Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last five years, you’ve probably heard a few people banging on about the benefits of meditation.
From all the podcasts I’ve listened to, whether they be business, personal or spiritual, the one common “must do” from every expert is always some form of meditation.
There are a 101 articles on the benefits of meditation, and I don’t intend on being number 102. Instead, I want to give you a common sense guide to find out how you can incorporate meditation into your life to your best advantage.
How will it benefit you?
Just as quick incentive to follow through on my advice, here are some of the top benefits of meditation:
it puts your body into its parasympathetic state, which is essential for your cells to repair, to digest nutrients properly, and conserve your energy for when you really need it
it reduces stress and anxiety, through both physical and mental effects, with studies showing it actually reduces the level of inflammatory chemicals produced by stress
over time, you’ll learn to get a whole new perspective on life, leading to a clearer, more positive outlook and better mental health
it improves your ability to sleep, allowing you to shut up your mental chatter and drift away into a peaceful, less interrupted and more restful sleep
I could go on and on but there are plenty of other articles covering this.
What is meditation?
Contrary to common belief, meditation is not just sitting in silence for three hours with your mind completely void of thoughts. Yes, there are some Buddhist monks sitting under trees doing just that (and more). But chances are, you’re not one of them.
Instead, learn to think of meditation as a mindfulness practice. A chance to observe your thoughts, quiet your chatter, shut out the past and future and concentrate on just being in the present moment. However that might look like for you.
Should you just be sitting in silence?
If you are a go-go-go Type A personality, starting off by trying to sit quietly and empty your thoughts for an hour is unlikely to work. Instead, start indulging in mindful activities.
The easiest modern-day test for a mindful activities is one where you don’t think about stopping to check your phone. At all. That could be sport, reading, yoga, sex, painting, whatever. Anything that you are doing with 100% focus on just that task is definitely mindful, and a form of meditation for you.
For others, the thought of sitting in silence with a gentle candle flame flickering is deeply alluring - in which case, go for that!
The key is to invoke a deep sense of relaxation and quieten your usual mind chatter, however that may look like for you.
How should you start?
There are so many resources out there for meditation now. To find the one that is right for you think about:
when is the best time in the day for you to practice
how much time can you realistically commit
what do you want to get out of meditation
do you prefer group or individual activities
By far the easiest way to ensure you actually commit to meditation, receive some guidance and get a decent session in is to attend group meditations. This is what I did to start with, and it’s a great way of learning how best to meditate and developing your own practice.
That’s why I’ve started my fortnightly meditation sessions (the next one is this Monday!). You can find out all the details here.
Good for: people who need accountability, first-timers, those wanting longer, deeper meditations, and those who like group activities.
There are so many amazing youtube meditations. The ones I love are Wayne Dyer, Jason Stephenson, and The Honest Guys. Your preference will likely depend on the accent and tone of voice of the teacher, so try a few until you find one you resonate with.
Also look out for those that include binaural beats, these are soundwaves at various frequencies to induce certain states (such as relaxation or energisation) within your body.
Good for: those strapped for time, those with a particular issue, those who like flexibility.
If you struggle to relax by yourself, or are trying to overcome a particular issue (anxiety or fear about a certain subject), hypnotherapy is a great alternative. It will help you switch off your mind, get the benefits of meditation and also receive individual guidance for your issue.
A good hypnotherapist will always be happy to have an initial chat with you for free to discuss what’s going on and how hypnotherapy can help. If you’d like to have a chat with me, you can schedule your free session here.
Good for: those feeling or approaching burnout, those looking for one-on-one guidance, those who have anxious thoughts and/or difficulty sleeping.
There are some great apps with a range of tracks available - including Headspace and Calm. They remind you to meditate and keep track of your meditation progress, which is great for accountability. Personally, I find they can be a bit shallow and general - I prefer to use more focused tracks through YouTube.
Good for: those who like a regular practice, those who need accountability, those who want a short, general practice.
Going for a slow, contemplative walk without any distractions (e.g. leave your phone at home!) can allow you to get into a meditative state whilst still doing (key for all those A-typers...). Focus on taking in all your surroundings and engaging all of your senses as you walk - this will take you out of your thoughts.
Good for: those who find it hard to switch off, those who walk regularly, those who like to exercise, A-type personalities.
Key things to remember
Whatever practice you go with, the main things to remember are:
it does get easier and you will go deeper, for longer, the more you practice
a daily practice is the easiest to stick to
2 minutes meditation is better than none, and still has benefits
don’t judge your mind for wandering, it will! just gently bring it back
find something that works for you, not anyone else around you!
The key thing is, start today! Book that group meditation, find a video. Just do two minutes.
We can spend our whole life waiting for "someday". The only someday that comes into fruition is today.
Join me and make both of our days
I am hosting fortnightly meditation sessions, with a focus on reducing stress and anxiety and resolving any issues you may have sleeping. I am so keen to introduce hypnotic meditation to more people, as it has made such a difference in the lives of everyone I've known who have adopted this practice.
Please support me in spreading this message and give yourself a wonderful gift today by booking in and coming along.