As a student of meditation and innovative psychology, I’ve found that when you’re working to change inner energy, there is a profound marriage between breathwork and movement. Scientifically, we can move our breath in a certain pattern to slow down the nervous system and check in with ourselves and the world around us, thus becoming mindful in altering our moods and thoughts from negative to positive.
Here are four active meditation practices constructed to help you feel better in a short amount of time. By practicing these meditations, you’ll be able to quickly shift from negative to positive thought patterns in just a few minutes. Who doesn’t want that?
Power pose to overcome mental fog.
A form of Bastikah was brought into the world through Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the guru of The Art of Living. I studied with one of his disciples when I was living in Mumbai and serving in the slums. The practice helps bust through blocks and clear mental fog. This meditation is useful if you have consumed too much caffeine, are experiencing a hangover and feeling low, or need to quickly wake up. This sequence will open up the sinuses, so make sure to blow your nose before beginning.
Sit on your heels in vajrasana (kneeling pose). Close your eyes, and make goalpost arms with your upper body, forming fists with your hands (this will look like a letter “W”). Inhale through the nose and bring your hands to the sky, stretching your fingers high (belly expands). Exhale through the nose and bring your hands back beside your shoulders (pulling the belly button toward the spine). Continue this breath of inhale (hands up) and exhale (hands down) for 3 sequences of 30 seconds. In between each sequence, become still and silent with your breath. After the third round, sit in silence and pay attention to the sensations in your body.
Hum to overcome compulsive thoughts.
Every spiritual center or ashram I ever lived in taught this practice. This meditation is beneficial when you are experiencing compulsive negative thought patterns and can’t get out of your own head. One of the side effects of humming is immediate relaxation to the facial muscles and throat. You may also experience a feeling of joy because humming is synonymous with honoring your inner child. The louder you hum, the more vibration you will feel.
Start sitting in a comfortable position. Close your eyes, place your index fingers on the tragus (cartilage outside of the ear), and inhale through your nose to seal your lips. Exhale and hum while opening and closing the tragus. Repeat for 11 breaths. Sit in silence and pay attention to the clearness in your mind.
Discover inner calm through earthly movement.
Go for a marching meditation. This inspires a deepened connection to the solid and finite earth, establishing an “I am here now” energy. Reground, refocus, and reconnect to earth with masculine marching movements. Visualize your foot rooted into the soul of the universe through the sole of your foot every time you step down.
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Inhale, bringing your right knee to chest. Exhale and bring the right knee down, connecting foot to earth. Inhale once again, bringing the left knee to chest. Exhale, left knee comes down, connecting foot to earth. Repeat for 90 seconds or until you feel calm.
Feel endorphins rising and the heart pumping, and here’s a best practice pro tip: Do it on the grass, barefoot! You’ll reap additional benefits that way.
Sway and shimmy to shift your energy.
This active meditation is a gentle and feminine practice to realign with the breath and move stagnant energy after a moment of sadness. It opens the chest and honors the inner child through this gentle practice.
Stand with feet hip-width apart. With little thought and no weight in the arms, begin to loosely sway your arms from side to side. When twisting from the core, your hands will naturally hit your lower back. Inhale through your nose when you twist to the left side. Exhale through your nose when you twist to the right side, and repeat this for 60 seconds.
Next, switch the breath, and inhale through the nose when you twist to the right side. Exhale through your nose when you twist to the left side and repeat for 60 seconds. When completed, move into stillness for a few breaths.