Meditation is the great antidote to stress, since stress and anxiety are on the rise, we have never needed the restoring, rebalancing, relaxing tool of meditation more
There is good news about mindfulness meditation! It is becoming more accessible, what with the internet and on-line meditation websites such as Headspace. It is no longer shrouded in mystery, linked only to a guru, cult or religion. It has been demystified by the advances of neuroscience which is able to measure the responses and activity of the meditator’s brain. Indeed much research is undertaken on the effects of meditation. Regular meditation has been found to affect the brain in positive ways, which can help us to live longer, feel happier and have a better quality of life.
Meditation is the great antidote to stress, and since stress and anxiety are on the rise, we have never needed the restoring, rebalancing, relaxing tool of meditation more. It has taken science time to catch up to what ancient yogis intuitively knew, that our brains are not fixed in terms of organisation, that it has neuroplastic qualities and can be changed by the way we think. This opens the doorway to retraining our brain from negative patterns of thinking to positive ones, to releasing fear, anxiety and worry, which seem to me, to be a human affliction.
But how easy or difficult is meditation? In a world where we are encouraged to do, strive and achieve, just being in stillness can seem alien. We can be at a loss when it comes to stopping still and relaxing. Most of us have never been shown or learned that taking time out to simply pause and be is a way of recalibrating, integrating and connecting to ourselves, a way of harnessing and tapping into our inner knowledge, wisdom and intuition.
Meditation itself is easy to learn, it is a practise that focuses on observing with attention on the breath and requires commitment to develop it into an everyday habit and just 20 minutes a day is enough to positively change our minds for the better. “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think . When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” Quote from Buddha.
A simple Meditation practice
Be comfortable whether you choose to sit in a chair, or kneel or sit cross-legged on the floor. If you have stiff neck, back and shoulders, support your back against a wall or against the back of the chair. This will help to overcome any physical distractions, which can be off-putting! If you are free from stiffness, connect to your sitting bones with the physical contact of the chair or floor.
Close your eyes to take your attention inwards. You may like to imagine roots growing down into the earth giving you a sense of security and stability. From there, the spine lengthens, head is centrally placed between the shoulders, neck is long, jaw is relaxing. You may like to imagine that a golden thread is attached to the crown of your head lifting your head up towards the sky.
Now, connect to your breathing, with curiosity let your mind follow the breath as you inhale and exhale. There is no judgement as to how the breath should be, you are simply observing. Let the mind stay with the breath. If your mind should wander you can say to yourself “thinking”, gently rein the mind in and simply bring it back to the breath, again and again.
After 5 minutes, bring your mind back to physical sensations of your body and observe how you feel.
Take this feeling with you into the rest of your day. Enjoy!