Meditation - reality vs myth
Meditation has been practiced for 1000's of years, although it is a seemingly modern phenomenon with many trainers and facilitators and various methods of meditation. The philosophy of meditation is very simple. You are not required to sit in lotus position on a mat for hours. You can meditate in a chair, on a bench in the park or lying down on a mat. If you fall asleep ... no problem this means you need more sleep, not that you have 'failed' at meditation. Myth: you are required to empty your mind and have no thought. As human beings thinking is what sets us apart from many other species. To meditate effectively your aim in the beginning is to reduce your thoughts and be selective about what you are thinking. When you start, you will think about food if you are hungry; your kids need to be picked up from school or sport; the boss is demanding reports within tight deadlines; you forgot to buy toothpaste. Then you might realise, ‘hold on I am thinking too much!’ Now you start thinking about your uncontrolled thoughts and here we feel the process is spiralling out of control. The truth is this scenario is normal. There is no right or wrong to meditation. Many people have a fear of their own thoughts. This occurs especially if your very private thoughts are full of criticism (your own or someone else's voice), reminders of bad past events or you are predicting bad outcomes which creates anxiety about something coming up in the future. Meditation is aimed at bringing your thoughts into the reality of this present moment. As you read this consider where your immediate thoughts are, they are here now. Breathe now. Breathe in, breathe out. Now take a deep breath in and pause. Now exhale fully, be here now ... you have just meditated. So what is the next step. Start with these tips . Create the right atmosphere. a quiet space at home, park bench or in the shade at a sandy beach. Decide how long, for example 5 minutes is achievable. Over time you can build up to 10 minutes, 20 minutes or half hour. What ever you decide is right for you - now. Consider what is your purpose – you might want to practice mindful awareness of gratitude, self acceptance, self compassion or have no reason other than to quieten the constant internal chatter.
Get comfortable, put on some soft music if you wish, and start to focus on your breath. deep breathing into the abdomen instead of shallow breath into the chest. This way you get more oxygen circulating through the body. Deep breathing helps with the relaxation process and your overall well-being. As thoughts arise, recognise and acknowledge the thought then allow yourself to realise the thought is not relevant for this moment, then return your awareness to the breath. Deepen each breath - try inhaling for a count of 4 pause then exhale for a count of 6-8, pause and repeat. if you start to become restless this is ok, you now have an awareness that you are focussing on being still. This is new to you. You are constantly busy and now as you become still your body is starting to adjust. When you have completed this initial 5 minutes congratulate yourself on your achievement. Practice this 5 minutes daily for a week. Soon you can try for 10 minutes. Consider a guided meditation with a facilitator. A meditation coach can readily support you with issues that may arise. There are groups or you may prefer a couple of one to one sessions. Just as you have someone show you how to use the equipment at the gym, or how to learn skiing or any new activity, having someone with experience to step you through the process will help alleviate any concerns or misperceptions, build confidence and keep you on track. I am the author of the personal development book "AWAKEN to your life enhancement factor". In this book I discuss negative emotional states and how to start the journey of self-improvement and positive emotional resilience through meditation and affirmations. Your pathway to successful meditation starts with taking the first step.
In harmony, Julie
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