I think that there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding meditation. I have so many people tell me that they're not doing it right or can't do it at all but everyone can meditate and you can't get it wrong.
But like most things, you can always do it better.
So what is meditation exactly?
Well it's not sitting cross legged, staring into space and chanting OM although the cross-legged and chanting can become part of your practice should you wish.
Meditation is the act of focusing on one thing to the exclusion of all else.
That one thing can be a candle, your breath, walking, washing up, an activity or a word or phrase. In fact it can be just about anything as long as you use it to become focused.
Essentially, you are training the brain to stop jumping all around and being busy and to become still. This can be tricky to do as we've spent years giving our brains free rein to control everything that we think feel and do but the key is to start small and practise often.
Just doing two minutes a day will have an impact and you can slowly build up to a longer time as you find yourself setting to meditation easier over time.
There are SO many documented benefits of mediation including reduced blood pressure, improved immune system, clearer thinking, better sleep patterns, reduced stress and anxiety and the list goes on, so this is how to start a meditation practice
Ideally for the most benefit, a daily practice would be good and 20 mins is considered to be very optimal but be patient. It may take you a long time to get there, or you may never do. It really is about the journey that benefits your wellbeing.
Acknowledging yourself and taking time to be still each day, discovering now insights and receiving guidance and feeling more balance and connected to yourself are far more important than how you do it or for how long.
So how do you do it?
Lots of ways but if you are sitting, have a chair that supports you or sit on the floor and maybe ret of a wall or have a good cushion to sit on that tilts your pelvis slightly and enables you to sit up straight without too much effort.
If you are lying down, you may want a support under your knees and remember, sleeping and meditation are not the same thing so you may want to try a different position.
If you are doing an activity, make sure you are warm and comfortable so that you minimise potential distractions.
Try to find somewhere where you won't be disturbed and switch off tvs phones or music so that you can narrow your focus.
Check through your body to look for areas of tension and as you identify them, guide the in breath there and consciously allow the discomfort to leave with the out breath.
Then bring your attention to your chosen focus.
The first thing that will happen is that your brain will freak out as it is used to providing a constant stream of chatter so it will seem that you are having more thoughts than normal.
That's OK. The key is to not follow them. So when you start thinking of what to cook for dinner, accept the thought, let it go and come back to your focus.
It will feel like this is all you are doing for the first few times but each time you mediate, the brain will remember and begin to panic less and soon you'll have done a minute without having a million thoughts.
Some days will be amazing and some will be harder but that's just life. Go with it. Be mindful and see if it's because you weren't in the right state if mind or felt rushed etc and you'll soon work out what works best for you.
If you are doing an activity, you will want to focus on how your body moves or an object feels in your hand or what you can smell or feel. To meditate during an activity, the aim is to be aware of every part of what you are doing and feeling.
Once you have had some experience, you can use meditation to set an intention or ask for guidance. Focus on the question or statement before meditating or have it written in front of you, go ahead with your normal practice and you may find that random ideas appear in your mind or as days go on, a solution presents itself or you see the fruit of your affirmation.
You may discover that you have a preferred time and place to meditate or that you like to make it part of a ritual such as lighting a candle and incense or whatever makes you feel that you are doing something important for yourself.
You may like to chant a mantra such as Om mani padme hum ( the sound of the universe) or so hum ( I am ) or om shanti ( peace) or you may like to make up your own.
You can also listen to a guided mediation if that suits your feelings that day better. In fact, next week's podcast will be a guided meditation for sleep for you to enjoy.
Mediation can be done alone or in groups. Online or in person but it is personal, you don't have to impress anyone and if you are trying to do that, you're not meditating.
If you would like a 1:1 mediation class , check out the meditation page or please get in touch for a chat.
Enjoy discovering yourself and the resulting benefits of mediation and thanks for reading.