Meditation is a wonderful wellbeing practise to have in your toolbox – it can lower our stress levels, improve our focus and enhance our sleep patterns. Once you know how to begin, you will find that meditating is a practise that anyone can do, anywhere!
Meditation is about quietening your mind, drawing your awareness internally and observing yourself as you are. Through this process of meditating, we bring a greater presence to our day, mindfulness to our way of life and peace to some of the difficult situations we find ourselves faced with. Meditating can allow us to find clarity to some of our problems in life or help to show us an answer to a challenging situation.
Like meditation, mindfulness is a skill that we can tap in to and become better at applying throughout our day. Mindfulness is about being truly present in the moment and through this presence we find peace, gratitude and joy for what we are doing. Mindfulness also helps us to restore our body as we take time to rest – since we are not distracted by doing many different things. Mindfulness and meditation go hand-in-hand – mindfulness helps us to be free of the past and not to worry about the future, while drawing awareness into the present moment. In this way, it helps us to come into meditation more easily.
In essence - mindfulness is the awareness of “some-thing,” while meditation is the awareness of “no-thing.”
The more time you dedicate to meditating, the easier it will be become. Meditation is not a destination – you will never reach the end of this skill. Rather, it is a journey of self-discovery and inner work. From the moment you begin your meditation practise, your mind begins its training and you begin to reap the benefits.
There are many different approaches or methods to meditating and finding the one that works for you and your schedule will make a big difference. Some people prefer to begin their meditation routine by sitting down for 5 minutes each morning to practise. Others prefer to do 20 minutes just before falling asleep while they are in bed!
Some things can help make a difference to your meditation practise and allow you to get the most out of it:
- Having a quiet space to practise (turning off your phone or tv)
- Sitting upright and comfortably
- Doing it at the same time each day
choose a time of day that works with your schedule to set aside for your meditation practise
whether its 5 minutes or 60, decide how long you want to remain in your meditative state for
choose whether you want to sit cross-legged on the floor or lie down on your bed, make sure you are comfortable
guided or unguided – get set up with your method of meditation
Using our breath
One way to practise meditation is to focus on your breath. Begin to focus entirely on your breathing - noticing the way your breath, visualise the air coming into your body and out again and gradually start to slow down your breath. Make every exhale longer than your inhale. Soften and deepen your breath. Even just 5 minutes of this focused breathing will make you feel calmer and allow you to quieten your mind and tap into your body – this is meditating!
Another option is to do a guided meditation – whereby you listen to someone who guides you through a carefully written script. This allows you to ‘zone out’ of anything on your mind and instead focus on what is being said, thereby quietening your mind. Guided meditations are often themed around a particular idea or feeling – such as ‘letting go’, ‘relaxing and restoring’ or ‘nurturing positivity’. These can also be very useful in allowing us to reset our emotional body. When we remove ourselves from our complex and busy minds, often our somatic body has the opportunity to truly express what has been repressed. It is not uncommon, like in yoga, to feel different kinds of emotions during your meditation. The guided meditation will ensure that you slowly and gently end your practise, so that you are left feeling balanced and centred even if different things come up for you during the practise.
A rewarding and simple meditation method is known as the body scan. Lying down comfortably, in a quiet space, start to close your eyes and tap into your breath. After taking a few conscious, slow breaths, in your mind’s eye start to scan your body. Take your awareness to the top of your head, your crown chakra, and as your breathe slowly and mindfully, start to scan your way down your body. Notice, without judgment, how your body feels. Any tension? Any imbalances? Actively send your breath to any areas that need your attention and energy and repeat the body scan as many times as you feel called to do.
The more you practise meditation, the more your mind will become used to becoming still, calm and undistracted. Soon you will find yourself going into your meditative state almost as a second nature when faced with stressful or challenging moments. You will gain a deeper understanding of your body and mind and the connection between the two. You will develop more compassion and gratitude while embracing the now and feeling fulfilment in your life. Start now – start with where you are and take small steps every day to developing this wonderful wellbeing practise.
“We can’t always change what’s happening around us, but we can change what happens within us.”