BY Alice Grist
Meditation is one of my favourite things. For a long time I felt I was doing a necessary service. But now it has me in it’s gentle grip and I cannot get enough! Meditation can be taken as a small soulful snack or if you love it, then it can be an everyday pursuit. Meditation is about striving to find a still tranquil point inside your own mind and soul. It is about trying to shut out the worries, stresses and thoughts of everyday life so that something more peaceful can flood in. Meditation, for this reason can feel very difficult. I’ll be honest, it can take a lifetime of practice to become very good at it and so for those of us who are not Buddhist Monks and Nuns, it is definitely the taking part that counts.
Many people give up on meditation because of perceived past failures to shut down their thoughts. The thing is, as long as you are trying, then you cannot fail. The very act of attempting to be still is often good enough to leave you feeling refreshed. A two second respite in your overactive mind can do your mental and emotional health wonders.
Instead of aiming for a blank mind think of meditation as your stillness time, focus on breathing in and out and see where your mind takes you. Observe your own thoughts and then aim to find the stillness within them. Perhaps try a guided mediation or listening to restful music, whale song or your personal favorite chill out tracks. A blank mind is not always the reward received through faithful meditation and I often find that my best ideas and answers come to me during meditation. When this happens I accept those thoughts as gifts found within the quiet I have allowed myself.
Meditation is not confined to sitting cross-legged on a mat whilst doing nothing other than avoiding falling to sleep. Some people who struggle with meditation may find that setting time aside to lose yourself in an activity is equally worthwhile. I find a wonderful meditative state occurs when I am in nature, walking or gardening. Others find meditation through sports, baking or getting lost in some creative activity.
However you choose to meditate, make it part of your routine – five minutes a week is a fabulous start. The more stressed or hectic you are, the more you will need and appreciate it. If meditation seems too demanding then find a couple of moments to sit in peace and watch the world. Be an observer and allow your thoughts to quieten down whilst you find peace in becoming part of the surroundings for a brief time. This can be done anywhere, in your office, in a park or sat waiting for a train.
Melting into your meditation allows you to get a feel for your true spirit. By meditating you can become a familiar friend to your intuition. When life becomes tough, instead of giving over to the drama and reaction, go away and meditate. In my experience the world always looks better through a meditation rested mind.
A Basic Meditation
Start by sitting comfortably somewhere that allows you to have a straight back. Cross-legged is great but not necessary. A chair, bed, mat, your garden or the toilet cubicles at work are all acceptable places.
Close your eyes and prepare your mind to relax, get a feel for your body and how it is. Aim to relax all your muscles one by one. Search your joints for tension and when you find it, release it.
Stay in this place for a while, focus on your breath. Allow your thoughts to bubble up, but be sure not to linger on them. By concentrating on the breath you will help to dispel the mental machinations that will inevitably try to distract you.
When you are ready imagine yourself in a place where you feel safe and loved. You may imagine yourself to be somewhere familiar, or a far-flung beach of your imagination. Know that in this space you are protected.
Feel the earth beneath your body and trust that you are firmly grounded to her.
Imagine taking all your hopes, desires and positive thoughts and place them in a safe place. They are not to be examined now. Lock them up tight knowing that you can access them later.
The second habit is your negativity, worries and concerns.
Examine your body and emotions now for any negative thoughts or feelings, where do they cluster? Perhaps they are in your mind giving you a headache, down your back, or in your gut. Imagine all of these worries to be made up of lots of little red marbles. You are in charge of the marbles. One by one I want you to imagine these marbles slipping down your body and out into the earth where they will be transmuted into positive energies.
You are now in-between a place of worry and of joy. You are in a space where your mind’s habits cannot affect you. Continue to breathe deeply and observe your feelings and thoughts. Observe what happens in your mind’s eye. Trust that this space is your sacred space and sit in it for as long as you wish.
When you feel ready to come back to the world draw your attention to your mind and your body. Take some deep breaths and prepare yourself to become more alert.
Practice this meditation as often as you like. Explore the silence within yourself because within it you will find your true self. Meditation can help you to change your life. I hope that you, like me, will soon become a happy meditation addict.
Featured Image via HaPe_Gera on Flickr