As I was planning what to share with you, I thought back over the year and challenged myself: What is the one thing that has changed me the most? It’s a practice that has made the biggest impact on me this year, given me the most motivation and encouragement.
If I was to only take one thing into 2014, this would be it:
Meditation is a practice of stillness. It can be the dwelling on one word or phrase, the focus on the breath and the clearing of thoughts in your mind, depending on which tradition you’re exploring. At least, that’s what I’ve learnt so far. (If you want to read more about meditation generally, I haven’t got any particular blogs or essays for you to read so happy googling).
I began this practice when I was extremely busy and rushing here, there and everywhere. I was always trying to get everything done, very fast and my mind was quickly onto the next thing, working out what I needed to do and whizzing round like a spinning top.
The conscious choice to be still: relaxing and releasing tension from the body is just the start. By choosing to take just 5 minutes our of my day for a meditation practice, I’ve grown, developed and doubled my energy levels.
So what do I get from meditation? Why would you even bother? Is it just an excuse to sit still and look spiritual?
Three reasons I’m a convert:
1. It calms me down. When it all goes a bit crazy, I’ve known myself to drink or eat excessively or binge on passive entertainment. Now, I know how to quiet my mind and take control without distracting myself with pleasures that are fun but very short term.
2. It brings me back to the present moment. This gives us power - the power to choose our next action. The future and the past can dominate our thoughts, but as Leo Tolstoy says: the most important moment is the now.
3. It connects me to the person I really am. Our minds chitter chatter away and it’s easy to get lost in your head, arguing with yourself about whatever is ‘on your mind’. By clearing our thoughts, we allow that part of us which is truly us to come to the fore.
If you’re open to trying it out, have a go. Here’s my guide to a good meditation practice:
Find a quiet place, sit or lie and be comfortable. ‘Drop’ your thoughts or let them drift away, focus your attention on each breath and be still. Set a timer if you’re worried about falling asleep (allowed!) and to help with the potential distraction. Just try for 5 minutes to start with and you can build up form there.
I’d love to hear if you’ve had a go at your own meditation practice and how you got on.
As 2013 comes to a close, take some time to work out what you want to leave behind with this year and what you will take with you into 2014.