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What is meditation? and how to do it!

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There are many forms of meditation and in this article I will cover a few but first let’s talk about what meditation is and why we do it.

Meditation is a form of focusing the mind. This get’s confused a lot with clearing the mind. When we here about meditation the first thing most of us picture is someone sat crossed legged and zoned out, not hearing or knowing what’s going on around them and then they usually get snapped back into reality. At least this is what cartoons and the tv have shown us.

In actually fact, meditation is when we completely focus the mind on one particular thing. This could be a thought, an image, a smell, a task, a movement or more. When our minds are completely focused on something, the brain doesn’t have a million thoughts, the body stays still, the breath becomes a slow rhythm and we can tune out the outside world if we want. That being said you will find that a lot of meditation practitioners will have their minds completely focused on one thing but are still able to hear and know exactly what is going on around them.

Why would we want to do this? Well, in modern day life we have electronics, jobs, children, household chores, notifications, door bells, phones, TVs all these things keep us on edge and distracted. We are constantly looking for that next dopamine hit whether that’s through a notification that someone has liked your Instagram photo or if its getting exciting news or a pay check. We have a million thoughts and to-do lists that keep are brain going constantly.

This means we have no time for our para sympathetic nervous system to activate. This is our rest and digest mode. When we leave no time for this we live in a constant state of stress and this effects the body. We can end up with our bodies not being able to digest food, sleep properly, toilet problems and so much more.

When we can activate the para sympathetic nervous system it slows our heartrates and breath and the body can function a lot better. We can also focus our attention better and are thoughts become more clear. This is also why creative writers block is a thing and you usually see them getting high to clear their minds. (again as seen on tv).

So we want to occasionally activate this state and by occasionally I mean at least once a day. You can do this in other ways like relaxing on the sofa, having a leisurely walk or just sitting without a phone for a couple of minutes. BUT a great way to do this is through yoga and meditation. So let’s see the different ways we can meditate and get our bodies functioning better.

Walking

You can actually do a walking meditation. You can do this mindfully on your own or listen to a guided meditation as you walk. To do this on your own, just start with a slow pace, focusing your attention on your breath and trying to keep a rhythm. Slow breath in, slow breath out and focus all your attention on your movement. How the ground feels beneath you, the feeling of the air touching your skin, the sound of your breath in and out. Just focusing all your attention on you, your body and breath. Every time your mind wonders, bring it back to your breath and that is a walking meditation.

Yoga

When you do a yoga class, you are focusing all your attention on yourself. The way your body feels, moves and flows into poses. The way you slow down your breath and be mindful of what thoughts are coming up for you. Usually the teachers will cue this stuff so you don’t have to focus on meditating, just do what the instructor says. I teach a lot of Vinyasa yoga and this means moving meditation. It is where we do 1 breath with 1 pose and we keep flowing. I tend to slow my classes down for beginners so we actually hold the poses for a few breathes but as long as you are focusing completely on yourself then this is a form of meditation, especially with YIN yoga another style I teach and this can activates the para sympathetic nervous system.

Cleaning

If you are someone who loves cleaning then you will be happy to know this can also be a form of meditation. This is why some people stress clean. Because cleaning your area makes you feel more organized and calm. When we stress clean it’s a way to quickly tidy up our homes but also our thoughts. We are focused on the task at hand and are trying to switch off. Whatever you are doing, whether that be the dishes, ironing, sweeping, vacuuming if you are focused completely on the task at hand and your mind isn’t wondering off then you are doing a form of meditation.

Guided Meditation

The most obvious one is a guided meditation. You can search on google, YouTube, Spotify or anywhere like that for guided meditations and all you have to do is sit there and listen to the instructor and do as they say. This is a great thing to do if you are new to meditation because it can be extremely difficult to try and shut your thoughts off. When we are listening to someone, we don’t have a choice, we are in the moment, doing what they say and NOT in silence like some cartoons will have you believe. There are a lot of different guided meditations out there, my best advice would be to head to YouTube or use the app insight timer and pick some. Every teacher will teach differently and you will resonate with some more than others.

The great thing about guided meditations is you can also do sleep meditations to help you drift off to sleep. So if sleeping is an issue for you then try this one to focus on the meditation rather than letting your thoughts spiral especially if like me you start thinking about what you would do if there was a zombie apocalypse right now.

This are just a couple of things, but the list can go on and on but I think you are getting a picture of what a meditation can be. Anything where you completely focus on the task at hand can be classed as meditation.

I hope you enjoyed this blog and it inspires you to start your meditation practice now. If you are ready, watch one of the videos below for a quick guided meditation.

Enjoy

Leah x

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