Do you crave emotional stability? Need more focus and better concentration? How about lower blood pressure and less stress? Meditation is not easy, but like all things worthwhile, after applying an ounce of dedication and a teaspoon of discipline you will easily master this valuable skill and enjoy its many rewards. Here’s how to ease your way into meditative bliss.
Take any moment to practise being still
If you think meditation is not for you because your mind is always busy and you find it hard to be still, don’t worry, this is normal. Known as ‘monkey mind’, this is exactly what meditation helps tame. You don’t need to devote hours to meditation. If your life is very busy, you might find that you can only grab a moment or two waiting on the phone or standing in a queue. Use those few seconds to turn your mind to meditation (like the breathing exercise below). If you can obtain even one moment of stillness, you have just meditated. The trick is to repeat this again and again. Next time you might reach two moments of stillness. Don’t beat yourself up if you find your mind wanders. Smile inwardly and get back to work.
Put your commute to good use
Your morning or afternoon commute is the perfect time to meditate. Slip on some earphones, close your eyes and shut out the world. Sit with your back straight, imagine a golden thread pulling at the top of your head, chin slightly in. Listen to a meditation app or follow the breathing meditation below. You know you are in the zone when your hands and feet feel warmer, you have more saliva and you feel a sense of calm. These are signs that your parasympathetic (or relaxing) nervous system is switched on.
Breathe in, breathe out
Following your breath is perhaps the most simple and accessible meditation, and luckily you always carry your nose with you. With your mouth closed, breathe in through your nose, for a count of 3,4 or 5 (whatever feels most comfortable). Hold the breath for a moment, then let the breath release, again through your nose, breathing out for a count of 4,5 or 6 (again whatever feels comfortable) at the end of the ‘out’ breath pause naturally allowing the next in breath to fill your lungs. Repeat.
Using these simple techniques to incorporate meditation into your day will help you turn it from a one-off occasion to a daily habit. Do this, and it will not only improve your mental health but also your general wellbeing.
This article first appeared on ‘Body and Soul’ in August 2015.