What does meditation mean to you?
For many it conjures up images of a barefoot hippy or yoga type sitting cross legged for hours and chanting Om. I must confess that I used to think that too! Now however I know it doesn’t have to be that; it can be anything you want it to be, and as a result I wouldn’t be without meditation in some form in my daily routine.
For me meditation can be: a walk either alone or with the dogs, in the countryside or at the beach; 10 minutes in the shower at the start of the day; zoning out on a journey (as a passenger of course!); listening to some favourite music or chilling out for a few minutes while waiting for the kettle to boil or even standing in a queue.
The point is that you can make it your own because it’s so flexible and it can fit in to any space in your life. All you have to do is decide to add it in to your routine. The difference it can make to your health and well being is enormous.
I personally would love to have the time to soak in the bath with candles or hug trees for hours. On a practical level though that’s probably not going to be happening anytime soon in my life so I have to adapt and overcome!
How do you meditate?
There are many different ways and if you experiment as I did you will certainly find what feels right for you.
One of my favourites is based on only 6 words from Stephen Levine. I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful when stress and anxiety levels are high. It brings quick results and can be done in a only few spare minutes or extended to whatever time you have available.
“Notice breath” When we feel stressed we begin to take shallower, faster breaths. The aim here is to take deeper, slower breaths into your belly which will naturally begin to calm us down. Just follow your own natural rhythm with this and notice the rise and fall motion.
“Soften body” In an anxious state we clench and tighten our bodies.Let go and relax the tension as you continue to focus on how your body feels. Be aware of your jaw and consciously loosen it as this is a common area where we hold tension.
“Open heart” Feel your own emotions, allow them to come up and accept them. If there’s someone else involved in your stress try to consider their viewpoint, they may be having a bad time too. This can be challenging and some people find this easier to do if they imagine the other person when they were a small child. I like to put my hands on my heart, feel the warmth and imagine my heart opening like a flower in the sun as I take a few breaths and focus on compassion
Another thing I do is to go on little excursions in my mind to some of the beautiful places I’ve visited.
I bring in all my senses. So, when I go to Cyprus or Portugal for example,
I see the view
feel the warm sand on my feet
hear the waves
and I smell and taste the salty air along the shore.
Whatever you choose to do you can make it as short or as long as you like and there is no right and wrong.
Remember, if it feels right for you it is right for you.
The most totally fabulous part of it all is the result in your body!
Meditation works because your brain doesn’t know the difference between an actual experience and the one you have imagined; therefore it produces the same chill out chemicals either way!
If you don’t believe me try imagining a very ripe, juicy lemon in your hand. It’s heavy in your palm and full of juice. Feel its dimpled skin and smell the lovely lemony scent. Now cut a thick wedge from it and see the tangy juice spill out. Take the glistening wedge of lemon, bring it to your lips and take a nice big bite of the flesh…
By now your amazing body has started to salivate in anticipation of this lemon wedge that exists only in your imagination….how cool is that?
Make some meditation part of your daily routine and as a result you’ll soon feeI the benefits.
At first you will need to practice and I recommend you start doing it with something else you’d be doing anyway, such as showering or brushing your teeth. That way you avoid it becoming just another task and it quickly becomes second nature.
I’d love to hear what ideas you come up with and how you get on ….
“People think meditation is a huge undertaking. Don’t think of it like that.” Deepak Chopra