How to Meditate
(When you Have NO Idea What You’re Doing)
I have practised yoga on and off since I was about 17. Laying in Savasna at the end of the class was my first introduction to meditation. I have been known to
snore fall asleep on the mat at the end of a class because I’ve been so deeply relaxed. If you’ve ever felt that feeling at the end of a yoga class, which is hopefully followed by a blissful nights’ sleep, you’ll know what I’m talking about. That’s meditation.
When you meditate and learn to ‘quiet’ your mind and focus on breathing and relaxing, your mind will be less cluttered and when you take a few moments in the day to quieten your mind, you will be amazed at how much more calm and relaxed and ‘together’ you feel.
My regular meditation practice is now second nature to me, I can feel when I haven’t meditated for a while and conversely I can feel when I have. Quieting my often easily over-stimulated mind has never come easy to me. I think about all sorts:
did I send that email?
what I’m going to cook for dinner?
does Poppy have everything she needs?
what am I wearing tomorrow?
when was that deadline?!
Studies have shown a huge list of benefits associated with meditation including reduced anxiety, improved memory and less tiredness.
How to Start Meditating
If you want to get started, I suggest that you start small time-wise, 5 minutes is all you need.
I totally understand not knowing how to get started. Meditating feels quite ‘big’ if you don’t know what you’re doing – even if you tried it on your own, you’d wonder if you’re doing it right. I certainly remember feeling like this at the beginning.
Don’t get me wrong, I am no expert, I don’t meditate for hours on end, I am not ‘enlightened’ (yet!) But I can meditate on a packed tube or in a taxi. I can meditate with hustle and bustle around me. If I need 5 minutes to re-centre, I’ll take them irrespective of where I am.
I meditate with Pops messing about in the room because I want her to see me meditating and for her to see it as normal. Sometimes we sit for about a minute for long deep breaths (usually before bed). She also practices ‘mindful breathing’ at school (which I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall to see (plus the rest of the school day, of course)).
I really wanted to take today as World Mental Health Day to be the day I share this with you. I’m a big advocate of meditation, it can help us become more aware of ourselves, helps us get in touch with our emotions and have more control over them and it’s certainly a tool I have used to keep my mental health in check. It’s my ultimate self-care practice.
How to Get Started
So, using apps on your phone are a great way of learning how to meditate. Apps like Calm and Headspace are some of the OG’s of the meditation world. These apps are great for beginners, they have a person guiding you through the process and can be a really good way to get started.
Either virtual or in-person meditation classes are a great way to get started. These have been my personal favourite pre-COVID and I’ve done a few during lockdown too. Here are a few online mediation classes to check out here.
I recorded a short guided meditation on our Not Wonder Woman podcast which I’ve had lots of feedback on as being very helpful. Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes, but you can also find us on Entale, Stitcher and Podbean.
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What to Do When You Get Distracted
Let me say right now, that you will get distracted when you begin, you will think about every day things and it will be difficult to relax. Gradually you’ll find that you’re able to stay there longer. Don’t be too hard on yourself it you are finding it difficult. Just try relax.
When thoughts come into your mind, my advice is to ‘see’ the thought. Imagine it in front of you and to let it pass in front of you and out of the way. Bye. Come back to your breathing, focus on your lungs expanding and contracting and relax your body.
How to Keep Up Your New Meditation Practice
Promise yourself you’ll spend 5 minutes each day. A consistent practice is better than 20 minutes randomly when you can fit it in. By practising each day you’re building a new habit. I like to meditate in the morning and before bed (right before I fall asleep – so nice).
Create a little ritual for yourself.
Light a candle, spray your favourite room fragrance. You can either use one of the meditation apps I’ve suggested, or a guided meditation on YouTube. When you get a bit more practised you can find relaxing sounds and music you enjoy.
Personally, I like listening to rain or ocean sounds when I meditate on Spotify and you can follow my playlist for morning meditation here.
Mediation is a huge self-care practice and really puts yourself at the centre of your world. Taking time to ‘do nothing’ is an act of defiance in our incredibly busy worlds where we feel like there’s always something more important to do. Even if you don’t feel like it’s working, it’s great to take that time for yourself.
Feel free to let me know what works for you, any apps you find useful and share your experiences. I’d love to know how you’re getting on!