It’s been said that if you could bottle up meditation and put it into a pill, it’d be the biggest and fastest selling drug of all time. Imagine if you could take a small capsule that would:
- Help with your sleep quality and quantity
- Boost your mood and make you feel more optimistic
- Reduce feelings of stress
- Help you make healthier decisions
- Increase productivity and focus
- Decrease the associated feelings and attributes of aging
- Improve your immune system function
- Reduce your chance of getting sick
And many, many other things.
The issue is that people say “I can’t meditate! I’m too impatient.” Yet, if someone were to say to you “I can’t exercise! I’m too unfit,” then you’d tell them to stop being so stupid. You don’t meditate because you are patient, happy and stress-free, you meditate to become all those things.
Meditation is extremely simple, but it can be hard to start if you’ve never done anything like it before. We’re so used to filling up our time with as much thoughts and events possible, only ever stopping to eat or go to the toilet. Even then we’re scrolling through our phones or watching TV. All of the thoughts we collect over the day are pushed to the back were they niggle and nudge us, increasing our stress and causing a state of anxiety. Without addressing these problems and taking some time to slow down, they slowly build up and up.
Imagine your head as a new home with boxes you need to unpack and sort through. One box is fine, two boxes is OK, three boxes is a manageable, but then what about four, ten, fifteen different boxes, all of them of different sizes and shapes with various items inside. Soon your house is cluttered with random boxes that all need to be sifted through, taking what you need and what you don’t. Everywhere you go there’s a new box staring at you in the face. This is exactly what can happen when we don’t take some time to really understand what’s going on inside our heads. Everywhere we go, everything we do, we’re always thinking of a different collection of thoughts or events – some in the future and some in the past. We never fully live in the present, always thinking about what happened last week, month or year, or what’s coming up. We’re never in the right here, right now.
That’s the thing with emotions. Happiness can be created in the past, present and future such as when we reminisce on a certain occasion, enjoy time with our friends and family or look forward to an upcoming party. Yet, anxiety and worry are always things of the past and future. We worry about what we’re going to do or the consequences of our actions. We worry about events from the past that might come back to haunt us. If you’re fully concentrated on what’s happening in this exact moment, then these thoughts don’t matter. Remember, the past has already happened, the future doesn’t exist. You can’t change the past, and the future isn’t set in stone. Everything depends on your perception of the current moment.
The basic idea of meditation is extremely simple. You find a quiet place, sit down, close your eyes and shut out the world. Every time a thought enters your head, you let it flow through in and out without acknowledgement or aggression.
That’s it! That’s the end of the article. Good luck and have a great day!
Just kidding. If it really were that simple, then we’d all live happy, peaceful lives free of stress and full of joy. In reality, it’s not that simple to just shut out all thoughts and not let them concern you, especially if this is your first time meditating.
The first tip is to concentrate on your breathing. If you’ve ever seen of inception, then you can think of your breathing as totem. Totems are used to let the individual know they’re in the real world opposed to one of the many dream worlds. Your breathing will help bring your mind back into the current moment (the real world) and stop worrying about the past or future. Concentrated deep has also been shown to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in and of itself. So, if you’re out and about and feeling a little panicked, just taking a minute or so to breathe deeply can make a big difference. When meditating, start by taking some deep breaths to really focus in on your breathing before going back to your regular pattern.
The second tip is to purchase a pair of earplugs. As you grow more acquainted with meditation, you’ll be able to block out the noise or at least not let it distract you. Yet, at the start it’s going to provide some unnecessary stress and annoyance. We can’t all be blessed with the perfect environment to meditate, so we have to adapt ourselves to fit. Earplugs will help block out all any sound and keep you focused. You might also want to invest in an eye mask, too, so that you can block out any light.
Thirdly, make sure that you have something comfortable to rest upon. At the start, it doesn’t matter too much whether you sit or lay down. Sitting with a straight back can improve alertness whilst laying down can help you get ready for bed. However, when you’re first starting out the main focus should be on being relaxed, so choose whatever posture suits you. You can invest in a meditation cushion, but any cushion placed just under your pelvis should work. Alternatively, you can lie on your bed or sit on a comfy seat. Don’t worry about where you put your hands or how to cross your legs, just do what feels best for you.
You might also want to download a meditation timer. There are plenty free ones available for your phone which all do the same thing, so just pick the one you like the most. A meditation timer will stop you from running over or, more specifically, stop you worrying about running over. Many people believe they don’t have the time for meditation, so a meditation timer helps to ease your mind and prevent it from affecting other areas of your life. You could even set an alarm on your phone, just make sure it’s a gentle one and not the loud klaxons you usually use to wake you up.
When any thoughts enter your mind, try not to greet them with frustration. It’s easy to think that just because you’re meditating you shouldn’t be thinking and therefore, spend your whole time trying to push them out. However, this only makes you more stressed and detracts from the whole point of meditating. Instead, work on letting the thoughts flow through you. Let them enter and leave in a relaxed state. Imagine that your brain is a river and each thought is a leaf making its way through the stream. Easy, content and at peace.
It’s also important to make a routine. As with almost anything in life, meditation is a skill. You don’t just wake up one day free of all worry – it takes time, dedication, practice and patience. Luckily, these are all things you learn as you meditate. The more you practice, the easier it gets, and the more rewards you get. You just need to stick with it through the tough times. Establish a time each day where you can definitely meditate. Be it first thing in the morning, right before bed or just before your lunch-time coffee, find a time that suits you and stick to it.
Lastly, don’t enter your meditation with any pre-conceived expectations. If you expect each session to give you something in particular, the chances are you’ll just get frustrated if it doesn’t come. Allow meditation to change you, don’t force it.