Your meditation cheat sheet
We’re not talking about getting into a lotus pose and chanting while waiting for enlightenment (that’s a common misconception!) Meditating can just be five minutes out of your day.
‘Meditation is the practice of paying attention and focusing awareness- in short, being fully conscious of the here and now,’ says Andy Puddicombe, meditation expert. ‘It can help you achieve better clarity and less stress. Meditation can positively impact all areas of your life, from relationships to work to sex.’
Scientist agree, with studies linking meditation to everything from lessened pain perception to better moods, improved immunity and better quality sleep.
Forget the stereotype
Let’s get that myth out of the way now– creating a regular meditation habit doesn’t mean trading in your fun pass and signing up for life as a mantra-chanting hippie. It can coexist with modern life, says Andy. ‘When we started Headspace, we had to overcome 2,000 years of bad PR to change the perception of meditation,’ he says. ‘Most people associate it with sitting in a lotus position and this isn’t the case at all. There are lots of different ways you can meditate, but one of the simplest methods is “mindfulness”– the intention to be present and engaged in whatever is happening.’
The best bit about meditation is you can do it anywhere. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh recommends getting mindful as you wash the dishes, treating each bowl or plate as ‘an object of contemplation’. Switch off autopilot and focus on the task at hand to appreciate the moment.
Don’t try too hard
It’s common to think that meditation is about clearing your mind and creating still, silent space within. But if you’ve tried to meditate, you’ll know that’s about as feasible as scoring front row tickets at the NRL Grand Final. Luckily, experts say that’s not the point.
‘Trying to clear your mind from thoughts is a very common mistake with meditation and it won’t work if you’re trying too hard’ says Andy. ‘Meditation is about learning how to step back and get a different perspective on thought rather than trying to stop thought altogether. It just so happens when you do this, the mind naturally quietens down.’
So don’t stress if your mind wanders to lunch plans, your to-do list or your afternoon schedule when you try to meditate, simply acknowledge your thoughts and let them go.
Hey, it’s OK!
If you’ve tried before and given up thinking you’re no good at this meditating caper, we have news for you; you’re totally normal.
‘It’s very common for a mix of feelings and emotions to come up when you’re trying to meditate, from feeling out of control, stressed, excited, not having focus, wanting to fidget or not feeling anything at all,’ says Andy.
Keep going, with a little persistence your sense of calm will increase and not only will you get better at meditating, you’ll get better at dealing with distractions in your everyday life too.
Think little and often
Like any habit, it’s best to start small with meditation. Don’t go in hung ho, expecting to reach enlightenment after an hour’s practice– you’ll end up disappointed. Instead, think of it as a muscle you want to strengthen.
To begin with, set aside 10 minutes a day. It could be on your morning commute, when you first wake-up or during your lunch break. Sit comfortably in a chair with your back straight and your hands in your lap. Then relax…