Do you find it hard to give your mind some rest? With these three tips it becomes a little bit easier.
Meditation is actually nothing more than getting your busy, overactive mind and body into a relaxed state. Although there are a variety of ways to do this, the basic elements are focus and attention. Thoughts (about a meeting you had, for example, or the grocery shopping you have to do later), sounds (such as noisy traffic) and feelings (restlessness, impatience) continue to crop up and don’t have to be ‘banished’, but the difference is that you don’t have to continually get sucked into their vortex. Instead, you distance yourself from those thoughts and feelings and observe them. The minute you notice you are getting distracted, you calmly return your focus to the moment. If you have to, you do this over and over again, dozens of times.
- Start small
Start with five minutes of meditation per day. If you want, you can gradually work your way up to fifteen or twenty minutes, or even more. Even a few minutes each day is enough to feel calmer, physically and mentally. Whatever you do, don’t make meditation one of your ‘to-do list’ items, because that will only lead to stress. According to Belgian psychiatrist and mindfulness trainer Edel Maex, meditation and obligation don’t go well together.
- Breaks are good for you
It has been scientifically proven that meditation leads to more relaxation. Mark Williams, mindfulness experts and professor of clinical psychology at Oxford University, UK, agrees. “We seem to think that being busy and rushing around means we are very creative and productive,” he says. “In actual fact, this is a situation in which our brains are in ‘flight mode’ the whole time. If you were to give someone who is always busy an MRI brain scan and look at their amygdala, you would see that it is chronically overactive.The amygdala is the part of the brain that is involved in our ‘fight or flight’ responses. You can only break the pattern of this chronic overactivity by taking regular breaks and making conscious choices.” In other words, you go from ‘doing’ to ‘being’.
- More tips can be found in Issue 20.
Text Caroline Buijs Photography Shutterstock