Getting started with meditation is great. But sometimes we don’t experience the desired breakthrough. These types of meditation enabled my personal transformation…
Meditation seems to finally be accepted as an integral part of self-development. Maybe you are already experimenting with it and noticing the first slight benefits such as more calmness or improved concentration. But maybe you haven’t really had a big breakthrough yet. Maybe you’re not sure you’re doing it right. Maybe every time you sit down to meditate you think of something more important like a message that you have to respond to.
I’ve been there. A couple of years back I was in a bad spot in my life. I was desperate to change something. I came across meditation. I put a lot of hope into it but it didn’t quite work. I kept getting distracted. I think deep down I wanted to be distracted so I wouldn’t have to face that whatever was inside me. Thus, I didn’t see many results. Desperation led me to keep trying it. Advice from hundreds of articles, dozens of books and other people, as well as a large amount of experimentation with different meditation techniques, helped me through it.
Whatever the reason is that led you to meditation, maybe it’s time to go to the next level.
I’m sharing 4 meditation methods with you, that have started my personal transformation and as such the transformation of my life. From self-doubts to strong confidence. From feeling trapped to a new sense of freedom. From impulsiveness to calmness. From inner dependency on all kinds of external factors to independence. From unstable and toxic relationships to loving and strong bonds. From laziness to motivation. And even though I am not yet where I want to be, I know that this is the way to get there.
“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges. So, relax.” — Bryant McGill
Mindfulness is a perfect start into the world of meditation and awareness.
To be precise: I consider the word mindfulness a mindset. It is about just being in the present moment and letting go of everything else. It’s quite literally the basis of all types of meditations and one of the most mentioned keys for a happy life. The act of actively practicing mindfulness e.g. by feeling into your body or listening to your breath is, for me, a form of meditation. It’s probably the most common type of and a great way to get into it with many reported benefits including increased stress reduction¹, self-regulation, resilience, and relationship satisfaction². There are many different ways to practice mindfulness. I found the following routine very effective:
- Sit or lie down and just relax
- 5–10 Minutes: Focus on your breathing just as it is. You can choose, where exactly you would like to focus. On your belly going up and down, the slight movement of your chest or the feeling of the air streaming in and out of your nose.
- 5–10 Minutes: Focus on your body. What do you feel? Put your attention gently on the physical sensations that come up without judging them until they are gone.
- 5–10 Minutes: Focus on sounds. What sounds are there in your surrounding? Just notice them without judging.
- 5–10 Minutes: Focus on your thoughts. What thoughts are coming? Notice them and just let them pass, again without judgment.
- 5–10 Minutes: Focus on your feelings. What do you feel? Maybe joy? Maybe anxiety? Notice and accept these feelings. Just let them be.
- 5–10 Minutes: Focus on nothing. That’s right. Let everything go. Just sit. Just lie. Just be.
For each of these parts: if you get distracted with thoughts, that’s ok. Just kindly let them go and come back to your focus.
There are many apps out there that can guide you through practicing mindfulness which might be especially helpful to beginners. I also recommend the “Mindfulness-based stress reduction” (MBSR) program by Prof. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn if you want to get into the topic more profoundly.
Make time in your life to practice mindfulness and you will see that it becomes easier and more enjoyable. You will quickly see benefits such as generally increased focus as well as more calmness and balance.
2 Qi Gong
Qi Gong supports practitioners’ health by harmonizing the flow of their life energy.
“Qi” stands for (life-) energy and “Gong” for work and dedication. This meditation technique has a large tradition in China and plays an important role in traditional Chinese medicine. It has been reported to have many benefits such as strengthening the immune system, regulating blood circulation, better sleep, improved concentration, and the list goes on³. This, of course, depends strongly on the individual. I have mainly benefitted from improved awareness of and focus on my energy. This in turn has helped me in my other meditation techniques, in social interactions, and combat sports just to mention a few.
“If you want to be healthy and live to one hundred, do Qi Gong” — Mehmet Oz
The idea behind Qi Gong is that our life energy flows through meridians (energy tracks) in our body supplying all organs. If this flow is harmonic and in balance, the person is healthy. If on the other hand there are blockades or constrictions, the person is suffering from some sort of illness.
Therefore, Qi Gong is about becoming aware of your life energy, feeling and guiding it with the help of smooth movements and breathing techniques. There are many different Qi Gong exercises for that. They all consist of a warm up phase and the actual exercise. The warm up phase helps to let go of thoughts and tensions. The actual exercises begin in a certain starting position and then use a sequence of soft movements in combination with breathing and concentration techniques to feel and guide the energy.
My advice is to search for some exercises on YouTube and then try a few of them. When you found one, that feels good to you, keep practicing it and you will feel the energy flow in your body.
3 Inner Child Work
Inner Child work can transform our belief system and heal ourselves as well as our relationships.
In psychology, the inner child is a part of our subconscious mind and in a way, it is the echo of the child we once were. It is how our subconscious mind carries on wounds from our childhood. Wounds that stem from moments when we experienced pain in any form. Pains from being abused, being neglected, or both. Or possibly our parents were just a little too critical or too busy. Probably they were just overburdened with their own issues. Buddhists call this “samsara” — the recurring transfer of suffering from one generation to next. Even things that may seem insignificant to an adult can cause childhood trauma, e.g. being left alone for a few minutes, and as such will be carried on by our subconscious mind — in form of the inner child.
Why should we care about this part of our subconscious? We all have experienced situations where we overreacted to something as simple as an inconsiderate comment from someone else. Or where we would just not accept another person’s opinion even though we knew that they were right. Or we felt attracted to a toxic relationship of which we knew that it wouldn’t end well. These destructive behaviors rest upon experiences in our childhood and are therefore a way of our wounded inner child to express themselves. If we can become aware of these wounds and the experience behind it, we can nurture our young inner self so that it can heal.
How can we do that? Like I said before, mindfulness is the basis. As we meditate, we transfer into a deep state of relaxation, also called hypnosis. In this state, we can take our negative emotions and ask our subconscious to show us where the root cause of these emotions in our childhood lie. We can then connect to our inner child that experienced the trauma and heal it. Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that after recognizing and embracing our inner child we can soothe and relieve our difficult emotions with the help of mindfulness. He writes⁴:
“Just by holding this child gently, we are soothing our difficult emotions and we can begin to feel at ease. When we embrace our strong emotions with mindfulness and concentration, we’ll be able to see the roots of these mental formations. We’ll know where our suffering has come from. When we see the roots of things, our suffering will lessen”
In practice, there are different ways to do this. You can either use an app with a guided, inner child meditation, or do it by yourself. If you are less experienced, I recommend you try the guided version. Find yourself a comfortable spot with no distractions. Start with a couple of minutes of mindfulness or Qi Gong to calm your thoughts and emotions. This will help you get into a deeper meditation. Then start the journey towards your inner child. Think about the negative emotion that you want to solve. Imagine the inner child that first experienced this emotion. Visualize the surroundings in which this trauma happened. Feel what your inner child felt. Then imagine and feel how you give that child a big hug telling her or him what she or he needs to hear to feel safe. Repeat this procedure as many times as necessary over the next weeks and months. This will rewire your brain and change your relationships. As Ryan Holiday puts it⁵:
“We owe it to ourselves as well as the people in our lives to do this” — Ryan Holiday
“Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think” — Buddha
Visualization is a great way to impact our future with the power of our mind.
Visualization sometimes also referred to as “Creative Visualization” describes the act of seeing something or someone in our mind’s eye. We want to use that to form a picture of what we want to attract in our lives.
There are many studies that have shown how thoughts and imagery strengthen neural pathways and are thus almost as effective as the action itself⁶. I’d like to point out the benefits of visualization in two areas: Health and sports.
In the health sector, there is numerous research that demonstrates the positive effects of visualization on the immune system and thus its power in fighting disease⁷. In practice, this would include patients relaxing and then imagining as vividly as possible how their immune system fights illness⁸. Research suggests that the more vivid and detailed the imagery is the stronger the impact at a neural level⁹.
Visualization also has a large history in professional sports. Muhammad Ali, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tiger Woods, and Conor McGregor are just a few famous examples of successful sportsmen that attribute parts of their success to visualization. A study has shown that visualizing the movement of muscles trains the muscles almost half as much as the actual movement¹⁰.
Like with other meditations you need nothing more than some time for yourself with no disturbances and a comfortable spot. Visualization works best when we are in a relaxed, meditative state of mind. I love to do it in the morning after my breathing exercise or at night before going to bed. When I do it, I follow the steps laid out by Vishen Lakhiani, which I highly recommend¹¹:
- Sit down, relax, and imagine a very big HD TV in front of you.
- Visualize your current situation which you want to change e.g. a knee injury. For a short period of time immerse yourself in this uncomfortable situation, in which you can feel the pain.
- Then erase that scene from the screen. You could, for example, turn off that TV in your mind.
- Then immediately start to visualize a new scene which is how you desire the situation to be. Make this imagination as vivid as possible. See it in color. Try to experience it with all of your senses. Fully immerse yourself into the scene and feel the joy and any other positive emotion related to the healing as if it had already come true. Lastly, in your visualization see how other people also benefit from your healing.
Be patient and try this for some time!
In conclusion: Mindfulness is the basis for all other meditation techniques and comes with many benefits, so it is always my recommendation to start from there. Qi Gong is an amazing way to connect with your energy and will help you steer it in the desired direction. Do inner child work to heal deep wounds that occurred at a younger age and become happy from the inside out. Last but not least use visualization to build the future that you wish for. Find a routine that works best for you and be persistent with it. On days when you don’t have much time for long meditations, try to fit in a few mini meditations as I described in my corresponding article.
You will start noticing positive effects, often in unexpected ways.
I am happy to hear about your experiences. All the best.
 Ackerman, C.E. (2020). 23 Amazing Health Benefits of Mindfulness for Body and Brain https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-mindfulness/
 Davis, D.M. & Hayes, J.A. (2012). What are the benefits of mindfulness American Psychological Association Vol 43, №7 https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner
 Jahnke, R. et al. (2010). A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi American Journal of Health Promotion Vol 24, №6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085832/
 Thich Nhat Hanh. (2010). Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child. Berkeley, California: Parallax Press
 Ryan Holiday. (2019). Stillness is the key. New York: Portfolio/Penguin
 Adams, A.J. (2009). Seeing Is Believing: The Power of Visualization Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/flourish/200912/seeing-is-believing-the-power-visualization
 Siegel, B. (2016). Peace, Love And Healing Penguin Random House
 Lazarus, C.N. (2016). Can Visualization Techniques Treat Serious Diseases? Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-well/201601/can-visualization-techniques-treat-serious-diseases
 Achor, S. (2019). The Power of Visualization Success.com: https://www.success.com/the-power-of-visualization/
 Ranganathan, V.K, et al. (2004). From mental power to muscle power — gaining strength by using the mind Neuropychologia Vol 42, №7 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0028393203003257?via%3Dihub
 Lakhiani, V. (2016). The Power of Creative Visualization Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mDrJtYB7zc