In this week’s Fitness Blog I talked about what meditation was not and that it is simply a skill of focusing the mind. People think that it is a form of prayer but in meditation you don’t pray to an entity – you don’t ask for anything other than accept what is. The big problem is that people expect something to happen and when it doesn’t they think that it doesn’t work and give up on it…
So, how to meditate? There are a myriad of meditation methods on the Internet and choosing one that suits you can be confusing. If you want a simple method, I have described it below –
Sit in a comfortable position. It doesn’t have to be in a position similar to the photo above. It can be on a chair and you don’t want to go to sleep so try not to attempt it laying down in your bed. Sit upright, head balanced over your shoulders and spine straight. Your legs should not be crossed and your feet should be placed firmly on the floor. You should be in a room where you won’t be disturbed so you can concentrate.
Close your eyes – which helps you to concentrate. Concentrate on the breath going in and out of your nose. You don’t need to repeat a mantra. Simply focus on your breath, feeling it going into and out of your nostrils. You don’t need to breathe in a certain way, although this is done in certain modes of meditation. Start with a larger breath than usual to put into your mind that you have started, but from then on breathe normally.
As you concentrate on the simple act of breathing your mind will wonder – after all, our average concentration time is said to be only 6 seconds! Don’t concern yourself or judge yourself for your short concentration span. When you notice that your mind has wondered off into the river of thought, only notice this and guide it back to concentrating on your breath – always bringing your concentration back to this.
When you do realize that you have lost concentration, observe what you were thinking about. Just observe it from an outsiders point of view and don’t judge it! We all have layers of neurotic assumptions in how we see the world through what we have been taught from an early age or from experience. If you take the view of being the observer of thought you will be able to detect as to whether it is thought that takes you away from what you want to achieve in your life or towards it. If the thought is negative, change it to a positive. Keep it that simple as we tend to make life more complex than it needs to be! Just keep on bringing your concentration back to your breath.
As to what meditation achieves? 90% of our thoughts today are the same as yesterday and 70% are negative. If we want to feel that every aspect of our lives are 100% fulfilling, we should steer our thoughts to the positive and dramatically improve our cognitive abilities. Meditating 20 minutes a day will also pay big dividends to our physical health: lower blood pressure measurements; improves immune system; lessens brain and heart problems; lessens inflammatory disorders and improves energy levels to name just a few of its benefits.