Have you ever tried meditating? Perhaps you’ve dismissed it as being a bit too hippy and new age? Or wouldn’t know where to start?
Well I’m here to convince you why you should give it a go!
What is meditation?
I really like this description by Jon Kabat-Zinn:
[meditation is] paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment
Why should you do it?
- Meditation has been shown to physically change your brain, just 27 minutes a day has been shown to increase grey matter after just six weeks.
- Meditation reduces inflammation
- Immune function is increased with regular practice
- Pain decreases
- It increases happiness whilst lowering depression, stress and anxiety
- It enhances compassion and emotional intelligence
- It allows you to control your emotions far better
- Your focus and attention span will increase with Meditation practice
- Your memory will also improve
- If you have any type of sleep issues, there is a lot of evidence suggesting a mediation practice could make a substantial difference
It’s definitely not easy, but you can start right now. The more time you spend practicing, the better you’ll get at it, and the more you’ll benefit. You don’t need anything to start, nor do you have to sit in a funny position or chant or spend the whole day doing it. Even if you only have ten minute spare, that will be a perfect place to start.
There is an old Zen saying:
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”
I find the best way to start is to sit somewhere quiet, where you won’t be interrupted. You want it to be light and airy – the aim here is not to fall asleep. I repeat: You do not want to fall asleep! Sit comfortable and focus on your breath. As you breathe in, notice the sensation of the air entering your nose. Notice the breath as you pause before you exhale. As you exhale, again, notice the sensation of the warm air leaving your body.
Thoughts will keep entering your mind, but the trick is to not chase these thoughts. Let them enter your mind and let them exit, without taking part. I like to think of it like a blue sky with lots of balloons. As a balloon (a thought) comes into your vision (awareness), instead of taking hold of the string, just watch it float away. If a thought pops in your head about what you’re going to make for dinner tonight, don’t engage with it and start thinking about what ingredients you have in the fridge. Just acknowledge the thought as if you’re just an observer
You know sometimes when your phone or computer start acting up and you have to restart? This is how I think of meditation. It’s giving your brain a break from the constant chasing of thoughts. But it’s also very different to sleep. When did you last give your mind a break?
If you’re new to meditation, it’s so much easier to get started with guided meditations instead of trying on your own for the first time. I go to classes, but there are so many great mp3’s and free youtube meditations that will help.
I’d love to hear your meditation experiences and tips