Picture the busiest place you have ever been; hoards of people, numerous sounds and smells. You are one small part of a large crowd.
How do you feel in the space? Where does your focus go?
Now imagine that this is a representation of your mind.
Thoughts, feelings, experiences, everything that makes you, you.
Now, come back to the first picture, you are physically stood in the same busy space now able to let the world move around you, choosing what to react to and at any given moment able to internalise your focus to find calm.
‘When we open up our minds to new ideas we place ourself in a space to learn and grow.’
In this weeks blog post I would love to share my experience of meditation with you. With the understanding that we are all different and if this is something that you would like to explore I would encourage you to try the 14 days to discover what works for you. Give yourself the time and space to be open to the experience and, as always, be kind.
Meditation isn’t one size fits all.
What is meditation?
‘the practice of focusing your mind in silence, especially for religious reasons or in order to make your mind calm’
‘the activity of thinking deeply about something, especially so that you do not notice the people or things around you’
Reflecting on the dictionary description of meditation, I am mindful that from my perspective meditation isn’t easily defined. Simply as its open to interpretation.
For example before I undertook this daily meditation challenge I saw walking as my form of meditation, the repetition of my footsteps allowed me to switch off and created a space in which to think.
So before I continue I would like to attempt to offer you my definition of meditation:
(Maybe you are open to sharing yours with me)
The practice of creating a space solely for you. Allowing yourself to be open to your thoughts without expectation or structure.
Focusing your breathing to place yourself in the moment. Relinquishing control over your feelings to develop a greater understanding and relationship with yourself.
Previous to the last two weeks my preconceptions of meditation were along the lines of ‘what will I think about when my eyes are closed for so long?.’
After giving it some thought (funnily enough on a few walks) it occurred to me, What if I approached meditation in a similar way to stepping on my yoga mat: without expectation.
Daily, I step on my yoga mat to move my body. More often than not when I start I have no idea where I am going, I have found this, for me, to be the most effective and enjoyable way to move my body. Mindfully removing the expectation of how I ‘think’ my body should move in favour of moving my body based on feel.
Transferring this approach to meditation soon dispelled any worry of what I would think about when my eyes were closed and instead opened me up to a space which encouraged me to slow down, breathe, and be me.
In a similar way that people of faith associate having a building that they frequent to worship, I am aware that often people have dedicated meditation spaces. This enables a direct connection to be established between meditation and a particular space. Perhaps creating a sense of the familiar and evoking safety.
As someone at the beginning of their meditation journey, before I began I made a conscious decision that I would like to meditate in different places. Keen to explore how my meditation would differ based on location (which it did).
I am now mindful that on reflection I see that my meditation comes with me. In that, wherever I am, I can meditate. If all I need to meditate is me, I am the space.
This enables me to go anywhere and everywhere.
This, for me, is a very exciting thought as it prompts me to think about the application of meditation in my day-to-day life..
With practice could I now stand in a busy place and create that same calm space in my mind; letting the world pass me by from the security of my ‘little bubble’?
Naturally, those who know me well will confirm this, I am not one for sitting still for long.
As a fitness instructor its the lifestyle I have become accustomed to. Previous to the current pandemic my pace of life was anything but slow.
When undertaking any new ’task’ it’s important to make sure that you set achievable goals, to prevent failure and in turn demotivation. With this in mind, to begin with I started to use a timer to manage the duration for my introduction to meditation.
Keeping the set up simple, I set the timer, found myself a comfortable position; which has included seated, standing and laying down, closed my eyes and began to breathe.
How do you meditate?
Based on my understanding that there is no right or wrong when it comes to meditation I can not tell you precisely how to do it. We will each have our own methods and reasons for meditation. I can, however, suggest a few simple steps I follow to set myself up in a good space to start:
- Find a comfortable position, one in which you can relax
- Close you eyes, softly
- Breathe, let be natural, bring your attention solely to your breath
- Scan your focus through your body, notice it, are you fully relaxed
- Listen, what can you hear, close and further away
- Notice, how your body feels, how your mind feels
Most importantly, remove expectation.
Find what works for you, let your mind wander if it needs to.
Sit, stand, lay, make any movements your body requires.
Take time, don’t rush. If this means setting a timer so you feel reassured you won’t be gone for hours do just that.
For me the ‘when’ is simple. I meditate daily choosing a time that suits me, often this is unplanned and thats ok as I have made the commitment to myself that it will always happen.
I meditate daily, choosing to practice it on days when I am calm, mindful that on days where I am not, and meditation will be more important than ever, it’s already an established part of my routine.
Chose when during your day, and indeed during your life, meditation will be the most beneficial to you. If you find setting a time for this works eg. early morning to start off your day, great, its for you so you make the rules!
Honestly, and in the interest of full disclosure, I chose to undertake the 14 days meditation because I can’t resist a challenge. I committed to it out of curiosity. Was this something that would benefit me in any way?
If there was even a small chance the answer to that was yes, surely, it was worth a try.
What’s my why now?
It is allowing me to practice care over managing my headspace. It is training me to look after my mind in the same way I care for my body. Helping me to slow down, order my thoughts and feelings and in the process gain a deeper understanding for myself.
Enabling me to protect my headspace with all of the care that it deserves.
That is all the ‘why’ I need.
Going forwards, I will be sticking with meditation. Committing to it daily, perhaps giving myself a few extra challenges to open up my journey.
If this post has prompted your curiosity, I have recorded my own guided meditation (see below) to offer a good place for you to start.
Coming to the end of this piece my question now … What happens when I turn the timer off?