Welcome to Friday! AT LAST! Jo and I have been busy this week, again, but, with any luck, we’re going to slide calmly and peacefully into the weekend. When does life get less demanding? The answer is, probably never, so we’ve had to learn to cope with the stresses that our lives bring. This week there has been one subject that seems to have come up time and time again in conversation, ‘meditation’. We want to know the benefits and how it can make a difference to us, as well as how to actually do it. There’s a section in ‘Web to Success’ that covers meditation at a very high level but we thought it would be a great idea to cover a bit more detail this week in a blog.
If you want a laugh here’s me trying to meditate...
There’s loads of inspirational quotes to be found on meditation but here are a few of our favourites just to get you in the mood:
To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded. – Gautama Buddha
The more regularly and the more deeply you meditate the sooner you will find yourself acting always from a center of inner peace.
I meditate so that my mind cannot complicate my life.
Happiness is not determined by what’s happening around you but rather by what’s happening within you.
Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.
The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.
Meditation is not just for relaxation. Its primary purpose is to develop the capacity to respond skilfully and gracefully to lifes difficulties as well as its joys. – Shiyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche
Inspired by those quotes we should be in the mood to look at the benefits of meditation and how to do it. The benefits are going to quite personal to us. Only we know why we want to meditate, but there are some benefits that are applicable regardless of our personal motives. Jo uses meditation as a way to calm her thoughts. Being very busy means her brain is constantly multitasking which can be unproductive causing her to lose focus. Five minutes quick meditation controls all those thoughts allowing her to regain some focus and concentrate on the highest priority. She also uses meditation to restore calm, peace and balance when her emotions are running high, in particular if she’s angry. Jo believes in little and often when it comes to meditation, preferring to meditate for five to ten minutes whenever she feels she needs to rather than a longer daily session. This fits with her busy lifestyle far better. It’s important to find what works for you.
The Benefits of meditation
Reduces pain and strengthens the immune system.
Reduces feelings of depression, anxiety, anger and confusion.
Increased blood flow and a slower heart rate.
Helps control thoughts.
Provides a sense of calm, peace and balance
How to start meditating
So we’ve looked at the benefits. Still want to meditate? OK. Here’s how...
What should we do first? Where do we start?
Breathing – don’t try to calm your mind completely. Instead focus on the sensations of breathing, concentrate on each breath. When (not if) your mind starts wandering, recognise that you’re thinking, not focussing, and return to concentrating on just breathing.
Arms and hands – Relax your shoulders and arms. Let your hands rest on your thighs or in your lap.
Legs and feet – If you’re in a chair put your feet flat on the floor and sit with your back straight. If you’re cross legged ensure your knees are below your hips, sit on cushion if required.
Emotions – try to regulate your feelings, keep positive and stable.
Eyes – Your eyes can be open or shut whatever makes you feel more focussed and anchored.
Time – Meditation is not about length but frequency. You don’t get strong by lifting one heavy weight just once. Try to meditate regularly, 5-10 minutes a day at first.
Do you still want more information? The following is a summary of some of the messages that can be found on the How to Meditate Web site. The link to it is at the end.
How to Meditate
Feeling stressed is the norm with life today. We’re often overworked and rushing from one task to the next. It can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to do everything. This can make us unhappy, impatient and frustrated. In fact it can even make us ill. We probably feel like there’s no time to meditate. But meditation can actually give us time back. It can make our minds more focused and therefore able to achieve tasks more efficiently and more effectively. A simple ten or fifteen minute meditation can help us to overcome our stress and find some inner peace and balance.
Meditation can also help us to understand our own mind. You may think you know your mind but after learning to meditate you’ll realize how much clearer you’re thinking and how much better you know yourself. We can learn how to transform our mind from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful, from unhappy to happy.
Generally, the purpose of breathing meditation is to calm the mind and develop inner peace.
A Simple Breathing Meditation
The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid. This can be accomplished by practising a simple breathing meditation. We choose a quiet place to meditate and sit in a comfortable position. We can sit in the traditional cross-legged posture or in any other position that is comfortable. If we wish, we can sit in a chair. The most important thing is to keep our back straight to prevent our mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy.
We sit with our eyes partially closed and turn our attention to our breathing. We breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control our breath, and we try to become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. This sensation is our object of meditation. We should try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else.
At first, our mind will be very busy, and we might even feel that the meditation is making our mind busier; but in reality we are just becoming more aware of how busy our mind actually is. There will be a great temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, but we should resist this and remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath. If we discover that our mind has wandered and is following our thoughts, we should immediately return it to the breath. We should repeat this as many times as necessary until the mind settles on the breath.
Why Learn to Meditate
The purpose of meditation is to make our mind calm and peaceful. If our mind is peaceful, we will be free from worries and mental discomfort, and so we will experience true happiness; but if our mind is not peaceful, we will find it very difficult to be happy, even if we are living in the very best conditions. If we train in meditation, our mind will gradually become more and more peaceful. Eventually, we will be able to stay happy all the time, even in the most difficult circumstances.
Usually we find it difficult to control our mind. If things go well, our mind is happy, but if they go badly, it immediately becomes unhappy. Such fluctuations of mood arise because we are too closely involved in the external situation. By training in meditation, we create an inner space and clarity that enables us to control our mind regardless of the external circumstances. Gradually we develop a balanced mind that is happy all the time, rather than an unbalanced mind that oscillates between the extremes of excitement and despondency.
Want to know more?
On the site there’s a free eBook download called How to Transform Your Life. I’ve personally read it and can wholeheartedly recommend it. If you have trouble accessing let me know on the contact me page and I’ll get a copy to you.
In this blog we’ve tried to give you a bit of motivation to embrace meditation in order to help cope with the stresses of a busy life. It’s easy to start meditating and don’t worry about getting it 100% right according to all the books out there. It’s far more important to find a way that works for you and gives you the benefits you’re seeking, otherwise what’s the point! Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not doing it exactly how ‘experts’ tell you you should! Keep trying different ways to sit, focus or breathe until you find one that works!
Why not start this weekend and see what you can achieve before we post the follow up blog on Monday.
As usual if you have any questions please either comment below or use the contact us form and we’ll get back to you. Have a great weekend.