Buddha was asked, “What have you gained from meditation?” He replied, “Nothing! However, let me tell you what I have lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, and fear of old age an death.”
I had dabbled with meditation numerous times over the years, however I just couldn’t do it. In fact I would often come out of meditation more stressed and anxious that I had been before beforehand!
The issue was that I couldn’t quieten my mind. I would be angry and irritated with myself for not being able to meditate properly, internally berating myself for being ‘bad’ at meditation. Oh dear!
Thankfully I got past that, and I’m going to share what I’ve learned to enable you build a daily meditation practice.
Meditation has helped me feel more peaceful, happy and loving whilst also strengthening my faith in myself and the universe. The results are transformational!
Here’s the thing that people don’t often understand when they first start meditating. You are not supposed to stop or control your thoughts. It is normal to have thoughts during meditation, the key is not to judge yourself for having thoughts.
For example, a thought will pop into your head about what you are having for dinner. Acknowledge the thought then let it float away. Next minute some other random thought will pop into your head about a conversation you had in work yesterday. Again, no problem! Just acknowledge the thought and let it float away again.
Meditation is not about stopping thinking. Meditation is the act of noticing that your mind has wandered and bringing it back to the present moment. Some days when I meditate I will continually have to bring my mind back and other days my mind is a lot calmer and not as many thoughts rush in.
There is no good or bad meditation, don’t judge it, just keep noticing the thoughts and bringing the mind back.
Learning meditation is like learning any skill, it takes patience and practice. Be gentle and kind with yourself and you will soon notice how beneficial it is to your life. It helps free us from worry and attachment to things we can’t control; stops our emotions from getting the better of us; creates feelings of love, happiness and peace and has umpteen health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, heart rate, stress and anxiety.
If clients don’t already have a daily meditation practice I will suggest incorporating into their daily routine and here’s how you do it:
1) Make It A Habit
Some days you may think you’re too busy or can’t be bothered. Disregard those thoughts and meditate anyway, even just for two minutes.
Creating a habit is key and it is best if you meditate at the same time everyday. The mind doesn’t want to switch off from its constant internal dialogue but meditation will eventually give you a break from that incessant chatter.
2) Start Small
Start with short meditations, even just a few minutes. If you start with small manageable meditations you can gradually build up to longer ones when you feel ready.
Headspace is a great app to use when starting out. It’s free, gives you lots of tips to hold your hand through the basics.
3) You Can Meditate Anywhere
You don’t need to go out and buy meditation pillows or create a specific space.
Personally, I prefer to sit on a chair or propped up on pillows in my bed, others prefer to sit crossed legged on the floor. Meditation can be done anywhere; on the bus, on your lunch break, whilst walking. Find a place that suits you and stick to it.
4) Micro Meditations
I used to work in hospitality which is an extremely high pressured environment.
I would often recommend to the staff to do 30 second micro meditations when they were waiting for a pint to pour, polishing cutlery or carrying out some other tedious task.
You can do the same in your work or when you’re waiting around for something. People often get agitated having to wait, and focusing on the wait makes them even more irritated.
Next time you’re waiting in a queue turn your attention inwards to focus on your breathing by taking nice, big, slow breaths.
5) Find a Meditation Group
When I first started meditating I went to Kadampa Buddhist Meditation Centre.
They don’t have a Kadampa in Medellin so I go to Diamond Way Buddhist centre, Yogananda Selfrealisation Fellowship and Shamanic meditation groups.
The point is that anyone can go to these meditation groups, you don’t have to subscribe to a certain belief system to go. The goal of meditation is to retreat within yourself so there are no external religious beliefs that you need to follow.
All of these places are always delighted to see new faces and will make you feel very welcome.
6) Find the Type of Meditation That Suits You
There are millions of different meditations that you can find on Youtube.
Meditations to reduce anxiety; increase self-love; tapping into your intuition; chakra meditations; meditation bells; mantra meditations; morning meditations; inner child meditations; breath meditations…you get the picture!
I do different guided meditations dependent on how I feel and at other times I just sit quietly myself.
7) Observe Your Feelings
At the beginning of the meditation notice what’s around you.
What can you hear? What can you smell? Is the room hot or cold? Can you feel the clothing against your body? Noticing the external allows you to centre yourself and get focused.
Next, check in with how you’re feeling. Are you tired? Bored? Anxious? Excited? Just acknowledge your feelings, don’t label them as good or bad or try to change them.
The more we fight against things the longer they stick around. By accepting them without judgement we allow them to transform quicker.
8) Focus on the Breath
The more you can focus on breathing nice, slow, big breaths the more relaxed and centred you will become.
Don’t over do it though, it should be relaxed breathing! It helps me to envisage the air I breathe in as cleansing my body and the air I breath out as releasing negativity and tension.
9) Try a Transformative Meditation
If you are too distracted by anxiety, anger or some other negative emotion to be able to sit with those feelings then try a transformative meditation.
For example, if you are sitting worrying about tomorrows job interview allow those thoughts and feelings to come to you. Then transform them into something positive by imagining yourself going into the interview looking great, feeling confident, interviewing really well and getting the job.
After all, worry is just a misuse of the imagination. By meditating on the perceived negative event we can re-frame it into something positive.
10) Be Kind and Patient With Yourself
You are starting a daily meditation practice to improve the quality of your life and should be proud of yourself taking the time to do so.
Training the mind like learning any skill and will take time so don’t lose sight of that. Be kind and patient with yourself, get in a routine and the rest will follow.