When some people think “meditation”, they think “I can’t do it”, “It’s boring”, “I can’t sit still that long” etc.
I used to be one of those people so I understand! I really do.
I really struggled with it at first.
My busy mind was always coming up with new tricks and excuses to tell me that there were definitely more important and interesting things to do. Sitting still for 20 minutes cannot possibly improve my life THAT much.
But, after a while of consistent practice, I’m here to tell you:
It WILL change your life.
That’s a bold statement!
Why, yes it is! I’ll tell you from experience (and all it will take is a quick Google search and you will be bombarded with doctors, scientists, yogis, businessmen, politicians, celebrities and world leaders who will back this up. 🙂
This is not airy fairy stuff. If you give it a chance it will enrich your life in ways you never thought possible.
One powerful benefit to meditation is that it clears out the “mind clutter”.
This may not sound too exciting, but think of your mind as a messy, cluttered apartment before meditation. You run out of places to put things, it’s stressful to be in and you don’t feel terribly inspired being there. How can you be happy and motivated in a living space with tons of junk and things you don’t need lying around?
The mind is the same. We accumulate so much useless information, negative emotions, bad habits, old ideas, it’s very difficult to find the space for anything new, positive and exciting. We end up being very burnt out, stressed out, uninspired and “stuck”.
This is not fun.
Meditation helps fight depression, anxiety, brain fog, insomnia and increases feelings of well-being and happiness DRAMATICALLY.
It lowers blood pressure, decreases tension-related pain, improves the immune system.
It enhances creativity, strengthens intuition, puts things into perspective (ie. you will learn to stop “sweating the small stuff”) and promotes peace of mind.
If that didn’t sell you, it can also help fight off disease.
Here are the cold hard facts from researchers at the Harvard Medical School: ”We found a range of disease-fighting genes were active in the relaxation practitioners that were not active in the control group,” Dr Herbert Benson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who led the research, says.
Time to give it a shot?
Here are 5 things I do that helped me greatly in developing a very enjoyable meditation practice.
1. Find a comfortable and inspiring place that you will look forward to being in.
This can be anywhere you like. A peaceful place that is just for you. It can be a chair by the window, on a cushion in your favourite room, on the floor facing things that are meaningful to you, outside on your deck in the sunshine. Anywhere.
2. Set The Mood.
Light a candle, play your favourite peaceful music, grab your favourite blanket or pillow.
I have been playing this track before I meditate to calm me and get me into a peaceful headspace:
I find this piece almost euphoric before meditation. You can choose to play music beforehand to relax you and then meditate in silence, or use peaceful music throughout your experience. If you are going to try music just ensure it is ambient, down-tempo or without vocals. Vocals can be distracting for most people.
3. Scan Your Body For Tension.
Once the body is relaxed, the mind will follow.
Mentally scan your body and notice areas that are physically tense. (commonly shoulders, lower back and hips) When you find physical tension, hold that space in your mind and breathe deeply. Imagine these areas becoming “untangled” and melting into a more relaxed state.
4. Follow Your Breath.
The easiest way to start clearing your mind is to simply follow your breath. Notice each inhalation and exhalation. You can softly say “in” … “out” in your head to give your mind something to focus on initially. This can help when you are experiencing a lot of “mind-chatter” at the beginning.
When thoughts arise (and they will!) acknowledge them and let them go. Visualize them floating away like clouds. You will not be able to completely silence your mind – thoughts will come. The important part is to gently release them without clinging to them. Then gently return to following your breath.
Gradually the space between thoughts will increase and the thoughts will lessen.
This is all meditation is!
5. Start Small And Make Mini-Meditations A Habit.
Starting small is key. Try 5-10 minutes for the first few days is all it takes. Give your mind a chance to get used to this new idea. A few minutes a day can change the entire course of your day. Really! Once you begin noticing the benefits of giving your mind some much-needed time to unwind, you can increase the time. Longer meditations of 20 -45 minutes or more will intensify the powerful effects.
These are simplified tips, but this is really all it takes to start a meditation practice. With a little patience and discipline big, beautiful, wonderful things will happen.