This week I wanted to build upon the ‘mindfulness’ blog post from last week, which leads us nicely on to meditation!
Meditation is a form that has been around for thousands of years. Until relatively recent years, it was met by the masses with some skepticism, however, importantly, the practice of meditation is now gaining much more widespread acceptance and the old stigmas attached to it are steadily melting away.
So what has caused the change? Here are the main reasons for the shift:
- Much scientific research has been conducted which backs up what meditation practitioners have been claiming for years (society, especially Western societies, place a great deal of emphasis on having “expert” backing. However in this context, many incorrectly only view an expert as someone with a degree, or having a scientific background).
- Benefits such as reduced stress and anxiety, improved concentration, a healthier lifestyle, increased self-awareness & acceptance, increased happiness, slowed aging, and improved cardiovascular and immune system health, are all very attractive. They appear more believable now we’ve had someone tell us that we can believe what the Monks (amongst other people) have been saying for centuries.
- The increasingly fast-paced nature of life is causing us to adapt. Mental health issues have spiraled over the past 30 and it’s no coincidence that we have been living lives that are busier than ever during this period! Practices such as meditation are a necessity in the attempt to counteract these challenges, rather than unnecessarily plying people full of medication (there are appropriate times when medication is a useful avenue, however far too often it is used as the default solution).
It actually surprises me that we are taught to spend time training our bodies, yet we have not yet all been taught how to train and look after the most important muscle of all…the brain/mind!
So, now that it’s not “pointless”, “uncool” or “weird” to embark upon meditation, how should you go about implementing it into your life?
You can actually self-teach, however there are some great FREE apps out there that are developed to start things off simple, and gradually increase in difficulty so as to improve skills and abilities over time. Most of them are “guided meditations” which tell you what to do and what to focus on, which is hugely useful, especially as a beginner. In The App (Apple) or Play (Android) store, simply search for “Omvana” and “Headspace”, download and follow the instructions.
Something I feel is worth sharing is around self-awareness regarding a meditation journey. The purpose of a session is to stay focused on something particular, however you will notice that your mind wanders on to other things. I (and likely many others) used to get frustrated when I found my mind wandering (thinking things like “I’m rubbish at this”, “It’s not working” etc). Please rest assured that you have no reason to feel this way. Why? It’s because it actually means it is working! EVERY time you catch your mind thinking about something other than the focus of the session, and subsequently bring your mind back, it’s you training and sharpening your mind (can view it like you’ve just completed a set of weights in the gym). The more times you catch yourself, the stronger your mind becomes, until ultimately, with practice, you will be able to have laser-like focus on whatever you choose. This will cause you to live life much more in the present, worrying less about the past and the future, greatly increasing happiness!
I recommend you do at least 5 mins (10-15 mins would be much better for you) per day 4-5 times per week in order to build momentum and create a new habit. The cool thing is that you can build it into your daily routine – do it on the bus or train journey to work, on your lunch break, sitting in the bath…decide what works best for you and stick to it. You will be amazed with the results :-D
Have a great week, Dan.