I am so excited to finally be on spiritual well-being, which perhaps for me represents the biggest area of self-care which my body craves.
This week we will be looking at meditation. I’ve mentioned meditation a few times in past edits and posts and have even given you a few quick meditation techniques to try out. But why should meditation be incorporated into your self-care routine?
We all know what’s it’s like. We all work hard and we all place each other’s needs before our own. After all isn’t that why you read my edits, to gain more time for yourself and look after your own well-being??
The good news is meditation is an excellent form of sustainable self-care, and what's more, it's FREE!!
No need to go out and attend classes, or download expensive apps if money is an issue. All you require is you, some time, and a little focus. Though that will also improve overtime as well.
So, what is meditation? Meditation is about achieving inner peace, calm, and balance. There are various forms of meditation, and they all come with an array of different techniques and components. The fundamental goal is to focus the mind and quiet the steady stream of cluttered thoughts, worries, and anxieties.
There are so many benefits to meditation it’s amazing more people aren’t practicing it as part of their self-care routines.
Meditation is not a modern phenomenon; it has been practiced for thousands of years to help deepen people's understanding of life.
However, it is only now becoming favoured amongst other cultures, due to its relaxation and stress-reducing benefits.
By regularly practicing meditation you can positively impact many aspects of your life. Consistent practice can help improve your mental health by providing mental clarity, slowing down a lively mind, and improving focus. It can help increase creativity levels, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression as well as providing emotional balance. It doesn't stop there either, meditation can help increase your memory, more significantly it can improve your ability to problem-solve, whilst also having a positive effect on relationships by increasing your overall mood and outlook on life.
And it doesn't just impact your mental health, meditation can also help with physical health, by reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. When you are reducing these, you, in turn, reduce the physical effects that stress, anxiety, and depression have on your physical body, which helps reduce heart disease, migraines, body aches, stomach issues, dizziness, and tiredness to name but a few!
So, what about finding time? We are experiencing incredibly busy lives. We are consistently on the go and most of the time we barely get to sit and enjoy a hot cup of tea. Therefore, how do we find the time to fit in meditation?
It’s simple! Meditation doesn’t need to be squeezed in. You can practice meditation whilst performing routine everyday activities. Get the train to work? Sit and focus on the sounds, the smells, the world going by. Having a shower? Close your eyes and listen to the water, observe the soap on your skin, watch as it lathers up. These can all be forms of meditation practices when doing routine everyday activities that we perform on autopilot. Just a few minutes a day can really restore your inner peace and calm.
You can always make time for meditation, even on the shortest of time scales.
The most traditional features of mediation are as follows; a receptive mind, because you can't practice anything if you don't think it will work. Focus, whether it be on your breathing, a sound, a smell, or a visual point, you need to learn how to focus your mind. Relaxed breathing; deep and even breaths will allow your body to completely relax whilst promoting focus. Being comfortable with good posture prevents distraction and last but not least a peaceful setting removed from any outside distractions.
It is important to remember that meditation is about what suits you. You don't need to be a master to practice. With various different forms of meditation out there, today I will focus on some standard ways you can introduce mediation into your life.
Afterward, I will list a number of varying types of meditation for you in case you would like to look them up. You can equally use the list to join a class or move on to a specific type of mediation implementing a technique that you prefer using.
Focus On Breathing - A good way to start meditation if you are a beginner is with breathing exercises. We undertake this naturally every day but have you ever stopped and focused your mind on your breathing?
Many people suffering from anxiety and panic disorders may already be familiar with this technique. It is often provided as a way to calm the body and mind, especially during an attack.
All you require to achieve this is to sit or lay down and focus on your breathing. Feel your lungs filling with air, and deflating as the air is released. Once your focus is set, start to breathe in deeply and slowly. Not only will you find your mind quietens, but you will also feel incredibly relaxed afterward!
Walking - I've covered this a number of times, so this one will be no surprise. It is one of my personal favourite forms of meditation.
Don't have a planned route, just step out and allow your body to direct you. Listening to the world around you, look at what's around you, smell what's around you. Enjoy the way your body moves, and the air or the sun on your skin, and just allow your mind to quiet by focusing all your senses on that present moment.
You can even take it one step further. Focus directly on your body movements, repeating silently "lifting" every time you lift your leg and "placing" every time it hits the ground. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you are in the moment, experiencing the task at hand that you would otherwise not pay attention to.
Repeat A Mantra - Whether it be your life's motto, an affirmation, or a future aspiration. Lay down, close your eyes, breathe in slowly and deeply, and silently repeat in your head, the words you want to repeat. You can additionally do this in the shower in the morning. I like to use affirmations such as "I am worthy", "I am strong", "I matter."
Body Scan - Something again many people who have sought help with anxiety, depression, or panic disorders will be familiar with is body scanning.
Nope, we aren't talking about feeling your body for lumps and bumps (Although do check yourself regularly!). We are talking about sitting in a comfortable chair, closing your eyes, tensing each muscle, and holding for 10 seconds, then gradually releasing, starting from your head slowly down to your toes. Note the tension in the muscles and then feel as it starts to relax again, taking your time to experience the sensations before you move onto the next muscle.
Which one will you undertake?
As promised here are a number of varied types of meditation. You might be able to find local or online classes, practising your preferred technique(s).
Guided Meditation - Uses your imagination to visualise places, whilst allowing you to use as many senses as possible to relax your body and mind. You will likely be familiar with this if you suffer from anxiety or depression as these are frequently taught as part of your calming techniques.
Yoga - We will be covering this off in our next edit, but yoga uses breathing and movement to quiet the mind, improve posture and reduce stress by focusing the mind on your poses and breathing.
Mindful Meditation - Is about being in the moment, and focusing your senses on what you are experiencing during meditation. The sounds, smells, even the air filling your lungs, etc.
Mantra Meditation - Technically I have already touched on this, but this is a good one if you enjoyed the repeat mantra exercise.
Tai Chi - A form of calming, slow Chinese martial arts. Tai Chi is very calming and relaxing and requires discipline to perform a slow graceful series of free-flowing movements or poses whilst practicing controlled steady breathing.
These are just a few, so don't be afraid to have a look for more if these don't pique your interest.