With Ramadan upon us, the quest for inner peace and serenity is even more important. One step towards this is meditation. Cairo West Magazine caught up with Lamia Samir, Energy Healer & Meditation Instructor at Lotus Holistic & Wellness Center to learn more.
CWM: What are the most common meditative practices?
LS: There is a misconception that meditation helps us zone out. Actually, meditation is all about awareness and being present in every moment of our life, while maintaining a state of peace and acceptance of our thoughts and emotions. The most common meditation practice that anyone can practice anytime and almost anywhere is Mindfulness, which is simply the act of paying attention to everything we are experiencing by neither controlling it nor judging it.
What steps should we take to clear our heads of the mental clutter of the day?
We keep jamming our heads from the moment we wake up with so many details, and our minds are our faithful guardians, they never let go of what we load them up with until we give them a permission to do so. The first important step in a successful head de-cluttering process is setting a strong intention of letting go. Once we are in the right mindset, writing down the things that we consider important, such as appointments, to do list, the recipe we want to try for dinner, etc., this helps lift a huge load off of our heads. Then comes the cherry on top; Meditation. Meditation doesn’t need to be long; 15 minutes a day is enough to do the job. Sit in a comfortable position. Start bringing your awareness to yourself, where you sit, your thoughts, your feelings, both physical and emotional, and to how you breathe. The key to letting go of thoughts and feelings is accepting them, don’t fight them nor hold them in. Don’t judge them nor analyze them, just relax, see them running in front of you like puffy white clouds, and choose to let them go.
How can we best relax our body and mind to be able to focus calmly?
The beauty of meditation is that it serves your intention, if you practice it before bed, it’ll help you sleep like a baby, if you practice it during the day, it will boost your energy and help you focus better on your tasks. There are very easy yet powerful techniques that can make your body and mind go into a deep relaxation state. You could use those techniques either prior to your meditation or at any time of the day you need to unwind. One of the techniques is body scanning. Either sitting down comfortably or lying down, mentally bring your awareness to each and every part of your body and relax it. Start with your scalp and go all the way down to your toes. Break down your body parts into smaller ones; for example, instead of relaxing your arms, relax your right arm, right elbow, right hand, and each finger of the right hand, and so on. Another technique is counting backwards. Close your eyes and count backwards starting at 30. If you are done, but you’re still tense, or you miscounted, start from the beginning till your mind calms down. Last but not least is the breathing technique; whenever you feel edgy, simply breathe. Inhale from your nose and exhale from your mouth, while visualizing stress and anxiety coming out of it in the form of dark grayish smoke.
The place where we meditate adds to our experience, especially if we manage to practice out in nature, still, meditation could be done anywhere; at home, in the office, or even waiting for our doctor’s appointment. The most important thing in our meditation spot, whether it is indoors or outdoors, is cleanness. When we meditate, we exchange energies with our space, so avoid messy, dirty or contaminated spots.
Can soft music be helpful in the winding down process?
When you are new to meditation, you may want to invest in the setting, so you’d get encouraged to repeat the experience and look forward to this new practice. Find a quiet spot, and make sure you won’t be interrupted. Experiment with different types of music till you find your favorite. Light a couple of candles and you could anoint them with a few drops of nice essential oil. Later when meditation becomes a habit, you won’t even need music, you will enjoy the silence and the sound of your own breath will be enough to relax you.
How can someone get the most out of Ramadan by meditating?
“Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is letting God talk to you.” – Yogi Bhajan.
If we reflect on this quote, we’ll understand how meditation can add to our Ramadan spiritual experience. All belief systems share a common fact that God is closer to us than we think, and that He communicates with us all the time, all we need to do is clear our mind and listen, which is exactly where meditation comes in. Also, the downpour of energy generated by meditation flows more easily through our bodies when our stomachs aren’t stuffed with food. This makes meditation our best friend on this special month of the year. Happy Ramadan!