I know a lot of people find meditation quite overwhelming. The idea of sitting still, quietly, with only your thoughts can be quite daunting.
I’ve been meditating, every morning for six months now and have seen so many delightful changes already. How I approach things, seek inspiration, am motivated and generally just go about my day-to-day life. I will admit it. I’m a little bit obsessed with meditation.
So I want to share what I’ve learnt along the way, and hopefully inspire others to give it a red hot go. Because with time and practice, anyone can gain all incredible benefits meditation has to offer. Ya with me? Of course you are.
Meditation is about Cultivating Mindfulness
So what is mindfulness?
Put simply, mindfulness is awareness. Being present in the moment, observing and learning to accept things as they are. Treating all thoughts, feelings and experiences equally.
Mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, but it’s not so easy to just tap into because we’re too busy living in next minute instead of the current one. But we can learn to do that with daily practice. Through meditation.
Mediation is the tool to achieve mindfulness. And the only way to achieve mindfulness is to meditate.
Just do it. Meditate.
Yes, it might be a famous slogan but mateys, Buddha’s been preaching that shiz for aaagggessss. In fact, he developed the Vipassana meditation technique (the oldest style of meditation: meaning insight – a clear awareness of exactly what is happening as it happens) to experience uninterrupted mindfulness. Neat-o right?!
It can really only be understood by doing it. And that doesn’t mean you’ll pick it up super quickly, nor does it mean once you do you’ll have the same experience each day.
Make the decision to meditate every day. Add it to your morning routine, along with showering and brushing your teeth. Starting the day with a ten-minute meditation can work wonders for your productivity. Think of it as clearing your mental inbox, ready for the day ahead. You’ll soon realise that you’ll have more time because your mind will be calmer and more focused.
Here are a few other little nuggets to consider when it comes to meditating:
Don’t expect the thoughts to go away
The truth is, your mind will never stop thinking. We’re wired that way. It’s about learning how to deal with all of those thoughts. Observing, not blocking and accepting everything that passes through. There is a difference between being aware of a thought, and thinking a thought. The moment of noticing that your mind has drifted is what is meant by being “mindful.”
I begin each meditation with the thought – ok, I wonder what my crazy mind has in store for me today? and let the practice do its thang.
The Headspace App really nails the analogy: Imagine your thoughts as clouds, you are just observing them in the sky, looking at each one from so far away only for a moment then, before you have time to REALLY look at it, it passes, and you’re onto the next one. There is a constant flow of thoughts but you’re accepting each one and moving on. After time, you’ll learn how to glance at them for only a split second.
It’s all about the breath
If mindfulness is the goal and meditation is the tool, your breath is the anchor. It’s what maintains your meditative state. Keep your mind focused on the breathing. Feel where the breath is inhaled and where it is exhaled. If it helps, subtly concentrate on the breath by either counting each breath or five counts to inhale and five to exhale.
As soon as you notice your mind is no longer on the breath, but drifting towards another thought, simply bring it back and achor it there. That’s mindfulness. That’s where the magic happens.
Don’t get discouraged if you can’t focus
It happens to everyone. You can’t be completely mindful every time you meditate. You’ll have good days, you’ll have bad ones. Sometimes you’ll nail it and come out elated, other days you just won’t be able to shrug off Debra’s comment in the lunch room.
Don’t worry when you notice your mind drifting all over the place. A straying attention and feeling distracted are completely normal. The more you try and concentrate the less you’ll be able to relax. Just go back to the breath.
Remember, it’s called a practice for a reason. Eventually, it will all come much easier and you’ll easily enter that mindful state.
Your meditation shouldn’t end once you leave the couch!
The aim of mindfulness is to make it stay with you, to carry that heightened sense of awareness throughout the day. If you apply the principles of mindfulness to your everyday life you will develop new ways of dealing with thoughts and new ways of attending to the constant rush of your emotions. You’ll become a more relaxed, positive and aware person.
How to Meditate
I’m not going to teach anyone how to suck eggs here, but there are four things you need in order successfully meditate. And no, Lulu Lemon’s latest yoga pants aren’t one of them (although very flattering I must admit)
- A quiet place. Free of distractions. Turn your phone off, or if you’re using it as a timer, just mute it so you don’t get any notification.s
- Somewhere comfortable to sit. Ideally sit cross legged, on the floor or a firm but comfortable seat with your spine straight. If you can’t do the cross leg, grab a chair.
- Ten minutes. Yep, all you need is 10 minutes a day to reap all the benefits. Eventually, you can increase the number by the minute. To give you an idea – we’ve been meditating consistently for six months and are only up to 12 mins. No rush. It’s not a race to enlightenment.
- An open mind. Simple.
Still not convinced?
Here are 10 reasons why meditation is the S to the HIT!
- Meditation improves your focus, attention, and ability to work under stress
- Your emotional well being improves – alleviating anxiety and helping you relax
- It can help you sleep better
- Mediation also improves your memory and self-awareness
- Plus it fosters creativity
- Improves your brain functionality
- And it decreases depression symptoms
- Whilst improving your motivation
- It might even help you live longer
- And lastly, it makes you a happier person – increasing optimism and positive emotions
Ergo: Meditation = Super Mind + Healthy Body
Happy Meditating, friends!