“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom” – Buddha
I had always heard positive things about meditation but never had the patience to sit and “do nothing”. It felt like a waste of time. After stopping and starting for a few weeks and finding anything beyond 5 minutes a challenge I quit, again.
It wasn’t until I completed a 4-week yoga teacher training course in Mysore, India in August of 2013 that I was reintroduced to it. There was a one hour slot Monday to Friday at 4 pm where we would go to a “Gurus” house and meditate (check out his dvd here). He spoke very little and didn’t explain much. We would just sit in silence. At first for 5 minutes, then 10 and eventually 45 minutes.
In a group of 10 about half of the people cried during the first week. A Mongolian girl started hyperventilating after which I had a weird vision of a snake trying to attack me from above. Very strange indeed. This thought me two things.
- Meditation is definitely a powerful tool.
- Meditation practice does not improve linearly.
After the initial events things calmed down during the sessions. I became more comfortable sitting for a longer period of time.
After the four weeks I was hooked. I could feel the benefits. I was much calmer and my energy was balanced throughout the day. It was the initial patience of getting through the 5-10 minutes of hell and learning to embrace silence. This along with finding a comfortable sitting posture have been my biggest challenges.
Now if I miss a meditation session I feel like I’m missing something. It’s the same feeling if I miss a few days of exercise. I don’t feel as good as I know I should.
Benefits of meditation
1. You will be more positive. (See here)
Meditation gives you the opportunity to observe your thoughts both positive and negative. Once you are aware of this you have the ability to change the negative ones.
2. It improves your self control. (see here)
Can’t control that temper of yours? Can’t stick to anything. Meditation may help you.
3. You will be less stressed. (See here)
Much of life stresses are self-inflicted. Assumptions about what might happen leads to this a lot of the time. With an increased willpower and more control over your thoughts you will have more control over your thoughts leading to a calmer mind.
4. You will fall asleep faster
A less stressed, calmer person will find it much easier to wind down at night. Being able to calm your mind will allow you to sleep a lot easier.
5. You will be happier
Guess what!? When all of the above are improving in your life it improves the quality of your life. Small things aren’t getting you down, your concentration is better, you are sleeping better and you have more energy. Why wouldn’t you be happier!?
Sitting postures for meditation
Most people from western countries with no yoga background will feel most comfortable sitting on a chair in the beginning. After the initial discomfort I have found the Burmese posture the most beneficial for meditation. It puts my spine in an upright position and makes it easier to sit comfortably for longer periods.
Still a long way to go till I can get into the full lotus!
- Sit in a comfortable posture. Have your hands folded in your lap. Check that you weight is distributed evenly on both sides of your body.
- Take a few moments to breath deeply. Feel shoulders and arms lift on the inward breath and roll down and back on the outward breath.
- Let your breath return to normal. Let your shoulders relax and chest open. Adjust hands on lap to keep this openness in the chest.
- Relax your body starting at your eyes downwards.
- Focusing on your breath.
I find the audio attached an excellent guided meditation. It is ideal for all levels. I like that it is split into sections all roughly 4 minutes. This allows all levels to enjoy it.
When should you meditate?
Most people agree the first thing in the morning is the best time. The evening time can be great too. It can de stress you from a long day and wind you down for bed. That being said here are some reasons why the morning is a better time.
- You have just woken up so your mind is much calmer. It hasn’t had any stimulation yet. This is important especially for beginners.
- It sets up your day. After a few minutes of meditation you feel more prepared to take on the day.
- You have a greater chance of doing it. The later the day you leave to do something the harder it is to do!
- You haven’t eaten yet. Digestion can make it more difficult to focus. Ever tried to do work after a big lunch?
The most important thing is to start. I cannot tell you enough how much this will benefit you.