Welcome to the last Blog Key of the "10 Keys Tool Kit", (10 KTK). The final part of your foundation into mindfulness and meditation. This blog will bring together everything you have learnt in the previous blogs, so you will understand how it was always leading up to your first Key Space. I am truly excited to share this final Blog Key with you.
There is also a complimentary Keycast to this, also called, "Your First Key Space". It is a guided meditation with music and sound effects, which will lead you into a whole new world - a Key Space. However, please note that these two go hand in hand. The Blog needs the Keycast to give you the practical application but the Keycast needs the Blog for the theory. One will not be fully appreciated without the other. So read this blog first before going to the Keycast. Finally, this blog is also available as a "Blog Key Audio" on the Keycasts page if you would prefer to listen to it rather than read it.
What will we cover here?
Refresh of what a Key Space is.
Practical tips for using Key Spaces.
How to practically get into a Key Space.
Making Key Spaces personal to you.
A guide to the Keycast "Your First Key Space".
Where to go from here. (Journalling).
Refresh of what a Key Space Is
Simply put, it is a place you create in your mind, using visualisation, that can transport you into a place that is not where your physical body is. The idea being that it provides an escape from the noise of life, into a calming, peaceful, meditative location. And because it is calming, it engages your parasympathetic nervous system as you learnt in the previous Blog Keys, so will automatically calm you down, reduce stress levels, bring you peace of mind and clarity of thought.
Key Spaces can be a wonderful place for inner healing, a place to discover what your heart is saying, understand what's bothering you, release tears, build up your self-esteem, work on positive affirmation and so much more. They can become a therapy bubble. They are private spaces. And remember the Key from Blog Key 7:
Your safe space is your Key Space and your Key Space is your space.
It really is a place just for you. This makes it safe.
Key Spaces need to be learnt and therefore practised in your controlled environments because it is here we centre ourselves using MB. This is why we do the breathing techniques. It takes a calm and centred state to allow our subconscious to engage as we use visualisation.
Practical tips for using Key Spaces
Blog Key 4 covered the top 10 tips for breathing and controlled environments so I won't cover that again here.
To go into a Key Space, your environment must be quiet, with no distractions. This includes audible distractions and physical ones like being too hot or cold, cats and dogs demanding attention. Most of these we can deal with, but it's often hardest to have a totally silent environment. Living in a city, I have a constant soundtrack of cars, police sirens, planes, people talking on the phone etc. So I often "plugin".
Plugging in is putting on some music or such that can accompany the meditation time, like relaxing music, sounds of singing bowls, chants, white noise. Or, you can use guided meditations. Whatever you choose, consider using a couple of tools.
Firstly, over-the-ear headphones. These headphones are much better for your ears than in-ear ones, and will also provide more comfort, more sound isolation and often, a much better immersive audio experience than their on-ear cousins. My Keycast for this blog uses sound effects so it will serve you well to use the right headphones because we are trying to trick the brain, so you will need the experience to sound and feel as real as possible.
Secondly, light can be a distraction when using visualisation, especially on a sunny day. For this reason, you can also consider using an eye-mask. The type you'd use on a plane or at home to block out unwanted light. By creating a dark space, you may find it easier to practice visualisation. It's not for everyone or for every time but may come in handy.
What we are doing here, is reducing external stimuli so that the brain is not distracted away from your Key Space visualisation. The brain tunes into anything that is different from the general "hum" of our audible and visual environments. So when you're quietly sitting at home reading a book, and the neighbour's baby starts crying, your brain initially tunes into it. If it continues for a period of time, your brain can tune out of it. A sudden movement in the corner of our eye catches the brain's attention and causes us to look there, pulling our gaze away from what was casually going on in front of us. In a crowded environment of constant movement, like being at a carnival, the brain goes into stimulation overdrive and doesn't know where to look, which is why we are constantly trying to see everything!
So, reducing external stimuli is the aim of the game. We want to travel inwards leaving the outside world behind. These type of headphones and eye masks could help you. Try them and see. if you've ever done or know about Floating Therapy, you'll understand that the concept here is the same - to fully immerse you in a space other than the one your body is physically in, it is about fooling the brain. They use a closed pod, with music and lighting, floating your body in saltwater, even managing to reduce physical stimulation of pressure from solid objects. The health benefits, like meditation, are many. Removing external stimuli is one of the keys to its success.
How do you practically get into a Key Space
By using your breathing techniques. This is why we've been practising them over and over. Go to your controlled environment, begin your MB using your breathing technique like the 3:3:6 breathing and continue until you feel yourself centred, calm, and tuned in to your heart, your centre. It is here, that you are ready to start your Key Space visualisation. When you do the corresponding Keycast, you'll see we following this path. Breathing ourselves into a meditative state. Once there, we can let go of counting our breathing and move to MB. We only need to start counting again if we feel ourselves "slipping out" of our mindful breathing, or if we get distracted. Otherwise, moving from counting breathing to simple MB is all that is required.
Making Key Spaces personal to you
The guided meditation I use in the corresponding Keycast will guide you into a field, with birds and wind and will walk you by a small lake. This is only one Key Space. Another could be sitting peacefully on top of a mountain. While someone else may prefer to sit on the beach, listening to the waves crashing along the coastline. Another option could be sitting near a huge waterfall. The idea is that you can go anywhere you want.
Different natural elements resonate with people differently. For example, I am a water baby. I love the ocean, lakes, rivers, even a babbling brook. But I also love the majesty of mountains and the beauty of huge trees in forests. Birds singing, calms me right down, whilst a gentle breeze feels so refreshing. Ask yourself what resonates with you and create your Key Space accordingly. Also, try out different Key Spaces, as you may surprise yourself.
A guide to the Keycast "Your First Key Space"
While you only need to follow the guided meditation, what is important is that you approach the Keycast with an attitude of intention. Make sure you go into the session with the right mindset. Be open and positive. Decide you are going to relax and find peace and healing.
And here is the Blog Key for this Blog:
Remember to breathe.
It sounds simple and it is. But you'll be amazed at how easy it is to forget when you are concentrating on your visualisation. This is what mindful breathing is all about. But it is important that you keep breathing with intention. Once inside your Key Space, you don't need to do the hold breath, but do exhale for longer than you inhale to keep your PNS engaged. If you need to recentre, then reintroduce the hold breath until you are back in your Key Space.
During the meditation, I'll guide you through the environment, but it will be up to you to populate it with your own visualisations, by filling in the details. The size of the trees, colours of the birds, movement of the leaves in the wind, or the type of fish in the lake are all under your control. So when I say things like, "notice the birds in the trees", it is up to you to decide what type of birds fit the bird song you are hearing and what colour they are. When you visualise the lake, it's up to you how big it is, what shape it is. This is why I keep saying that your Key Space is your space. Hopefully, you'll remember the crazy visualisation you did in Blog Key 5, so you'll know how far your imagination can go. Maybe your lake defies gravity!
Where to go from here.
One thing to do after a Key Space session, especially if it's been significant, is to write out your experience in a journal.
If you had particular revelations or emotional releases or you unblocked something, write it down. You won't remember them in 1 year's time, and hopefully, you'll have many of them, so keep track of your journey by using a journal.
Start building your own library of Key Spaces to go to. Use my guided meditation a few times and try to expand your world each time. The more you practice these, the easier and faster you'll be able to enter into your Key Spaces. The benefit of this is that you can then start to travel with your Key Space and tap into it on the move. Maybe you've downloaded my Keycasts so you can listen on the go. You can then tune in while commuting to work, or walking down a busy street or relaxing in a field or on a Sunday walk. Your brain will have learned triggers and associations that cause it to engage your PNS and zone you into a centred and meditative space much more easily. So repeat, repeat and repeat.
Hopefully, if your experience of Key Spaces is positive, you'll want to keep coming back anyway. But the key is to keep practising until it becomes a space you want to visit regularly. Remember, meditation has longterm health benefits for you, emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Our health should be of paramount importance to us. So why not do something that is free, simple and that you can do in the comfort of your own home, that can have such positive outcomes for you. A little self-love and kindness can go a long way.
And there it is, the final Blog Key of the 10 KTK. You've almost completed your foundation training. Complete the Keycast "Your First Key Space" once it goes live and you'll be ready to go further. Become a site member for free by logging in on any page and you'll get member access, opening doors to locked site pages and more useful information.
Coming soon to The Breathe Key are Blog Key Audios, which are the audio versions of these blogs, offering you another way to follow the Blog Keys. These will be posted as Keycasts, which are now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Podcasts, Soundcloud and the Pocket Casts app. Just search for The Breathe Key. They are also currently free to download.