The words stress, anxiety, overworked, blood pressure, angst, overwhelm, overload and illness are words I hear all too often in my treatment room. Men, women and teenagers come looking for some rest, relaxation, healing, pampering or ‘chill out time’ from a world that seems to be increasingly pressurized, demanding and unforgiving. I am so often asked how I deal with the increasing pressures of life and how I relax. My answer is simple….I meditate!
I started this wonderful practice some 15 years ago, but my relationship was a fickle affair. I meditated when I was down or I felt that I needed something, but often wouldn’t bother when things were going well. It took several years for me to understand that meditation could really enhance my life, but only if I visited it on a regular basis.
“To earn the trust of your meditation you have to visit it daily, it’s like having a puppy”
So what exactly is meditation?
Quite simply, mediation is reaching a state of calm awareness, by focusing on a central thought or action, paying attention to the present moment and letting it unfold without judgement or criticism. When we meditate we switch from our normal mode of “doing” to a mode of “non doing”, to simply being! It is not about achieving a specific result, or judging the quality of the experience, as each meditation will be different. It is more about observing with compassion how we are feeling and what is going on within us, whether it is happiness and joy, or sadness and anger. Rather than being our own worst critic, we learn to make friends with ourselves and in doing so we can achieve a greater sense of inner peace and happiness, and make decisions from a place of calm, rather than reacting through stress and overload.
Mediation is not a religion, but a relationship with yourself based on commitment not commandment, and finding your true path. The bi-product of this commitment is a healthier and more open state of mind, a healthier body and a happier outlook on life!
To experience the numerous and wonderful benefits of meditation, the most important thing is to get started and to experience it ! Here are some simple tips:
1) Find a comfortable place to sit, as comfort is the key to an enjoyable practice. Find a place that is peaceful and has few distractions. This will enable you to concentrate better.
2) Gently lower or close your eyes as cutting visual stimulation helps to calm the mind.
3) Bring your attention to your breath. Close your mouth and breath through your nose, and let your breathing settle into a pattern that’s comfortable for you. Notice how your breath feels as it enters and then leaves your nose and notice how your body feels as you breathe, the rise and fall of your chest and stomach each time you inhale and exhale.
4) Whenever your mind wanders, and it will, just gently bring it back to the focus of your attention, in this instance, your breath. Use your breath as an anchor to bring you back to the present whenever you find your mind wandering. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to bring your mind back whether it is once or 100 times. The most important thing is to keep bringing it back for the duration of the session.
5) Set realistic time goals. Start with 1 to 5 minutes a day, if that is all you can find the time for. Regularity is more important than length of time; it is better to meditate for 2 minutes a day than for an hour every fortnight.
6) Have no judgement or expectation. There is no right or wrong way to meditation, if you can breathe you can meditate! Each experience will be different, so don’t get attached to the outcome. Just as long as you turn up and focus on your breath, REGULARLY, you will reap the enormous benefits of this beautiful practice as they slowly begin to seep into all areas of your life.
The tips I have given you here are very basic meditation techniques to get you started. If you have any questions, or want to join one of my groups or forthcoming workshops, please get in touch via the contact page, i would love to hear from you!