First things first, I want to make you aware that meditation is hard.
Mentally, physically and emotionally. We are constantly trying to make sense of the world around us, and we do this with an internal narrative – silencing this inherent voice is challenging. Physically we have to sit still for a period of time, and if you’re used to moving and grooving, it can feel uncomfortable to bring your awareness to how your body actually feels. And not to mention the judgement that comes up as we get angry with ourselves for being unable to do something.
But, we meditate to calm all of that. We meditate to live in tranquility and not stress. It helps us to live in gratitude and not greed and jealousy. We meditate to live freely and not in fear – and you bloody well can too.
I’ve heard it all ‘I can’t meditate because I just can’t sit still’, ‘I can’t meditate because all I do is think’, ‘I can’t meditate because I don’t have time’. Putting that much pressure on yourself is the same as saying ‘I can’t workout because I can’t bench press 200kgs’ or ‘I can’t cook because I’m not a Michelin star chef’ – it’s just not going to happen because meditation allows you to find the patience to sit still, it allows you to find the compassion to love every thought that comes your way, it allows you to feel peace at all times and not just in the time you’re meditating.
So now we have that out the way, I want to show you why it’s such a fabulous skill to master and how you can do it with much more ease than you’d expect.
It helps you sleep so much better. Not only is sleep relaxing, it’s imperative for full cognitive and physical functioning. Meditation helps you get into REM sleep faster and for longer (the type of sleep where all the goodness happens). It also helps with serious sleep problems like insomnia.
No more stress! Meditation reduces burnout and helps to keep us calm when times get tough at work. Teachers who tried Transcendental Meditation had less stress, depression and burnout compared with other teachers – all because meditation helps to increase the thickness of our prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain associated with self-awareness and attention.
Better love life? Yes please! Meditation helps you become less reactive and more in-tune with your emotions – this helps you to communicate effectively and positively towards your loved ones. Those who meditated more in this study reported much better relationship satisfaction than those who didn’t…
You heal faster and feel less pain Meditation helps regulate the mechanisms of pain, even four years later! Those period pains, achy shoulders and headaches – meditation helps to reduce them all dramatically.
Weight maintenance, reduced anxiety, increased happiness, deeper relaxation and a more successful career are other benefits to add to the list, let alone all the rest! I’ve meditated on and off for the last year and more regularly for the last month. It helped me to deal with the loss of my father, to gain courage to leave a job I hated and start my own business, which brings with it all the trials and tribulations, in a peaceful and confident manner. On the days I didn’t meditate, I struggled. It’s truly magical. And it’s free.
So how do I actually meditate?
Well, I’ll repeat what I said at the start, it’s hard. Meditation is not easy, so to begin with I want you to have the knowledge that your mind will wander. You’ll probably get a little frustrated, and maybe a little fidgety. And that’s ok – take a deep breath and bring yourself back. Start with one minute, then two, then three. And feel free to explore with all different types! Just the same as you might love yoga but hate the gym, or love swimming but hate running – these are all different types of exercise that work or don’t work for you. Meditation is a mental exercise so you’ll find one fits a little better than the other. You can always try with the free resources I have right here.
Different types of Meditation:
1. Transcendental Meditation a. Probably the most challenging… only because it’s tricky to do completely by yourself (unless you’re an expert). This one focuses around a mantra and is done twice a day. There are practitioners who help you with this and can be really powerful as it’s totally encompassing. For more details visit here
2. Mindfulness a. This is all about being aware of the mind, letting it do it’s thing and then allowing it to come back into the moment by focusing on the breathe and the surroundings. This can be done anywhere and at any time, whenever you find your mind wandering just bring yourself back to your breath (it helps to focus on how your body feels as well, just check in with your senses). For more details visit here
3. Guided visualisation a. I love guided visualisation. I find it’s best done with a guided recording, but quite often do it by myself. All you do is imagine a positive experience, fully immerse yourself in it and let your emotions run wild. I like to imagine it as a movie, I’m watching myself in it and I’m the lead role. You can check out a few here
4. Kundalini a. Yaaas! LOVE Kundalini. It combines breath, mantras and mudras to release anxiety and stress. I love it because it isn’t solely focused around the breath but allows you to move through different areas of focus. You can try out a few here
There are several more, all of which you can explore – but these are the most straight-forward meditation practices I’ve tried. You can of course get yourself an app if you prefer something more structured – I like Calm, Headspace and Buddhify.
Remember above all, it’s a practice. It get’s easier and easier just like running for a marathon. You have the strength in you, let meditation ignite it.