We all know meditation can improve our health and well-being. What we may not know is that our meditation practice is not just limited to sitting on a cushion and breathing, but is the way we relate to every single moment of our lives.
If we limit meditation to just sitting ten to twenty minutes a day, we are missing out on hours and hours of opportunities to deepen our practice and limiting our ability for it to completely transform our lives.
Knowing that we can take meditation off the cushion is great news for those of us who find ourselves saying, “I just don’t have the time to meditate.” If we change the way we understand the practice and learn how to bring it right into the messiness of our lives, we can literally use every moment as a path to transformation.
If you’re longing for a deeper connection to yourself and your life, read on for five simple and powerful meditation practices that will transform your life – that you can practice on and off the cushion.
Add Breathwork to Your Meditation for Increased Awareness and Mindfulness
With Katy Scherer
In this short and sweet breathwork class from YA Classes, you will explore the dynamics of belly and chest breathing and create a deeper connection between the two in order to find a full, more expansive breathing pattern. This technique is easy to do anywhere – just like these transformational meditation practices – and increases awareness and self-embodiment.
5 Meditation Practices That Will Transform Your Life:
These easy and accessible meditation practices will help you cultivate more awareness, compassion and presence, and best of all, these techniques can be practiced everywhere.
1. The Pause Practice
The Pause Practice is a simple yet profound meditation that can transform your life. It provides a place of ease and refuge, even during difficult times throughout the day. All that is required is the willingness to literally pause and open to the moment just as it is. It’s like taking a step back and seeing clearly, with mirror-like awareness, that this is how things are right now.
In this sacred pause, we temporarily lay down all the resistance and struggles we would normally carry around, along with all the stories we tell about ourselves and our lives, and instead connect with the immediate contact of our senses in the present moment.
When we pause, we are putting down the constant mindlessness and unconscious habitual tendencies and reactions of what I call “me-world” – our self-centered, thought-based reactivity that filters every moment of our lives – that tend to sweep us away from the present moment.
The pause practice allows us to touch into the immediacy of our lives.
When we do this we find that the situation at hand, whatever it may be, is always workable and always changing, and we begin to trust that our hearts and minds are spacious enough to hold all the 10,000 joys and sorrows our lives present us with.
I like to imagine the pause practice as an open mic night for our bodies, hearts and minds. No matter who or what shows up to perform, we allow them to play. It might be the worst music we’ve ever heard, but no matter how bad it is, eventually, their turn will end and someone else will take the stage.
Sometimes all we need is a little break, and if you do this simple meditation multiple times a day, you may be surprised at how easily it can transform your life.
2. Just Like Me
Just Like Me is another powerful transformational meditation practice to bring into our daily lives, especially when we find ourselves stuck somewhere we normally wouldn’t want to be, such as in a traffic jam, the waiting room of a doctor’s visit or standing in a long line at the grocery store.
As we stand or sit wherever we are, we look at the people around us with warmth and kindness; through the loving eyes of compassion. We begin by contemplating the fact that they are just like us. They have desires to be happy. They want to be free from the suffering in their lives. They have people they love and who love them back. They have burdens and sorrows they carry in their hearts.
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As we continue reflecting in this way, we begin to see these “other people” we would normally consider strangers, are actually no different than us. We allow this tenderness to open our hearts and allow the boundaries of separation to naturally drop away. We then embody this friendliness and allow it to transform our interactions with others throughout the day.
If you spend all day seeing everyone you meet through the lens of “just like me” it’s bound to transform your life.
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3. On-The-Spot Metta (Loving-Kindness)
The Buddhist term Metta is typically translated to loving-kindness and is a quality of mind we could all afford to cultivate a little more of. Although this practice is typically done formally on our meditation cushion, it doesn’t have to be! In fact, it can be especially transformative when used on the spot, smack in the middle of our daily lives.
The practice of Metta is simple: send out thoughts of loving-kindness. It’s literally that easy!
Traditionally, the thoughts we are sending out go like this:
May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May your heart be at ease.
But it’s totally fine for us to create our own. It’s really the intention of loving-kindess that matters most. For example, perhaps we have a friend who is ill and they pop up randomly in our minds. Our practice may sound more like:
May you be free from all discomfort.
May your body be healthy and at ease.
May your strength and immunity increase.
May your heart and mind be free.
Simply imagine this friend receiving all the loving-kindess and continuing repeating the phrases above.
As we go through our day, especially when we find ourselves caught in frustration, resentment or bitterness, we can choose to cultivate thoughts of loving-kindess, literally rewiring our brains toward compassion.
This meditation works especially well for people that cause us difficulty throughout our day.
This may be an annoying co-worker, a difficult family member, or even a certain politician that makes us cringe. Rather than continuing to cultivate anger, frustration and aversion toward them, we can instead choose to cultivate a heart and mind full of love and compassion.
Continued practice of this on-the-spot Metta meditation will open your heart and shift your perspective.
This Transformational Meditation Practice Is a Direct Path to Happiness
With Ashley Limehouse
Ready to increase your capacity for forgiveness and boost your self-acceptance and self-awareness? The Loving-Kindness meditation will transform you. Check out this short seated meditation practice from YA Classes, and experience more satisfaction with your self, your relationships, and with the world around you.
4. On-The-Spot Tonglen (Sending/Receiving)
One of my personal favorite practices is the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Tonglen, which literally translates to sending and receiving. This is another transformational meditation practice that can be done both formally and on the spot.
The idea of this meditation is breathing in suffering, allowing that suffering to transform in our hearts, and then sending out relief.
If we’re having a rough day and full of anxiety, we can breathe the anxiety in fully – allowing ourselves to feel it completely – and then on the exhale, sending out its opposite – letting it go – while simultaneously filling ourselves up with ease and peace.
Typically, there is a visualization that goes along with the Tonglen meditation. When we breathe in the suffering, we imagine it looks like thick, sticky black smoke. This heavy dark smoke goes right to our heart center, transforming into a warm, beautiful white light that spreads throughout our entire being on the exhale.
As we become more comfortable with this transformational meditation practice, we can expand it to anyone experiencing similar suffering to ourselves.
Using the anxiety example from above, after we breathe it in and out for a few minutes, we can expand it to everyone feeling anxious at that moment. As we breathe in, we can imagine we are actually taking the anxiety from everyone in the world, freeing them from it completely, then, on the exhale, we send out a healing white light that shoots out in all directions, bringing all beings the freedom and ease we ourselves are looking for at that moment.
This transformational meditation practice is also great for when we see other people who are suffering in a way where we feel there isn’t much we can do to help. This may be when we see a loved one in hospice or a friend with a heartbreaking addiction.
Situations like these make us feel helpless and out of control but this on-the-spot Tonglen practice can help us feel like we are contributing to their wellbeing in some way. All we have to do is imagine ourselves breathing in their suffering and exhaling relief.
We may not be able to control the situation, but we can decide what we want to cultivate in our hearts and minds, which ultimately will allow us to be more present, helpful and loving.
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5. Goodbye Forever
One poignant meditation practice that will transform your life is called Goodbye Forever. The practice goes like this: Whenever we say goodbye to someone throughout our day, we imagine it being the last time we would ever see them.
In our heads, we can say, “goodbye forever.” This allows us to see this person through the tender eyes of impermanence and also teaches us how to relate to the feelings and reactions that arise in response to this thought.
This transformational meditation practice helps us get accustomed to the reality of death and loss.
This is a very intense practice but death and loss are a very real part of our lives that we typically tend to ignore – and it helps us invite a tenderness, deep appreciation and gratitude for life that may normally be buried under the busyness and stress of our daily routines.
With continued practice of saying goodbye forever, we will feel more liberated and open in our relationship wiht ourselves, our loved ones, and with those around us.
Now Go Out and Practice These Meditation Practices That Will Transform Your Life
Now that you know the five meditation practices that will transform your life it’s up to you to start implementing them into your daily routine. Try picking one that resonates with you and practicing it wholeheartedly for a certain amount of time or keep all five in your back pocket and use whichever one you need at that moment.
Like with anything, the more you practice the better you’ll get, and eventually, these simple transformational meditation practices will become how you automatically relate to your life, bringing more presence, compassion and joy to each lived experience.
I wish you well on your journey!