Meditation is one of those things many of us say we should do. And there are plenty of reasons to take it up and form a habit.
Meditation is a tool for moving us towards a richer life, one where we can cope with what life throws at us with equanimity. Of its many benefits, meditation can help us to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve physical, emotional and mental health
- Relax more, even in stressful situations
- Find a sense of satisfaction in our lives
- Discover ourselves
Many people find it difficult to meditate, having trouble stilling the mind. Don’t worry, this is normal. It’s a case of sticking with it – some days you may feel perfectly calm and at ease, others the mind races from one though to another. It’s know as the “monkey mind”. The best thing to do is simply to start, and make a commitment to meditate every day. Here’s how:
- If you are completely new to meditation, make sure you have a set aside a certain amount of time that is completely free of distractions (turn off the phone). Start with smaller amounts of time, say five or 10 minutes, and work your way towards 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or whatever feels good.
- Sit comfortably – on a chair is fine – no need to sit in the lotus position. Make sure you keep your spine straight, but relaxed.
- Rest your hands in your lap or on your knees. Traditionally if you place your palms down, it helps to calm the mind; palms open places you in a position to receive.
- Close your eyes.
- Breath. Focus on your breath.
- Make a mental tour of your body, relaxing each part in turn.
- Sometimes it helps to repeat a mantra – this can be a positive affirmation about your best self. Make it simple.
- Are you thinking? Of course you are! Meditation serves to make us aware of how busy our minds are. It’s tempting to follow the thoughts and get caught up with them. Whenever you feel you are doing this, bring your attention back to your breath, or your mantra if you have chosen one.
- It has been said that it’s better to meditate well for five minutes than badly for an hour! So bear this in mind. If your mind really won’t shut up, stop for the day.
As they say, it’s not rocket science. All it takes is a bit discipline, commitment and the knowledge that it can only benefit your life.
If you are finding it hard, don’t feel discouraged. Many of us struggle with stilling the mind. Starting a yoga practice may help, as yoga helps to prepare the body for meditation.
There are also many guided meditations on CDs, podcasts, even apps for your phone that can help get you started.
Find a meditation practitioner
in your local area.