What comes to mind when you think about meditating? Perhaps it involves sitting cross-legged on the top of a mountain, eyes closed, practising to the sound of ‘OM’. This type of spiritual experience is known as Transcendental Meditation, but there are many forms of meditation for us to enjoy.
Basic mindfulness techniques, such as awareness of the breath, can help to improve focus and memory, as well as eliminate negative emotions. Mindfulness meditation involves being fully present in the moment with our thoughts and is highly effective during periods of stress or overwhelm.
In my teaching practice, I always make time for deep relaxation and guided meditation at the end of every class. I help my clients perform a body-scan to identify areas of tension and engage the power of the conscious mind to actively relax and release tension. It is especially beneficial after exercise to give the body an opportunity to rest and recover.
Meditation can also help us to envision a positive experience we want to create for ourselves or others. Cultivating kind or loving thoughts can be very rewarding in increasing our personal happiness and driving positive behaviour. A daily meditation practice can bring clarity in times of confusion and support you in setting a positive intention or in achieving your goals.
If you want to give meditation a try, here are my top tips for getting started:
Find a quiet place to practice
Find somewhere quiet, where you will not be disturbed. As you will be sitting or lying still for a long period of time, your heart rate will slow, so make sure you are warm and comfortable. Wear an extra layer of clothing, or cover yourself in a comforting blanket.
Simply sit and close your eyes.
Meditation requires absolutely no effort at all. Simply sit still and close your eyes. Your mind may be restless, but try not to wrestle with your thoughts. Just allow them to come and go as they please and gradually bring your awareness to your breath. Focus on the flow of the breath and notice the calmness that follows. Be a silent observer of your own experience.
Try an online application such as Headspace
There are a number of online apps which can teach you how to meditate. Headspace is a popular one, but there are a number you can choose from. The benefit is that you can use it anywhere and at any time to suit you.
First published on the Pavelka House. Authored by Suzette Tagg