What is Meditation?
My simple definition and understanding when I practice meditation, is to quiet the mind, turn off the constant thoughts running through my head, or at the very least, to slow them down.
I have to admit, I’d tried meditation numerous times before I really noticed any tangible benefits. I started off sitting cross-legged, back straight as possible, trying not to think. It took many sessions of building up a regular routine of trying to fit it into my life at least a couple of times a week before it became something I looked forward to rather than treated as something I had to do.
Personally, I use YouTube most of the time to find either a meditation or self-hypnosis video that appeals to me at any given time. When I first started, I preferred to lie down and complete a guided meditation as I liked to visualise rather than focus just on my breathing. I also really liked “body-scans” and yoga nidra which is sometimes referred to as a “yogic-sleep” or the stage just before you fall asleep.
I’ve seen many people say how wonderful they find mindfulness as a meditation and I’ve tried this myself. It’s not a style of meditation that has clicked with me yet but I still go back and try it sometimes as it is probably the most accessible whilst out and about or doing other tasks. A good example is when you’re eating, noticing every tiny detail from how the food tastes of course, to how it feels in your mouth, how it smells, its texture, whether it’s crunchy or soft, chewy or hard – essentially slowing down and relishing the experience rather than wolfing down a meal without it touching the sides!
There are also numerous apps that I’ve heard have been really helpful to others who are not really “into” meditation such as Headspace. I’ve not tried it myself but know several people who’ve said how great they’ve found it.
Moving meditations are also possible with yoga and walking good examples of ones I use daily. It never ceases to amaze me how clear my mind is by challenging myself in a few yoga poses or by simply walking up to pick Mia up or drop her off at school.
My suggestion would be to just have a go for a couple of minutes each day for a week. The next week try 5 minutes a day. The goal is just to be yourself without “doing” anything. Don’t try to “not think”. Thoughts will come repeatedly – the trick is to notice the thoughts, let them go and then to return to focusing on the sensation of your breath coming in and out of your body. Whether you sit on the floor, a chair, lie-down or try a moving meditation; whether in complete silence, using an app or some other method, it doesn’t matter as long as you keep your back straight – don’t try to do anything or expect to feel a certain way afterwards. That is not the goal and I find that every session is different. Sometimes I don’t feel any different straightaway; other times I feel much better. It’s important to just accept where you are that day to avoid feeling frustrated that you’re “not doing it right”.
Let me know in the comments how you prefer to meditate. Have you any tips to help beginners or even more advanced methods for those who’ve been practising a while?