Most things in life are out of our control, directed by external factors. Our minds and their whirlwind of thoughts also seem to be out of a our control. Yet we train the body. We can also train the mind.
By encorporating a regular mediation routine into your life you can quieten the mind’s constant chatter. You can also better equip yourself to deal with the unforeseen circumstances life throws at you. Here’s the who, what, how, when and why of meditation.
Meditation isn’t a group activity. It isn’t something fun to do with your friends. It isn’t a photo you can broadcast on your social media. It’s something you do for yourself with yourself. Meditation is all about you. Making peace with your thoughts is one of the most powerful things you can do for your wellbeing. There are 1,440 minutes everyday. Why not take a mere five minutes to cultivate a calmer mind?
Meditation derives from ancient eastern philosophies. The concept is to stop the mind from worrying about external circumstances it cannot control or being overwhelmed by strong emotions. Buddhists believe meditation is the "only real antidote to our own personal sorrows, and to the anxieties, fears, hatreds, and general confusions that beset the human condition.” In today’s busy world mediation arguably is a tool we can tap into to help get our wellbeing back on track.
Find somewhere comfortable and peaceful. While you could meditate in any position it’s best to sit with your legs crossed, relaxed but upright. It helps you have better posture if you sit on a cushion. We love these juicy round ones. Start by closing your eyes and scanning your body to see how it’s feeling.
For beginners simple breathing exercises are the best way to start. Our minds wander and get bored, yet giving it a task like following your breath helps it to focus. Random thoughts will still flow in and out, but the key is to just observe them with trying to understand them or judge them.
Choose the time that works best for you. Most people prefer to meditate in the morning to start their day off well. However some find five minutes at lunch time will help their day flow better. Other prefer to meditate before bed to enable a deeper sleep.
According to Eastern philosophy the only goal of meditation is to be more present. Relaxation may not be a goal, but it is a positive side affect. Today many studies have been done on the benefits of meditation.
One study demonstrated it reduces the grey-matter density in the brain that links to anxiety and feelings of stress. Another shows it may be as effective at treating anxiety as an antidepressant drug. In a study on students, they found that those that meditated for twenty minutes a day outperformed their peers in cognitive testing by up to 10 times. Meditation also improves memory retention, concentration, creativity, deciseness and self-awareness.
It can be tricky to find your flow in the beginning, one of the best ways to ease yourself in is these guided meditations by House of Yoga. Only €1 for the first month, you can also put their yoga to the test.
The following apps are known to be great for daily mediations as well: Headspace, Calm, Mindvalley, Mindfulness, Buddify.
Our founder Nat raves about her weekly one on one sessions with Suzan van de Roemer from Mindful- Matters. Book a private or group session in the comfort of your own home, or go to her serene studio in the city.
Delight Yoga offer some great mediation courses. Book in a beginners mediation course, or try one of the more advanced ones if you're already familiar with the basic practises.