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CHANGING THE NARRATIVE
Top tips on how to get the most out of your meditation practice - By Emily Aitcheson
I find it hard to clear my mind. I don’t know where to start? It just doesn’t work for me.
Sound familiar? It’s become common knowledge that meditation is a phenomenal tool, for not only our mental health but our overall wellbeing. However, people can find getting started a little overwhelming.
If this is you, then have no fear. Below, we’ll be sharing our top tips for getting the most out of your meditation practice.
The most common misconception is that meditation is all about clearing the mind. Better yet, clearing it entirely. Whilst this is an element of meditation, there is so much more to discover. One of the main aims of meditation is learning how to deal with the thoughts that arise, with patience and kindness. We then take what we’ve learnt on the mat, out into the big bad world.
Whilst this all sounds well and good, how do you make the first jump? Here’s a multitude of techniques you can do to get the best of your meditation practise:
Ensure you are somewhere you won’t be disturbed (and by that we mean no phone, no kids, pets etc).
Get into a super comfortable position (lie/sit/starfish etc). It can be on the floor, in bed, at your desk, in the bath, in the park- whatever floats your boat.
Dim the lights, burn incense, light the candle (get yourself in the mood).
Before bed/at lunch/first thing in the morning before your kids wake up (yep!) – make it fit into your schedule and pencil it into your diary.
Try 1 minute of focusing on your breath every day for a week and (very!) slowly up the amount and length of time and we promise you’ll soon be craving more.
There is such an array of meditations out there (and a plethora on the internet). Whether it is Guided, Mantra led, Transcendental, Tai-Chi, Qi-Gong, Mindfulness etc. We find it works best to find a technique/guided practice/teacher that really resonates with you and stick with it. Here’s one of my short lunchtime meditations you can try.
As mentioned above, meditation doesn’t have to be sat down in a Lotus position. You can do it on a train, when walking, meditation can be movement such as yoga or pilates. So if you find that traditional meditation isn’t sticking with you just yet then find a practice that makes you focus on your breath and brings a little mindfulness into your day.
Adapt your meditation practice to your needs at the moment- just as you would with your movement routine. Some days you’ll want to calm your mind, other days you’ll be craving more energy and meditation can give you all of this and more.
Never judge your meditation skills, as this will only increase your stress. It takes practice. Also, bear in mind that it’s common for your mind to wander during meditation, no matter how long you’ve been practicing. If you’re meditating to calm your mind and your attention wanders, slowly return to the object, sensation or movement you’re focusing on.
In case you need more convincing to get cracking, the benefits for a regular meditation practice are out of this world. And these benefits continue when your meditation session ends. It can help carry you more calmly through your day and may help you manage symptoms of stress.
When you meditate, you clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress.
The emotional benefits of meditation can include:
Meditation may also help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions (especially ones brought on by stress) such as anxiety, chronic pain, irritable bowel and heart disease to name just a few.
Remember, there’s no right way or wrong way to meditate. What matters is that meditation helps you reduce your stress and feel better overall.
And if you’re yet to begin, today is the perfect time to start.
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Love Amy + The ABF Team