How often do you cleanse your body? You’ll probably find it easy to answer – every day or so (we’re not judging). If we ask the same questions of your mind? That’s not so easy. Most of us don’t put the same routines into place to look after the mind and emotions as we do our physical body. Why is that?
The mind is the filter through which we perceive the world and when it’s not kept clean and clear, it can begin to fill up with negative thoughts. This quickly changes the way we respond to the world and can throw us out of balance.
Meditation is the easiest way to clear the head. It’s been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve relationships, enhance focus, emotional resilience and balance and is valued by successful people from all walks of life – from Hugh Jackman to Arianna Huffington, Shona Vertue and Oprah, even the Beatles in their day. So, what’s stopping us from turning meditation from wishful thinking, into a regular routine?
Everyone’s journey with meditation begins differently. In a way, meditation is like that great book that you buy, and you really want to read, but it ends up sitting on a shelf for a couple of years. Until one morning you pick it up and find yourself unable to stop, telling yourself you should have done it sooner. It is the same with meditation: once we start, we can’t help but wish that we had done so sooner.
Five ways to turn a no into a yes
1. Make time
The first and probably most common blocker we use, is lack of time… “Life’s so busy – I can’t seem to find space in the day” we say. But that’s a big misconception. Someone wise once said, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy – then you should sit for an hour.” What they meant is that although we see meditation as time-consuming, it actually saves us time, because it allows us to be more focused and more productive. You can carve out time in the most unexpected of places – lunch hour at work, the train ride home, getting up a little bit earlier, or switching off your screen in the evening. All the successful leaders who clear a little time for meditation are a clear reflection of this.
2. Think wider
Secondly, you might feel like “it’s not for people like me”. You might think of a cross-legged monk in an ashram, rather than a busy person like you meditating on your commute to work. But that’s exactly what modern day mindfulness looks like. You don’t have to adhere to a belief system or have mastered the downward-facing dog pose to meditate. Right now, whoever you are, whatever you believe in, is good enough.
3. Value your inner self
Blocker number three can be that meditation doesn’t sound much ‘fun’. There’s no instant entertainment, nothing to share on your social channels. But once you have your head around the fact that balance and positivity comes from experiences which enhance your inner self, rather than short-term stimulation, you’ll see it a little differently. This is true self-care: something you do for you and once you put a little into it, it will reap you the rewards you want. When you sit in silence and focus on your breath or a mantra, you invigorate every part of your body and end up feeling energised and replenished.
4. Think smarter
The fourth blocker is that you might feel like you don’t ‘need’ to meditate. “I don’t feel overly stressed or have bad anxiety, so why do it?” But the reality is that many of us haven’t learned to recognise our needs. It may not be anxiety, but high blood pressure, fatigue or feeling a bit up and down emotionally. Or many other negative symptoms you just put down to modern life. And that’s one of the main benefits of meditation: it helps you tune in more closely with the needs of your body and become aware of the mind-body connection – and how the wellness of one is reflected in the other.
5. Open up
We often rush about, spending a great deal of our lives either lost in the past or thinking of the future. But the only time that we have any influence over is now. The biggest benefit of meditation is that it helps you be more present. The joys of life become richer, the colours of the seasons brighter. Not because they have changed, but because you begin to give them your full attention. And as the dedication to your practice grows, you see the space between your thoughts and your emotions grow. In that space you’re free to decide how to respond in any set of circumstances. It is where inner peace and balance set in.