Have you ever had a computer overheat and have had to switch it off for a minute before restarting it?
That’s a bit like meditation. It’s stopping what your doing and going to a still, quiet place within, in order to reset and revive yourself.
It is the skill of developing focus and being content in the present moment. It is your own, uninterrupted, breathing space.
— How do you do it?
Firstly, find time to practice and decide how long you want to practice for. Start short and build up to longer sessions as you get better at it.
Sit in a comfortable position. A position that you can stay still in without being distracted by pins and needles or pain is my tip! So no need for the crosslegged lotus position! Try the sofa, your dining table chair or a cushion on the floor. Perhaps in your parked car if you’ve got time before the kids come out of school. Look for opportunities to make time to sit in stillness.
It begins with slowing your breathing. Concentrating on slowly and fully breathing in and breathing out. Bring your awareness to the breath and focus on this as you relax. Let go of the outer world and turn inward, to your inner world.
It is a skill that needs regular practice. That is why meditation is typically referred to as a ‘meditation practice’ because you need to practice, practice, practice! Like playing the piano, don’t expect to be able to do it well without committing to learning how to do it.
It isn’t ‘having an empty mind’ so don’t worry if you lose focus and start thinking about something. As soon as you realise your mind has wandered off, just bring your attention back to your breathing. Over time less thoughts will come and ultimately, they won’t be a distraction and you will feel a separation from them.
— How do you do it?
You are the master of your time and you have more than you think you have. Set an intention to regularly practice and you will soon find it easy to make time for it. When things become a habit it’s easy to do and when things are enjoyable you will want to find time for it. Look for opportunities to take a ‘medative moment’, for example, when waiting for the kettle to boil, or on your commute, after you shower and before you brush your teeth. Fit it in as part of your normal routine. Talk about it with your friends and you will soon hear of others who also practice it and then you can benefit from tips from others!
Facts The History of Meditation
Meditation has been on the planet throughout the history of man.
Cave man paintings show early man meditating around the fire.
It doesn’t have to be religious.
Seen in many religions including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam.
Schools of Meditation
4 main schools of meditation according to the British School of Meditation…
— Types of meditation
There are many different types of meditation.
I encourage you all to try different styles as what might suit you, might not suit another person. Also, what might work for you on one day, may not the next. Be prepared to adapt and explore!
Breathing awareness — focusing on the breath and the breath alone. This can involve counting the breaths or noticing its path through the body.
Mantras — focusing on a word or sentence and repeating this throughout the meditation in order to embody the sentiment.
Contemplation — purposefully and deeply thinking about a set subject.
Walking meditation — bringing awareness to your physical body as it walks the earth below.
Silence — no guidance, no music, pure silence.
Chanting — a set of words/sentence repeated in song.
Zen — mindfully focusing on thoughts without any judgement.
Loving-kindness — focusing on loving thoughts about yourself and others, including strangers or someone you have negative emotions toward. It will enhance compassion, love and kindness to all.
Mindfulness — awareness of your body including the sensations within and your emotions in the present moment.
Visualisation — focusing on vivid imagery to disconnect from your outer world and take your mind to an alternative place.
Body scan — a focused relaxation of each body part in turn. This can reduce pain and tension in the body.
Transcendental — a mantra given by an approved transcendental teacher specifically for you and this is focused on throughout the meditation.
What’s the Difference between meditation and mindfulness?
Meditation is mindful but mindfulness is not always meditation. Both these terms are commonly used but it is important to understand the difference.
Mindfulness is the act of bringing attention to the present moment and is a conscious effort to engage and appreciate the experience at hand. It can be practiced anytime and anywhere whilst doing every day tasks.
For example, whilst taking a walk in the park, you can make this a mindful walk by engaging your senses to enhance your experience of the walk and not be distracted by thoughts of the past or future.
You can use your sight to appreciate the vibrancy of colors in the surroundings, your sense of smell to notice aromas and your hearing to take in the sounds of nature. You can focus on the feeling of your feet connecting you to the earth below and perhaps eat a piece of fruit and really take time to taste it in your mouth.
Help yourself to help others”
This develops the skill of focus as well as appreciation of life through gratitude and positivity. I will often recommend applying mindfulness to cooking and eating when my patients ask for advice on losing weight. I tell them to engage their senses before eating anything and this will reduce the likelihood of overeating.
You may have heard someone say ‘exercise is my meditation’ or ‘reading is my meditation’. What they mean though, is that this is their mindfulness.
Meditation on the other hand, is the art of bringing the awareness in-ward as opposed to out-ward. It is the practice of finding stillness, peace and contentment within. Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation and is separate to mindfulness alone.