I have a busy life. I am the breadwinner for the family. I work hard and I tend to fill my days with things to do. I hadn’t considered myself stressed, but then again I wasn’t an impartial observer watching me hurry from one thing to the other. So when my wife suggested we go to a meditation course together, to be honest the idea didn’t really light my candle.
The Medical Dictionary defines meditation as a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth.
Meditation practice isn’t new. Its hard to know when it first started, but its more than hundreds of years ago. I think a lot of us associate meditation with robe-clad monks sitting on a hilltop chanting. So I was pleasantly surprised to find two completely normal looking guys greet us at our first meditation class.
- The idea is to completely relax in a seated position that suits you. You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor – on a chair is fine.
- In our class we then were encouraged to imagine a river in a peaceful setting and when thoughts came into our mind to “throw” them into the river and let them wash away. Or to imagine a sky with clouds, each cloud being a thought which we could add to – and that the clouds would disperse leaving an expanse of blue . . .
- Next comes awareness of your breathing. In and out of the nose. Try it now – close your eyes for a few moments and just notice your breath. In an out – say for 10 times. It’s a clever way of focusing your thoughts on the present and taking them away from things in the past or jobs you have to do.
- Our instructors then encouraged us to focus on our heart and imagine a light – and that light becoming brighter when we breathed in and darker when we breathed out.
- And once you have the picture of the light in your chest, the idea then is to imagine that light spreading to the rest of your body, and then to the room you are in (you can go on and on until it becomes a whole universe light thing but I found that too hard to imagine).
- Then its reversing the process – bringing the light in from the room, to our body and then your heart. Starting to become aware again of the room you are in (its amazing how you can “forget” where you are during meditation) and finally opening your eyes and emerging back into the crazy, rough and tumble world we live in.
I used to meditate to guided sessions which can be found anywhere on the web. Check out the Freemindfulness website. But now I put some super chilled music on or sometimes I just sit in the beautiful morning silence.
I can attest to becoming calmer, more grounded and generally a happier person through meditation. I do try to build six minutes a day to practice meditation. I find this manageable and there are very few excuses to miss a day (20 minutes can be a problem when you are rushing in the morning but never 6).