I’ve had a love, hate relationship with meditation. Actually it’s more of a love but don’t do relationship! I first started exploring meditation after I went on holiday to Thailand in 2006. That’s when I met Shelley, who I’ve been seeing for meditation, yoga and reiki for over 10 years now. She’s a wonderful teacher and I owe a lot of what I’m doing now to her support and guidance over the years.
Over these past 10 years I’ve meditated on and off. More off really! There have been times that I’ve been dedicated. Like throughout my pregnancy with my son, when I meditated nearly every night. But then he was born he rocked my world, and my daily practice very quickly became a thing of the past. I’ve always continued with yoga which usually includes meditation. But even though I felt the benefits, every single time I practiced – I’d sleep better, I’d be calmer and usually happier the next day – for some reason I just couldn’t make it stick.
So what’s changed? I think I’m more determined. And the main thing that’s made me more determined is that I know I need to look after myself more than ever now that I’m a Mum. Especially now I’m a Mum of 2. And I’m a working Mum juggling work and my own business. And I can only do all of those things if I look after myself.
And what’s interesting is that the more I practice, the more I want to practice now. I just feel better.
So what are the benefits of meditation?
There is more and more science that explores the benefits of meditation, but I think it’s important to remember that people have been meditating for thousands of years. Meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, improve concentration and can also help improve relationships. I know that when I meditate regularly I am calmer and more able to cope with whatever life has to throw at me. If you want a bit more of the science Headspace have some great information.
The next question is how do you find the time when you’re already juggling a million things?
What I’ve found works for me is practicing the same time every day. Find a time that works for you. For me I practice as night before I go to bed, because the kids are in bed and I know that I can make it happen. Morning practices are really good as it sets you up for the day.
Find what works for you. And you just need to practice for 10 minutes, that’s all. Try and stick to the same time every day as then it becomes a habit, a bit like brushing your teeth!
A meditation for you
This is a simple meditation that I learnt from Shelley and it’s great if you’re just starting out with meditation. In fact it’s how I practice most nights.
- Find a comfortable seat, preferably up-right with your back straight. You can sit on a chair or on a cushion. Find something that’s comfortable for you. For years I simply sat kneeling, I’ve now moved on to sit crossed legged on a bolster. Find what’s comfortable for you. And take your time, this alone can take practice.
- Make sure there are as little distractions as possible (I say this as a Mum who knows that sometimes your little people can interfere with your practice!). But make sure your phone is either turned off or on aeroplane mode (I use mine as a timer) and you’re not expecting any other distractions.
- Once you’re in your comfortable seat, close your eyes and take 3 deep breathes, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Slow, steady breathes. And really focus on the breath, notice the feel of the breath coming in through the nose, notice how cool it is. And then breathe out through the mouth, again notice the breath, feel it on your lips.
- And then move onto the breath count; breathe in for a count of 3, pause and breathe out for a count of 5 and then pause. Breathe in for a count of 3 and so on.
- Do this for 10 minutes. If you find you’ve got distracted by thought, just gently bring your focus back to your breath. You could always see the numbers coming up in front of you.
- I use a timer so I don’t get distracted by thinking about how long I’ve meditated for! Once your timer goes off, gently turn it off, close your eyes and take 3 final deep breathes, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- I like to remind myself of what I’m grateful for at this point, usually from the day that’s just gone by. I also set my intention for the next day.
- Then slowly open your eyes, looking down to start off with and then look out and take in your surroundings.
- Finally note how you feel, how you sleep that night, how things affect you through the day. And write them down. This can be a good reminder when you don’t think you need to meditate any longer!
And from my experience here’s a few things to remember …
- Meditation takes practice, don’t push it or force it, just try it and see how you go.
Don’t try and control the mind; let the mind be, if thoughts come in acknowledge them and let them go. Be kind to your mind!
- Even if you do get distracted by thought you’re still likely to feel the benefit. So never be hard on yourself or set unrealistic expectations.
- There are many different ways to meditate, explore different ways perhaps with a teacher or through a meditation app like Headspace.
- Be fluid with your practice but maintain it. Again I say this as Mum. My practice has to be fluid but at the same time I’ve now committed to it.
- If you’re resisting your practice it’s likely that you need it now more than ever. Definitely do it when you’re feeling like this.
Now I’ve finally made meditation stick, I’m looking forward to exploring my practice more.
You can contact Shelley through her website Inner Peace. The lovely drawing is also done by Shelley. Thank you Shelley x