Before I actually started a LASTING regular meditation practice, I had “tried” many times and given up. You might remember from one of my other blogs how I feel about the word try, and that was what I was doing all the time, trying, although I was not really aware of this at that time. Once I stopped “trying” I was able to appreciate the true value of a regular meditation practice.
Before that it often seemed such a struggle; I did not have the patience, made excuses like not finding the time, or allowed myself to be (too easily) distracted by other things. Achieving something or some state became my focus. I would meditate for a couple of weeks or even a few months and then fall out of the habit because something changed in my routine. OR, I would fall asleep!! Then I gave up. I just did not see it as part of my daily routine but that does not mean I felt good about this. My lack of discipline was stronger than my wish to continue.
And then it happened!
I went through a spell of life changing events and this was what brought me to take up meditation and make it a regular, central and uncompromising part of my daily routine. It came about in quite an unspectacular way – I just sat down and meditated! Only 15 minutes to start with, but ever since that day my “medi time” is something I would not want to miss for anything. That was 15 years after my first experience with meditating!
One thing that really helped me to keep to a regular routine was Insight Timer. Someone recommended it, I tried it out and have not regretted it; in fact I have recommended it to many others who also find it very useful and helpful.
Change of Perspective
During those months of going through changes I found much relief from the guided meditations, especially the ones for peaceful sleep as I suffered from insomnia for about six months. I will not say that the insomnia stopped completely, but my practice did help me to gain another perspective on the changes going on in my life. I was able to change my way of looking at situations, people, and myself.
Peace of mind, forgiveness, and a deeper sense of gratitude and acceptance were only some of the changes which came about from my daily meditation practice.
But maybe some of you may be asking what I am talking about if you don’t know what meditation is.
So WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Although Meditation is very openly and widely talked about and practiced, it is not always clear for someone with no experience to understand exactly what it is. Meditation is not just about sitting crossed legged and chanting OM, as some of my friends like to tease me about. This is in fact quite a stereotyped perception, which far from acknowledges the value of this practice, carried daily out by millions all over the world.
Many of you may know this quote. This is one of the ways I would describe meditation. For me it is stilling the mind so you can hear the voice within. When I say “stilling” the mind, by that I mean being able to be aware that thoughts are coming but being able to let them go, not being attached to them or hanging on to them. Instead, you are just aware of “being” and your breathe.
No DOING, Just BEING
There is an incredible sense of peace which washed over me during and after meditation; peace and a sense of being connected and having an open heart. Meditation puts me in a state of acceptance – whatever IS, is! This is of course not the same for everyone and that is one of the beautiful thing about meditating – there are no set of rules about what has to happen. You don’t have to DO anything, think anything, attempt to change anything; everything IS ok exactly as it is. Meditation is about BEING. ANy attempts to really describe what it is does is an injustice to what it actually is. So now you know the WHAT, the next question could probably be WHY do it?
There are many reasons for taking up and continuing a regular practice. Each person will have their own individual motivation for doing so. But undoubtedly there are many good reasons for meditating. Much research has been carried out and is available to substantiate the effectiveness of this practice.
- Meditation has been proven to help alleviate sleep disorders, headaches, mild cases of depression as well as chronic pain.
- There is also evidence that meditation can be helpful in managing high blood pressure
- Although we might typically think of meditation as something people do alone, this does not have to be so. There are mediation groups en masse, which makes it a very social.
- There is another aspect of being social which meditation encourages – it makes people more social.
- The ability of being more focused is attributed to meditation, and it helps to improve memory.
- People who meditate have a generally more positive outlook on life. This helps them be better able to cope with adverse situations which come up.
- Meditation increases empathy and compassion.
- Anxiety, stress and depression are all significantly reduced as a result of a daily meditation practice.
- the risk of heart disease is also reduced by meditation
- Interestingly changes to the brain have also been documented and attributed to a mediation practice.
So happy I got you interested! Thanks for staying with me this far. Now you want to know HOW, right?
How do youmeditate?
That is really easy. There is really not that much to DO. Start by sitting comfortably, taking a few deep breathes, and then focusing on your breath. Focus on your breath as it enters your nostrils and as it leaves your nostrils. Certainly thoughts will come and grab your attention. Once you realise this is happening, gently let go of the thought and continue focusing on your breath. You might like to start off by meditating for just a short time each day. As time goes on you can increase the length of your practice time. A couple of things which I would make sure of:
- that you will not be disturbed; turn off the phone, tell other members of your household that you do not want to be disturbed
- wear comfortable clothes and adopt a comfortable sitting posture; you do not have to sit in the lotus position if you feel it is too uncomfortable
Are you ready for meditation?
If you are interested in learning to meditate there are various ways in which you can do so.
- You can just start at home using the information you have read above.
- You could buy a book or dvd or cd. Here is a selection of literature which you might find helpful.
- You could join a group, for example a transcendental meditation group.
- There are of course many videos on youtube on the various methods of meditation.
Choose the method which is right for you and stay open for trying out different methods as you progress and possibly outgrow a certain method. At the beginning you might want some support to keep you on track and focused but if you continue you will actually not need to pay money on your meditation practice. That is also another very positive thing about meditation.
I wish you wonderful discoveries as you start and deepen your meditation practice. Please feel free to leave your comments and thoughts. Thank you.