With the New Year comes New Stresses. It's sad but often true. Did you spend too much money over Christmas? Do you have the Monday Blues? Did the family fall-out over the festive period? Meditation is a great way to help overcome and deal with stress, to help you lead a happier and healthier life.
Meditation is one of those practices that you look as as an 'outsider; and wonder what on earth they are doing! If you've never meditated before, you shouldn't just write it off without trying it just once.
What is Meditation?
There are many different ways of explaining meditation, my favourite is
'The Art of Silencing the Mind'
Every meditation is different, whether you are meditating on your own or in a structured class, everyone's experience will be different. Meditation invokes both a physical and emotional response in the body and the outcome is dependant on your thoughts, experiences and expectations.
You will find for each meditation that sometimes you can silence your thoughts really easily and other times it can be a struggle. The idea is to silence ALL thoughts, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Isn't meditation religious?
From the outside, meditation can seem like a religious practice. The truth is, anyone can do it. You do not have to believe in a 'divine being', the focus is on yourself and your breathing and your inner thoughts. Anyone and Everyone can meditate.
You are finding belief in yourself.
Why should I meditate?
Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. If you're having a tough time, if life is feeling stressful, then meditation is the perfect 'medicine' to help keep your mental health in tip-top condition.
Meditation slows down the brain waves and slows your heart rate. It calms and focuses the body and mind.
The beautiful thing about meditation is that you aren't necessarily doing it to gain something, but more particularly to 'let go' of discomforts, stress and negativity. Letting go of anything that isn't serving you.
Just a few of the many benefits;
You will sleep better
Do you lie in bed with your mind racing a million miles per hour, going through every detail of what happened that day, wondering if you should have done something differently, wondering what's for dinner tomorrow, wondering where your favourite shoes are to wear to work? Meditation will teach you the skills to quiet the mind, to focus and order your thoughts and to listen to your breath in order to find peace for sleep. If you sleep better, then your overall health improves too.
You become more aware of yourSELF
Meditation helps you to connect with your self. You become aware of your breath, aware of how your body moves and feels. It also helps you to understand your thoughts, you learn how to control your worries and you learn where your meditative focus is - what calms you down, what imagery defines you and focuses you.
You are flustered less easily
If you're the type of person that 'turns mole hills in to mountains' then meditation will help you to knock those issues back down to size! Meditiation helps to put things in to perspective, it helps you to quiet the mind and order your thoughts. You'll find it easier to stop dwelling on your problems.
You will be able to focus your thoughts on a task more easily, distractions will be fewer and easier to dismiss.
I don't have time to meditate!
There is always time. If you find yourself sat on the sofa every evening watching the soaps or the football and not feeling overly inspired by them, then turn off the TV. Sit on the floor and meditate.
Just a ten minute meditation can make a huge difference and you'll feel the benefit. You don't need to light candles and burn oils (although this can help with preparing the mind for meditation), just find somewhere you're comfortable and where you can sit quietly - this might be in your bedroom or even in a meeting room at work!
How do I meditate?
For a basic meditation, find a quiet, calm place where you won't be disturbed.
It's important to be seated, with a straight back. If you're sat on the floor then sit on the edge of a cushion. By sitting on the edge you allow your hips to tilt forward and open, this prevents your lower back from curving (slouching!) and helps you to sit up tall.
Decide what you will focus on, this could be imagery like imagining you're walking along a beach and the waves are your thoughts, or something physical, like a candle flame.
Start your meditation by sitting tall and rolling your shoulders back, letting them relax.. Close your eyes and rest your hands on your thighs and relax your arms. Concentrate on your breathing, don't try to change it, just listen to your breath, observe how it feels as it enters and leaves your body through your nose. Continue to observe your breath and draw your focus to either the candle flame or imagery that you have decided to focus on. As you focus, continue your breath in silence. Remain silent for as long as you need, this can be 3 minutes or 30 minutes. When you need to come out of your meditation, deepen your breathing and listen to the change in your breath., bring your hands together and rub them together to feel the heat generated. Gradually open your eyes and notice how different you feel.
There are lots of guided meditations available on YouTube if you are unsure of how to start.
I'm a convert, and I hope you will be too!