Meditation has been touted by spiritual seekers for thousands of years as a means of refining one’s mind and attuning oneself to the deeper aspects of our experience. More recently science has established many of the benefits of meditation, which include (but are certainly not limited to): reduced stress levels, less anxiety, improved emotional health, enhanced self awareness, increased compassion and kindness, lengthened attention span, reduced old-age degeneration and memory loss, overcome addictions, improved sleep, reduced pain, decrease in blood pressure…
Meditation means a lot of different things to a lot of different people but essentially they all have one thing in common: sustained awareness on an object of perception. That object might be a physical object, it may be a thought, a word, an idea, a sensation, a bodily process such as breathing… The practice might involve an active process, such as attempting to shift energy in the body; or a passive process, such as simply observing phenomena as they arise. We believe that just as a joiner has a box full of tools, these are all useful techniques which can be used at different times as and when we need them.
By focusing like this we quiet the mind, bringing it slowly back under our control. We are working with the idea that the mind is an incredible tool which we are supposed to use, but that the tool has become the master, running riot and drawing us in every which direction – which leaves us unbalanced.
The key, the crucial element with any meditation is consistency. The practice has to become a habit, and the more you practice, the more frequently and longer you practice for, the more you will notice the benefits in your life.
Most importantly, do not expect to be a master! If your mind wanders (and it will… a lot!) do not get frustrated – treat it like a cheeky monkey and gently & lovingly draw it back to your chosen focus. There is no such thing as good, bad or even perfect meditation – the process is what’s important. There is a reason we call it “practice”.
“There is nothing more important.”
Meditation is one of the hardest things to make a habit of because we are built for immediate reward… we want to do something and straight away receive the benefit. But meditation doesn’t work like that. Sometimes it will feel good, sometimes you will feel frustrated, but rarely will you come out of it feeling radically different. The benefits are subtle, yet profound, and they are seen over the course of weeks and months. Stay engaged, keep with the habit, and when your mind throws up other things that “need” to be done, remember there really is nothing more important you can do with you time.
For a deeper explanation of meditation and some great examples of short meditations visit the Headspace website, where you can download an app which has lots of free meditations.
For some great breathwork exercises which really help to bring you into a meditative state check out pranayama exercises, or go to Wim Hof’s site: