Wednesday, 20 February 2013

What is meditation? Is it really just airy fairy stuff?

I would define meditation as the practice of sitting comfortably and gently encouraging physical and mental stillness.

We live in a wonderful world, full of stimulation, entertainment, responsibilities, possibilities and expectations. There is so much to see, do, learn about, work towards and enjoy. The only thing we cant buy is time and most people complain that there is 'not enough time', that 'time is flying' and that 'times have changed.' Well let me share with you a secret I have discovered.....meditation has changed my perception of time. Time opens up, slows down and reveals a whole new way of approaching each day. I don't want to sound airy fairy though, so lets have a practical look at how meditation can help us feel less rushed and more able to take in the beauty of each day.

Meditation is practiced in a sitting position to prevent us from drifting off to sleep. The body feels very relaxed and peaceful, while the mind moves to a focused and contented state . I have a 3 year Meditation Diploma with Dru Yoga and they recommend an energy block release sequence, followed by a deep relaxation as great preparation for  meditation.

Have you ever tried to meditate after rushing about, deciding to sit for 10 minutes, only finding your thoughts are busy and your body uncomfortable? This is why a deep relaxation is recommended first.

deep relaxation
A good deep relaxation is achieved by tensing and releasing the whole body, starting at the feet and working your focus towards each body part. This settles the sympathetic nervous system and enables the parasympathetic nervous system to help us relax. When this happens the emotions are calmer, thoughts more focused and tension starts to melt away. We can notice the breath, accept all sounds and  move into a lovely state of rest. This is so good for us on many levels, even though it only takes 10-20 minutes.

After a relaxation we can sit up for a few moments and this is when I experience something really special. I notice my body, my feet, sitting bones, spine, neck, fingers and face. After a while I can just observe my breath and rest my awareness at the heart. And occasionally it happens, a blissful state of quiet arrives....

The hardest part of a home practice is convincing yourself to 'stop' and value  'potent stillness'. Normally a rest might look like a sit in front of the TV, the computer or with an iPod but they aren't doing your nervous system any favours.  Meditation is fabulous for health, our ability to manage pressure, for emotional stability, memory and a general sense of well being.  

Another great advantage in settling our thoughts during relaxation or meditation is that we have a chance to question if what we believe to be true could actually be viewed from a new angle. We can also play with visualising our dreams coming true and things flowing really well. Not only our perception of time can shift but lots of other habitual beliefs have the potential of being released, making room for new goals that are filled with purpose.

It seems that everyone benefits in different ways from adding a little stillness to their day. Maybe you would like to ease headaches or improve your energy levels. Maybe you would like to be able to hear your intuition more clearly and be able to make great decisions. What ever your intention you bring to the practice, patients will be required. There are no quick fixes when it comes to yoga and meditation. Results appear once you make an appointment to be with yourself and you can turn up regularly without the need for outer entertainment.

Meditation is real, its not airy fairy, it is simply 'being still' physically and mentally. You never know when these skills will be the most important ones you have!

*I recommend you find a qualified yoga or meditation teacher who can support you in achieving great benefits from regular meditation. Many wonderful teachers will help you with posture, breath awareness, specific modifications and goals for a home practice.  If this is difficult for you right now then start practicing deep relaxation everyday. (Download a guided relaxation that you enjoy and have it on a CD or ipod near the bed. Listen to this recording if you wake at night or when you are ready to rest.) It may take many months before we are ready to meditate. Listen to your body...

A final note on Time

How do we find the time?
Well we can often find the time for the extra jobs thrown our way and for the extra needs of family and friends. We can usually answer the phone and have a chat or plan our weeks until they are full to the brim. So why is there no time for stillness? There is no time for stillness because we either don't value the practice enough or ourselves enough. Maybe we avoid feeling and thinking about something and busy ourselves instead. We could be saying 'yes' to everyone else and 'no' to our own needs? Excuses..excuses..(I have tried them all)

Be Brave..Be Still...slow down...Breathe... and feel more awake than you knew was possible!


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