There is no doubt you have seen or heard about meditation. Celebrities are doing it, sports stars rave about and even the corporate world are singing it’s praises. But what does it all mean, and how can it really be of benefit?
Meditation, or mindfulness as it maybe referred to, is the practice of stilling the mind. For some this sounds incomprehensible, or you may also think, how hard can it be? It is really both in my experience. It is unbelievably challenging, and yet it is actually quite simple. It can depend on the style or type of meditation you chose to do, and there are a million different techniques, but like anything, it helps to start with a goal or purpose, what are you wanting to achieve? It might sound strange to have a goal, but perhaps if I cover some of the benefits, this can help you decide on what it is you want to get out of it, and then like any goal, this then becomes your anchor when you wonder what on earth you are doing, and believe me, that will happen.
Traditionally meditation has been used as a pathway to self realisation. It is an ancient technique that the yogis’ practiced to help realise the self. Now this may not be your mission in life, and fair enough. So what is the point of us in this day and age adopting a method that the Buddha spent a good part of his life practicing?
There is a host of scientific studies on the effects of meditation, and not being a scientist I won’t go into this part. But what I can share is my own personal experience of the benefits of a regular mindfulness practice. I personally work with awareness of breath, using the flow of the inhale and exhale as my point of concentration. As my mind wonders, which it invariably does, I bring it back to the breath.
What I have found over the years, is that a regular meditation practice has helped me in the following ways:
1. Increased awareness – I have found that by noticing my breath, and observing the movements of my mind, I am able to translate this awareness into my daily life. I can be more in present and in the moment rather than being distracted by my thoughts all of the time. Well, I try to be.
2. More focus – I find it easier to focus on whatever I am doing. This links to the above point, I can notice when I get distracted or get more “in my head” v’s being present to whatever it is that I am doing e.g. washing dishes, talking with a friend, exercising. The key point here is I notice those distractions, large or small, and can then chose whether I engage in them or not. Sometimes my chocolate distraction wins, sometimes I can come back to blog writing.
3. Calm – I still get stressed out from time to time, but overall I feel I have become more calm, more centered and more grounded as a person.
4. Notice the little shit – this might sound strange, but you become more aware of gentle and subtle changes. Be that in your body, in your mind or in your environment. The cool part about this is that if it is your mind, you can apply awareness to your thoughts and not get swept up in the “story” that is playing out.
Interested in trying out meditation? You can access my free pre-recorded meditations here.
Meditation can do more then just settle your mind……read more about how it changed my life for the better on MindBodyGreen.