If you’re anything like I used to be, you may think that meditation is just for monks and hippies. How my mindset has changed! It’s also not really what I thought it was (i.e. chanting and ohming).
JT and I spent a few weeks in Thailand a few years ago and it got me really interested in Buddhism and meditation. When we got home, I went to a few sessions at my local Buddhist temple to learn mediation and more about Buddhism. It was soooo interesting. Whilst I wouldn’t consider myself to identify with Buddhism as my religion, I do see it as a very worthy set of principles to live life by.
Meditation involves silencing the mind. Think of it as a tool to relax your whole self, and also for better health. The core of meditation is to focus and eventually quiet your mind. As you get better at it, you will find that you can meditate anywhere, anytime. However, for beginners, doing it is not as easy as saying it! You’re definitely not going to be able to do it on the bus on your morning commute. When you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, meditation is a great way to take back control.
So how exactly do you meditate?
When you’re starting out, you need to set aside enough time in your daily routine for meditation. It can be at any time of the day. You may set time for meditation at the start of the day or you can put it at the end of the day as a means of relaxing. However, it is recommended that the easiest time to meditate is in the morning because your body is not tired and your mind is still fresh. It can really set you up for the day. You should avoid it when you’re tired since, contrary to popular belief, meditation is not something you should be falling asleep while doing. Despite it being relaxing, it is also a very active process.
Find a quiet space
Once you find the time to meditate, you need to choose a suitable space to meditate. Create an environment that doesn’t have any noise or distractions. You can put some music on but make sure it’s calm, repetitive and gentle so as not to distract you.
Sit on level ground. Remember to keep your back straight. This will help with your breathing. Relax your arms and legs. They don’t need to be in a special position. The most important thing is that you are relaxed. Now start searching for parts of your body that aren’t relaxed. It could be your face muscles or shoulders. Try relaxing all of them. I find it easiest to start at the top of your head and work your way down to your toes. Focus on each part of the body and how it feels. If it’s tense, relax it. This sounds time-consuming but you can do it in a couple of minutes.
Concentrate on something
It can be hard to control your thoughts. So to silence your mind, try to focus your mind on something. It may be a simple mantra or it may be concentration on a flower or a candle. Just make sure it’s nothing too distracting. Focusing on your breathing is also a good technique. Follow your breath from where it enters your nose all the way to it filling your lungs. Then follow it on the way back out too.
Silence your mind
Once you are focused, you can calm your mind. This requires discipline and you won’t master it immediately but don’t let that discourage you. Your mind will wander, that’s normal. Just try not to beat yourself up. Acknowledge that you had a thought and bring your mind back to focus on your breathing.
Most importantly, meditation is something done with intensity and focus, once you achieve that, you have reached the pinnacle of meditation. As I said though, it won’t happen overnight. After all, monks take years to master it and they do it for a living! Little old you will just have to be patient.
So try it today and you’ll find yourself feeling the benefits almost immediately. In the long term, it can improve both your physical and mental health and leave you much more resilient and able to cope with what menopause throws at you.
Hi, I'm Kerry,
I live in a teeny, beautiful hamlet in South West France after relocating from the North East of England. Now I’d love to tell you that I exercise every day, eat a vegan diet, recycle everything, have a minimalist home, meditate daily, blah, blah, you get the picture. However, that’s not me. I’m somewhere in the middle. I strive to do all of those things but I’m just a normal woman with an imperfect life where shit happens and I’m also navigating perimenopause.