We all know that meditation is good for us, don’t we? A study in 2005 on American men and women who meditated 40 minutes a day showed that they had thicker cortical walls than non-meditators. What this meant is that their brains were aging at a slower rate. Cortical thickness is also associated with decision making, attention and memory.
A 2008 study on 60 patients with high blood pressure showed that after participating in a meditation-based relaxation program, two-thirds of those people experienced significant drops in their blood pressure. These men and women were able to reduce some of their medication as a result of meditating.
More recently, another study found that meditation was more than twice as effective as Morphine and other pain-relieving drugs in reducing pain levels. Although only a small number of people participated in this study, the results are encouraging.
Okay, so I know meditation is good for me and that it can do wonders for me mentally, physically and spiritually. I know a daily meditation practice would be good for me. BUT, for some reason I still find it hard to commit to a regular practice. Can you relate to this?
I’ve read many articles and books on the ‘how to’. I’ve gone to meditation workshops and classes but I still don’t meditate regularly.
Most of the time when I do set some time aside to meditate, rather than feeling relaxing it feels like hard work. If you can relate to this, then like me, you probably just haven’t found the right way of meditating for you.
I’ve found a few ways to make meditating feel less like work and more like something I’ll do and even enjoy. None of the following suggestions are rocket science and none mean you have to commit to hours of meditating every day. I hope some of these work for you.
Make sure you’re comfortable. One of the things I’ve noticed about some of the accepted positions for meditating is that they can be super uncomfortable. I can’t sit cross-legged at all and stretching my legs out in front of me brings on a numb behind and pins and needles in a matter of minutes. Try this:
Lie down. Yep, that’s it. Well, do make sure you’re comfy, then close your eyes and see what happens. You might drift off into a nap or you might just feel like you’re floating and not thinking about much at all. Guess what? Even if it’s only for five or ten minutes, you’re meditating! If you find you always fall asleep, try sitting in a comfortable chair. Make sure you are well supported so that if you do still drift off you won’t actually fall off the chair. Close your eyes… (see above). Experiment with what comfortable means for you.
Try counting a certain number of breaths. This is a real no-brainer. Take 50 (or 60 or 100) breaths. Count them. Try not to think about anything else. I find this one works well for me. It gives my mind something to do while my body is just – there… Hey, I’m meditating.
Use an alarm clock. If counting your breaths doesn’t work, try setting your mobile phone or a timer for five minutes and meditate until the alarm rings. You don’t have to worry about how long it’s been or how much longer you should be meditating. Just breathe and try to relax. Easy-peasy.
Fake it for 10 breaths. If you feel that you really, really, really need to meditate, but don’t feel like you have the time, just do 10 breaths. Even if you tell yourself that you don’t have time for ten breaths, if you still feel like you really need it, just do it. Ten breaths. That’s all. When you stop you’ll either feel like it’s done what you wanted or you might actually want to keep going for 10 or 20 more breaths. When you’re really stressed out, just remember to start with only 10 breaths or you’ll never make it.
Use CDs. These are useful guides that can take you to a calm place. Some might just have music that encourages your brain to go into alpha mode (baroque music is great for this). Others might be guided meditations where you are asked to visualize maybe going on a journey or imagine being in a place that is especially tranquil for you. The presenter’s voice will constantly bring you back, if you find your mind is drifting off on thoughts of what’s for dinner or how much ironing you’ve got to do.
Keep experimenting. Try as many different ways as you can to find what makes meditation something you are drawn to doing regularly. If you’re not meditating on a regular basis right now, it’s only because you haven’t found a method that works for you; that makes you want to do it. I promise you, when you find one or several methods that you actually enjoy, meditating will be easy.
www.yourlifecelebrated.com.au © Jane Gillespie 2012