HJ: Life is about balance and in that sense most of us need more stillness, peace and quiet. The tendency in modern society is to be overstimulated, overextended, over everything… And so finding time for stillness and peace becomes extremely important. It is nourishing at a deep level to the mind, body, spirit and soul.
ACCESSING THE SPACE WITHIN: A guided relaxation meditation to come to stillness
By Michelene Nader
Through stillness, you can access what is unconscious and bring it to the surface. You can watch your mind with detachment and open and deepen your observation. You can make your state of relaxation a daily practice in the morning when you wake up, in the evening before you go to bed, or anytime during your day.
In accessing this state of relaxation, it’s helpful to visually create a mental space, a place of stillness. Through visualizing a peaceful scene, you can activate your imagination to create a state of deep relaxation. Imagine a place of beauty where your senses are totally immersed in splendour and silence. With time and practice, visualizing this space while breathing will help you access your inner space more quickly and deeply. The image I use is a place I call the “Clear Lagoon." It is a place of clarity, quiet, and depth. I will share the images I use, but your Clear Lagoon is your own creation, and you should adapt it in whatever way feels right for you. It’s a mind tool to help you access stillness quicker.
STEP 1 – Choose a private place where you can sit in silence without interruption for about half an hour.
STEP 2 – Find a way to sit that’s comfortable and relaxed. It’s preferable to sit up straight, but you can choose to sit on the floor, on a cushion, or on a chair. If you like to lie down, that’s fine too. Uncross your hands and relax them in your lap, palms up or down.
STEP 3 – While sitting in silence, suspend all judgment about yourself, your thoughts and the people in your life. Just observe, and don’t judge what’s surfacing. If you get emotional, let it be, and don’t engage your mind in any criticism, assessment, or decision-making. Just observe and focus on your breathing. Thoughts will inevitably rush through your mind—that’s normal. Don’t try to do anything with them; just let them be, and try to allow whatever comes up to surface.
The key to accessing this space within is to quiet your mind, to observe the noise without resistance and turn the volume down. The thoughts may not disappear, but you will experience that there’s more space and lag time between you and them. Try to be present with your inner self without judgment.
STEP 4 – While sitting comfortably, take three deep breaths. Inhale to the count of four; hold your breath to the count of two; exhale to the count of four. Relax. This will create the intended relaxation in the present moment. Now, close your eyes.
Repeat the breathing exercise three times, this time inhaling to the count of six, holding your breath to the count of three, and exhaling to the count of six. Notice how you become more relaxed with each breath. Inhale calmness, and exhale all the tension of your day. Notice how you become lighter with each breath. Breathe slowly and deeply while paying attention to your breath.
Count slowly from ten to one. After the counting, allow your breath to flow in and out effortlessly for few minutes in an unforced, natural rhythm.
STEP 5 – Continue breathing deeply. Now, picture a ball of white light descending from your head to all parts of your body. Allow yourself to visualize its brightness and to feel its warmth. Starting from your head, relax every muscle in your body, from your facial muscles to your neck, down to your shoulders and so on. As the light descends through your body, it caresses your organs gently and stops where it feels pain and discomfort. It stays there until the feeling of ease in the organ comes back. It continues descending though the body until it reaches the lower extremities. All tension starts to disappear.
I usually start by visualizing the light as white, but as it moves through my body, it starts taking on different shapes and colours. You may experience a tingling sensation or a throbbing in certain areas of your body. This is normal. When you begin to relax deeply, your body may feel warmer. You’re in complete harmony with the light.
STEP 6 – Now, imagine yourself sitting alone under a palm tree in front of a beautiful, calm lagoon. Picture the blue sky above you; see the light reflecting in the still, clear water; listen to the song of the birds; feel the gentle breeze. On the surface of the water, there are white swans and an intelligent dolphin that dives deep and from time to time jumps and flips with total ease and happiness. Imagine the flowers and the colours that you love around the Lagoon, and notice a big, beautiful lotus flower close to the bank. Imagine an animal that you love quietly resting on the grass.
Soak in all this beauty and hold it inside yourself, and then breathe out again. Beside the Lagoon, you can feel safe and secure. The water has a cleansing effect and can regenerate though its beauty and purity. Remember the scene and the feeling it evokes in you. You can carry this image with you wherever you go. Once you have invented this place, you simply need to recall this visual scene any time you need to access a place of peace where you can relax and feel safe. You will be using this place as the starting point for each of the exercises in this book.
STEP 7 – When you are ready, breathe deeply and count from one to ten, and then open your eyes.
STEP 8 – You may want to take your notebook and write a description of your Clear Lagoon, adding as much sensory detail as you can. Describe how it looks and how you feel when you are sitting there.
Micheline Nader is a successful entrepreneur who founded, managed, and sold a number of healthcare companies. Born in Lebanon, she has lived and worked in Europe, Canada, and the Unites States where she has resided for the past 20 years. Micheline holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Masters in Public Health from the American University of Beirut and a doctoral degree in healthcare management from Paris Dauphine University (France).This article was excerpted from THE DOLPHIN’S DANCE: Discover Your True Self Through A Powerful 5-Step Journey Into Conscious Awareness (Balboa Press, February 1, 2015). Copyright © 2015 Micheline Nader