Get in on the Medi action
Everybody listen up! You do NOT have to be a hippy dippy, dancing in the moonlight, crystal worshiper to practice meditation and to feel the powerful benefits of it. The practice of meditation is truly simple, adaptable and so effective it’s not funny.
We don’t really know how long meditation practices have been happening around the world but the records found in India, China and Greece suggest it was thousands of years BC. Now that’s a long time and I am guessing there is a good reason that human beings have been using this technique of altering consciousness, relaxation and clarity of mind for so long.
Many people I have spoken to who have never meditated before seem to be embarrassed to try, say they ‘can’t switch their mind off’, don’t know how to do it or have just never even thought about doing it. Well I am happy to say it is so simple, you don’t need any fancy equipment and it’s not even about being ‘perfect’, the point is just to practice. Of course, there are meditation experts that have refined their skills and use many different techniques but if you are only a beginner it is really not hard to give it a go right now!! There are also some great free apps out there to help get you started and guide you along which I love to suggest to clients who are just starting out.
Local meditation expert Elizabeth Bunyoung has listed her top 5 tips for beginners
Start small – if you try to meditate for 30 minutes right from the start, it is almost guaranteed that you will get frustrated and discouraged. Start with 5 minutes and only increase that time when you are comfortable.
Pick a gentle alarm – If your timer or alarm is loud and jarring, anticipating that alarm throughout your practice will distract your attention.
Meditate in a quiet place – having less distractions around you will naturally allow you to concentrate better and make your meditation much more productive.
Be easy on yourself – when your mind wonders it is easy to become frustrated with yourself, but don’t. Remember it is part of the process and recognising your thoughts is a good thing, simply bring yourself back to your breath.
Taking the time – sometimes just the fact that you have taken the time to be still and breath is enough.
Let’s talk about the benefits. Where do I start? This ancient practice has been proven to improve so many areas of our lives, most obviously is our mental health.
- Reduces stress and anxiety - our breathing is slowed so in turn relaxes our central nervous system, reduces cortisol levels and lessens inflammation in the body. That means less panic attacks and more control over general or social anxiety.
- Improves emotional health - over time we learn to look more positively at things which helps some people fight off depression.
- Enhances self-awareness - this is one of the most wonderful effects of a regular meditation practice. It encourages you to look within yourself and you may develop a stronger understanding of yourself and how you react to those around you. This could be a starting point for positive personal growth.
- Improves cognitive function - as we sort through all the thousands of thoughts, we have each day and really slow that process down in our mind, it makes way for the more important or notable thoughts to jump out. You may even surprise yourself and the most revolutionary ideas may come forward to you – hello new career move?!
There are many other proven physical benefits such as improved cardiovascular health, better sleep and pain management which is a WHOLE other kettle of fish.
Maybe you can give mediation a go today and if you do, just remember don’t place judgement on yourself or strive for perfection but simply be happy with what you do and with whatever progress you do make over time. It’s not about perfection, it’s about the practice.