Do you even meditate?
You’ve probably read numerous articles on the benefits of meditation. You know that people who meditate are happier, more focused and less stressed and anxious. You know all it would take is 10 minutes of your time each day. So how come you can never bring yourself to actually do it?
Maybe you’ve tried meditating before and you just couldn’t get it. You lit some incense, sat down, crossed your legs, and closed your eyes. You took a deep breath and began meditating. But two seconds in, the thoughts started coming:
“So is this it, I’m just supposed to sit here in silence? I don’t really get this whole meditation thing. It doesn’t feel that relaxing to me. Ok my legs are starting to hurt, I’m really not flexible enough to sit like this. Ouch my back is sore. Gosh I am really hungry, I should have had that extra bagel at lunch. Maybe I will grab a muffin when I go past the coffee shop this afternoon. Whoops ok back to breathing. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Hey look I did it. Maybe I should be breathing deeper. That’s definitely it, I should take deeper breaths. Or should I be chanting or something? Have to remember to write that report after lunch. Oh and I have to call Sue back. Gotta remind Sandra about the meeting on Friday. Should put that in my calendar. Gosh there is so much to do. That’s it, I don’t have time for this meditation thing!”
The first time you try it, meditating can seem intimidating. You may think that you are doing it wrong, or that it just doesn’t work for you. But like anything worth mastering, it takes practice and a little patience.
Often when people first start meditating they think they are getting it wrong if they cannot control the thoughts coming into their mind. It is important to remember that meditating is not about stopping these thoughts, but about acknowledging them and then releasing them without judgement. As the thought enters your mind, visualise it, then imagine yourself letting it go without allowing it to affect your emotions or delving into it any further.
The days when you think you are too busy to meditate are the days you should especially be meditating. If you have a day full of meetings, tasks, errands, projects and you feel like you will never fit them all in, meditation might be the last thing on your mind. But if you were to take 10 minutes out of your day to meditate (perhaps wake up just 10 minutes earlier), you will feel more focused and will in turn be more productive for the rest of the day. There is no greater tool than meditation to help you get the most out of everyday.
Meditation, or mindfulness, is a great tool to help us to take a step back from our busy lives and minds, and become more calm and focused. More benefits of meditation include increased compassion, creativity, better sleep and better memory. Science has recently shown that meditation and relaxation can also improve your immune system, reduce inflammation, help treat IBS, and lower blood pressure.
Simple tips for meditating:
Meditate first thing in the morning and set your tone/mantra for the day. *Bonus: Think of three things you are grateful for to start the day on a positive note and see how the rest of your day is affected.
Start with meditating for 5 minutes each day and slowly build up to 10 minutes, and aim to be regularly meditating for 20 minutes a day eventually.
Use an app. There are lots of apps out there that assist you with your meditation. We like Headspace which helps you start your meditation journey with 10 days of 10 minute guided meditations.
Get comfortable. You don’t have to be seated and cross legged to mediate. There are no rules - just make sure you are comfortable so discomfort does not become a distraction. You can even meditate lying down! (Although we don’t recommend lying on your bed as this could very possibly lead to you falling asleep).
Trying moving meditation - if you are not the kind of person that is able to sit still for long periods of time, forcing yourself to sit down and meditate will only frustrate you. Trying another form of meditating such as yoga, tai chi, or simply try to relax your mind during your regular exercise routine or on a long walk.
Instead of your afternoon coffee, try meditating when you are tired and need a pick me up. You will be more focused and will find it much easier to complete tasks efficiently. And you won't have a crash like you will from coffee! You can meditate at your desk while working, or find a quiet place to sit outside.
If you are really convinced you have no time to meditate, try meditating on the bus or train on your way to work. Set an alarm so you don’t miss your stop!
Find out what happens to our brains when we meditate here.