Self Care, Spirituality

What is meditation?

Meditation is an important part of my life. From simply stoping to breathe for a few moments before getting out of the car, to making a dedicated space in my life for my practice, it has now become part of my daily life.

I’m not an expert, and sometimes I really struggle to quieten my overactive creative mind. I am on a journey. Learning to live in the present moment, and learning how meditation can bring calmness and space into my life.

I meet many people who are currently struggling with the demands of 21st Century living, and will mention the benefits of using meditation, yet I know for many this will seem like a hippy notion, or huge undertaking, only achieved by sandaled monks up a mountain in Tibet. I have the sandals, but sadly haven’t been to Tibet…

What exactly is meditation?

Meditation is a practice that enables the mind to enter a different state of consciousness, while awake. Through stillness, without judgment, you go beyond the chatter of the mind and can enter a state of complete peace.

There are many forms of meditation, from the secular version of ‘mindfulness’ developed for the health services across the world, to buddhist meditation.

In traditional meditation you choose a point of focus, which could be your breath, or a mantra – chosen words or sounds repeated in your mind.

With repeated practice the chattering mind becomes more still, until you suddenly notice that you’ve actually had a moment of complete stillness – not thinking. It’s awesome when that happens! But equally it can feel hard sometimes, and you just keep hearing your own voice wandering off on some internal dialogue talking crap as usual…

I can’t switch off my mind

This is where guided meditation can really help. For me I started using guided relaxation scripts as a midwife in antenatal classes to help induce deep relaxation. Women loved it. Since then, if I have an opportunity to experience it from someone else, it can feel like bliss.

Guided meditation is where the speaker or guide will take you perhaps on a guided talkdown into a relaxed state, or on a beautifully desciptive journey, often accompanied by gentle music or ambient sounds such as waves lapping at the shore.

Some may judge that this isn’t really meditation. Like the only worthy meditation is that of vipassana or transcendental.┬áBut I believe we should start little by little, from where we are, with what we find enjoyable and rewarding. And just having a go, may be the first step towards something deeper.

For some people, just taking time out from their day is an enormous undertaking, and if you feel like you’re sitting there, just listening to your own innane drivel, it can feel like a waste of precious time. With guided meditations, you just pop on the headphones, get comfy and warm, seated or lying down…and listen. A walk through a beautiful green wood, listening to the river trickling by towards a wooden seat. Birdsong and sunshine. I love it.

It;s just so easy and needs no practice or training. My daughter uses them to help reduce her anxiety and allow her to drift off to sleep.

The Honest Guys on YouTube are one of my favourites to listen to. There are absolutely LOADS on there, from a range of creators, from short 5 minute videos to squeeze into the morning before work, to one like this, that you can unwind to before sleep.


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