“Meditation is the act of bringing your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed”. There are lots of definitions of meditation on the internet but I think that is my favourite one written by the Cambridge dictionary.
Some of the earliest written records of meditation, come from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism around 1500 BCE so it is something that has been going on for a long time. Meditation has survived thousands of years and been part of many religious and spiritual doctrines. So, why and how can it be part of your life?
One of the most important things to consider about meditation are the benefits. Meditation can help with:
– Stress relief
– Anger management
– Control over Anxiety
– Improved awareness and concentration
– Improvement of cognitive skills
I suffered a nervous breakdown in March 2015 and a period of severe depression (read more about my story here). I know that meditation is one of the tools that ensure I don’t go down that path again. The benefits to me and other people I know have been immeasurable.
So why do so many people not make meditation part of their lives?
I often hear the same reasons from people about why they cannot meditate. Things like I don’t know how, I haven’t got time, my mind is too busy or I am not religious are often raised.
But, of course, I am going to tell you that all these excuses can be easily overcome and that making meditation a part of your daily life really is transformational.
If you can make 10 minutes per day to meditate, what you will find is that you actually gain time. By giving your mind time to rest, you will find that you have increased focus and can think more clearly. I have even found that a solution to a long-standing problem often pops into my head during meditation sessions.
I can’t do it……….my mind is too busy
Like any skill, meditation needs to be learnt. If you wanted to run a marathon, you would not just book onto one and turn up on the day. Our mind is like a muscle too and if you want to change how it functions in the world, you need to practise, practise, practise.
Start small but be regular. APPs such as Calm and Headspace can provide you with a structure to get started with meditation and build your meditation muscles. Regular practice is key and you will find in time that it will get easier.
I can’t sit cross legged!
Well, the good news is that you don’t have to. There are things you do need to meditate and sitting cross-legged, a candle, a bell to ring and the ability to say Om are none of them.
There are just a few things you need to meditate.
– Somewhere comfortable to sit or lie down.
– Peace and quiet (no interruption) – although as you become more experienced, this is not always necessary.
– An open mind
Don’t go in with a predetermined idea about what meditation should look or feel like. Just let go and trust you are doing it right. The more you practise the more you will find the, “you’re not doing it right voice gets quieter and quieter.”
I have been meditating consistently (every day) for over a year now. I had done bits here and there previously. These days I do sometimes meditate in silence but when I started out, I mostly enjoyed being guided through my meditation by someone else’s voice.
As I have already mentioned, APPs like Calm and Headspace will provide guided meditation but I also find YouTube to be a great source of meditation content particularly if you want to focus on a particular area. For example, if you search meditation for anxiety, you will get lots of results. You will then need to filter out what sounds and feels right to you but there is quite a lot of high-quality content out there. And, if you cannot find something you really like, email some information about what you are looking for to email@example.com and I might just create one for you
So, I hope you have come to realise that meditation really is not that complicated or difficult. I cannot stress too highly the positive impact this practice has had on many people’s lives.
Please try meditation today! Make 5 minutes to look after your mind and see what happens!
Below is a link to a meditation I recorded after I shared it in a talk I did recently. It is a breath meditation and takes just 6 minutes! Give it a try and let me know what you think. You can find it here!
(Yes! You really can find 6 minutes!!)