Many people often answer 'awareness' 'breathing' 'relaxing' or 'clearing the kind.' However, I define meditation as putting your attention and awareness on just one thing for a given period of time. The attention can be put on breath, a guided journey for example imagining yourself in an exotic destination, tuning into your senses or even cooking. Whenever we focus on a chosen focus rather than at the mercy of invading thoughts and feeling, we are in meditation. The list of possibilities then is endless.
There are many tried-and-tested methods to get your brain into a meditative place whether your not you prefer to be active or still, spiritual or pragmatic in your approach. In my hour long meditation sessions in Thame, Oxfordshire and online, I introduce many styles of meditation, getting past the belief that meditation 'isn't for them' by demonstrating that there are as many ways to cultivate focus as there are days in the year.
Meditation is used to quiet the mind, to prepare the mind for positive change and practise moving away from negative states. It takes time and practice like any new skill but the benefits can be huge. Regular meditators see many changes in physical and mental health as well as reporting higher levels of happiness and contentment.
Traditional mindfulness courses which teach meditation as a key element, report big differences in people’s perceived levels of peacefulness and clarity in just 8 weeks. Although everyone is different, it may not take as long as you think to begin to get some distance from invading thoughts and develop the ability to notice them and then let them go.
What if I can't Meditate Properly?
When we see meditation as focusing we realise most of us have the ability to focus as functional human beings. It's perhaps where we put our focus and how long our focus lasts that takes practise. There is no right or wrong way to 'do' meditation, only the act and intention of choosing to focus.
At first with traditional meditation, the mind is likely resist changing thinking habits. Beginners especially may experience: boredom, frustration, wandering thoughts, physical discomfort and small scale irritancies like itchiness. As emotions are given space to come to the surface, you may even feel temporary tearfulness, anger or other emotions you may perceive as negative.
See these as a way for the body to get back in connection with itself and let off steam in an appropriate and peaceful environment - just like pulling weeds out of the garden before you plant something new.
What if I can't empty my mind?
Meditation is not about stopping thinking but about teaching us we can have a thought and also have the ability to not let it bother us. Like passing clouds, we start to realise thoughts and emotions are just things that are presented to us. It’s up to us what we do with them, if we do anything at all.
Next: Read about the different types of meditation http://stephanieclarksontherapies.com/news/2018/4/4/types-of-meditation
Stephanie Clarkson is a holistic therapist, reiki healer, hypnotherapist and meditation teacher living and working in Thame Oxfordshire and Online.
She also runs the Ambient Collection, on online retailer of healing gifts www.etsy.com/shop/ambientbodyandmind