I have long been an advocate of making conscious choices about we put into and on our bodies. I see this as a way of creating wellness not only for ourselves but also for our planet. But I came to a point a number of years ago when I realised that this wasn’t the whole picture – that despite my best efforts to eat a mostly organic diet, to use the best certified organic products on my body, to lead an active life I was not feeling all that well, I was actually feeling disillusioned, and starting to doubt my ability to really experience the vitality and enjoyment I was seeking in life. What I discovered was that I was not also to paying attention the most important part of my body……my mind.
The mind, the most important part of the body? In my experience this is true – without care and attention to looking after the mind, all our other efforts can only get us so far. Until I began to get to know my mind, to observe my thoughts and responses I didn’t realise just how counter-productive they were to my health and wellbeing. Yes from the outside looking in I was doing all the “right” things, even surrounding myself with the right words in inspiring books and quotes, but on the inside my unexamined mind was slowly but surely stealing my vitality, joy and peace.
This is when I came to the life-changing practice of meditation, in particular the practice of awareness meditation. As I started to learn to quiet my mind, as I started to observe my habitual thoughts and responses I started to get to know and understand myself better, and very importantly I started to realise that I have a choice about how I want to experience life!!
The benefits of meditation are becoming widely known and discussed. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, enhance immunity, decrease blood pressure, people who meditate are reported to be happier, have greater clarity, focus and resilience. For me two of the most wonderful benefits of meditation are connection with myself and others and a clarity that leads to inspired action.
What about you?
Is your mind constantly racing, do you find it hard to keep up? Are you too busy to meditate?
Yes? Then now is the perfect time to start! We live in a society that seems to value busy-ness, thinking, planning, and doing. Unfortunately in our society getting to know and nurture our minds is still one of the last things people attend to, often it is easier and more convenient to attend to the needs of the body, changing our diets, choosing better products, embracing exercise, buying the latest self-help book. But what are the costs of this? Stress related illness is on the increase and indicators of happiness and quality of life are decreasing.
How do you want to experience life?
Rushed? Stressed? Feeling burnt out? Feeling angry, impatient and insensitive towards your partner, children and colleagues? Or
Calm, clear and decisive with the capacity and joy to support and inspire others to be great?
It has been humbling and also very liberating for me to see how my mind was not only eroding my sense of joy and peace but that it was having a detrimental impact on my relationships. I now know that I am responsible for how I respond, for how I impact others and that I alone can choose what kind of life I experience. It doesn’t get much more empowering than that!
Getting Started with Meditation
I see that meditation, is a “practice”. I find this idea helps people to understand that it is not just a one off activity, it is something we need to work on, it is for most of us a new way of living and relating that we must learn, it is a new habit we create in the brain. There are many techniques for meditation but one of the most important factors when you begin to meditate (like any new endeavour) is to have a vision for your practice – to know why you are doing this and to come back to this reason on a regular basis, it will really help you stay with your practice and reap the benefits.
I recommend you simply start with the breath – it is always with you, just spending 5-10 minutes each day sitting quietly, eyes closed and paying attention to your breathing is a wonderful way to begin meditating. Simply feel the breath coming in and going out of the body, that’s it. You can do this anywhere, at anytime but it is helpful when you begin to find a quiet place without distractions. For most people first thing in the morning or in the evening before bed are ideal times to practice. Yes the mind will wander, yes you may experience boredom, this is normal, all you need to do is remind yourself of why you are doing this and keep coming back to the breath.
If you can practice like this each day for 30 days you will definitely begin to
understand the magic of meditation.
For me, meditation is an essential in my self-care tool kit, I wholeheartedly encourage you to make it one in yours too.
What is your experience with meditation? What are your questions? Please leave your comments in the space below.
I wish you well with your practice, may you experience greater calm, clarity and connection in your life.