Many of us spend our days with our heads filled with thoughts, racing from one thing to the next. Whether we are making plans for the day ahead, remembering conversations and situations from the past or day-dreaming about the future, our minds often end up feeling like the London Underground in rush hour… CRAZY BUSY!
We often hear about the benefits of meditation and its claim to longer, happier, healthier, more peaceful lives, so why are we not meditating all the time?
If you are anything like me, it may well be that the thought of sitting crossed legged watching your thoughts pass through your mind like “clouds in the sky” is a little daunting. Firstly, I am not sure I want to examine all of my thoughts that closely and secondly, finding 5 minutes of quiet to myself seems like a mountain to be climbed in itself. So what can a person like me do to find a little more peace of mind?
There is a widespread assumption in the West that meditation means sitting still. Through yoga, I have discovered that this is a huge misconception. Meditation is about gaining the ability “to direct and sustain mental activity without distraction” or to hold mental focus towards something… your thoughts, the washing up, walking the dog, or moving your body in synchrony with your breath like you do in a yoga class.
Meditation is not about separating ourselves from the world. By keeping our eyes open and our bodies active, we do not isolate ourselves, but instead find focus in the world in which we live; a much more valuable skill for our modern way of living, removing the need for the “perfect conditions” to focus. Simple mindful activities, like eating while being fully aware of flavors and sensations, make eating a far more enjoyable experience, help us to digest our food better and also train our minds. This makes it far easier to build this type of meditative focus into our daily lives.
I have been working recently on repeating a mantra to myself while walking to the tube. A mantra is a short phrase, you can choose any phrase that resonates with you; the Internet is full of great examples of these positive affirmations. I discovered quickly that my mind would wander on to other things, before I had even managed to repeat the phrase once. Each time my mind moved away from the mantra, I would re-focus on repeating the phrase and I am now able to repeat it seven times without other thoughts taking me away elsewhere.
Now, this might not seem like a big change to you, but to me it is like holding the reins of my galloping team of horses for the first time. Once I am done, making sure I have repeated the mantra to myself 11 times, I feel more peaceful, more positive, more accomplished and better prepared for my day ahead.
I have learned that with the right attitude, any activity can become a doorway to mental peace; it is all about your approach to the activity. Walking the dogs, cooking, cleaning, writing, reading, playing with the kids… any activity that you can completely focus on, while observing everything you can about your body and thoughts, can bring you out of your crazy busy state.
So, if you are new to the whole thing like I was, I suggest finding a local meditation or mindfulness class, or even a beginners yoga class to get you started in the right direction.
Visit www.theradianthand.co.uk to find out more about a great little studio in Tooting, where they offer meditation classes on Saturdays at 2:45pm to get you out of rush hour thinking and into the easy flow of focussed thoughts. Even better, book onto a yoga retreat with The Radiant Hand, where you will be guided through a meditative practice daily!