Meditation as a pathway to healing both the body and mind, came from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism at around 1500 BCE. These days, it has become a common practice used to help combat the devastating effects of stress. In such a fast-paced world, learning to quieten our minds and relax our bodies has become a bit of a lost art.
Many people feel quite overwhelmed at the prospect of sitting still and being alone with their thoughts. We often feel the need to surround ourselves with the constant buzz of background noise or activities that take our minds off of our problems, at least that's what we think. The issue this presents is that it also cuts us off from connecting with our higher selves. Overthinking is the number one reason why we tend to experience negative emotions such as regret, sadness, fear and anxiety. We avoid the present moment, either living with past regrets or anticipating what may or may not happen in the future. Learning to embrace the present moment in silence allows us the opportunity to also fully embrace what is happening right in this moment. In reality, the present moment is the only moment that really exists. The past is gone and tomorrow never comes.
Learning to quieten your mind through the process of meditation is actually quite a simple practice. All it takes is a small amount of focus. You don't need to join a Buddhist monastery or walk around wearing a robe, unless you feel the need to. Focus on the number one grounding activity, breathing. The act of breathing is an involuntary action that we don't need to control. However, whenever you take a deep breath you immediately bring yourself back into the moment. The present moment is where all your power lies.
Sit somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Slowly breath in from your nose and feel the warm air travelling down deep into your diaphragm. Once your stomach has fully expanded, slowly expel the air through your mouth. Thoughts will come and go, however, always bring your attention back to your breathing. There's no need to try to fight it. As simple as this exercise sounds, many people find it quite challenging. We're so used to the constant chatter of our inner self-talk that learning to quieten our minds requires some practise. There's no need to force it or fight hard to avoid your thoughts, just focus on your breathing. If you can only do this for a few minutes then that's ok. We all need to start somewhere! Aim to increase the length of time you meditate naturally, don't force yourself to sit there for 20 minutes if it feels uncomfortable.
Closing your eyes is the best way to meditate as it removes all visual stimuli. However, you can keep your eyes open and focus on an object as well. Any object will do, it could be a candle, a flower or your tv remote control! Experiment and find a method that works for you and that feels good. Meditation is all about focusing and quietening your mind, how you achieve this is all up to you! Start with a few minutes a day and slowly build up to thirty minutes a day. The longer you can meditate, the more you will benefit from the practice. Best of luck!!