I just realized I’ve written tons of posts relating to healthy living such as growing fruit and veg, healthy foods and recipes and even getting off the grid from time to time. But one thing that I’ve never really touched upon, which is one of the most important things we can do to live a healthy lifestyle, is meditation.
Meditation has been around since the beginning of humankind in one form or another although us western world folk tend to conjure up images of monks sitting cross legged on beautiful mountains for hours on end. And of course that is a reality, but for us to benefit from this amazing practice we do not have to sit for hours on a mountain top, although that kinda sounds appealing sometimes!
In recent years scientists, doctors, philosophers and self development teachers have all begun to share the benefits of ‘quieting your mind’. However, most of us live busy lives and tend to come up with a couple of excuses not to incorporate meditation in our lives.
The first excuse is that we don’t have time to sit and meditate – this I’m afraid to say, is a cop-out excuse. We can ALL find ten or fifteen minutes a day – it’s just a matter of prioritizing.
And the second excuse is, and this one has relevance, that we can’t STOP thinking.
We have thousands upon thousands of thoughts every day and to expect ourselves to be able to magically turn off this powerful stream of thought instantly is frankly absurd. But there are many ways to meditate and it’s also a ‘practice’, so that means if you do it consistently you will get better at it.
So I’m just as guilty as everyone else of making these excuses, especially the second one but having spent the last decade or more studying self development and self help teachings, strategies and philosophies, I’ve come up with a system that works for me and I’d like to share these ideas with you here and now…..
1. Allocate a time for yourself every day – yep, every day. It honestly doesn’t have to be longer than 15 or 20 minutes. First thing in the morning is perfect but whenever it suits you is important.
2. Decide on a comfortable space to meditate. If your household is forever busy, choose a room and tell the family to NOT disturb you. Don’t just rely on closing the door. We all know that the most reliable way to draw your children to you is to not be paying attention to them. (on the phone, taking a bath ring a bell?!) You may have to rope in the help of your partner or eldest child to help make this happen.
3. Eliminate other distractions. Turn your phone off, or if that’s too painful, leave it in another room where you won’t hear it. Don’t have your laptop with you either, unless you are choosing a guided meditation…
4. A guided meditation may be just what you need to encourage a moment of relaxation. There are literally hundreds of guided meditations online, youtube in particular. Do a little research beforehand and decide on a video that resonates with you. I recently found a very simple guided meditation by Marie Forleo (here) which is less than 15 minutes but really hits the spot – for me anyway. Choose something that suits you. Don’t attempt the hour long videos at first – work up to that if you want to, but honestly 15 minutes once or twice a day is really all you need to get into this.
5. Alternatively you may prefer simply to sit quietly in a quiet room. But if you have trouble with those pesky thoughts, try a simple mantra such as ‘So Hum’ Repeat silently to yourself – ‘So’ on the in breath and ‘hum’ on the exhale
6. Now you’re set up with a space, time and guided meditation if you’re using one, sit in a comfortable position with a straight back. Place your hands in your lap, and if it’s comfortable for you, have your palms facing slightly upwards and touch the tips of your thumbs and index fingers together.
7. Take a deep breath in, feeling the breath go right down to your belly and straighten your spine, then breathe out slowly relaxing your shoulders. Take a few long slow breaths and basically then you’re on your way…
You could focus on relaxing all parts of your body. But if you can just relax your forehead, eyes, jaw and shoulders, you’re probably much more relaxed than you usually are.
And when those thoughts and images drift into your mind, and they will, just be aware of them and gently bring your attention back to your breath or your mantra.
The most important thing here is to NOT beat yourself up about not getting it ‘right’. Sitting quietly is a great start and even if you can find just a few seconds of no-thought, you WILL benefit. Then do it every day. After a week or two you may find a minute or two of ‘no thought’ – the key here is consistency. Make it a daily practice for you.
Meditation is something that costs no money and little time and your resulting good feelings will ripple out to your family, friends and all beings right round the world.
This zen quote says it all really!
“Meditate for 20 minutes a day. If you don’t have time, then you need to meditate for an hour”
I’d love to know how you get on. Share your thoughts here or share with friends and family who you know will benefit from a daily 15 minutes of ‘me’ time 🙂
P.S. Lying down is just as beneficial if you feel more relaxed in that position. Relaxation is key – it’s just that sometimes lying down and relaxing tends to send us off to sleep!