There is a lot of focus around self-care and wellness in the health industry at the moment. From superfoods to detoxes- it is hard to decipher what is just a money draining trend or the real deal in achieving wellbeing that’s right for you. But aside from the supplements, exercise routines and elixir’s that benefit your physical and internal organs- I want to talk about an exercise/ritual, whatever you want to call it, that works your mental.
Mediation has been around for centuries. Practiced in many religions and cultures; mediation aims to focus internal energy on spiritual enlightenment and bringing peace and calm to the mind, as a means of promoting better health (Better health, 2015).
Now, I worry that I may loose, or already have lost, a few of you as soon as you read the words “religion” and “spiritual enlightenment”- I can appreciate that this may not be for you, but please trust that I am not going to try and convince you to convert to anything.
“most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind, but actually it’s quite different from that. It’s more about stepping back, sort of seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going, emotions coming and going without judgment, but with a relaxed, focused mind.” – Andy Puddicombe, All it takes is 10 mindful minutes, 2012
So how do you mediate and why does it promote health? Channelling an ability to focus on nothing else but your present is an especially powerful skill to harness in times of stress and unrest. However, It is a skill that doesn’t need to only be used in panic situations. Like any routine you begin; some benefits are immediate and others more long term. The same comes with mediation.
While for some people, mediation is a ritual they partake in for an hour or more everyday; like setting aside time you would an exercise class. Other people I know set aside 10 minutes of their morning while they’re in the shower or making breakfast to set them up for their day. That’s the thing about mediation, there is no one way, no level at which you have to be at to even begin.
Now coming from someone that is nowhere close to ‘mastering’ mediation (I don’t know if you even can?), I have tried a few different practices and have found that some worked for me and some absolutely didn’t! The main thing was that I tried.
All types of mediation can be practiced with a guide. I have found this to be the best way to start. Someone actually telling you what to do instead of having a billion thoughts at once and all of them wondering if you’re doing this right.
Guided meditation doesn’t have to be with a person right in front of you. Fortunately, there are so many incredible apps and youtube videos just the push of a button away that have many different meditations to suit your needs.
Meditation for deep sleep, calming anxiety, manifestation, taming the ego, sitting with breath, gratitude – I could really go on and on. But the point of the apps is that there are so many different guides that range from 5 minutes to well over an hour, made easily accessible for your convenience.
And if guided mediation is really your thing; there are spaces where you can go and mediate with others!
ahh exercise, you either love it, hate it or just get on with it. Regardless, the benefits of movement and exercise go beyond the physical, and meditation can be practiced simultaneously. For those that struggle to clear the mind and the idea of sitting silently feels like the impossible; then maybe a movement mediation is for you. Running, yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates are only some examples of exercises that can be practiced at your own pace while easily incorporating mediation, guided or self.
Trust me when I say; when you solely focus on your breath it is very hard engage with anything else in that busy mind of yours. Breath work in times when grounding is needed can be practiced with a guide or on your own.
If you have no idea where to start I would suggest downloading an app- Insight Timer is the one we love and meditation for deep sleep is a personal favourite. There are so many to choose from. Once you’ve found the ones you love and what works for you, you’re able to save them.
Go slow. Exercising your mind isn’t about running any race. Its about connecting to yourself and doing what feels right and good for you.
Not convinced? We love us a Ted Talk- a good way to switch off. Two birds.
Disclaimer: you DO NOT have to become a monk