MEDITATION is regularly touted as a modern-day cure-all. There are studies aplenty claiming it can do anything from lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, boosting immunity, improving memory and even making you a nicer person.
If this is the case, why don’t more of us meditate? After all, it’s free, you can practise anywhere, anytime, and it brings huge wellbeing benefits, both physically and mentally.
The truth is, we humans are rather resistant to being still of body and mind. We like to keep busy, rushing here and there, while a constant flow of thoughts fill our minds. Sometimes slowing down, tuning in and reconnecting with our bodies and minds can seem a little scary.
But as life gets ever busier, we need to find balance by adding a little stillness. So here I’m going to debunk some meditation myths and show you where to start…
1.YOU NEED TO SIT CROSS-LEGGED
Sit comfortably – on a chair, on the floor, leaning against a wall, whatever works for you. Don’t feel you have to do that funnylooking thing with your fingers (called a mudra) either!
2. IT’S ALL NEW AGE BUNKUM
Ditch the stereotypes, meditation is not just for hippies. Business leaders, politicians, athletes and normal, everyday folk like you and me…. these are the people who meditate. It’s not a religious or spiritual practice either, unless you want it to be. It is simply a technique to calm the mind and find a little clarity.
3. I DON’T HAVE TIME
If you were training for a marathon, you wouldn’t begin by running a full 26 miles, would you? The key is not how long you meditate, but how regularly. Start by putting aside five minutes a day. This is the hardest part! Find a time and place that works for you. Many people like to meditate soon after waking, or try it on your commute or in an evening slot. One of my colleagues, a busy mum of three, does her daily meditation practice in the office loo!
4. I CAN’T EMPTY MY MIND
You are looking to quieten your mind, but not empty it. Meditation is about observ-ing thoughts, emotions and sensations without judgement. It’s about becoming more aware and gaining perspective.
5. IT’S REALLY DIFFICULT
Meditation is called a ‘practice’ for a reason. When you first start, it can be incredibly challenging. Your thoughts ping-pong off in all directions and you might end up frustrated. Trust me, I know. But try and stick at it. The more you practise, the more your mind will quieten.
6. I MUST BE DOING IT WRONG
There is no ‘wrong’ way to meditate. If you need guidance, there are fantastic apps such as Calm and Headspace with some free meditations, but don’t overcomplicate matters. Just know that if you are taking the time out to meditate, you are already doing it ‘right’.
… AND HERE’S HOW TO START OUT
There are many techniques out there and some might suit you more than others. But for now try this: Set a timer for five minutes. Sit comfortably in a quiet place and close your eyes. Scan your body for any areas of tension and feel them release.
Turn your attention to the breath. Feel its gentle ebb and flow as you inhale and exhale. When your mind starts to wander, which it inevitably will, gently note your thought and bring your attention back to the breath.
When you have finished, take a moment to slowly return to your natural breathing rhythm and open the eyes.
It’s really that simple. So maybe it’s time you put aside that five minutes and just see what happens…
If you have a question email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow This Is Yoga on Facebook and Instagram; thisisyoga.ie
First published in the Irish Daily Mail