Meditation 101 - How To Get Your Zen On
If you're even the tiniest bit interested in health and wellness, chances are you've heard about the benefits of meditation everywhere recently. Every health guru, fitness expert and entrepreneur is raving about the huge impact a daily meditation practice can have on your life.
Now I don't know about you, but the first time I tried meditation I decided it was impossible to shut my thoughts down for more than 2 seconds and gave up. FAR TOO STRESSFUL. I have a feeling 99% of people who first attempt it do exactly the same. So if mediation is supposed to help relieve stress, why did I feel more stressed than before I started?!
Don't Give Up
After a short meditative break (around 5 years!) I decided to give it another try. Everyone was talking about it, especially all of my favourite entrepreneurs, and I figured that if highly successful people think it’s a good idea, then IT’S A GOOD IDEA.
So I bought lots of meditation books, downloaded every app I could find and asked my yoga instructor what its all about (because yogis are all over this shizzle).
After months of research, what I’ve learnt is this…
Meditation really does work! We spend our lives worrying about what happened in the past and feeling anxious about the future when the big secret to happiness is to simply live in the moment. Meditation trains your mind and helps you to do just that. With regular practice, it will stop your thoughts from controlling you and in turn helps calm any anxiety you have about the past or future.
"The goal of meditation isn't to control your thoughts, it's to stop letting them control you" - The Age of Enlightenment
Now I’m sure you’re sitting there thinking “But I don’t have time”, “It’s impossible to stop my thoughts”, “I tried it once before and it didn’t do anything”, “meditation is for hippies”…sound familiar? That’s exactly what I thought too…and I love hippies! But trust me when I say that meditation is EASY, everyone can benefit from it and it doesn’t have to take much time (even if you just do it for one little minute).
So if you’re intrigued by the magic, here’s three simple tips to get you started:
1. Get comfy and set the mood (but remember you can meditate ANYWHERE)
The best way to get started is to first get comfortable. Sit in a quiet room, in a comfy position (preferably with your back straight), relax your shoulders and close your eyes. Start to focus on your breath as you breathe in and out and try to be present in the moment, enjoy the stillness. If you need some guidance, there are some incredible meditation apps that will guide you through each practice (my fave is the ‘Calm’ app).
Life for most of us can be incredibly hectic so if you don’t have time to sit, or you don’t have access to a quiet room, that’s totally fine. Some of my friends meditate on their way to work…you could be sitting on public transport or even walking (maybe keep your eyes open if so!)...just pop your headphones in, put on some chilled music or a meditation app and focus your attention on that instead of what's going on around you.
Walking is actually a great time to meditate because it keeps us from rushing and allows us to slow down…You’ll probably enjoy your walk more and feel much happier when you arrive at your destination.
2. Thoughts are normal
When I first tried to meditate (a veryyy long time ago), I thought the point was that you were supposed to stop your thoughts altogether and, well, it was impossible. I have THE MOST active mind and trying to stop myself from thinking just frustrated the hell out of me. Someone told me to see my thoughts as clouds and to just push them away when they appear…but I felt like I spent my whole time pushing clouds around and certainly didn’t feel relaxed.
We have, on average, 50,000 thoughts a day (women can probably double this!) so it really is impossible to simply stop thinking. And that’s ok! After speaking to my yoga instructor I realised the goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s all about acknowledging your thoughts and then taking yourself back to the present moment. So if you notice a thought popping into your head, CONGRATULATIONS, you’re meditating! Once you acknowledge the thought, simply focus back on your breath, et voila, your thoughts are no longer controlling you. It'll take some practise, but with a little consistency, you'll be a pro before you know it.
3. You always have time
When you’ve been practicing meditation for a while, you’ll probably want to meditate for 20-30 mins as you know how wonderful it makes you feel afterwards. However, if you’re just getting started or if you don’t have much time, you can meditate for any time that suits you…even if it’s just for 60 seconds! And EVERYONE can spare 60 seconds right?
Here’s a short video to show you how easy it is to get started:
Remember that meditation isn’t always going to feel good. There will be days where you just feel frustrated…and that’s ok! Just know and trust that with a little perseverance, it can change your life in the most profound way. It can help boost your relationships, transform your work life and generally make you a much happier person.
So find 60 seconds and give it a try.
If you enjoyed this article, sign up to our weekly newsletter! It’s full of health and wellness tips, happiness hacks and plenty of inspiration to live the best life possible.