—the larger, more decorative bead at the mala’s end. The first bead is held between the index finger and thumb, and with each count the thumb pulls another bead in place over the index finger.
5. Situate yourself in a comfortable seat. Remember those cushions or old pillows we talked about? They will be your sore bum savior! Especially if you’re new to meditation, the first five minutes or so might feel like a piece of cake, but the body isn’t used to sitting for such an extended period of time (thanks to the invention of chairs), particularly in the bum area. So, pad it up! And if your hips are tight, add some extra cushioning under your bum to elevate the hips a bit higher to protect those knees.
6.Start with simple breathing. Once you’re seated, for the first minute or so, close your eyes and begin to notice your breathing. Ask yourself, what are the natural qualities of your breath? Is it short and choppy? Or long and fluid-like? Don’t try to change it, just let it flow naturally. Over the next few rounds, see if you can begin to even out the length of your inhales and exhales, so it becomes one long, continuous breath. Focusing on simply breath to start can help to initially calm and settle the mind, shifting you out of your day so you can be more present and effective during your meditation.
7. Begin repeating your word/phrase/mantra. Try not to control the mantra to follow your breath. Instead, let the flow of the mantra come naturally. You can be repeating your mantra out loud or in your head. Most malas come in strands of 21 or 108 beads, so that’s quite a few repetitions! You may notice the mind wander away from your mantra after the first 30 repitions, or after the first 5! Both are fine, it’s a practice that takes dedication and focus. Becoming aware of how much the mind wanders is the whole point of this anyway! Remember, it’s a practice. Which brings me to my next tip…
8. Be kind to yourself. Your mind will wander, you will loose count, you will forget to meditate one day, or your daily routine will simply change one day and throw you off your mediation schedule. Part of that is acceptance. Accept where you are, learn from it, and try again tomorrow. And if you find yourself getting upset or angry about it, maybe meditation on that. 😉
Do you meditate, boho girl? We want to know all about your meditation tips and tricks! Share them with us in the comments below.
Sara Grossi is a 10-year cancer survivor, dedicated yogi, teacher and freelance graphic designer. Her creativity, passion and determination for living life flows to all who enter the room. On her mat, I have found courage, confidence, strength, happiness, fearlessness and her true self.