The title to this blog may be alarming but the message is pretty clear. Just stop for 5 minutes, Slow down. Put the brakes on. RELAAAAAX.
I was having breakfast with a good friend today and we got talking about life. As you do over hot pancakes and tea. It never really dawned on me that a friend who knows me pretty well and what I do for a living had all the wrong information about meditation!
A few thoughts went through my head including the oh my god I am not doing my job properly if my own friend does not understand.. thought. It got me thinking...how many of you have the same misconception of Meditation? Tell me if this is you...” Oh i can’t meditate my brain is too noisy...oh i can’t meditate I don’t have the time...Aren’t you supposed to be able to block out all the things to get the benefit?, I just laugh and can’t concentrate. Wrong Wrong WRONG. So wrong.
First of all....lets eliminate expectation. Okay....write expectation of meditation on a piece of paper and then screw it up or burn it (safely) and watch expectation go up with it. Now that’s done we can start a fresh.
1. You Do NOT need to quieten your mind, you need to listen. The supercomputer that is your brain is talking to you. Just shut up and listen.
2. You DO need to breathe...that part is correct. Filling up your diaphragm with air is beneficial. As stressed out adults we tend to shallow breathe...it slows down our metabolism and we end up not supplying enough oxygen to ....... everything making us less functional. Watch a baby breathe....its little tummy just fills up with air. Beautiful to watch. So focus on the breathing.
3. Music can help....yep that’s true too.
4. Shut off your brain from thinking. WRONG. Thoughts will happen...and it is OKAY. All you need is the right teacher to guide you through how to deal with them.
I want you to stop. Just stop for 5 minutes. Find a quiet place....turn off your phone....yes OFF not on silent or vibrate...turn the damn thing OFF. Put on some music..there is a stereo they still sell on the market that plays music. Or if you absolutely HAVE to use your phone for music and earphones then put it on flight mode or something...do not disturb. Go to the toilet. Have a drink. Get comfy. Eliminate all the possible distractions you could have. No you do not have to sit up with your legs looking like a pretzel and your fingertips touching...that all comes much much later. ( the fingertip touching is based on the principles of the bodies needs at the time or the type of meditation you are wanting that day ). Lie down if you want to. Sit on the sofa. Whatever works for you.
Focus on your breathing. That’s all you need to do to start benefiting from Meditation.
Literally...that’s it. Just sit down and shut up for 5 minutes.
Where you go from here is up to you. Before you know it, you’ll be begging for more.More development on meditation, more experiences and learning. Your body will crave it. Believe me, your nervous system will thank you for it.
Lets talk benefits.
Heart rate lowered
Anxiety and stress levels lessened
Lowered blood pressure
A heightened sense of well-being
Better functioning immune system
It is said that Meditation can lead to decreases in anxiety and other negative emotions, and to increase empathy for others and in general well-being (Sedlmeier et al., 2012). Tests proved that the alpha waves become more prominent in the EEG recordings, indicating that meditation is associated with relaxation (Cahn & Polich, 2006).
See..even the big wigs have started coming on board.
There are a few different types of meditation you can do, each with their own benefit. I will guide you briefly through them.
1. Mindfulness Meditation: Observe the thoughts that pass through the mind. The idea is to assure you do not get too involved with the thoughts, rather, take note of them, and pay particular attention to the feelings behind them.
2. Moving meditations: such as Qigong and Tai Chi..both allowing a more physical approach to healing that help anchor change in the body.
3. Focus Meditation: Focusing on a single element. Such as a candle flame, speaking a mantra, and so on. This is a lot harder to do and something you can work up to.
4. My favourite...Manifestation Meditation: similar to focus..only with a single thought that is present and a mantra to process change.
So. Now you are armed with the information. Go forth and meditate. Look for a trainer or master to help you through if you like. (like me :) ) There is a lot more to it but you really do not need to overfill your cup right now.
Sedlmeier, P., Eberth, J., Schwartz, M., Zimmermann, D., Haarig, F., Jaeger, S., & Kunze, S. (2012). The psychological effects of meditation: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138, 1139-1171.
Cahn, B. R., & Polich, J. (2006). Meditation states and traits: EEG, ERP and neuroimaging studies. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 180-211.