I am a big fan of meditation and it has a tremendously powerful effect on my day to day life.
When I made the transition from full time employment to establishing my own successful business I invested a fair amount of my time (20 to 60 minutes daily) learning how to let go of my worldly thoughts and enter a space of tranquility, peace and complete relaxation.
6 years of being self employed and not making time for meditation lead to increasing stress levels, daily frustrations and a feeling that something was missing.
I looked back at what I had been doing and what my current practices were – namely using the using the TV to veg out to and sometimes drinking a glass of wine or two for that instant relaxation “fix” – I realised what I had been neglecting – myself and my spirit – they key was meditation.
Not All Monks and Chanting
For many, the word meditation conjures up images of monks, sitting cross legged and complex rituals. In my experience, or at least in my own practices it has been more a case of “letting go” and keeping things as simple as possible using deep breathing techniques and internal focus.
We live in a culture of total and complete sensory over load – radio, TV, advertising, smart phones, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. On top of the pressures of work, bills to pay, families to look after – is it any wonder that stress levels rise and our minds and bodies feel less well because of it?
Learning to meditate is a great skill to acquire and can have profound effects on our mindset and sense of well-being. The big thing for me is, by shutting off from the external noise and letting go of our thoughts (YES it CAN be done) we can experience ourselves in our truest form – a Human-Being. That part of us that came before names, before labels, before memory, knowledge, before conditioning – the space between thoughts – while accessed briefly is a beautiful place to be.
Since I have started to meditate again regularly (5 to 30 minutes daily at present) I have enjoyed feeling more relaxed with greater clarity and enthusiasm. I have felt more at ease and experienced increased moments of “bliss”. It’s a place of self reflection, learning and letting go of the things that hold us back in our minds. It is truly powerful and I cannot sing its praises highly enough.
Scientific research has been linked meditation to reduced anxiety, stress and depression. In some studies there has also noted a significant reduction in blood pressure.
Meditation – a skill worth practicing
As with any new skill meditation takes time to learn – however a few minutes of daily practice can soon become 15, 20 and more minutes. They key is to keep trying to let go and use deep, controlled breathing.
When sitting for meditation it is essential that a room or space is chosen that is quiet and during a time when disturbance is unlikely. All phones and alarms should be turned off and any lighting should be dimmed.
It is important to sit in a comfortable position but not too comfortable. My own preference is to sit on a dining room chair with a high back. Eyes should be closed and feet should touch the floor and back should be supported. I suggest avoiding lying down as the chances of falling asleep are high and sleep is not meditation!
Keep It Simple
One of the biggest hurdles faced by those starting out in meditation is overcoming the “Monkey Mind”. Our mind is like a conveyer belt of thoughts. It is only when sitting quietly trying not to think about anything that it becomes apparent just how noisy the mind can be. This is also the exact reason why an over active mind can result in stress and anxiety. Like the body, the mind needs a rest too from time to time!
In order to limit the dancing of our mind through endless thoughts it is best to begin by focusing on one thing. Deep breathing is a great place to start. You simply breath in deeply through the nose and then out again – slowly. As the breath is taken feel the tension in your diaphragm and chest, then exhale feel the muscles relax. On breathing out a simple mantra of “Let go, Let , Let Go” can help.
By keeping the mind occupied on breathing and letting go the mind is less likely to become distracted with worldly thoughts.
Should the mind be caught wandering (and it will, a lot) don’t stress, simply return to where you left off and continue……….above all, be patient, stay relaxed and engage in the moment.