If you had asked me a few years ago what my thoughts were regarding mediation and if I had ever tried it, I probably would have said 'not a chance in hell' and turned away to continue glugging on the glass of wine that was bound to be in my hand! I was quite simply not that kinda girl and I would never in a million years have guessed that down the line meditation would become such an important part of my daily life.
So what is it?
Quite simply put, meditation is the practise of paying attention and focusing your awareness. It's the practise of becoming fully conscious of the here and now. And if that is still a little too woo-woo for you, I like to think of it as putting your mind to rest, much like when you put your body to rest when you sleep.
And why do it?
Meditation is scientifically proven to reduce stress, depression, anxiety, heart disease and high blood pressure.
It improves clarity, focus, concentration and productivity.
Only good things come from meditation.
Win win in my books!
Well then, how do I actually do it then??
There are lots of different techniques that you can use when it comes to meditation and it will probably take some time for you to work out what works best for you, so my advice is to try some out. I'm gonna run you through the technique that I found really easy to pick up when I started to meditate, but remember to play with it, keep it light and experiment!
Sit comfortably. Either on a chair, a meditation stool, on the floor on a cushion, sat up in bed. Whatever takes your fancy. As long as you have a good posture and are in a place where there are minimal distractions you will be good to go.
Close your eyes.
Start to focus your attention on your breath. Take 3 deep inhales through the nose and 3 long exhales through the mouth. Try to sigh out your exhales if you are in a private place where you can.
Let your breath settle at a natural pace.
Take a few moments to scan your body from the very top of your head to the bottoms of your feet, noticing where you may be holding any tension. Relax each part of your body as you exhale. Don't forget to relax your shoulders, neck, eyes, jaw and tongue!
Begin to focus your attention on your breath filling your body and then emptying out completely. You might find it helps to place a hand on your belly as you do this, so you can literally experience the belly expand when you breathe in and draw inwards as you exhale. When you have connected with the breath you can place your hand back.
Now gently start to count the breath.
Count one as you inhale, two as your exhale, three to inhale again, four to exhale and so forth up to a count of ten. When you reach ten simply start again.
Remember, just as your heart beats, your head thinks, so be gentle with yourself and continually -without judgement - pull your awareness back to your breath. When thoughts pop into your head (and they will) just try to let them pass by as if they were clouds in the sky.
'Meditation is not about achieving a blank mind. It's more about resisting the temptation to react and engage with the thoughts that pop into your head' (Wade Imre Morisette)
When you are ready to come out of your practise start to deepen your breathing and take in three deep inhales and exhales like you did at the beginning of the practise.
Slowly bring your conscious attention back to your surroundings and invite a little movement into your fingers, toes, neck and spine. Take your time opening your eyes and once you have take just a second to acknowledge and thank yourself for the time you have just spent on yourself.
A few hints and tips from my own experience with learning to meditate...
- Let go of any desire to be 'good' at meditation. Release any expectations you have about it! This is one thing that took me a good few weeks to let go of but let me tell you that as soon as I did my practise really started to get a hell of a lot more expansive and easier.
- Start small! Doing just five minutes a day every day has much more impact than waiting till Sunday and trying to do a full thirty minutes all at once. Carve out a little time each day when it fits into your schedule and commit to sitting down and being still.
- Have fun!! Meditation is much the same as yoga, fitness, eating well etc etc... if you keep it light and fluid you are much more likely to enjoy doing it and then keep on doing it. Don't be too hard on yourself and remember to not compare your journey with someone else's!
Let me know how it goes and please do email me if you have any questions...Happy Monday everyone!