I have been known by many as the world’s biggest “faffer”, and have been told on numerous occasions to “just stop thinking so much!” I spent much of my late teens and early twenties never quite knowing if what I was doing was “right”, as the constant cerebral chew through would land me in all sorts of thought induced wildernesses.
Over those times, and in the years since, one practice I always returned to was meditation. It has come into my life in many guises; as part of yoga classes, various spiritual practices and through my ever trusty companion – a well written book. However, it wasn’t until I met Positive Psychology that I truly grasped that the remedying of unrewarding habits, moods and behaviours sits in the actual regular DOING of meditation, not the KNOWING about it.
So after an incredibly busy, rewarding and growth filled year last year, I begin this year with the clear goal of practicing what I preach more fully, in order to really make the most of every day, every relationship and every opportunity. Low and behold meditation pops it’s head back up as I bring my focus back to my search for balance, awareness and really juicing life for all it has to offer.
Bizarrely, the DOING has proved rather straight forward! This last month I have spent 10 minutes every morning and evening sitting quietly and focusing on either counting my breath in 10s and/or bringing my awareness to my sense as I sit and have even felt compelled to experiment with the wonderful resonance that is chanting “ohm”.
The affects… well! It’s astounding how they have nothing to do with me thinking a single thing, but really feeling a true sense of connection to the moment I find myself within. As I came out of my house the other morning, after only 2 days of my new practice, I closed the front door and was struck by the clear, quiet, peace of my street. For a few moments it felt as if it travelled through me, and I mirrored its stillness. Not induced by cerebral chin scratching, just a pure, connected moment, before I hopped on my bike (Rhonda the Raleigh… for those who haven’t met her) and pootled off to work.
As well as this beautiful moment, I have been talking more to people that I have come into contact with during my day, which has left me feeling particularly warm inside. I have also found myself noticing small and interesting things about this fair city of Bristol and I am present when with my friends, my family, my work and my partner (who, coincidentally, is currently talking 19 to the dozen to his Mum on the phone right next to me as I work, and it isn’t distracting me half as much as it would have done a fortnight ago!).
As I have taken the focus off of me and my thinking, the analysing, the whys and what ifs, it feels I may have finally found what I have been after for all of these years; joy, engagement, energy, self awareness and inner strength. Or rather the clarity to recognise that I had these in my life all along but that there has just been an opaque frosting of cranial fluttering that blocked me from seeing them.
So, a few tips for if you wish to try, or improve your meditation practice:
- Check out Headspace for a head start on all things meditation: www.getsomeheadspace.com This resource has an easy to use step by step beginner’s guide and lots of interesting podcasts and information.
- Block out time in your day for that 5, 10, 15, 20 minute meditation. Something Lucy D has taught me – ritualising is the key to making this a truly beneficial habit!
- Give yourself a small space in your home to practice – even if this is just a chair, the floor and a candle. Having your ritual space is really important.
- Don’t be hard on yourself when your mind doesn’t just switch off on your first go! The mind thinks… that’s just what it does. But with practice these thoughts seem to quieten down. Andy at Headspace explains this really well in his short animations.
- Keep at it and know that with practice the benefits to well being, focus and self awareness are HUGE!