I'd like to say that after 20 years of yoga and holistic living that I have discovered the secret of sitting still in silence for 30 minutes everyday and that meditation is part of my daily routine without fail. But that wouldn’t be true and that's not good karma. Over the years I have tried various approaches to achieving mindfulness and I’ve come to conclusion that there isn’t one perfect technique or ideal time of day for me to meditate so I stopped being obsessed with what I thought meditation should look like and started focusing on how I could make it work for me.
For a long time, I tried setting my alarm earlier (according to their interviews that’s what all the successful entrepeneurs/models/authors/actresses do) so I could start my day off sitting calmly for 20 minutes but this was a disaster. After lying in bed all night, my body wants to move, stretch, run – anything but stay still a moment longer.
I also tried 30 minute stretches when I got home in the evenings but life in general got in the way – homework to supervise, supper to cook, laundry to fold, bills to pay, groceries to order….you get the picture (and identify with it I am sure)…
I also had to admit to myself that I secretly liked the idea that I was too busy to slow down and meditate and I had to face up to the fact I really wasn’t. Of course I could spare ten minutes out of the 1,440 minutes that there are in a day for myself and my mental health. I’m running a wellness company after all – if I can’t, then who can, seriously?!
So recently, and with much more success I’m happy to report, I’ve dropped the I’m-too-busy attitude and focused on shorter sessions of ten to twenty minutes towards the end of the day when most chores are complete and I’m getting into a quieter, slower zone. I guess this is kind of defeating the purpose – the actual meditation itself is supposed to be calming me down, but in this way, at least I am spending these fifteen minutes actively meditating, not fidgeting or being distracted by worrying about all the things I still need to get done.
So, if like me, you’re more than sold on the benefits of meditation and want to make it part of your life but you’ve tried and failed to meditate a million times, here’s what I suggest. Start with a session of just five or ten minutes at a time of day that you already feel quite relaxed and build up from there. Choose a place to meditate where you feel comfortable and secure – this could be lying on your yoga mat, propped up in a cosy corner of your bedroom or even sat on your favourite park bench. And try and let go of any expectations - the key is not making your meditation practice another stressor for yourself, especially if being super busy is why you’re seeking it out in the first place.
I’m happy to say that my 10, sometimes 20 minute sessions are now almost daily and have had a very positive impact on my wellness. Meditation, in even these small amounts, has improved my sleep, cut down my stress and increased my ability to stay present. Below, I have suggested two simple techniques I often use, which you can switch between depending on how you are feeling on the day.
If you find meditation tricky I urge you to persevere and you will discover meditation is a tool that will help you journey inside and recharge your batteries, don’t give up, I’m with you.
Happy meditating, Lucy x
This is a simple seated meditation, which focuses on using your breath to quieten your mind.
Start in a comfortable seated position such as cross-legged. Set a timer for five or ten minutes so you will be less distracted by wondering when your session is going to end. Close your eyes and draw your focus to your inhalations and exhalations. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, pause, then exhale from five seconds (the longer exhale encourages our parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates stress levels to help us calm down). If you mind strays, acknowledge this and gently bring it back to your breath.
This is a lovely meditation technique for times when you feel too fidgety to sit still or if you have already been sitting a lot during the day say at your desk or on your commute home from work.
Lie down on your back as you do for Savasana at the end of yoga class. Close your eyes, start slowing down and calming your breath. Bring your awareness to your body by methodically taking inventory of each body part starting from your toes moving up, noticing any tightness or differences in temperature. Focus on the backs of your heels, legs, your back, shoulders, backs of your arms, hands and the back of your head. Reverse the scan back down the body, and then repeat the process focusing on the front side of your body. Don’t rush the ‘scan’ or force yourself to feel anything – just be there, in your body.
For further inspiration on how to meditate read the following articles: