Have you ever found it hard to motivate yourself to do something, you know is good for you, only to eventually do it and feel amazing?
That’s what meditation was first like for me. There would always be a reason I didn’t do it! Too busy; too stressed; not enough time; lack of focus. All the reasons I should have been doing it, became my excuses.
A few years on and I’m a qualified meditation teacher and practise daily, and what I see as the biggest reason people cannot get into a regular meditation practise is, they are approaching it with a perfectionist mindset, as if they need to have a completely clear mind to be “good at it”.
My turning point was when I realised I could meditate in many different ways, to suit my schedule, moods and needs. And that the only goal was to show up, mindfully observe my inner life, and practise detaching from my thoughts. It was ok if I never achieved complete mental clarity. The practise itself, with its mental messiness and mind wandering, was the path to more clarity in my daily life.
And it’s not just about mental clarity. Adopting a regular practise helps with improved sleep, regulates your moods, boosts your resilience and helps to ease and prevent a number of physical ailments.
I have a couple of favourite practises that have formed part of my journey of healing and growth and that I use with my clients. We are all different and have preferences for differing modalities, but below are a couple of simple ones anyone can adopt.
- Guided Meditation– probably one of the most popular as you just listen. I do enjoy these and have some favourites. The beauty of these is they are accessible to anyone and there’s a huge range on YouTube. I also write my own and use on those I am supporting on their journey. The beauty of writing my own I can tailor them specifically to my clients needs.
- Walking Meditation– this is simple yet beautifully grounding. I do these on the beach or anywhere in nature and where possible I do barefoot, as further connection to the earth. Stand with your spine straight, with your shoulders and arms relaxed and take a few deep breaths- breathing in the calm and releasing the tension. Use all your senses to fully experience where you are- the warmth of the sun on your shoulders, the sounds of trees, birds, ocean. The goal is not to arrive at a destination, but to simply be present in the experience of walking.
- Meditative Zen Shower- It’s easy to let go of all other thoughts, when you are standing under a stream of water. Tune into your senses- the scent of the soap, the sensation of the water on your skin, feeling it drip down your back and slide down your thighs and your calves. Visualise any stresses of the day being washed away, in a pure experience of cleansing your body and mind.
- Chore Meditation– You can be vacuuming, washing dishes or making the bed. It can be meditative to fully immerse yourself in the activity at hand. Don’t think about finishing or what you’ll do when you’re done. Focus solely on the doing and see if you can find a sense of acceptance and presence in doing it slowly and well.
- Candle Gazing Meditation– Also known as trakata, is said to be a tantric method of meditation. It need not be a candle, but needs to be a small object to focus on. I use a candle and find it both relaxing and hypnotic. It’s a great meditation to improve concentration and mental strength.
There are many more but these are my most practised. It does take practise and a little commitment but even 5 minutes a day will benefit you. The magic of meditation is to allow whatever needs to come up, come up and sometimes that can be some heavy emotion. Don’t push it down or avoid feeling it because meditation is about release, it’s about discovering our inner world and that can mean things we have buried may reveal themselves.
“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak”.
An important side note, I’m always conscious when working with someone suffering trauma/PTSD, that great care needs to be taken, as we don’t want to directly trigger the trauma. So someone suffering trauma and PTSD should work with a therapist/coach that has the experience in this area. Meditation is still a great tool but care needs to be taken, even more so if the client is not aware their issues/pain is stemming from unresolved trauma, or even that they have PTSD. As a coach/counsellor/meditation teacher, if we don’t have the skills to assess our clients when they come to us, we risk causing more harm than good.