Meditation can be a daunting word let alone a practice.
The connotations of meditation leave some people looking the other way as it is seen as euphoric, blissful and appearing to be completely unattainable. However, as much as these feelings during a deep meditation practice may occur, it isn’t just a high level of peace where only a certain group is allowed into the club.
You see, simply sitting in silence, and being mindful of the thoughts that surface in your mind is a form of meditation, and it is from these simplistic methods that one can gain unimaginable benefits. The main aim of meditation is to connect you as a conscious being, back to your soul and true self.
The phrase “mindfulness” means to not only go about your meditation practice mindfully, but to constantly be aware of the thoughts that crop up wherever you are. As the famous quote by René Descartes goes, “I think, therefore I am”. Thoughts are powerful signals that are often overlooked at the best of times. They can hold the power to drive your actions forward, without you even noticing. Meditation is a way to gain control over these thoughts in order to attain balance, emotionally, mentally and physically.
The practice of meditation can also assist in calming the mind of negative voices and feelings, and clear away the noise so you can hear your inner voice. It may sound corny, but living in a high-paced, digitalized world where we spend every waking moment connected to someone else, it is imperative that we carve out some time to sit with ourselves. After all, Google doesn’t have the answer to everything!
There are a few different types of meditations you can start with, and the beauty lies in the fact that you can pretty much meditate anywhere!
Breath Control (Pranayama)
You know when you’re having a freak session and someone always says, “take a deep breath, everything will be fine”? Well, they have a point. It is through the control of the breath entering and exiting the body, that you receive more oxygen and therefore calm the nervous system when it is in overdrive. The more mindful you are of your inhalation and exhalation, the more your heart rate slows down, and you can react or think clearer.
An effective exercise to start you off is a technique of inhaling, exhaling and holding the breath for the same amount of time; much like a triangle. Begin by closing the eyes, and slowly inhaling for a count of 3 seconds, then hold the breath in for a total of 3 seconds, before gently exhaling for another 3. Repeat this trio a minimum of 6 rounds, and you will notice your breathing slow down, allowing you to calmly think. So the next time you’re panicked or feeling a little overwhelmed, try this technique.
If you’re already a keen meditator, use this breathing exercise as a starting point before your practice; the two go hand-in-hand.
It may sound easy or even patronizing, but the modern man has yes to figure out how to sit still. No phones, no capturing Pokémon while sitting, it means literally, eyes closed, sit in one place and don’t move.
This alone can be a challenge for some and it is through perseverance and patience that meditation can actually become part of your daily routine. Try your best to set aside a little time in the day (either in the morning before you leave the house, or last thing at night) to simply just sit in silo, with your thoughts. It can be quite interesting when you zone the world out and focus your attention inwards, as it is in these moments of meditation that you are able to see what your mind is capable of and how you’re in control.
Start with your surroundings, be sure your phone is out of sight and on silent, you’re in a quiet room and you’re sitting comfortably in a either a crossed legged seat, or hero pose when your legs are folded under your buttocks. Once you are happy with your position, gently close your eyes keeping your chin parallel to the ground and your back straight. Keep your attention closely on what type of thoughts enter your mind and with a mental eraser, try your best to eradicate them, helping you get back to stillness. It is vital to remember that the goal isn’t to actually think, but to just be still, in that moment and observe. If your mind starts to take you on a joyride, just erase, rewind and come back to being still. Remember folks; baby steps are the way forward, so start this practice in 1-2 minute intervals for a week.
If you’re confident enough you can add on an extra minute or two as the weeks go on with the goal to be able to sit and enjoy stillness for 15 minutes.
Remember back to being a child and literally being addicted to your imagination, sitting inside a cardboard box and a blanket and whoosh you’re in a fort, escaping aliens, all through the power of visualization.
Well, using visualization as a meditation technique is a very similar thing, except instead of protecting the people of the town from an outer space attack, you’re imagining your happy place filled with peace, bliss and solace.
As mentioned before, sit in a comfortable space, away from any distractions and gently close your eyes. This time instead of eradicating your thoughts, you’re going to use the art of visualization to tackle any pressing matters on your mind. For example, imagine sitting in front of the ocean, while you listen to the sound of the water gently coming into the shore, you can feel the warm glow of the sun on your face. Hold on to this image and enjoy every bit of detail, from the sand beneath your feet, to the clear blue sea, each mental picture more real than the next. If your mind tries to throw in some thought balls into your space of solace, using the mental eraser, simply wash away the thought and go back to enjoying your vision. This technique, much like the last can also start with 1-2 minute sittings.
Remember, meditation is not a race, it’s a your personal space.