Meditation: An Ultimate Guide On How To Effectively Sit Still

A mini-encyclopedia of sorts. My journey, from the lens of Meditation, from hopelessness to happiness. Also loaded with all my tricks and tips!

I blew my own mind in writing this; I didn’t know I had this much to say about meditation! But I won’t put a word-limit today, because even though you can find tips and tricks everywhere, I haven’t found that much on the ‘experience’ of it all.

If I had to help you understand meditation in just one post, this would be it.

I will also keep adding to this post whenever I discover something new worth sharing. I want this to become an ode to the power of meditation, a mini-encyclopedia of sorts. Please bookmark this page and feel free to revisit it often. 🙂

UPDATE: If you need a little more help on how to design a meditation practice that works for YOU, join my digital workshop. It’s unconventional, affordable and you’ll get lots of hands-on-tools to really strengthen your game!

Meditation: Everything You Need To Know

I want to talk about everything that happens when you first start meditating.

  • – confusion,
  • – inconsistency,
  • – semi-mystical experiences,
  • – paranoia,
  • and then some.

So, to tackle the subject, I’ve split the post in two parts:

Though I share everything that personally happened along the way, for those that want to jump straight to the ‘advice’, feel free to jump to the last section of this post –All My Resources, Tips & Tricks.

Keep in mind that Part 2 only focuses on what works for me, but Part 1 is more detailed about what didn’t work along the way (but might work for you, so don’t miss it).

PART 1 : All the Life-Changing Details

It wasn’t until January 2016, that I began meditation. Before that, I had no clue how to, neither was there any interest. I did try some relaxation techniques in the beginning months, but nothing happened beyond that – I would relax and fall asleep.

Fast forward to January 2017; there was no specific cause for me to feel as upset as I was because, on the outside, my life was great. I had amazing family and friends that always supported me, I was working at a well-paying job, and I was in decent physical shape, with no medical challenges to blame.

Still, at the time, all I knew was, I was not happy. This thought of unhappiness, further made me consider myself quite ungrateful, making my feelings more ‘smaller’.

It was gnawing away at me, one endless day at a time. So, I did what everyone says – I tried harder.

I tried harder to make new friends, hang out at new places, eat differently.
I tried gratitude writing, tried checklist-striking my daily achievements.
Tried making a more ‘conducive’ environment, one home-improvement project at a time.
Tried harder to eat right, run longer, pray more.
I tried harder to balance every facet of my life.
It wasn’t working. Nothing was.

spiral freestanding calendar on white surface
On the brighter side, I can’t say I was having extreme thoughts.

But I was beginning to question if there really was a better reason to living the life I was, so purposeless, so shallow.
I felt like going away, to where?
No clue.
To do what?
No clue.
And I didn’t even have the courage to go away, anyway.
I was trying to be here, to fight where I am, one day at a time.

Little did I know, I was experiencing the Dark Night of the Soul

I don’t know what really made me decide that I should give meditation another try. I want to believe it was the small part of me that wanted to survive this existential crisis. Or maybe there was some kind of Divine Intervention?

Perhaps it was a kindred spirit that whispered in my ear, “don’t give up just yet”. That there was something more left to try.

Shiva, the ‘Cool’ God Steps In

I had grown quite fond of Shiva and his low-maintenance philosophy, after watching the Indian Saga, Devon Ke Dev, Mahadev. So, that momentous day, I started with Om chanting.

In the days to follow, every morning, right after I’d take a bath. I’d sit like a yogi, at the side of my bed. And I’d chant Om with my eyes closed, just for a few minutes. Soon, I began visualizing that I was offering different colored flowers to a shiva linga, one chant at a time.

meditation, zen, dhyan, mudra, rudraksh
 
Maybe it was beginner’s luck, but within the very first week, I began feeling better.

One day though, when I was chanting Om, I freaked out a little bit. I felt disconnected from my body, and I felt like I could hear the Om humming even when I wasn’t chanting it. Shaken, I abandoned this practice as quickly as it came.

But not long after, I came across Binaural Beats and Solfeggio Music. I share the resources in the second half. For several weeks to follow, this is how I ended my days – falling asleep to such music.

Mystical Musings From Music

I had an idea to focus on one single instrument, as a form of ‘meditation’. Do you know how difficult and overwhelming that can be? But when you do that, you discover so many new ways to listen to the same song!

I also started seeing all kinds of colorful and vivid universes in my mind’s eye.

I’ve always a had a thing for astronomy and the aurora borealis, so I didn’t think much of what was going on. Later, reading some interesting spiritual memoirs, I felt a slight sense of triumph. I was definitely doing something right here!

think, gloat, boast, emotions, face, smug

I would also see flashes of images, mostly ones I couldn’t recognise. These images still stay with me, and I like to believe they were glimpses of past lives. Yes, past life regression is an interesting and sometimes controversial subject of its own, and one very dear to my heart. I will talk about it in due course of time.

My experience with ‘Guided Meditation’ wasn’t all that great though. 

For one, I felt rushed. No matter how slow the guide was, I felt like I always wanted to be slower.
Slower to watch my breath going in and out of my chest.
Slower to feel my muscles relax, feeling the tension disperse.
And slower to imagine the dream-like place, I was often asked to construct.

Regardless, I kept experimenting; hopping between one technique to the other.

Osho Steps In

Fast forward a year later, in 2018, I had gained a better sense of chanting and music meditation, but things were really about to change again.

A friend recommended me to read Book of Secrets (also known as Vigyan Bhairav), by Osho.

osho, book of secrets, vigyan bhairav, meditation, 112 techniques, shiva shakti

The book talks about 112 Meditation Techniques, and it is believed that Shiva taught them to his beloved consort, Shakti; later shared across the world as a salvation from this cycle of Life and Death.

Sitting in my office cafeteria every morning, like a ritual, having my morning cup of tea, a hot buttery parantha and scrolling feverishly through my e-book, here’s what I realised – the book is anything but boring.

It is the densest and most practical form of wisdom I have come across thus far.
Did I try all 112 techniques? Nope.
My marker is still placed at the 13th or 14th technique, somewhere.
But I did try the first 12 or so. And I tried them sincerely. I even found some of the ones that work for me.

When Osho’s Techniques Woke Me Up (Pun Intended)

Among the many ‘weird’ experiences I had, upon following Osho’s techniques, I had another worth mentioning.

I woke up in the middle of the night and felt myself breathing. Like, I wasn’t actually breathing, I could feel breathe as a separate thing from me, and me separate from my body. It was so freeing, so liberating!

I find this incident funny because seconds later as soon as conscious mind turned back on, I realized what was happening, I was back to my senses. Ofcourse I had not attained Enlightenment. I had only had a taste and it was such a tease, geez.

I did happen to come across some other amazing books that transformed my vision of meditation. We’ll talk about that in the second part.

In 2019, I tried Group Meditation, and it works!

I was invited to try the Heartfulness Meditation program thanks to a friend, and it was a game changer for me. Though I still don’t enjoy guided meditation from online tapes, in person it is a different story.

There were a lot of wonderful things that I learned and continue to learn from participating in these group meditations. One major observation being, that if you sit in a group and meditate, you are more likely to go deeper and be less ‘in thoughts’.

If there are any group meditation programs near you, go for them! They are great for anyone that is struggling to meditate on their own or alternatively needs a space to share their spiritual journey without judgment. 🙂

In summary, I was basically a waking, walking experiment, always trying to find the right mix, the right ingredients to happiness. I was rapidly adopting new techniques and letting them go. I was peaceful until I was not.

And even today, on goes my journey, my spiritual shenanigans.

refill of liquid on tubes, test tubes, trial and error

I still have my days, but I have finally started to develop a way to ‘ease’ myself into my meditation. I think it’s time to talk about that now. 🙂

PART 2 : All My Resources, Tips & Tricks

One-stop shop. Here you go!

My Current Meditation Practice

I like to ‘Layer’ myself into the meditative state.

First I begin with chanting out-loud. Here is My Chanting Playlist.

Having grown slightly tired from the chanting, it becomes easier for me to focus on my breath and body, in silence.

By this point, my conscious mind has really used up a lot of energy and is more docile to the thoughts that surface. And I allow them.

Stones, Meditation, Balance, Relaxation

Videos On How to Meditate

For beginners, it can be tough to sit in one spot and meditate, so I have this video that describes variations you can do to get started. These are along the lines of present moment awareness.

To build on the above-mentioned video, here’s the second video which focuses on more deeper meditation tips and tricks. I also go into the benefits of recording your voice and creating your own guided meditation.

Tips & Tricks

TIP #1 – Why and How You Should LAYER Your Practice.

It takes a little effort to quiet the conscious mind, and until you don’t do that, it will not let you ‘be’. This is precisely why we have guided meditations talking about focusing on the breathe, focusing on your body, and then building a dream-world, before you enter the actual meditative state.

I teach people how to design their own layered meditation practice. If you need help with that, feel free to join me in one of my Digital Workshops.

TIP #2 – How to SIT and meditate without getting a backpain.
Relaxation, Yoga, Meditation, Nature

Either use a back-support like a pillow or lean against the wall. You can alternatively sit in a reclined chair. There is also nothing wrong with lying down and meditating, but it may make you sleepy.

TIP #3 – Switch it up. Vary between the types and duration of meditation you do.

You can chant in the morning, sitting up, and you can dwell in silence at night, while comfortably lying down. The thing is, some meditations make us sleepy because they demand a lot of processing, and that’s not ideal when you’ve got the whole day ahead of you.

So, your morning meditation might be under 2 minutes long, and very ‘shallow’ so to say, but nevertheless is a great kick-start. You can then have the night for a longer, more extensive communication with the subconscious or to simply help you free your thoughts and fall asleep.

TIP #4 – Being scared sometimes is natural.

Like I mentioned in part one, I was taken aback by my experience that came from chanting, initially. I won’t spook you with the ‘why’ of this happening, just know that it happens to some people (including me), and it is okay.

People, Cover, Cry, Desperate

For this, I recommend a few things.

  • In the immediate moment, say a prayer aloud, asking for Divine Guidance to be with you and remove any fearful thoughts or energies.
  • Envision a thick bubble of Divine Light surrounding you rendering you free from any harm, and ask your Guardian/God to take the eerie presence away from you.
  • If the mood persists, switch the mood. Play some peppy music that you can tune into, dance to even.
  • Though usually a one-off occurrence, if the meditation you are trying is invoking fear on repeat occasions, change the type and time of meditation. For example, instead of just focusing on your third-eye, try a full-body chakra balancing meditation.

Till this date, meditating at night makes me wary. So, I focus more on meditating in the morning when there’s more white noise and it is believed that energies are more clean and positive in the early parts of the day.

TIP #5 – There can be many physical experiences during meditation, such as tingling and feeling hot/cold sensations throughout the body. My opinion is that don’t think too much of it.
Chakra, Energy Centres, Body, Center

Don’t entangle yourself into the complicated and vast subjects of ‘Kundalini Awakening’, ‘Chakra Balancing’ etc if you’re just getting started. Often, the information on the internet is half-baked, and you will end up flustered unless you get proper guidance to walk down those paths.

Initially, just let the experience guide you and help you become more aware of your body.

TIP #6 – Meditation can and will help you gain your clair senses.

A wonderful insight I gained from Rebecca Rosen in one of her podcasts, was that the physical sense that is most active in our human body, is the one that develops more quickly in the spiritual way too.

So if you’re quite the observer, you can expect clairvoyance; if you’re a great listener, you can expect clairaudience to develop. Ideally speaking, we WANT to be able to use all 10 senses, not just our human 5.

red Psychic LED signage

For example, a good listener is more likely to be clairaudient, and a visually stimulated being will have clairvoyance over time. You can and will gain multiple senses overtime, and that is nothing miraculous. It is the way it is, to function efficiently between both parallels.

TIP #7 – Try everything. If you don’t know how to meditate, it’s only because you haven’t found the technique that works for you.

I hope my own story is good evidence, of how much trial and error can sometimes go behind trying something new (not JUST meditation).

And if in contrast, you get irritable because your mind keeps wandering off in midst of your practice, do what Pema Chodron says in When Things Fall Apart.

Remind yourself the word “thinking” and allow yourself to come back into meditation. Through this simple word, there is no judgement, simply an awareness that you were thinking, and that now you must not.

TIP #8 – Take a bath before you meditate, or wait atleast an hour before you bathe.

Meditation is like an energetic cleanse, and we don’t want to lose the state of our meditation, so we try to retain is as long as possible, bathing included.

Tip #9 – Read books from the masters to help you strengthen your practices.

Here are the books that helped me, and will definitely help you:

You can also use your periods of meditation to reflect on solid self-awareness questions, challenging your ego-mind and working your way through the wisdom you already have within.

#10 – If you can’t meditate in silence, use music as white noise.

Here is My Meditation Playlist with Solfeggios, Binaural Beats, etc.

Girl, Music, Fashion, Listen, Headphones

Concluding Thoughts

Honestly, I am impressed if you actually read everything! At one point, I was fretting how much I’d have to edit, would anyone actually read all of it?

That being said, congratulations, you know everything I know now, so what are you waiting for? Go meditate! 🙂

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. This means that at no added cost to you, every purchase you make through these links brings a small commission to my blog. This helps support my work. Thank you for your consideration! Here are other ways to support and help this blog grow.

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Meditation for Beginners: 10 Hacks on How to Meditate Everyday

Unique Mediterranean Vegan Roulade

A delicious vegan switch to the traditional European meat-based Roulade. Try this easy recipe out! Curated exclusively by Annalisa.

What I like about cooking is that it’s quite a calming, creative process where you have to stay focused but relaxed at the same time if you wish to approach it with lightheartedness and joy. And regardless of the end result, if you have cooked it with love, the food will always taste amazing!

Tried and tested strategy. *wink*

THE BACKSTORY OF THIS ROULADE RECIPE

For today’s recipe, I would like to introduce you to chickpea flour. Extremely versatile, it’s also naturally gluten free and high in protein. It’s great in sweet and savoury dishes and it is a powerhouse of nutrients!

This vegan roulade has a lovely smokey flavour given by the smoked tofu and a Mediterranean echo, infused by the Italian herbs and grilled veggies.

This dish is perfect as an entrée or as a main dish, enjoyed both hot or cold. The cheese sauce is also to die for! I have used the recipe from the lovely Rocco from Vegan Viking Kitchen.

He created this recipe for me knowing I have a nut allergy. And honestly, this cheese sauce will want to make you give up cheese for good; it’s savoury and intense, also works great as a tasty dip for nachos or toasted bread. Who thought vegan could be this easy and delicious, right?

All that being said, are we ready to take a culinary trip to Italy together? Let’s go!

chickpea vegan roulade recipe ingredients

For 2 people you will need the following ingredients:

Chickpea crepes:

  • 50 gr of chickpea flour
  • 100 ml water
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Oregano
  • Smoked paprika

For the cheese sauce:

  • 1 cup of full fat coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • Salt 1/2 tsp
  • 2 tsp of arrowroot powder (can be substituted by cornflour or plain flour if you can’t find arrowroot)
  • 1 Tbsp of lemon juice
  • Smoked paprika
  • Black pepper optional

For the filling of the crepes:

  • 1 medium sized aubergine
  • 1 red pepper ( I have used mini peppers but any type will work)
  • 150gr smoked tofu
  • 4 slices of vegan cheese ( I have used Violife)
  • 10 leaves of fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

RECIPE PROCEDURE FOR VEGAN ROULADE

  • We will start by grilling the vegetables. Slice the aubergine and the peppers quite thinly. Place them on a griddle pan with a little bit of salt. Wait for them to create that lovely chargrilled look and slightly press them with a fork while grilling them to remove any excess water. Set aside and let cool down.
  • Now let’s prepare the crepes. In a bowl, place all your dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, add the tomato purée and the water. Whisk until completely blended. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones. Whisk until there are no lumps and it is completely smooth. The texture we want to achieve is quite runny. So if you feel the need, add more water.
  • Place a non stick pan on the stove on medium-low heat, pour the batter into a thin layer making sure it covers the entire surface of the pan. When you start seeing bubbles on the crepe flip it and cook it on the other side.

    NOTE : Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly shaped. We will be folding it later and nobody will notice. Let’s be honest, a bit of messiness makes food tastes better!
crepe in making
My imperfectly perfect crepe! Look at that colour, though.
  • This batter should yield 3 medium-sized crepes. Set them aside and let them cool down.
  • In the mean time, pre-heat the oven at 190 degree and lets start making the cheese sauce.
  • Place all the ingredients in a pan and whisk. Put on medium heat and once it starts boiling, wait until it thickens. You should have a rich, creamy texture, easy to pour but that hold a bit of shape. If it looks too thick, just add a dash of water or of plant milk.
creamy sauce prepared with chickpeas
Now time to assemble our vegan roulade!
assemble the vegan roulade
  • Place your crepe on a plate and start layering with the aubergine, peppers, smoked tofu, cheese and basil leaves. Add some salt and pepper if you think it’s needed.
  • Roll into a tight burrito, cut the edges with a knife if needed, and slice vertically into small, thick rolls.
  • Assemble them standing upright onto a baking sheet with parchment paper, making sure they stand next to each other, not only for support but also to make sure they won’t open during cooking.
  • Place them in the oven and let them cook until the cheese has melted. Once ready, switch the oven into the grill function, turn your rolls horizontally and let them crisp up.
  • Once ready and crunchy, put them on a plate and drizzle abundantly with the cheese sauce and a few scattered basil leaves.
  • And….Bon appetit!
vegan roulade

RECIPE NOTES

  • Vegan roulade will go perfectly with a side salad or even with some potato wedges!
  • The crepes can be made in advance and frozen.
  • They can also be used instead of tortilla wraps and used as an alternative to bread.

This dish is ideal for summer dinners in the garden. It’s filling and delicious, bursting with flavour but keeping you light and satisfied! I hope you will enjoy this new recipe and that it will make you savour the flavours of my beautiful country.

You may also be interested in my other chickpea-based, nut-free recipe, the Vegan Blondie.

Sending everyone love,

Annalisa x

Annalisa D’Agostino is a Reiki Master, also professionally pursuing holistic and spiritual counselling.

She enjoys cooking and making delicious vegan takes on everyday food.

So here you can find a little corner, TheVeganSense, where you will find recipes and Vegan insight to show love not only to your loved ones, but also the animals and the planet.

Follow her on Instagram @TheVeganSense

5 Bold Spiritual Books with Scientific Backing

If spirituality isn’t a hoax, where’s the proof? I hear you. So, here are 5 pioneer spiritual books with scientific backing.

“If spirituality isn’t a hoax, where’s the proof?”

“Where is this heaven you all keep talking about?”

“Karma? Prove it!”

I hear you. So, I want you to give these questions a true chance to be answered.

So here are 5 books with compelling insights into spirituality, with scientific backing. Don’t believe me? Read them for yourself.

#1 – Return to Life, by Dr. Jim B. Tucker

Over fifteen years of research was put into this book. Hopping from one country to another, Dr Jim B Ticker alongside Dr Ian Stevenson, scientifically investigated the ‘strange’ phenomenon that children still have memories of their past lives.

Girl, Swing, Rock, Skyline, Skyscraper, Past Life Recollection, Spiritual Books with scientifc backing

Funds were raised, documentaries were made; Return to Life is no less than a thriller!

There are stunning evidences, such as famous people being reborn, humans being ‘possessed’, animals being reborn as humans, psychic powers, near death experiences, and much more.


#2 – Many Lives, Many Masters, by Dr. Brian Weiss

First published in 1988, this book on Past Life Regression still hasn’t been ‘debunked’. As a matter of fact, many organisations have went ahead to set up their own practices and teach regression to the masses. Dr Brian himself continues to conduct past life regression on countless audiences and leave everyone stunned.

What starts off as a case of clinical psychology takes a fun twist of fate. Not just because Dr Brian’s patient, Catherine is supposedly seeing her past lives, but also because the Masters from the ‘beyond’ start talking through the Catherine to Dr Brian. This case study provides shocking evidence of their existence.

Angel, Clouds, Fantasy, Heaven, Sky

There is a lot more to take away in terms of healing and embracing our life in a new way. And it was this book that inspired me to get my own past life regression done. More on that, another time!

There are several books to follow his works, but Many Lives Many Masters is his first and perhaps the most unconventional on this subject.


#3 – Proof of Heaven, by Dr. Eben Alexander

While other books talk about others’ experiences, this is actually the account of a doctor who had a Near Death Experience. But not on some casual level.

doctor’s illness had led him to his deathbed and his treatment was failing him. Meanwhile, other doctors had given up.

Fantasy, Wanderer, Sculpture, Monument, Dream, Near Death Experience

We’re all looking for a true ‘miracle’ and in today’s age and date, this might be the miracle that changes your worldview for good. But where is the scientific backing? Proof of Heaven extensively explains how the healing and recovery he underwent has no explanation in medical science, till this date!


#4 – Journey of Souls, by Dr. Michael Newton

Another psychiatrist set out to explore what happens between lives, or “after-death”.

This is a complimentary yet distinct study from Dr Brian’s works. Here, you will find heavy introspection (at times, intimidating) for profound questions like – what happens after we die? What happens before we’re born? Why we have challenging lives, and how we actually opt for them.

Wintry, Reindeer, Boy, Fairytale, Spiritual books with scientific backing

Also, how soulmates find their way back to each other, what ‘heaven’ looks like, the truth about spirit guides, etc. A lot of my own initial metaphysical understanding was strengthened by reading Journey of Souls.


#5 – Power of Your Subconscious Mind, by Dr. Joseph Murphy

It is one thing to say we are in control of our destiny, but it is another to prove it. Decades of case studies and a life-changing explanation are provided on how you too, can manifest the kind of life you want regardless of the extent of your current problems.

Psychology, Psyche, Mask, Wire Rack

I have read many books of Law of Attraction and manifestation, but this was the only one which brought results. The techniques are thorough and require not much investment, other than a couple minutes before bedtime.

Read More : 8 Books on Practical Spirituality

Another unique thing about this book is, it approaches the Subconscious Mind through psychology, but if you are observant enough, you will notice the subtlety with which Dr. Murphy integrates spirituality into his practice.


Concluding Thoughts

This list is not limited to these publications only, ofcourse. There are countless research papers, and other great books going deeper into this thing called ‘Spirituality’. And I’m sure that such scientific backing is enough to silence our doubts.

Even if you aren’t completely convinced, it is my truest belief that you will be stirred and given something new to think about.

NOTE : If you purchased books using any of the affiliate links in this blog, thank you! Your support helps me raise the quality of what I do, at no added cost to you. 🙂

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