Meet my mate, Meditation.
We met a good while ago. Can’t say we’re the best of friends just yet, but we try to get together whenever we can. I hold my hand up and say I’m always the one to bow out first. Too tired…alarm didn’t go off…washing my hair… any old excuse.
I’m about to embark on a 5 week trip to Bali to do my 300 hours yoga teacher training. It will be an intensive time, with meditation featuring heavily on the schedule. I remember my level one training well…rolling out my mat at 6am for 1.5 hours of pranayama (breath work) and meditation. I always seemed to suffer from the ‘nodding head’ syndrome…minutes into the practice, I would discover with disgust that my head had almost dropped into my lap, and I was unable to account for my mental whereabouts over the last few minutes!
Oh, and did I mention the last week of this 5 week trip is silent? Yep, that’s no talking, NOT A PEEP for a whole WEEK. If you know me, you will know that THAT will be the biggest challenge! Now, I could do the no talking thing whilst topping up my tan in a hammock tied between two swaying palms, but somehow I get the feeling that is not going to be the case. So, in preparation I have diligently been rolling out my mat, and in addition to my regular physical yoga practice, I have been reacquainting myself with my old mate Meditation.
So when does sitting down doing nothing actually become productive? After all, resting on my behind isn’t going to exactly burn that muffin I scoffed at Starbucks the other day, nor is it going to give me legs like Gisele Bundchen. But what I have realized is that a regular practice of meditation can actually give you a sense of having more time. Even as little as 10 minutes sitting makes me feel like my day can unfold with a little less chaos.
There are so many different types of meditation – transcendental, third eye, mantra based, visualization…to name but a few. I even read an article a while back about some sort of cosmic mediation that involves lying on your back and connecting with a parallel universe, aliens and anything else that might lurk beyond our turf. (There is a group that meets in Mirdif, Dubai – just drop me a message if you want their details.)
I am often asked ‘how do you meditate?’ Personally I like to just focus on my old friend, the breath. I start by settling into position – propping myself up with as many cushions as I need to feel comfortable. If your hips are tight or you have knee issues, it is perfectly acceptable to sit on a chair, and if you are on a mat, make sure that your knees are lower than your hips to help take the pressure of your lower body and avoid slumping.
Then, trust me on this one. You do not have to clear your mind out completely. The mind will do what a mind does…THINK. When you start a meditation practice you will probably notice it goes into overdrive. This is natural! When a thought arrives, instead of getting caught up in the mind’s stories, just gently acknowledge that you are thinking, and bring the mind back to the breath.
Some days your thoughts will come like rapid fire, and then there will be those sweet days where your breath creates space between them. Then what happens? When does the flash of lightening come? The epiphany? The truth is, it could take us a lifetime to experience the ‘ultimate reality’ or in yoga talk – ‘moksha’ (freedom) through meditation. But stick at it and while you may not reach that higher plane, you might just find you feel a touch more relaxed and positive in the process. In today’s hectic world, we rarely give ourselves permission to just sit. Just breathe. So why not enjoy doing just that? Even if it is only for 5 minutes, it can help you set the tone for your day.
Meditation…the breakfast of champions? I am certainly coming round to that way of thinking.