A Beginner's Guide to Meditation

10 Steps To Start Your Meditation Journey

By Steph Wall

It's no secret the benefits of meditation. We have endless studies and anecdotal evidence that meditation can greatly reduce anxiety, stress, difficult emotions and increase awareness, focus and clarity. There are countless apps, courses and dedicated teachers sharing tips and tricks on how to meditate and yet, many of us aren't interested in doing it. Or, for many people, the thought of sitting in silence for more than a few minutes is daunting, boring or scary.

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I have been meditating daily for about seven years now, and I can say with confidence that has a massive impact on my mental health. Meditating gives me time to just sit with what is, whether that's clear, positive thoughts, or heavy, uncomfortable ones. It allows me to witness the inner workings of my mind and slow things down. My life, like everyone else's, is busy, fast, and a bit chaotic. However, with meditation, I'm given the space to engage with life differently; slow, steady, focused and quiet. I've noticed that when I start my day meditating, I am able to carry traces of these qualities with me, like the tendrils of the stillness get weaved into the rest of my day. When I don't get the opportunity to meditate, I am quicker to get frustrated and agitated, and generally, don't feel the same sense of peace throughout my day.

 
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Having a dedicated meditation practice did not come easy for me. I had to sit through and achy body and very distracted mind. I did not enjoy it, and yet I persevered because I could recognise the need for something to soften my anxiety. I still have days that are not easy, where my mind is continuously thinking; however, I can forgive myself and let it be a time for me to process what's going on in my mind while staying still and in the quiet. And even though life doesn't get less busy, the ability to create a routine for my meditation and my ability to sit with whatever is present gets easier and easier.

My biggest recommendation is to understand building a meditation practice takes time. Meditating sporadically isn't going to be that helpful, and it won't be easy to see the long term benefits if it's not consistent.

 

Here are my 10 tips to make meditation a regular practice in your life.

1. Start small. Put aside 5 minutes a day to meditate. When this becomes easy, starting adding more time but keep it realistic. I started at 10 and was stuck on 15 minutes for about 3 years before moving up to 20 and now 30.

2. Do it first thing in the morning. Your brain is hopefully not too busy first thing in the morning, opposed to later in the day when you have a million thoughts running through your mind and a list of things to do. I do it the moment I wake up. I sit up, lean against my headboard and go.

3. Find a comfortable position. You do not need to sit up stick straight like the perfect yogi. Get into a position where you feel the most comfortable and won't need to fidget or feel pain. Sit with your hips higher than your knees and make sure you have support underneath you. Use a chair, pillows, cushions, or even lay down if you won't fall asleep. It could also be useful to do a few stretches first. I suggest having your back leaning against something as your body gets used to sitting upright without moving.

4. Chose a focus. Meditation is not necessarily about having a perfectly still mind; it's more about having a focus to keep the mind occupied so you can sink into the quiet space in the background of the chatter. Whether it's focusing on your breath, sensations in your body, listening to a guided meditation or repeating an affirmation, give your mind something to focus on.

5. Try not to create a war. If you catch your mind wandering, try not to get frustrated or create even more dialogue in your brain. Celebrate the fact that you were able to see your mind wander then go back to your chosen focus.

6. Do it every day. Repeat your meditation at the same time every day, so it becomes a habit, just like brushing your teeth.

7. Communicate what you are doing. If you live with other people or are doing it in a space where others might be around, let them know to give you some undisturbed time. Hopefully, they can also support you and keep you accountable, or better yet, maybe they will want to join you!

8. Be forgiving. It's ok to feel bored or frustrated. If meditation were easy, everyone would do it. It's not easy to be in silence but stay committed. Let yourself sit in the discomfort and remain patient and curious.

9. Begin with guided meditations. I find it's easiest to have a voice to follow during my meditation. There are many great apps like Insight Timer, Waking Up by Sam Harris or Headspace that provide short, free meditations.

10. Set an intention for why you want to meditate. For me, it's to help with anxiety and give myself quiet time. If you can find your reason why, you will have an anchor to come back to when you find yourself not making time or thinking you can't do it.

I have linked below several guided meditation for your use, just click on the image. Enjoy, share and get curious about what is waiting for you in the stillness!

Steph x

Sacred Sweat - Yoga and Heat as a Practice to Deepen into Soul

We all know yoga has a profound effect that runs much deeper than the physical body. For thousands of years, we have turned to yoga as a practice of deepening into the complexities and beauty of the human experience. Through this practice, we use the physical body as a portal into understanding, appreciating and honoring the many layers of our Self. Today, yoga gets recommended for a wide range of matters including stress, anxiety, pain, grief, injuries, mobility, pregnancy, focus and much more. We know, through anecdotal experiences and now through science that yoga affects us physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Running alongside the tradition of yoga, many cultures around the world have been using sweat as a form of ritual and ceremony for hundreds of years. Spanning from the indigenous people of the Americas to the Turks, the Russians, Scandinavian, Finnish and Japanese, sweat is an effective way of communicating to a deeper part of the Self, which is our primary intention with the yoga that we offer at The Kali Collective.

From saunas, to steams, to sweat lodges, sweat ceremonies which were lead by local guides, were used as a way to heal, purify, pray, and reestablish a connection to the deep Self, ancestors, and collective wisdom. Once the door was locked and the ceremony began, the heat allowed for emotional guards and walls to be broken down so true vulnerability could emerge. Deep emotions that were locked away could be felt, gratitude for the body could be experienced, and connection with the community was created. 

The ceremony of sweat created a sacred space for people to come together and experience something deeply personal within a loving community. Experiences such as release, purification, strength, healing, and deep presence can be expected in the heat, and when combining that with the power of yoga, a potent space for transformation can be born. 

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Being in the heat while practicing yoga offers a space for you to be challenged and encouraged to face the limitations you may have placed on yourself. We can peel back the layers to see what arises in us when we are uncomfortable, challenged or tired and then have the opportunity to confront those limiting beliefs. 

We have no doubt that a profound physical experience can occur while practicing yoga in a heated room. However our aim is that by infusing several sacred traditions together, we can create an experience that runs below the physical and will take you into a deeper connection with the essence of you. 

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5 Ways to Invoke the Energy of the Goddess Kali

Written by Steph Wall

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I will confess when my friend and I decided to name our studio The Kali Collective, we didn’t fully understand the depth of this goddess or exactly we would call on her for, other than the obvious which is self empowerment and transformation. I didn’t even understand the potency or power that would be brought forth by invoking the energy current of this archetype into my life. But my goodness did I ever find out hard and quick shortly after creating a community space in honor of Her. She wasted no time with me. Here is a brief description of her, but do not be fooled, a few lines of description only scratches the surface of her depth, complexity, and power. 

Kali is the Goddess of time, change, and destruction. She is the energy current inside of you that is wild, empowered and all loving.  This energy is deeply involved in the life/death / life cycle to keep you growing and transforming, as does the rich practice of yoga.
The Dark Mother in all her love and ferocity will guide you through transformation by dissolving all forms and time. She will tear things up to help you see what is needing to die inside of you, such as self limiting beliefs or attachments to the past that prevent you from moving forward. These deaths then create a fertile field for growth and creation of the new.
She’s the darkness most of us fear. She is fierce. She is loving. She will transform you.

Kali is not an energy to invoke lightly but from personal experience, I can say she will make changes in your life where they are needed. Examples of how she transformed me were the following:

  • Destroying lifelong beliefs that my voice is not worthy or valuable 
  • Dissolving intense bondages guarding me against vulnerability and authenticity 
  • Opened me up to find a deep, meaningful love for myself 
  • Transformed my habit of living in fantasy and instead helped me find a true love rooted in truth and reality
  • The courage to follow my dreams and run a yoga studio and yoga school in a far away, magical land 

Not bad! My life has been completely transformed but don’t think for a second it was easy. Who I was even 1 year ago is completely different to who I am now and the person I was for so many years was hard to let go of. My life as I knew it completely changed and the pain that came with it was intense. So make no mistake, it’s not as if I named my studio after her, meditated on her a few times and that’s it. It took much more work than that!

Here are some reasons why you would invoke her:

  • Dissolving limiting beliefs
  • Self empowerment 
  • Facing fears
  • Releasing egoic constructs/beliefs
  • Changing perspective on life and death 
  • Liberating yourself from old attachments 
  • Invite the wild, divine feminine into your life 

Ways to invoke Kali:

  1. Meditation - visualise her image and see what arises
  2. Self reflection - ask yourself questions like, where are you suppressing your wild, feminine self? Or, is there somewhere in your life you are playing “nice” instead of expressing a more truthful, angry, enraged self? 
  3. Asana - Take goddess squat and let out several primal roars from the belly 
  4. Offer your negative beliefs to Kali. Visualise bowing down to her and offering her your limiting beliefs for her to destroy. 
  5. Journal with Kali - ask her the following questions: What do you have to teach me? How do you express yourself in my life? How are you suppressed? What do you think needs destroying in my life?

Remember, Kali is not an energy to take lightly but she is loving. If you are ready to come alive, wake up and live your life fully, She is a necessary force to guide you there. 

Who is Kali?

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Kali is the Goddess of time, change and destruction. She is the energy current inside of you that is wild, empowered and all loving.  This energy is deeply involved in the life / death / life cycle to keep you growing and transforming, as does the rich practice of yoga. 

The Dark Mother in all her love and ferocity will guide you through transformation by dissolving all forms and time. She will tear things up to help you see what is needing die inside of you, such as self limiting beliefs or attachments to the past that prevent you from moving forward. These deaths then create a fertile field for growth and creation of the new. 

She’s the darkness most of us fear. She is fierce. She is loving. She will transform you.

Body Scan Meditation with Steph

Want to meditate?

Meditation is a process to be more still in the mind. It can create a sense of stillness and calm, away from the stresses of life. There are no expectations with meditation, you do not need to sit completely still or have an absolutely still mind. Life is much more complex than that and meditation understands this. All we are trying to achieve in meditation is a slowing of the mind. A great way to begin meditating is with a guided meditation. Here are two videos by Kali's owner Steph to help you on your way!

If you are interested in learning more about meditation, why not try a slower yoga practice such as Yin, Restorative or Nidra to introduce you into a quite space? 

Steph's SUPER DUPER BALLS

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These are the most amazing balls. I am no calorie counter and I am no vegan however I can assure you that these balls are so healthy and delightful you will end up making them weekly, like I do! They are quick, easy and filling.

I do not like being told what to do, so I do not follow recipes. However I have attached the two recipes I kinda, sorta, very loosely follow to make sure I don't end up with bad balls. Something that is not on the recipe that I always add is Neat Nutrition Protein powder. 

Enjoy your yummy balls! 

FROM DELICIOUSLY ELLA

COCONUT CHOCOLATE BALLS

– 1 cup of desiccated coconut

– 1 cup of almonds

– 1/2 a dozen medjool dates

– 4 tablespoons of cashew butter

– 2 tablespoons of raw cacao

– 1 tablespoon of coconut oil

Start by putting the almonds and coconut in a food processor and blend for a minute or two, until a flour starts to form. Then add the cashew butter, coconut oil and cacao blending for a few seconds before slowly adding in the dates.

Continue to blend until everything has been combined together to form a sticky mixture. This mixture can then be rolled into balls and covered in more coconut and left in the fridge to firm up for an hour or alternately you can enjoy it with a spoon straight from a cup, or be like me and eat it straight from the blender! Either way you’ll love it! If you can resist not eating the whole mixture then keep the remaining bites in the fridge in a container.

 

ULTIMATE ENERGY BALLS 

They also only take 3 minutes to make and require almost no washing up, which is always fantastic!

Makes 15 – 20 balls, depending on size

– 1 cup of medjool dates

– 3/4 of a cup of almonds

– 3/4 of a cup of walnuts or any other nut

– 2 tablespoons of chia seeds

– 1 tablespoon of coconut oil

– 1 tablespoon of hemp protein powder

– 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder

Start by placing the almonds, walnuts and chia seeds in your food processor. Blend for 1 minute, until the a flour forms and the nuts have crumbled.

Then add the remaining ingredients, pitting the dates before adding those. Blend for another minute until a stick dough forms.

Use your hands to roll the mixture into little balls, place in a bowl and store in the fridge.

Bite and enjoy! Just try not to eat them all at once!

What is the Core?

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What do we mean when we say "core"?

Everything stems from your centre. Who you are, what you do, all that makes you unique starts from the very core of who you are. Our movements should be the same! Therefore, we define the core as the centre of our body, that which encompasses the area around the spine. 

When we take a deeper look at the anatomy of the core we will see that it’s much more complex than thinking it’s just our 6 pack muscle, or rectus abdominus. When we peel back that layer we also see that the transverse abdominus, pelvic floor, diaphragm, multifidus and obliques all play a big role as well, along with a few others. 

Why should we care about moving from the core?

Because this allows us to move with efficiency and in a way that keeps the spine safe. By having an awareness and access to these muscles we can properly stabilise the spine to take us safely into backbends, arm balances and to flow with grace through our postures. Also, functionally speaking it’s important to have stable core so we can move, run, play and engage in life without worrying about putting our back out. For those of us with back pain, understanding the core and strengthening our stabiliser muscles can really help ease any discomfort. 

Benefits of strengthening your core include:

Improved posture and balance

Help with back discomfort 

Graceful yoga transitions 

Arm balances

Inversions

Functional movement 

Running

Weight training 

And much more! 

 

Why is yoga so good for the core?

In yoga we do many postures that help activate our deep core stabilisers such as plank, cobra, locust and side plank. Almost all of the postures require some sort of core stabilisation so it’s hard to get away without doing core in yoga! 

We love and appreciate the core so much we have dedicated an entire class to it called Core Flow. What to expect in this class are exercises designed to help strengthen your center. By combining practices such pilates, ballet and yoga you will be sure to leave feeling strong and empowered in your centre!