If you want a New Year’s resolution that you can actually keep, why not make a pledge to look after your mind? Our lives are getting busier by the second and it’s now more important to schedule an appointment with yourself so you can unwind and switch off. The perfect way is to learn how to meditate.
Meditation began thousands of years ago in Asia. It became popular in western countries in the mid 20th Century and is thought to be one of the most powerful techniques to train your mind. Buddha is a renowned figure associated with meditation, in fact, the word means ‘the enlightened one.’
Meditation increases mindfulness and attention to the present moment, minimising the time that we’re distracted by worries and stress. Sounds easy enough but it’s more complex than sitting in a room being quiet. Meditation is a skill that takes time to learn and once you’ve mastered it, you’ll reap the benefits.
It’s not just a technique to improve mindfulness, meditation is also a healing therapy. GPs recommend it as a treatment for patients with mental health problems and it can have positive effects on patients that suffer from anxiety, depression and chronic pain. It also improves the positive state of mind and immune system of non-clinical patients.
The best way to start your journey is to meditate for as little as five minutes a day. Meditation can be done at any time, though some experts recommend first thing in the morning to give that initial boost to the day.
To begin sit in a quiet room in a chair or on the floor with no distractions; switch off your phone, light a candle and close your eyes noticing the sounds around you; become aware of your body and focus on your breathing, counting your inhale and exhale. Creating a personal mantra and a positive affirmation is also a good way to remain focused. You can gradually up the time that you spend meditating and even try increasing to two sessions a day.
For beginners who are unsure about where to start, apps such as Headspace are useful as a guided meditation. The app includes podcasts and videos about the science behind mindfulness and meditation, as well as a variety of online resources to help guide you.
So give your mind some TLC this year and bring meditation into your daily routine. It might just transform your life but if you don’t try it, you will never know what it feels like to be enlightened.
Words by Laura Dunham