The idea of meditating can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before or have tried and it hasn’t gone how you thought it would, but it’s a lot simpler and more flexible than it sometimes seems. Just like with anything, the more you meditate, the easier it becomes. There are some really straightforward ways to approach meditation that don’t need any special planning or equipment.
I first started my meditation adventure around 22 years ago when I was travelling in America. It was a lot easier to practice mindful relaxation when I was alone and away from my normal life at home, the test came when I wanted to continue my self healing once I returned to England. I’ve learned many different meditation practices and about the amazing potential for resilience and inner peace inside us all during that time. I’ve been teaching meditation for nearly 20 years now. I hope I can demystify meditation and encourage you to meditate as often as possible so that you can experience the many benefits available to you.
Who can meditate?
Anyone can meditate. You don’t need to be a certain type of person, or have any particular qualities before you can begin. Lots of people have told me there’s no way they would be able to sit for more than a few minutes and be able to clear their mind. First of all, sitting still isn’t the only way to meditate (more below), and second, ‘clearing your mind’ isn’t possible and that’s not what most meditation is about. You might get moments of total Zen clarity, but the second you notice it that’s you having a thought again. I’ve taught people who arrive at the class and chat non-stop about how all over the place they are and they apologise if they move about and disturb people right up to starting the meditation. Then I’m at the end of the guided meditation and telling everyone to start rubbing their hands together (ready for a lovely relaxing massage), and these same people can’t believe they’ve managed to stay still and relax for 20 or more minutes.
One thing I would say is that if you smoke week or taken any other drugs or drunk alcohol, it is very likely that trying to meditate will make you feel absolutely gross and possibly nauseous or worse.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is about being here in the present moment. It’s about noticing how you’re breathing, how you’re sitting or standing or laying, and what you’re thinking and feeling. Meditation is not about emptying your mind and stopping difficult thoughts. It’s about feeling more deeply, understanding ourselves better, and clearing whatever is keeping us stuck in life. Present moment awareness enables us to release tension, lower our heart rate and blood pressure, improve our clarity of thought, and reduce anxiety. Because we’re paying closer attention to everything that’s going on within us and around us in this moment, we an slow our breathing down and breathe properly through our nose instead of shallowly. We can adjust our posture so that our body is balanced and aligned and release tension from our muscles.
How do I Meditate?
There are lots of ways to meditate. More formal seated meditation is the most effective way to improve your physical and emotional wellbeing. Sit on a cushion on the floor or on a seat with your feet flat on the floor. Sit up straight with your hands resting in your lap. Just notice where you’re holding tension and how balanced your posture feels. Breathe through your nose, slowing it down a little bit each time you breathe in, and allow your abdomen to expand as your lungs fill. Release the breath slowly, along with any tension, each time you breathe out. Notice but don’t follow your thoughts and feelings.
You can also meditate while walking, eating, standing, in a crowd, laying down, and while enjoying an activity you’re absorbed in. Just follow the same principle for the seated meditation, become more aware of yourself and everything that’s happening in the present moment.
Why Should I Meditate?
Meditation gives us a break from the constant chaos of the world around us. It gives us a chance to reset our body and mind (and spirit) to prevent us from becoming unwell and overwhelmed. We’re bombarded with thoughts, feelings, reactions and stresses all day long, and giving ourselves some time to be present and be more aware of all these pressures and how they’re affecting us gives us a chance to take back control of how we live. The more aware we can be of our limiting, negative thoughts, the more easily we can see them for what they are and let them go.
Where Should I Meditate?
You don’t need to wait until you have a quiet space available to meditate. You can meditate outdoors while walking in a park or woods or even on your way to the shops. You can meditate while driving – notice any tension, slow your breathing down, be more aware of your thoughts and feelings. If you’re at a playground with your children or grandchildren, be more aware of the present moment. While you’re washing up or tidying, bring awareness to your thoughts.
When Should I Meditate?
The more often you can remember to be present and notice what’s happening in this moment, the happier, healthier and more relaxed you will feel. The more you practice meditating the more you will feel the benefits and so will everyone around you because you’ll handle difficult situations a lot more calmly. If you want to make seated meditation part of your everyday life, find a time that works for you. You might want to get up 15 minutes early, go to bed 30 minutes earlier, or just fit in 10 minutes to yourself when you can. It depends on what’s right for you, so if you try one way and it’s not working, just try something else.
Regular guided meditation classes are available in the events on my Facebook page, and one to one sessions are available via Zoom. I teach a free Full Moon Meditation every month, and on the last Sunday of every month I run a Zen Experience. For more details follow the link below.