Ask any avid meditation lover, and they’ll tell you just how much a meditative practice benefits and enhances their lives. What they might not tell you is just how tough it was starting out – quietening the mind is a true challenge and there’s an incredible wealth of teachings about it, appearing in many ancient practices all over the world.
So how can those of us who are time-poor, frazzled and low on patience (speaking for myself!) reap some of the benefits of incorporating meditative practices into our routine?
1. Start small – setting ourselves a regular target, such as 5 minutes three times a week, can get us into the swing of things without it feeling like climbing Mount Everest.
2. On the move – you don’t necessarily need to cross-legged in a rigor mortis of discomfort on the floor – you can actually practice focusing your mind while on a daily walk, or by doing a calm, repetitive task. For some of us that might be cooking or ironing – or even brushing your teeth. To bring a feeling of playfulness and a different perspective, try lying down with your feet straight against a wall (bonus points for this as in yoga this is an especially restorative inversion).
3. Have gratitude – quietly reflecting on what we are thankful for, can be a restorative practice that brings us back to ourselves. Sending positive thoughts towards our loved ones for a few minutes each day can be a beautiful way to be still and in the moment.
4. Be playful – this should be a joy not a job. This is all in the attitude – if we can approach our meditative journey from a place of playful curiosity, we won’t feel like we’ve ‘failed’ if we can’t get to our mental zen garden easily.
5. Pick a mantra – repeating a calming and powerful affirmation can be an effective way to keep your mind fixed on something, while you purposefully inhale and exhale. You might like to try a new one each day, or keep a few favourites in rotation. Poems and song lyrics can also do the trick nicely.
A final suggestion for those wannabe yogis - look for resources to help & inspire you. Tech has really developed to support this kind of ‘meditation for beginners’ approach, with apps like Headspace and Smiling Mind offering user friendly guides and practical tips.