I hear this a lot at THR:
‘AAAaaarrrrggghhhhh, I want to meditate but I can’t!
Can’t do it.
Can’t Can’t Can’t!’
and my response is always the same:
‘You can’t meditate, YET!’
Thinking you can’t meditate usually stems from a misconception of what meditation is, or how to go about it. Images of sitting in a lotus position for hours on end trying to stop all the thoughts that come at you like a juggernaught spring to mind, and before you’ve even begun you feel defeated: ‘I’m NEVER going to be able to do THAT’.
Well the good news is you don’t have to, because meditation is waaaaaaay easier than THAT. Meditation doesn’t need to be difficult or take hours out of your day. You CAN meditate and you CAN go about it easily and with little effort.
First off, let me do some mythbusting for you:
MISCONCEPTION ONE: you have to empty your mind of all thought
Meditation isn’t about trying to have a completely empty mind, in a kind of tumbleweed rolling past kind of way. Whilst this is grand if you’re a yogi halfway up a mountain in the Himalayas, the rest of us can really struggle, and actually, it misses the point.
The key is to give your mind just ONE thing to think about. ONE thing to focus on, so that by default, your mind begins to slow and quieten because it isn’t dealing with three bazillion thoughts at the same time.
What you choose as your focus is up to you but it works best if you find a technique that you like.
Here are some of the most popular techniques that you can try:
Use a mantra, such as ‘I AM PEACE’. Repeat it slowly in your mind and build a steady rhythm.
Hold a mental image, such as a candle flame, or a place in nature that you really love. Focus in on the image and the calm it brings.
Listen to relaxing music, or to the sound of drums (YouTube is your friend here) and take all your attention to the sounds that you are hearing.
Use your breath. Take your attention to your breathing as you breathe in and out. You can count each breath, or can visualize white light being inhaled and exhaled.
Use a guided meditation. YouTube and Spotify are full of guided meditations. Search for a short one and listen to someone else’s voice guiding you into peace and relaxation.
MISCONCEPTION TWO: You have sit and meditate for hours for it to have any effect.
You can feel the benefit of meditation in just 7 minutes. Yup, not 7 hours, not 7 days, 7 m.i.n.u.t.e.s. However busy your life is, EVERYONE can find seven minutes in a day. Sneak off and hide in the loo for a few mins if that’s what it takes.
Hard as it may be to believe, even in this short space of time you are still laying the groundwork for calm, and you are still training your brain to behave in a different way. Plus, practice is cumulative, so each session will build on the last to create longer-lasting effects.
So why meditate in the first place? Basically, because it's fab for when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or generally rubbish. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, lessen anxiety, promote balance in your life and create a sense of wellbeing; and these are only some of the positive outcomes.
What’s great is that once you start to feel the benefits you’ll find that 7 minutes is not nearly enough, and you’ll be looking for longer times in the day when you can fit it in = more awesomeness!
Ready to give it a go?
Here’s your challenge: try meditating for 7 minutes a day for a week, and then see how you feel at the end of it. Follow these simple steps to get you started:
Find somewhere you can sit quietly; on the floor, on a chair, on your bed. Make sure you’re comfortable.
Turn off your phone or other devices so that you won’t be disturbed.
Set a timer for 7 minutes.
Choose one of the techniques above and close your eyes.
Begin to take longer, deeper breaths and begin the meditation.
Your mind will inevitably wander, but when it does, just slowly bring yourself back to your focus. Even if it wanders a hundred times, just bring it back without judgment or annoyance.
When the timer goes off, slowly open your eyes, stretch your body and get up and carry on with your day.
And here is one I made earlier
This is a meditation I created specifically for my clients who wanted to meditate but who were struggling. Click on the link and let me lead you into some lovely peace and relaxation for a grand total of 8 minutes:
If you’re trying meditation for the first time, it’s easy to get disheartened, but don’t give up just because you’ve fallen at the first hurdle. It takes practice-practice-practice, and if you persevere, you will be richly rewarded.
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh