Meditation and mindfulness are particular buzz words in the wellness industry at the moment. In fact, it’s not just limited to health and yoga folk, but it’s seeping into the corporate world too, with companies finding that employees are more productive when they have a calmer, more mindful approach to work.
Mindfulness is not something that I’ve really delved into a lot, finding it hard to switch off the constant chatter in my mind. I’ve found that yoga has helped greatly, but taking a calm mental state from an hour on the mat, to everyday life is no mean feat! There are various apps available now to aid meditation, giving hints and tips and also guided meditations, though I’ve never tried one, I know people who have found success using them.
When meditation cushion company Basaho asked if I’d like to try one of their meditation cushions, I thought it a great way to encourage me to try a little more mindfulness. That, coupled with some very peaceful meditative moments on my recent yoga retreat, have given me a bit more guidance into finding a meditation practice that works.
Here are a few of my top tips for starting a meditation practice (bear in mind, I am far from an expert):
1. Get comfy. Whether you intend to spend 5 minutes or 25 minutes in stillness, having to fidget because your knees or hips hurt is only going to break your concentration. Few people have the hip or knee mobility to sit in ‘lotus’ position to meditate, so forget about that before you even begin! Lifting your seat with a meditation cushion, like mine from Basaho, or even a pile of books, allows your knees to relax at an angle lower than your hips, much more comfortable for your joints. The wedge shape I use not only allows my hips and knees to stay in a safe alignment, but also prevents me from slouching and curving my spine.
2. Don’t try to empty your mind. The typical view of a meditation is that of completely emptying your mind of all thoughts. Near impossible I say! Instead find something to focus on, such as sound. My favourite way to meditate is to music, either gentle piano music – Ludvico Einaudi is my favourite – or electronic sound such as Marconi Union, supposedly the most relaxing music ever. Every time my mind wanders I bring it back to the music, the beat or even an individual instrument.
Another way to incorporate sound into your meditation is to sit in silence, but observe each sound that you hear. It could be a dog barking, a car passing your window or the hum of electronics. Again, it’s simply about focusing on something other than the internal chatter of your mind.
3. Remember, your mind WILL wander. Thinking that you’ve failed at meditation every time your mind has a little wander is a sure-fire way to end up more stressed than when you began. Accept the thoughts that enter your mind, acknowledge them but let them pass. My mind constantly creates stories and scenarios that can be really hard to control, so that is always the focus of my mediations, to allow the thoughts in, but instead of dwelling on them, allowing them to pass through as I refocus on my music.
Another favourite way to help my mind to calm down is to watch the ocean, a lake or river. I could stare out to sea forever, and have been known in the past to get in a car during particularly stressful times, and drive out of London until I find a coast.
4. Meditation or mindfulness doesn’t mean sitting doing nothing. There are so many ways to be mindful now, the newest craze being adult colouring. Here, the focus point is the precision of colouring in the lines resulting in not only taking your mind away from that internal chatter, but also encouraging creativity. You can find adult colouring books everywhere now, from forest scenes to mandalas and even tattoo designs.
Thank you Basaho for encouraging me to continue to find a meditation practice that works for me. With a wide range of cushions and designs, you can find one that suits the way you sit, your flexibility and your living room colour scheme! The best news is…the cat loves it too!
Do you have your own approach to mindfulness and meditation?
Basaho kindly gifted me a meditation cushion in return for this post. All words my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.