I share a lot about the benefits of meditation and with good reason, I credit a HUGE part of my healing to meditation. The process has taught me to release my thoughts instead of clinging to them. To find stillness within me and not be pushed around by my emotions. It has brought me a sense of peace that I was never able to find in my life before; when I was dealing with such deep depths of depression and overwhelming anxiety. I still overthink sometimes (who doesn’t?) – but I now have a tool that is so powerful in bringing me back to calmness and clarity!
I find most people I talk to about meditation have this idea that it means you have to stop your mind from thinking, to go silent and have no thoughts. Which turns so many away from this incredible practice because that seems impossible. And honestly, it is! Our brains are designed to think, it’s what they do. And if you shift your view of meditation to detaching from thoughts and not following them rather than stopping them altogether – it becomes a whole lot more do-able.
The most decisive event in your life is when you discover you are not your thoughts or emotions. Instead, you can be present as the awareness behind the thoughts and emotions. Eckhart Tolle
Meditation has some obvious benefits in regards to anxiety and depression, but it can also help with sleep problems, fatigue, substance abuse and even chronic pain. There are many forms of meditation and the trick is finding the right style for you. What most people may think about is sitting cross-legged on a pillow, chanting. Sound familiar? That’s a really powerful form of meditation, but it certainly isn’t the only one.
One of the easiest meditations for beginners is deep breathing. This can be done anytime throughout the day or you can have a set time and practice. I love having a more regular practice and meditate in the morning, but I find during the day if I start to feel anxious or stressed – I always come back to my breath which calms me. The whole goal behind meditation is simply presence. Being present in your body, focusing on your breath moving through your body, allowing your mind to rest by allowing thoughts to pass through.
Here is an example of what a breathing meditation may look like. Find a comfortable seat and sit with your spine tall. Simply focus on your breathing, have your inhales and exhales be the same length. Breathe from the stomach instead of the chest and allow your belly to rise and fall with each breath. If a thought enters your mind (which it will) acknowledge it and then let it go. In the beginning it may feel difficult not to follow each thought, and if you do find yourself deep into a thought and you realize this, just simply release it at that moment and return to your breath. A simple 5 minutes of this in the morning is a perfect place to begin.
Meditation works best when practiced daily, so begin with short time periods that you know you can be consistent with. It’s much more effective to meditate for 5 minutes every day than 20 minutes once a week.
As you become consistent with your practice you can start to experiment with new types. Try listening to guided meditations or ambient music. Find what works for you and what allows you to be consistent. It’s called a practice for a reason! Now that I’ve been practicing for a long time, I find time spent in nature is a form of meditation, colouring can be a form, even mindful walks are amazing.
Meditation helps slow your mind, calm your body and connect with your intuition and inner voice. Everyone can benefit from this amazing practice, whether you suffer from anxiety or not!