The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s to stop them controlling you.
When I was growing up, I believed meditation was something only holy people did. That meditation was their backstage 'access-all-areas' pass to a private audience with the almighty. And dreamy hippy types too. In films and tv shows they always seemed a little other-worldly.
Today, meditation is the coolest thing on the planet but there’s a tendency to feel we need to be vegan and deserving, or to have more time on our hands than we know what to do with and it’s only when some crisis or health scare causes us to reassess our lifestyle, that we consider the merit of the practice.
Our hectic pace of life means we are exposed to enormous amounts of information and stimulation daily - far, far more than any who have gone before us and our brain needs to process, eliminate and file all of this otherwise we become unable to distinguish between the danger of a looming hungry tiger or an email to remind us of an overdue bill payment. We are bombarded with rolling news headlines and having mobile devices means we are always available. We are expected to function better and faster and to be more productive often having to call on more than one speciality.
We may need to be a nurse, a technology expert, a therapist, financial advisor and teacher and all before lunchtime on any given day!
All this produces anxiety and stress and we can become disconnected and even numb, leading to living in a mechanical way living mostly in our heads when we’re actually heart-centered beings. The practice of meditation is like a declutter and filing session and the rule is you don’t have to do any work at all except breathe and remain rooted in the present moment.
When you get to look at the list laid out below of the many improvements you can expect once you begin daily meditation, you realise that you don’t have to wait for a vaccine or a cure, buy expensive supplements, go on a waiting list for treatment or make major lifestyle changes to benefit from the practice.
And the best news is it’s totally free and entirely flexible!!
The (neuro) science bit….
What does something as simple as conscious inactivity and mindful breathing actually do to our body (and all the other strands of our being we’ve been resting this month)?
Well, it boosts serotonin and dopamine which is responsible for our wellbeing, happiness and motivation.
Reduces Cortisol, the stress hormone.
It increases the brain’s ability to organise and adapt.
It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system making us feel calm and relaxed.
The combination of these causes a knock on effect of: -
Greater self-compassion and empathy.
Greater perspective and control over our emotions.
Increased contentedness and smarter productivity.
Sharper cognitive functioning.
Able to deal with life’s ups and downs in a calmer way and with greater resilience.
On top of that….
WAYS TO MEDITATE
Body scan - or progressive relaxation.
Loving kindness meditation.
Qi Gong - using breathing, movement and postures to circulate qi or chi (life force energy)
Walking meditation (my personal favourite) - also involves grounding.
Guided visualisation (for almost any scenario you can imagine along with music, nature sounds, bells etc.) - pre recorded audio necessary.
Mindfulness meditation - non-judgemental acceptance of thoughts and letting them go, bringing attention back to the present.
Mindfulness breathing - similar to above and handy on the go.
There are some great apps including Headspace, Insight Timer and Spotify meditation playlists among others available. Most are available on the basic level although Headspace offers a free 10 day trial then purchase begins.
Magical Rest companion workbook available.
Rest is the potent elixir that fuels the efficiency of everything we do, are and wish to be. We rest for healing, for wisdom, for radiance and for love. I have created the Magical Rest 30 day program as a stand alone personal month long journey through the resting of all of your being, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, creatively, sensory and socially. Each day gifts you a restful exercise, practice or ritual and sets some reflective work to help you connect more fully to your own inner wisdom and personal magic.
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