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.
Beyond Blue who have been experiencing an upsurge in interest from those affected by covid-19, have also recommended relaxation exercises, and provide free resources here.
What meditative practices have you tried and enjoyed? Tell us in the comments below.
Nikki Howie is a regular contributor to the Bayleaf Wellness Community. She’s a Melbourne transplant from sunny Queensland where she studied Law and Arts at Griffith University. You can usually find her enjoying Carlton Gardens, reading up on nourishing recipes and wellness practices, and learning to love running.