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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Do-It-Yourself Meditation

Back in 2011 I began teaching meditation classes for those of my clients who kept asking me how to do it.

I think they initially believed it was a mystical practice for the spiritually initiated.  Did I have to roll up my one trouser leg and levitate over the coffee table?  Had I attended a secret club hosted by Yoda and the Dalai Lama?  The answer, of course, was no…I just sat still for a couple of minutes and listened to my breathing.  No secret club.  No initiation.

I knew then that I wanted to show people how easy it was to meditate.

In 2013, I published a simple pocket guide.  Meditation: A beginner’s guide.

Here is an excerpt:

If you don’t know a chakra from a chorizo, prefer a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes over walking barefoot on dew-covered grass, and the only labyrinth you’ve heard of was a 2006 Del Toro film, then you’ve come to the right place.

I teach meditation classes, not to highly spiritual students with hairy armpits and kaftans, but to ladies who are just like you and I, career women, single parents, teachers, nurses, retired grandparents.  Meditation is available to everyone; you don’t need to be spiritual to enjoy the benefits of this practice.

We all experience those moments when we are caught up in a whirlwind of thoughts.  When I teach my classes, I refer to those moments often.  It’s the time when your mind refuses to stop its internal chatter. 

‘Did I put the cat out?’

‘I forgot to email x about y.’

‘What shall we have for dinner?’ – I coined the phrase ‘sausage and mash moments’. 

When you first heard about meditation what was your reaction?  Maybe you thought it was a load of nonsense, or perhaps you thought it was a pastime for hippies wearing floating robes, bamboo sandals and chanting in fields.

Meditation is, in fact, the simple task of being in the now.  Living in the present and trying to be still.

You can meditate in your pyjamas sat on the couch, you can meditate in your business suit on the train, and you can even meditate in your jeans and jumper while sat in the dentist chair.

Meditation is very simple – take ten minutes, and you’ll see for yourself.

I am a down-to-earth person, and so I write and teach in much the same way, there are no complicated methodology and no judgement.  Meditation may seem esoteric but only by giving it a go will you begin to understand how simple it is to integrate this practice into your daily life.

Meditation is such a wonderful gift to give yourself.

 
Let’s take a quick look at just some of the ways in which meditation can help you:

·         It reduces anxiety

·         Aches, pains and muscle tension decreases

·         It slows your heart rate

·         It helps you be more creative

·         Improves your memory and concentration

·         Boosts your self-esteem

Not knowing how to get started is what puts people off trying.  Do I need a special mat/chair?  Should I wear appropriate meditation clothes?  No…just follow the next few steps and bingo…you’re meditating!

It helps if you find somewhere you aren’t going to be disturbed until you get the hang of it.  Switch off your phone, tell the family to leave you alone for ten minutes and then you’re ready.

1.      Find a comfy place to sit (armchair is fine).  Make sure your back is well supported, and you’re warm.  Keep your shoulders relaxed, hands floppy in your lap and your feet flat on the floor.

2.      Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose – try and imagine the breath travelling up your nose, down your throat and dropping to your diaphragm – that’s the muscle between your chest and stomach.  If it helps, imagine a yo-yo on a string, uncurling as it travels through you and then bouncing back up once it reaches your diaphragm.  Breathe out slowly then repeat.

3.      Keep using this method and begin to maintain a calm and steady rhythm of breathing. 

Picturing something like a yo-yo can help retain your focus – remember the sausage and mash moments!  If you do find, your mind is wandering off then don’t worry.  Notice what the thought was and then start concentrating on your breathing again.

If using a visual aid isn’t working you can try counting.  Follow this method:

1.      Close your eyes and take a deep breath in then out.

2.      Maintain a calm rhythm of breathing as above.

3.      On your next inhalation count in your head…one

4.      As you breathe out count…two

5.      Wait for the next breath and count again…one

6.      Exhale…two

7.      Inhale…one

8.      Exhale…two

You will start to notice that your body begins to relax as your breathing slows down.

Try and do this simple breathing exercise every day.  I sometimes do it when I’m in my car waiting at traffic lights (I do keep my eyes open though!).  You could try it when you are washing up, cleaning the car, ironing or eating.  Don’t think that you need to find an extra hour a day to dedicate to meditation.  If you can, then fantastic – go for it!  If however, you are like me, a single mum running a business and writing books, then ten minutes a day while in the shower might be all you can manage – that’s okay too.
 

I would love to hear how you get on with these meditation exercises.  Feel free to leave me your feedback in the comments below or join me on the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/resolutionchallenge

Maybe you have another method that works for you and you’d like to share it with the rest of us.

Happy Meditating! J

4 comments:

  1. I like to bring yoga and meditation into my daily life, without it becoming a Big Thing, which is why you might look through my kitchen window and see me standing on one leg while I wait for the kettle to boil. Yes, you're right: meditation is easy. All you have to do is take a moment and see what happens.

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    1. haha thanks for sharing Julia, you may have a crowd of people standing outside your kitchen window soon! ;-)

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  2. As a christian, I do meditation based on a verse or phrase from the bible. I set and repeat it, thinking about every word and letting my mind dwell on what it means. Very restful and inspiring.

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    1. What a lovely idea Carol. I think that finding the best way to work with meditation for yourself is hugely important and rewarding. It's a personal journey after all. Thanks for sharing x

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