Meditation - What's it all about?
There are many images that come to mind when we hear the word ‘Meditation’. ‘Free spirit’, ‘hippie’, someone who’s ‘into that kind of thing’ or the ‘crossed legged man in a cave’! Whatever it conjures up for you, I am hoping this article will dispel the myths and stereotypes, giving you a real and practical understanding of its power to transform.
The good news is we don’t have to become any of the above, in fact we can begin just as we are today. If you have a chair, a body, a breath and 2-5 minutes then you have all you need to start.
Sitting in a comfortable position, keeping your back straight and feet flat on the floor
Close your eyes and gently become aware of your breath
Notice the rhythm as your breath enters and leaves the body
What part of your body expands as you breath in, your chest or your belly?
Bring your awareness to the temperature of the air as it comes in through your nose
Staying with your breath, allow the thoughts to come and go, like passing clouds in the sky
If you get into thinking just simply return your focus to your breath without any judgement
With each exhalation allow any tension or tightness in the shoulders/neck to dissolve
Allow yourself to be in the silence and the stillness for a few more breaths
Gently bring your attention back to wherever you are sitting, slowly open your eyes, take a few deep breaths, a moment to appreciate yourself and....resume life!
When we sit down with the intention to meditate, we are consciously turning our focus inwards. Investing in this relationship with yourself is like a form of self-love or self-care, you find something inside yourself, a connection you might have lost contact with or did not know existed. Developing this relationship with yourself creates space within, kind of like a hideaway you can return to everyday!
I have been practicing meditation for more than 7 years now and I can honestly say that it has transformed the way I feel about myself and how I see the world around me. Not in a Wizard of Oz, click my red shoes kind of way, but a more subtle and real way. Through meditation I came to see how I was treating myself, how I spoke to myself in my head. The speed of my thoughts, how strong they were and how they impacted my sense of self. How sometimes they made me anxious, upset and afraid.
Slowly, slowly, the thoughts became clear, I began to see how powerful they were and how they controlled and limited my life. They were not words of encouragement, love or support, they were hard, critical and oftentimes mean. Seeing these thoughts clearly helped me to understand why I was struggling to make the life I wanted. How could I possibly achieve anything when I was ripping myself up with my own thoughts?
I might be alone on this, but my feeling is that we all have that internal critic, the harsh voice that keeps us from the life we desire, whatever that may be. Meditation won’t deliver that life to your doorstep, but it can create a space for you to transform the obstacles that stand in your way. A space where you can recharge, repair and reconnect with your potential. An opportunity to open your heart in kindness to yourself, dissolve the pain and hurt.
From this space we can connect with ourselves and others in a creative, powerful and positive way. The effects are not just experienced on the inside; the positive influence starts to reveal itself in all aspects of life; the work environment, home life, relationships and friendships. When we feel contentment and peace inside life’s possibilities open to us.
If the idea of meditation and connecting is not your cup of tea, using meditation to improve the quality of your breathing alone has powerful and life changing benefits. The breath feeds and cleans our body, bringing oxygen to our cells as we inhale and removing toxic waste as we exhale.
Babies naturally breathe in to the belly, but as we experience life; its upsets, frights, hurts we bring our breath out of the belly and move to shallow breathing, short breaths in and out of the chest. This type of breathing increases the heart rate, triggers the nervous system and keeps us in a state of high alert. You see the impact? Breathing down into the belly, allowing it to expand, making the breath longer and deeper are simple ways to improve health, focus, clarity. Consider how great you feel when you are outside on a clear and fresh day, that may well be how great the body feels when you take a deep and nourishing breath in!
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