Keep calm and meditate
As the pace of life becomes faster and faster, meditation is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity. The compounding demands of work, life & family can send our stress levels through the roof. It feels near impossible to find the time to unwind and relax. Ironically, this is what we should be seeking most.
By creating a calm, clear and connected internal foundation, we can enjoy all the luxuries that life has to offer. This can be achieved through the simple practice of meditation.
So, what exactly is meditation?
Meditation comes in many different flavours. Depending on who you talk to, you’ ll probably get a different answer. There are hundreds of different techniques and traditions available. For some, walking is their meditation while for others focusing on their breath or repeating a mantra works. Each technique has its own process and outcome. For simplicity we can define the practice of meditation as any technique that enables you to relax the body and calm the mind.
But I don’t have time to meditate and I can’t stop my thoughts…
This is generally what prevents people from establishing a healthy meditation practice. There will always be something more urgent to do – it’s about prioritising your mind and creating space for yourself.
The good news is you don’t need to sit for hours on end to meditate nor do you need to sit in any particular position. You could meditate while walking, while driving or on the train. Just pay attention to what you are doing as you are doing it.
We call these ‘mindfulness moments’; you engage with your senses completely in the present, allowing the body to relax naturally.
It might be surprising to know that your thoughts are also a natural and unavoidable part of meditation. Don’t try to resist them, rather accept them with openness, curiosity and compassion.
Mini spot meditations
Here are some mini–meditations that you can try out for yourself. They don’t require any extra effort, simply focus on knowing what you are doing when you are actually doing it:
- Take 7 deep belly breaths when you see a red traffic light, in a meeting or at any moment where you’re required to wait.
- Really taste the coffee as you sip it.
- Smell the food you are about to eat or notice the texture of the meal.
- Feel and pay attention to the hot water on your skin as you take a shower.
- When brushing your teeth, notice the taste of the toothpaste and the feel of the bristles on your teeth.
- Enjoy the varying textures and temperatures of the things you touch.
- Delight in the things you can see; clouds, architecture, flowers, passing faces
- Sense your body moving as you walk
- Focus and bring awareness to any pain or tension in your body
- Repeat the phrase ‘ let go’ in your mind as you descend in an elevator
These spot meditations sprinkled throughout the day help prevent stress levels from reaching unmanageable levels. Longer sitting meditations are useful for taking you to a deeper state of relaxation.
So where to from here?
The best way to learn how to meditate is with a teacher. Like learning to play an instrument, preparation, training and support are essential.
I also suggest trying apps like Insight Timer or Headspace to kick-start your meditation journey. You could listen to these guided meditations as you walk, on your commute to work or at any spare moment.
Meditation isn’t difficult or time consuming. Integrating it into your daily routine can help you become less reactive and resistant to life. You’ ll feel energised, creative with more clarity and focus.
You have the key to creating the life you desire but it starts firstly within. Look inwards, become friends with your mind and the rest will flow.