A look into mindful meditations
We've heard all the claims about meditation, how it can reduce high blood pressure, soothe anxiety, bring relief to chronic pain sufferers, cure insomnia and even help you run a marathon. But what is it and where do you begin? We have some tools to help you get started.
Image via Byrdie / Author: Brittany
Let it Be
With so many widely studied and practiced forms of meditation (I’ve once had a friend attend a mediation session guided through songs by David Bowie!), the thought of practicing meditation, while intriguing, left me slightly skeptical and not sure where to begin. I wanted to find a simply, easy way to get started.
Headspace is a website and app co-founded by Andy Puddicombe that provides guided meditations and mindfulness training. Prior to launching Headspace, Andy spent 10 years as a Buddhist monk in the Himalayas where he became interested in meditation practice and had a desire to make it more accessible to the masses.
Every thought we have has the potential to create a feeling of disturbance or agitation in the body and mind. The practice of meditation allows us to observe these thoughts and let them go (or loosen their grip) to achieve more clarity. For example, let’s say you experience a thought that says “I’m no good”. You may end up believing in that thought and spending time and effort turning it into something that is real. Our mind ’s can be very creative and can create storylines to help reinforce these negative thoughts. Now experience the same “I’m no good” thought without putting any weight on it or identifying with it in anyway, knowing it will eventually pass. This is the potential of mindful meditation. It trains your mind to witness a critical thought, observe it for what it is, and then as Sir Paul sings… let it be. With time, the practise of observing your thoughts should become so natural that you will no longer need to think about it. Meditation does not remove negative thinking altogether, but it does provide you with a different perspective and allows you to observe your emotions so you are not swept away by them. Mindfulness is how you take the practise of meditation into everyday life. Being ‘mindful’ means living with a sense of happy contentment and not being swept away with thoughts about the past or future.
Headspace provides you with daily guided 10 minute sessions. It involves finding a quiet space where you can sit comfortably. It is suggested that you practice at the same time each day to establish a routine. I’ve found practising first thing in the morning has really helped to set the tone for my day and calm my morning routine. My morning use to consist of me in a rush, scrambling to get ready and out the door. The only time I found any peace was the 5 minutes I stood in line at a coffee shop! Taking 10 minutes to myself in the morning has allowed me to slow down. I don’t feel as rushed or frantic to get going and I enjoy the day for what it is. Regular consistent practice is key. You may feel some days are better than others but the secret is to stick with it. If your mind wanders during the 10 minutes who cares? …that’s perfectly fine. In fact, awareness that your mind has wandered is an integral aspect of meditation!
I found mindful meditation works best for me. But there are so many different forms and resources available. Headspace is just one of the many great apps out there. The trick is finding what works best for you. Take a peek at this great piece by the Mayo Clinic for a snapshot of the different types of meditation techniques available to you.
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