Having sat for over 140 hours of formal meditation over two separate courses and being a regular at-home meditator, I often get asked, how to, what to, and why?
The initial struggle to get into meditation will usually arise from trying to push yourself into the wrong type of meditation for you.
The good news is it can be done in as little as five or ten minutes a day through a range of activities, from formal Vipassana sittings through to the now popular colouring book sitting.
So much scientific study has shown the benefits of meditation we cannot ignore it.
It needs to become as much a part of our routines for good health and wellbeing as brushing our teeth and getting regular exercise. Meditation isn’t just a cure for a busy mind, it’s a preventative treatment for stress, anxiety and overwhelm.
It makes us calmer, more relaxed, able to think more clearly, have a more positive outlook, become more productive, sleep better and find peace more easily as a result.
I go into this in more detail in my course Meditation & Mindfulness Made Easy.
What is the difference between meditation and mindfulness?
As the Headspace group defines it, ‘meditation is the simple exercise to familiarize oneself with the qualities of mindfulness.’ In other words, mindfulness is being present and meditation is how we get there.
You could say that meditating allows us to be more present in our everyday lives. We become less likely to be stuck in worrying about the future or dwelling over the past, instead living in this very moment most presently, making the most of the only tangible time: that which is in your hands right now.
Why do we want to meditate and become more mindful?
The reduction in worry about these non-present times of our lives reduces stress and anxiety. All we have is the here and now so it makes sense to focus as much of our energy into it as we can. But we are distracted creatures. We have allowed our ‘monkey brain,’ a term used by Buddha to describe our busy minds, to take over our enjoyment of the present moment. An extract from this article notes:
‘Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamouring for attention. Fear is an especially loud monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong.
Buddha showed his students how to meditate in order to tame the drunken monkeys in their minds. It’s useless to fight with the monkeys or to try to banish them from your mind because, as we all know, that which you resist persists. Instead, Buddha said, if you will spend some time each day in quiet meditation — simply calm your mind by focusing on your breathing or a simple mantra — you can, over time, tame the monkeys. They will grow more peaceful if you lovingly bring them into submission with a consistent practice of meditation.’
In addition to inner peace, and reduced stress and anxiety, becoming more mindful through meditation also leads to greater focus and productivity. This article from Deepak Chopra, in which a lot of research has gone into the benefits, notes (with further information for each conclusion) that meditation:
• Decreased blood pressure and hypertension,
• Lowered cholesterol levels,
• Reduced production of “stress hormones,” including cortisol and adrenaline,
• Produced more efficient oxygen use by the body,
• Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA,
• Improved immune function, and
• Decreased anxiety, depression, and insomnia
How can we find a form of meditation what works for us?
The best place to start is where your curiosity is sparked.
Don’t feel you have to jump into a formal seated or affirmation meditation (which I will explain below a little further); you can get great results from the simple methods just as much as the more formal methods.
What is important to remember for your practice, regardless of what practice you choose to begin with, is that you take a few minutes for a timeout for you. This can be as little as five minutes if that is all you can spare, but ten is ideal.
This means no phone, TV, children, radio, etc. Nothing should steal your attention during your practice — your practice is essentially to observe what does try to steal it and let it float on by. So if there is the possibility of a child wandering in and pulling on your shirt, have someone on hand to look after the kids, just for your ten minutes.
Now, back to the curiosity — what has sparked it? You might be secretly a little excited thinking about grabbing yourself one of those adult colouring books you see on the shelves. Or you might feel that your mind will need a focus point and want a guided meditation.
I am someone who delights jumping in the deep end and I packed my bags for a Vipassana ten-day meditation introductory course. Over the ten days we were required to meditate around 11 hours a day whilst observing certain rules like no talking or contact with others and no books or distractions, to ensure focus purely on the practice, aside from sleeping and eating for those ten days. This was the hardest and yet the most rewarding thing I have ever done for myself. I walked out of those ten days in awe of the world again. Quietly observing, peacefully mindful and happily engaged.
Just a few of the other ways to meditate, of which I cover the hows and whys in my course TaLisa’s Meditation & Mindfulness Made Easy, are:
Meditation of the Heart
If you are interested in meditation and are still a bit uncertain, or want more information on different ways to meditate, plus heaps of tips, tools and techniques to get you into your inner peace pool, my course Meditation & Mindfulness Made Easy will help. We will go through various ways to meditate so you can find a practice that works for you, explore many of the great insights and conscious awareness practices, and much more.
Otherwise enjoy having a go and practicing a few of these different techniques and begin feeling the benefits that a regular practice will soon reward you with.
Ten minutes a day.
If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance in your inner journey head here to work with me.