What is meditation?
Meditation is an approach to training the mind to quieten, to release the internal chatter. Similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body.
When you connect to your breath, to your body, you cultivate awareness in the present moment, the only moment that exists. By anchoring awareness on the body (senses) or breath we stay embodied and present without the thoughts of the future or past sneaking in.
Mindfulness meditation encourages you to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each thought as it arises.
Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in patterns. With practice, an inner balance develops. You become more aware of how quickly the mind will judge an experience as good or bad. With practice, when that happens, you come back to your breath and the body will settle the flight or fight response within.
Five reasons why you need meditation in your life
1. Health Benefits – Physically, meditation has proved to lower high blood pressure, improve the immune system, increase energy, and decrease any tension related pain i.e. tension headaches and muscle and joint pain.
2. Emotional Benefits – Meditation cleanses and nourishes you from within. It increases serotonin production that improves mood and behaviour, therefore emotional stability improves, happiness and creativity increases, problems become smaller, tension, anger and frustration release.
3. Reduces Overwhelm and Anxiety – With meditation you gain clarity and peace of mind. You connect to your breath, which in turn activates the para-sympathetic nervous system and releases the flight or fight response in the body, giving you a powerful (free) tool to manage anxiety and overwhelm.
4. Improves Sleep – The mindful thought awareness you learn with meditation allows you to release the past worries and tomorrow's stress by bringing you back to the present moment, the awareness of the breath and the body, which again calms the mind and allows you to drift into deep sleep.
5. Awareness of YOU – This is my favourite benefit of meditation. It truly brings about personal transformation, you’ll naturally start becoming more aware of YOU. More aware of what drains your energy and what feeds your soul. Overtime you’ll gain a deeper love and respect for yourself, and the people around you and life, well, just seems easier and more joyful and more abundant!
So how do we meditate and quieten the mind?
Find a comfortable seated position, usually with a cushion under the hips to allow the spine to lengthen, creating an open energy channel from your tailbone to the crown of your head.
Allow the hands to be relaxed in front of you (normally on the thighs), palms facing upwards. Soften the eyes and allow your awareness to scan through the body. Can you relax the forehead, soften the eyes further, soften the shoulders, relax the jaw?
Then connect with your breath. Allow the breath to calmly deepen and lengthen, bringing in the box breathing technique (see Breathing Techniques blog here). Then let the breath relax and allow the body to be in stillness and silence for two minutes.
During this time just notice, without judgement, any thoughts that pass through your mind. Let them pass and connect back with the breath. At the conclusion of your ‘sit’ bring your palms to heart centre, spend a moment in gratitude, release and have a freaking awesome day!
If my mind doesn’t quieten…… am I doing it wrong?
Heck no! Meditation is truly a practice. Some days the mind quietens, other days it decides to have a party of thoughts. The important thing is you keep practicing.
You also don’t need to sit to meditate. Your practice can happen anywhere, anytime, just come back to the body and breath awareness and allow the mind to calm. There are schools of thought on meditation that we need a sacred space, that we need an alter to be spiritual, to be connected. I believe this is something that develops overtime, that we honour once we come home to ourselves and feel the benefits of the practice.
Don’t allow the word ‘meditation’ to overwhelm you. Embrace what is already instinctively yours – the power is within YOU to create the life you deserve.
We often say we don’t have time to meditate. But we do have time to check our phones or to watch TV. So maybe next time you reach for your phone, just take 2-5 minutes to connect to you. You are worth it!
Essential Oils and meditation
If you’re new to mediation or looking for ways to enhance your practice, essential oils can help to ground your energy and quieten the mind bringing more harmony to your meditation practice. As you settle into your seated position, apply the MEDITATE essential oil blend to the palms of your hands. Bring your palms together, warm the oil through and then cup your palms over your nose and allow the scent of the essential oils to radiate through every cell of your being, fostering inner stillness and a connection to the body.