Meditation has been practised for thousands of years, deeply rooted in cultures, traditions and beliefs from the Far East and Asia. It has since spread to the West, and is commonly practised amongst individuals and businesses.
Meditation is a practise where an individual focuses their mind on a particular object, thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and calm state. The obvious one is focusing on your breathe, or a mantra. But even walking, eating, getting dressed or taking a shower can all be forms of meditation following a few basic principles.
There are an abundance of incredible benefits of regular Meditation, bearing in mind (no pun intended) we can take our Meditation everywhere we go, and the benefits are more than you might think.
- reducing stress, anxiety and depression
- improves our optimism, awareness and mood by regulating how things impact us
- helps develop positive social connections
- thickens regions of the brain associated with with attention, memory and processing
- increases mental strength and focus
- helps minimise distractions
- reduces blood pressure
- improves our immune system, reduces inflammation in the body
- improves our breathing and heart rate
Now, there are many types of Meditation and it can be difficult to know how and where to start (we’ll get to that bit later) I’ve listed a few forms of meditation to give you an idea of what can be practised.
1. Transcendental Meditation (TM) uses a mantra or Sanskrit words to help the practitioner focus. A specific mantra is given to the individual depending on the year they were born, their gender and the experience of the teacher. Guidance is recommend to start this practise and there are classes, online recourses and retreats that help start you off
2. Mindfulness - Based Stress Reduction this technique uses body scan and breath awareness, it’s as simple as scanning the body either toes to head or head to toes and watching or counting the cycles of breath. Regular use of this meditations helps reduce stress and anxiety.
3. Walking Meditation uses the experience of walking as the focus, being mindful and aware of each step you take. This can be easier as we are more aware and focused, compared to sitting forms of practice. The practice of walking meditation can be fitted into our daily lives quite easily. Even walking from the car into the supermarket can be an opportunity for a minute’s walking meditation.
So you know the benefits and know a few types of Meditation. So which one shall you practise? The one thats fits easiest into your lifestyle and one that suits your personality best. There are guided apps that are great places to start. Calm and Headspace being the most popular. But it could be just finding a quiet place first thing in the morning to focus on your breath. This is a powerful way to start the day, as we are able to focus on ourselves before the busyness of the day catches hold.
Here is an example of how to start:
- Find a quiet place to sit in a comfortable position. Chair, cross legged, even lying down (just don’t fall asleep)
- Feel the parts of your body connecting to the chair or floor, this gets us grounded
- Listen to the environment, try not to actively listen, let sounds, smells come and go
- Scan the body, head to toes or toes to head
- Observe your mind? Is it fast, slow or busy? It’s important not to judge but simply observe
- Watch your breath. You can count from 1 to 10 for repeated cycles, or just watch. I prefer watch my breath until I feel a sense of calm and peace come over me.
It’s important to know, the mind will bounce around, thoughts will come and go. To do lists, what your going to eat for breakfast can become your focus. This is normal and to be expected. The art of Meditation is to notice these thoughts without judgement and bring your mind and attention back onto your breath.
After a set amount of time, or when you feel the sense of clam and peace, take one last long exhale.
- notice the sounds around you
- feel the body connecting on the chair or floor again
- slowly open your eyes
I hope you found this blog useful, and it gives you the motivation to start Meditating? I would say start slow, even 5 mins is better than nothing and you can work up to 10-20 mins a day from there. I’m sure you’ll notice instant effects of Meditation and the accusative effects are profound. If you do, please reach out and let me know!