Out of all of the techniques you can use as a means to focus the mind, there are 4 categories of practice that I will outline for you.
Trataka is the practice of focusing your gaze (drishti) on a fixed point. The most common form of trataka uses a candle as the focal point, but you can also use yantra, mandala, or any sacred object. Trataka can increase intuition, clear your perception of the outside world, and you can actually heal your eyesight with continued use of this technique.
Try it! NOTE: Remove contacts and glasses for this practice
Option 1: Gaze down the tip of your nose at the candle flame UNBLINKING. Keep eyes open. Let the eyes water and cleanse. 2-15 minutes. Close eyes and sit with the sensation of clarity.
Option 2: Gaze down the tip of your nose at the candle flame UNBLINKING. When eyes start to water blink the eyes closed and place gaze at the third eye (between and slightly above eyebrows). Try to hold the image of the flame in this space. When the image subsides, re-open eyes and repeat this process. Continue for 2-15 minutes.
Visualization as a meditation practice is a great way to bring discipline to your imagination. There are limitless visualization practices you can work on base and d on what your intention is, but I will offer a basic practice that helps to clear the mind and trains you in non-attachment.
Imagine that the mind is the sky. See the colors of the sky. Notice everything about the sky. Imagine like the thoughts are clouds — give them shape and color and watch them as they pass through your sky mind. Notice and let go. Do this for 5 minutes and finish with 3 deep breaths allowing the sun to shine and light up the mind.
#3 Breathing Practices
Breath and mind are twin laws — the breath reflects the state of the mind and you can change the qualities of the mind by shifting the way you breathe. In the 8 limbs of yoga, pranayama comes before sense withdrawal and concentration. Breathing practices can set the stage for some pretty powerful meditation experiences.
Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) can help to clear the mind, reduce anxiety, create a sense of balance, and it can even help you sleep better at night!
Right hand closes one nostril at a time. Tuck pointer and middle finger in the palm or place them at the forehead. Use ring finger to close left nostril and thumb to gently close the right.
INHALE through the LEFT
EXHALE through the RIGHT
INHALE through the RIGHT
Exhale through the LEFT
REPEAT up to 6 minutes daily
Japa is the practice of repeating a mantra 108 times, typically using a mala (a beaded necklace with 108 beads). There are many Sanskrit mantras to choose from and each one carries its own vibration, meaning, and intention. Japa is a great option if your monkey mind has prevented you from meditating with ease in the past. I will offer some shorter mantras to choose from, but if that practices is too short for your liking you can practice one round out loud (for physical reality), one round whispered (for subtle body), and one round inwardly (for causal body).
Om—the sound of the universe, of creation. It is an ascending force.
Ram—the seed sound of the navel chakra, manipura, the center of willpower, discipline, fire, and action
So hum—it’s called the universal or natural mantra because it is the sound that the natural rhythm of breath makes. Inhale so, exhale hum. It means “I am that”.
Gam—a seed mantra to help remove obstacles
All of these meditation techniques are great for beginners so start your practice today! Which one is calling out to you?
Michelle Anthony, RYT500
Do you want more information about this or to be guided through it in person? Book a session or series of sessions with her online or in person at Tuning Tree