Hannah:
Welcome back Burn Pod listeners. Now, this one follows on from our previous episode where we had our wonderful studio manager Dani, on to talk about meditation. So, if you haven’t yet, what I’d love you to do, is jump back to the previous episode and just have a listen, because we talk about what meditation actually is, all the benefits. We get a little bit into the nitty gritty, and we also talk about some breath work as well. But, on today’s topic, or today’s episode, we’re going to take that next step and discuss how we actually do meditation, how it works, ways to meditate, steps to meditate and the different types of meditation that Danielle practises and my version of meditation as well. So, you can see it from a real-world perspective, or real-world experience as well. So, welcome back, Dani.

Dani:
Thanks for having me back.

Hannah:
No worries. Well, let’s get straight into it then. How does someone do meditation? Or, how do you start with it? How do you incorporate it into your busy life?

Dani:
Hmm. So, look, it depends on the person. Some people want to dive straight in. Other people say, “I can’t meditate. I can’t sit still.” So, my recommendation is just start the two minutes, just do two minutes and just give it a go. And also, look, it’s really important to meditate at a time that suits you. So, I personally meditate in the morning, but I don’t have kids. So, I get up early with the birds and I sit and meditate for 20 minutes. So, I’m able to choose to get up early and I have the time to myself to do that. So, I completely understand that, that’s not accessible to everyone.

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
Some people actually prefer to meditate at night, before they go to sleep. So, have a think about your preference of time and when you can have the time-

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
Some people with kids actually meditate for two minutes in the car before they go to work.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Dani:
Find a time that suits you, start really small, start two minutes, or five minutes, and give yourself a little bit of a challenge to commit to it for seven days. Because, you can meditate once and maybe feel 5% better, which is still an improvement, but to really reap the benefits, it needs to be a consistent practise.

Hannah:
Just like [inaudible 00:03:09].

Dani:
Exactly.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Dani:
Exactly. So, actually, well look, maybe we can give the listeners a little bit of a challenge to-

Hannah:
Hey.

Dani:
Do a daily meditation for seven days, even if it’s two, or five minutes. Yeah-

Hannah:
Yeah.

Dani:
So, that’s my suggestion to get started. And then, once you get comfortable just sitting and being still, try to, if you have the time, lengthen out your sittings for a little bit longer. So, around 15, 20 minutes, is absolutely ideal.

Hannah:
Mm. And in saying that, it doesn’t mean that once you reach that 10, 15 minutes, that if you don’t have time to do it, then you failing. If you have to drop back, because you’ve only got time that day to do two minutes, two minutes, is still better than nothing.

Dani:
100%. Yeah.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Dani:
I can agree with that.

Hannah:
Yeah [crosstalk 00:04:01]. And like you mentioned on the previous podcast, for those that have listened to that one, it’s not linear. Not every day is going to be the same. So, one day you might find that you’ve got one, the time to do 15 to 20 minutes, and two, I guess you’re in the right frame of mind to do it. And you get a lot out of it. Other days, you might not have the time to get your 15 minutes in, or you’ve had a rough sleep, and you just find it a lot more difficult. Take the pressure off yourself, that once you’re at 15 minutes, you have to stay at 15 minutes, so we have to grow. And I think as women we’re really good at putting that pressure on ourselves, that we have to do an hour of exercise, that we have to do half an hour of meditation, little bits anywhere are better than nothing.

Dani:
Mm. I agree with that. The only thing I would say, is that if you’ve had a rough sleep, it’s actually probably more important to do meditation-

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
Because, it will help you feel better.

Hannah:
Mm. [crosstalk 00:05:08]. Just, wherever you can, get it in. Yeah.

Dani:
Exactly.

Hannah:
Exactly. [crosstalk 00:05:12].

Hannah:
So, are there steps to meditation?

Dani:
Well, yes. If you look at it from the yogic philosophy, there are… Well, look, there’s also different lineages of yoga, but when I studied meditation, there were five steps. So, the first step is to find your seat. So, I should also say the difference between meditation and relaxation, is meditation is always done sitting up straight. So, if you put on a guided meditation and lay down, technically, it’s relaxation, it’s not meditation. So, sitting up, find your seat is step one. Step number two, is being still in your body. So, let your body be still. And we also need to have a little bit of discipline around that as well. So, the mind will always try to distract you. It will make you a little bit itchy here. You might feel like you need to move your shirt, or your blanket, but really important to be still in body.

Dani:
Then, step number three is to be steady in breath. So, we make sure that the breath is steady.

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
Number four, is to withdraw the senses. So, that means to close down the eyes. That’s probably the biggest one, is to withdraw the sense of sight.

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
The yogis are actually able to withdraw other senses with a lot of practise, but yeah, closing the eyes, withdrawing that sense of sight.

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
And then, the fifth step, is concentration. So, we concentrate the mind and we focus our attention essentially to one thing, whether that be a mantra, or the breath that it’s just that fifth step of concentration.

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
And then, there’s a couple of things that I’d like to add onto that. Just a little bit of housekeeping, because that can seem a little bit strict-

Hannah:
Yeah.

Dani:
But, it’s basically, be seated, be still, steady breath, close your eyes concentrate. But, in order to do those things, we want to make sure that we’re comfortable and we’re warm enough, we’re not going to get cold and get uncomfortable. So, make sure that, if you’ve got bad hips, don’t try and sit cross-legged, sit in a chair, just have your feet flat on the floor. You can also tie a scarf, or something around the legs, if you’re sitting in a chair, just so that you can really relax the legs and make sure you’re warm enough. And it really helps to be in a quiet space with no distractions. And now, just to elaborate on that. So many layers, but essentially, in the long-term, our long-term goal of our meditation practise, is to be able to withdraw those sensors. So, obviously site, but then really go inside, so that we can meditate anywhere, so that we’re not dependent on our environment.

Dani:
So, the yogis, they can sit in a busy shopping mall, or whatever, wherever. Somewhere noisy and they will be unbothered in their practise. But, obviously it helps if you’re in a quiet space and with no distractions. So, if you have pets, unless they are going to lay there, nice and still, in any other room. And then, yes, sitting up nice and tall, make sure that your back is supported. So, if you’re doing it in a chair, that’s great, your spine is supported. But, otherwise, you could sit on the couch, or just put a cushion behind your lower back if you need to, for [inaudible 00:09:25] support. And then, if you’re meditating first thing in the morning and you’ve woken up and you’re feeling a little stiff, don’t hesitate to just do a few light stretches first, so that your body then, is comfortable to sit still.

Hannah:
Mm, mm. Because, I always found that if I tried to do the, sitting down, cross-legged without something to rest my back on my immediate thoughts’ on my low back, because I’m quite [inaudible 00:10:00]. And I find it very uncomfortable. And so, I don’t last very long in that position, but I always assumed previous, to getting into meditation a bit more, that, that’s how you had to do it. I know that sounds stupid, but it was, I either have to lie down, or I have to sit cross-legged with my hands on my knees. And I think I’ve heard that a few times when, I’ve gone to a couple of different random yoga classes and I’ve done a few other things where, “You sit like this.” And so, I just assumed that, that’s how you had to, but it’s nice to hear you talk about, “Get comfortable, sit in the chair, sit on the couch, if that feels more comfortable.” That would make so much more sense to me, I’d be able to do it for hours.

Dani:
Yeah. I guess, it’s just about eliminating those distractions.

Hannah:
Mm. Yeah, yeah. I love that. So, just to repeat guys, the steps that Danielle takes to, I guess, fall into the meditation, is find your seat, sitting down, being still. Slowing, or steadying, your breath, closing your eyes, and then concentrating. So, there’s your one, two, three, four, five. And we’ll pop that up in the notes for the podcast too. So, if you listen to this in the car and you’re like, “Oh my God, what did I talk about?” You can jump in and check those notes out. So, let’s continue on then. What are the ways then, to meditate?

Dani:
Yes. Well, there’s lots of different techniques and lots of different traditions. But, the main thing is to not feel overwhelmed, just start with what you gravitate to, or what feels best for you. When you’re starting out, it’s nice to do a guided meditation, because again, it just gives your mind something to focus on, other than your thoughts. So, that can be a really great introduction, or maybe, you’ve got a regular practise and you don’t always need a guided meditation, but when that mind is racing, you might choose to go back to the guided Medi.

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
Then, you can just use music, or background music. You can actually use a mantra. So, that’s a little affirmation that you just repeat. And again, it’s that anchor for the mind. And then, there’s the self-guided meditation, which is what you do when you just sit and you be still, and there’s lots of different things you can go through in your mind, whether that’s imagery, body scan, mantra, breath, that you’re guiding yourself.

Hannah:
Hmm. Could we dig a little bit more into those couple that you just mentioned? Let’s start with, what do you mean when you say mantra?

Dani:
Yeah. So, if you think of a mantra, is something that’s repetitive. So, the possibilities are endless, with a lot of these things, but it could be, “I am enough. I am enough.” We just repeat, repeat, repeat. It can really be anything, but generally, we do it in the present tense. So, it’s not, “I want to be enough.” It’s “I am. I am this, I am this.” And you just repeat. When I do that personally, I like to do it with my breathing. So, I might say, on my inhale, “I am enough.” And then, on my exhale, “I am present.” Or, something like that. So, you could definitely do some research into what mantras to use, but if there’s anything that you’re struggling with in your life, maybe it is self-worth, maybe it’s self-confidence, maybe it’s trusting yourself, or patience. You can tailor it to you and what feels natural for you.

Hannah:
Hmm. I love that. So, it’s almost a bit of self-love, isn’t it? It’s a chance to bring self-love into your meditation practise.

Dani:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Hannah:
Hmm. What about self-guided? Is that similar, or?

Dani:
Yeah, so basically, self-guided essentially, you just don’t have anything guiding you. So, you don’t use music. You don’t use a guided meditation. You’re just sitting there on your own, by yourself, I should word that. And you’re just either… Again, the possibilities are endless. I really hope I’m trying to keep it simple enough for the listeners, but maybe you’re using your mantra. Maybe, you’re doing a breath work practise that you’ve learned from somewhere. Maybe, your visualising your day, maybe you’re visualising something that you want to happen in the future. Maybe, you’re doing some energy work. So, there’s lots of different things that you can do, but self-guidance, is just where you guide yourself through your meditation and you’re not using anything external.

Hannah:
Mm, mm. And body scan.

Dani:
Yeah. Body scan, is really nice. Especially, at night time to relax the body. Basically, you start at the crown of your head and you just, either in your mind, name the parts of the body as you work your way down, all the way to your fingers and your toes. Or, you’re just visualising those body parts. And you just work your way from the top of your head, all the way down to your toes, nice and slowly. And as you visualise, or name those parts of your body, you just try to let them relax.

Hannah:
Mm. If some of you have been in my classes, I’ve done this a couple of times at the end of the bar class where we’re doing a little bit of relaxation and we, sometimes do a body scan where we talk about whatever colour you think relaxation looks like, flowing through the crown of your head. And we talking through the body parts, as we’re letting that slow down to our toes. And imagining that every part of the body that, that colour touches, that body part starts to relax. It melts, it becomes heavy, or whatever you think, light, or heavy, or whatever works for you.

Hannah:
And you’re just letting any tension and stress, leave the body. It’s a really lovely way to, I guess, focus on one particular thing at a time, without letting your mind wander. And yeah, just get a sense of where your body’s at and how it’s feeling. And I know for some of you that do struggle with racing mind and sitting there trying to just calm the mind and not having something to do. That’s a really good one to start with where, you’ve got something to focus your attention and you’re not having to try and sit there and empty the mind out, which would be really hard.

Dani:
Hmm. I love that, with the colour. Yeah, that’s good.

Hannah:
Mm. And the last, I think you mentioned was imagery.

Dani:
Yeah. Well, I guess what-

Hannah:
Similar.

Dani:
You just said is-

Hannah:
Yes.

Dani:
Similar, I guess. The imagery, or it could just be that visualising your day, or visualising… I’ve had lots of back problems recently, so often I’ll visualise myself exercising, or going about my day without pain.

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
Yeah. So, using your visualisation to guide your meditation, essentially.

Hannah:
Yeah. Yeah, I love that. And I guess just so listeners can get a sense from a real-word, woman perspective. Can you provide a couple of examples of specific meditation practises that you might do yourself?

Dani:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), definitely. So, meditation for me has definitely evolved, because I’m consistent with it. So, I started with guided meditations and I made it that external guidance, to get me out of my head. And I mean, I’m not ever going to say that I won’t go back to that, because most likely I will, but at the moment I’m enjoying just my self-guided practise. So, I’ll just sit there nice and chilled, with my little blanket over me, so I’m nice and warm. And close down my eyes and I just sit. And normally, I’ll come out of it about 20 minutes. I don’t put a time, right? Unless, I need to-

Hannah:
See someone, yeah.

Dani:
Be somewhere. But, I actually really prioritise it. So, I get up in the morning, I brush my teeth, I drink some water and I meditate straight away. Because, for so long, I knew that it was something that would be really good for me and really good for my anxiety.

Dani:
But, I would do all of the other things first-

Hannah:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dani:
And then, I’d be like, “Oh, look, now I don’t have time for my meditation. Woopsie.”

Hannah:
Yeah.

Dani:
So, now it’s my priority. So, yeah, usually I’ve got a little bit of time to play with, but what I usually do, is just firstly, allow myself to observe my thoughts. And then I just don’t put any pressure on myself to have a clear mind. Honestly, I never do. I never been able to switch off my brain. And I guess that’s good for people to hear, because you don’t have to be Zen lady from the cave to meditate. You don’t have to already feel Zen to start meditating. It’s the same thing with people who are like, “Oh, I can’t do yoga, because I’m not flexible.” It’s like, “That’s the point. That’s why you should do it.”

Hannah:
Yeah.

Dani:
Same with meditation. If you [inaudible 00:20:01], that’s why you should do it.

Hannah:
Yeah, yeah.

Dani:
So, I’ll just sit there and just watch my thoughts, see what comes up. And yeah, it’s taken me a while to get to the point where I don’t judge my thoughts, or I don’t judge myself for having the hoods.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Dani:
And one thing, that’s been so beautiful and that has evolved, is the way that I speak to myself.

Hannah:
Hmm. And that’s a huge topic. That’s four podcasts in one, just that conversation right there.

Dani:
Yeah, yeah. So, I used to have that mean girl that was like, “You are not good enough. Why can’t you turn your brain off? Why this?” All of these things, which I’m sure the listeners can relate to. But, now I’m just really gentle and I’m really kind, and I’ve even changed the way… How do I explain? I’ve changed what I call myself. So, now when I notice that, maybe I didn’t get something done that I wanted to do that day. For example, I used to be like, “I can’t believe you didn’t do that.” , or whatever.

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
All of these things that we all have. Now, I’m like, “That’s okay, baby girl. We’ll do it tomorrow.” It’s so interesting how this has happened, and I do it… I noticed that I’m so kind to myself now, at every moment, or obviously not every single moment, you have a slip up, but then I notice it, I get it, and I change it.

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
And that’s happened, because of my meditation. And I’m not meditating every single moment of the day, but it’s just that everyday practise that has changed my brain. So, that’s one of the things that I’ve noticed recently, has been a huge benefit of my meditation. I know I’ve gone off on a tangent there, but-

Hannah:
No, no, I love it. That is so cool.

Dani:
I’ll just sit and see what comes up. And then, I won’t go into the specifics, but I do usually, just gentle breathing, if my mind is really busy. So, I’ll usually do the three counts in, six counts out. A longer exhale just, to rein it in a little bit. And then, I’ll do some almost energetic house caving. It grounds my energy. I’ll send to myself, and then I’ll let go of any energy that doesn’t belong to me, or no longer belongs to me.

Dani:
And then, I’ll gather back my energy that I’ve given away. So, I’ll call that back. And then, I usually put one hand on my tummy, one hand on my heart and I just breathe into those areas and just feel in there. And then, I always finish with just my… You don’t have to make prayer hands, but this is just what I do. I press my palms together and take my thumbs to my third. I centre and I just say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” And I always feel so grateful at the end of my practise.

Hannah:
Mm. And I mean, you’ve been doing this for a while. So, for someone that’s a very new to it, that’s something that you can lead to. Like we talked about before, it can be just something that feels right for you. So, for me, I’m definitely not as far advanced as you are with your practise. So, what I do, is I like to be outside. I like to get the fresh air. And I live luckily, in an area where I’m surrounded by bush. So-

Dani:
Yeah, I did meditate outside when I was staying at your house-

Hannah:
Pretty nice, isn’t it? So, yeah, I’d sit out on the deck and I just try and breathe. So, I just focus on my breath. This is Hannah’s very basic, meditation guide. So, I’m just focused on my breaths and I just try and calm my mind. And it’s interesting. Like you said, the things that you notice about yourself and you can change the way that you talk to yourself and what you believe about yourself, just by taking the time to actually spend with yourself. Does that make sense?

Dani:
Yes, because you’re observing your thoughts and you notice how awful you are to yourself.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Dani:
It’s so terrible.

Hannah:
Yeah. Yeah. And we never spend any time with ourselves.

Dani:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Hannah:
So, just to sit down and be like, “Actually, who am I, as a person? And what am I saying about myself to myself?”

Dani:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Hannah:
And that will just give you the chance to do that. So, even if you’re not using this for stress relief, or anything like that guys, if you’ve got some negative thoughts, or some self-sabotage, or some main girl stories there, this can help. This can be the start of starting to understand why you have those thoughts, and then start working through them and replacing them with some positive stuff. So, it’s incredibly beneficial and powerful. Incredibly powerful.

Dani:
And honestly, it will change your life. I was resistant to it for so many years and I’ve had debilitating anxiety in the past. And I, for some reason, just had this resistance and it might’ve just been that I didn’t think I could do it. And if you can’t just sit still and do nothing, what can you do? Seriously? You can’t sit still and do nothing? Then, how can you be a functioning human? It was probably a bit of that. “I’m not good enough to do this.” Or, “I don’t deserve to do this practise for myself.” I do think there was a bit of that. I’m really consistent with it now. And I look forward to it. I love meditating. But at the start, I didn’t love it. It made me feel better, but I didn’t love it.

Dani:
And now, I’m just like, “Oh my gosh, I love doing my practise. And I feel really odd if I don’t do it.” So, yeah, my advice is just to start with a couple of minutes and try to be consistent and give yourself that discipline to stick with it and try something guided to begin with. So, you’re not just stuck by, “Hmm. What am I supposed to be doing here?”

Hannah:
Mm.

Dani:
And yeah, expect it, to not necessarily be linear, but it will get easier and you will enjoy it more and more. And I promise you that it will change your life.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Dani:
 

Hannah:
Yeah, I love that. So, coming back to our challenge to you all. Practise meditation consistently, for a minimum of seven days and you will reap the benefits. And I think, as I mentioned in our initial podcast, it’s such a good time of year to be discussing this, because coming into Christmas and the busy period. And look, to be fair, at any time of the year. But, particularly around Christmas, when we’ve got all the added pressures of all the things we have to do, and generally stress levels are increasing. It’s going to be really beneficial to start your practise, even if you’re not good at it, which you won’t be when you start out. But, commencing a practise now will help you through the silly season. But, it’s also going to set you up to be able to move into more of a consistent practise into 2022, or wherever you are in your year when you’re listening to this podcast. And it’s really going to set you up for a brilliant year ahead. So, use this as a chance to benefit you moving forward, in your future and your future happiness.

Dani:
That’s right.

Hannah:
Yeah, there’s your challenge guys. Love your work. We hope you got a lot out of this. If there’s any questions as per usual, always reach out to us. We’re always here to chat. And if there’s any topics, or anything that you heard us mention during this podcast, or the previous one with Dani that you like, “I’d love to know about that a bit more.” For example, mean girl stories, or something like that, let us know, because we want to know what you guys want to hear, and that gets us excited. So, thank you once again Dani, for joining us. It’s been an absolute awesome podcast and your time.

Dani:
Thanks for having me. I could talk about meditation all day, which sounds so funny, because you’re like, “Ooh, meditation. Sitting down, doing nothing.” But, I could just chat, chat about sitting still.

Hannah:
Yeah, chatting about sitting, doing not much. I love it. All right, Burn Pod listeners, love your work and we’ll catch you on the next one.

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