An Example Meditation
Meditation For Psychophysical Illness
By Jim Spira, PhD, MPH, ABPP (adapted for Casa Palmera)
A standard meditation/relaxation that is simple to learn yet highly effective:
Part One: Relax
Squeeze your hands, raise your shoulders, squeeze your eyes shut, and take a deep breath in, as deep as you can… And then release, let go of all your tension, your breath flows all the way out, and you can sink down into your chair.
Feel gravity helping your body to relax down into your chair:
- Feel the weight of your legs, letting gravity pull the weight of your bones toward the floor…And then let the muscles relax, as if they are melting down along your bones.
- Feel the weight of your pelvis, sinking into the chair… Your muscles “melting” and your pelvic organs sinking down into the chair.
- Feel the weight of your abdomen settling into your pelvis.
- Feel the weight of your spine resting into the pelvis, and all the muscles of your back “melting” like honey.
- Feel gravity taking your shoulders, lungs and heart down to rest in your abdomen.
Feel your head, face and even your brain to relax down into shoulders.
Part Two: Breathe
As your body continues to relax and rest and feel comfortable, focus on your breath.
- Notice the air flowing into and out of your nose…Notice the change in temperature as the air flows in compared to when the air flows out. . .
Notice of the change in texture as the air flows and compared to when the air flows out…
Notice the place that the air touches in your nose and throat as the air flows in vs. out…
– If your thoughts or feelings distract you, notice that distraction, let it go, and come back to feeling the breath flowing into and out of your nose.
(Feel this calm soothing flow of air for about 20 breaths)
- Place your hands on your chest. . .Notice how your hands rock forward as your chest expands with each inhale, and returns back to your center with each exhale…
Notice how your elbows are gently expanded out to the sides released back toward the center…
And you may even be able to notice how your back gently expands into the chair behind you and slightly releases the pressure on that chair with each breath…
– There’s no need to make any effort to breathe. Rather allow the breath to happen effortlessly, as if the breath is breathing you. In fact, to help you release your excess effort to breathe, at the bottom of each exile let the breath out just a little bit more, relaxing it out as much as possible, before the inhale begins anew.
(Feel this gentle massage from the inside, as if a balloon is expanding and releasing effortlessly, for about 20 breaths)
- Place your hands over your lower abdomen…Feel the warmth of your hands merging in with the warmth of your belly…Allow that warmth to float forward and back, effortlessly, soothing and comfort…
Allow that warmth to soothe and comfort your body…
– Imagine the breath to be centered in your pelvis, expanding down and out (like a balloon effortlessly filling and expanding in all attractions equally, and then easily releasing, letting go of any tension, any effort, and any pain. Each inhale is as fresh as the first breath you’ve ever taken, and every exhale is as precious as the last breath you’ll ever take.
(Feel this soothing rocking of the warmth, back and forth, for about 20 breaths)
Part Three: Meditate
Finally, simply sit, feeling your body expanding and releasing effortlessly, silently, soothingly. If your attention is drawn away by a thought or feelings or sounds, simply notice that your attention is being pulled away, let go of that distraction, and absorb yourself as fully as possible in the body expanding with every inhale and releasing with every exhale.
Congratulations! You have completed this meditation exercise.
It’s nice to know that you can return to this state of relaxation any time you need to or want to, simply by doing this exercise. And you can bring this comfortable feeling back with you now, as you feel your chest raising during the inhale… and with the next inhale or the one after, you can… raise your eyes and eyelids up toward the ceiling, and then focus back in the group feeling clear and calm and alert.
When should I meditate?
This simple breath-meditation takes only about five or six minutes. It is useful to practice when first waking up. When you drive to work, you can sit in your car for five minutes doing this breathing exercise before you go in to face the day. It’s useful to practice this for five minutes before lunch. And when you drive home it’s helpful to sit in the car for five minutes doing this exercise before you go in to begin your evening routine. Finally, it’s valuable to do this practice just before going to bed.
Alternatively, you can practice this for about 20 minutes morning and evening. Count 30 breaths at each part, and then simply sit and “be” with the body expanding and releasing, comfortably and effortlessly for the rest of the time. Whenever distraction arises (thoughts, sounds, discomfort), notice it, and then redirect your attention to the feeling of your body breathing.