The stressful lives that so many of us now lead mean that we need to find some way to detach, relax and to feel in contact with something peaceful and constant. Meditation and mindfulness offer this, but it often seems that the more you need them the harder it is to find time for them. Learn how you can make beneficial changes in your life so you set up this helpful habit.
- What is meditating and how can it help you?
- Mantras – what they are and how to use them
- Meditating with a friend or teacher
WHAT IS MEDITATING?
Athough meditation is now quite ‘fashionable’ among celebrities, athletes and top business men, are you quite sure what it is? Meditation is simple, but subtle, and some of the experiences it can give you are not easily expressed in Western language.
Meditation means stilling your mind and sitting quietly in silence. Your body is relaxed and at ease and your mind is free. This can sound difficult but there are strategies to help you, as you will find out below.
As well as bringing you the benefits of relaxing and detaching, it also stimulates creativity and boosts concentration. Its highest purpose is to connect you with something greater than yourself and make you spiritual.
UNDERSTAND THE RESEARCH
If there is a part of you that thinks meditating is a waste of time, think again. There is a wealth of scientific research to show that if you meditate regularly you get more done, because you are focused and clear-headed.
Meditation has been proved effective for all manner of disorders such as depression and anxiety. It lowers blood pressure, improves sleep and beneficially alters brain structure. If you take this on board you will feel ready to commit some time to meditation and reap the benefits.
DON’T EXPECT TOO MUCH OF YOURSELF
If you are not used to meditating then it might be hard to clear your mind. Very few people can actually clear their minds totally, so accept that your thoughts will wander in. See them as little children that you have to keep leading back to their place and be endlessly patient with yourself. Tell yourself ‘I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts.’
Keep bringing your awareness into the present moment. You are best advised to have your eyes shut, but notice the sounds, sensations and the colours behind your eyelids. By staying with present reality you will find that you eventually go into a light trance. You stop thinking about your troubles and tasks and experience peace. That’s so helpful.
Like with any good habit, you can ‘fall off the wagon’. That’s so easy to do, but you must not despair. However many times you fail to meditate, try again by adjusting your habits and approach, and forgive yourself. Eventually you will have that habit deeply ingrained and you will love it so much it will be natural.
TRY A GUIDED MEDITATION
Emptying the mind totally is not for most people. It’s easier to go ‘off’ if you have something to visualise. There are plenty of guided meditations available on the internet. Find one you like and play it while you relax. Eventually you’ll find you get lost in the images and when you ‘come back’ it will feel almost like a holiday.
HAVE A MANTRA
A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself. It’s a great way to stop the mind from dwelling on all those anxieties. Using a mantra is probably one of the oldest ways of meditating and it’s a real help if you’re new to meditation or struggling with it.
You could choose a simple mantra such as the word ‘Peace’ or repeat a phrase such as ‘I love myself’. You can research mantras until you find one that is right for you. You just say the mantra over and over again, either to yourself or out loud, to occupy ‘Monkey mind’.
THINK ABOUT ROUTINE
Be realistic about when you can meditate and for how long. When you are very experienced it may be possible to meditate on a bus or train, while using earphones, but when you’re trying to get going it’s best to devote specific time.
Decide when you can meditate. It’s worth setting the alarm for ten minutes earlier in the morning, so you can meditate before starting your day. Or early evening, after small children have gone to bed might work. It’s also possible to do a walking meditation, if you are able to be undisturbed.
You don’t have to meditate every day if you just can’t. Three or four times a week will be good, and it’s amazing how you find time for what you love! So when you come to see the benefits and really love meditating, you’ll probably manage it more often.
Set a timer for your meditation. That way you can feel secure in the knowledge you won’t go ‘off’ and miss your commitments. Five minutes – even two minutes – may be better than nothing. Never be hard on yourself and always congratulate yourself on what you achieve.
MAKE IT A SIMPLE RITUAL
Ritual is a great help to the subconscious mind, enabling it to make shifts in awareness. If you light a candle, play music and/or burn incense to create a special space for meditating, soon you will find you go into the ‘zone’ much more quickly. Perform the same ritual every time and your brain will get used to responding.
DO IT WITH A FRIEND OR TEACHER
If you commit to meditate together you are more likely to keep each other on track. Set a time, set the scene, play some music and share the experience.
If you can, find a meditation teacher. Although that can be more time-consuming, personal attention can really help, telling you what to expect, how to avoid pitfalls and get best results.
HOW WE CAN HELP
We’ve looked at various aspects of meditation, what it is, how it can help, being easy on yourself, guided meditation, mantra, routine, having a simple ritual and doing it with a friend or teacher. Here you have the basics for starting a good meditation habit. More guidance can really boost you, however, and our team of Readers can advise you both on your meditation practice and any issues that cause you to need meditation in the first place. So call today and begin to change your life.
PUBLISHED: 04 April 2018