One of the habits I have decided to track this year is meditating daily. But this is one habit I am not able to sustain on a daily basis. I decided to see what could be the reason for this and thought this post could then help someone else with the same problem as me.
My usual meditation routine is at night – just before I nod off. This worked earlier, but these days, I find myself sleeping off before I am able to meditate for even five minutes. I wonder what I am doing wrong. I have tried the Calm app before but wanted to try free form meditation this time around and do a proper meditation as opposed to depending on an external source to ground me.
There is plenty of evidence floating around, including scientific evidence, about how meditation is good for you. Some of the benefits include the reduction of stress, which in turn helps in the sleep cycle, dispels depression and anxiety, reduces blood pressure, helps in the alleviation of fatigue and cloudy thinking and controls anxiety.
You also become more self-aware with the help of meditation and that in turn helps you to develop a stronger understanding of yourself and how you relate to those around you, thus helping you grow into your best self. The infographic above is an excellent condensation of the benefits of meditation.
So now that we know why meditation is good, what’s the best time to meditate. Most studies show that meditating twice a day – once as soon as you wake up and once just before you sleep is the best. You can also try meditating in bits and pieces throughout the day (in tranches of one to five minutes each) if that’s what you prefer.
To start meditating, choose a quiet place, one where you are sure not to be disturbed when you are doing your practice (however short it may be). Sit on the floor cross-legged or if you can’t do that, sit in a straight-backed chair. I usually just use the timer off my phone and set the time I want to meditate and start the timer when I am ready. Now close your eyes and start to concentrate on your breathing. Your mind will start wandering at this point and thoughts will start crowding your head, especially undone tasks. When this happens, and your mind starts to wander, just bring it back into the breath and start focusing on it again. As you improve your practice, you will find this interval between the times your mind starts wandering lengthening and after some time you may be able to go your whole session without the mind not wandering even once!
I walk a lot. I try to get 10,000 steps in a day and this means I spend at least a couple of hours over the course of my day walking to clock in the steps. I had heard of walking meditation and this is something I am trying to see if I can do – it will allow me to incorporate my daily meditation when I am walking and as a bonus, help me alleviate the boredom that sometimes comes when you walk alone.
So what is walking meditation? It is simply meditation in action. It is being aware of yourself as you walk. Actually, when I read about it, I realised I was already practising it all along. So for those who want to do walking meditation, here’s how you do it.
Find a space where you can comfortably walk. This space can be either indoors or outdoors. Start at one point and before you start, anchor yourself. This means you take a deep breath and focus on your body. Feel the ground beneath your feet and feel it. Become aware of the different sensations and feelings in your body and also take note of your thoughts and feelings at that point.
Start by walking slower than usual with a relaxed and natural gait. Be mindful of every step you take and when you reach the end of the path, pause for a second to centre yourself before you start walking back. Increase your pace after a couple of rounds to a pace that you are comfortable with. Keep your mind focussed on your feet and the steps they take. As with the traditional meditation, when you feel your mind wandering (as it definitely will), gently guide it back. Walk for around ten to twenty minutes before you stop. When you are ready to end the session, pause for a moment and become aware of the world with a show of thanks ending the session.
As you become more adept at walking meditation, you can then start to utilise your senses to the world around you, especially if you are doing this outdoors. See, sense and feel the world, the wind, the air, the colours and smells around you as you become aware of what is around you.
I really see myself doing a fair bit of walking meditation now. What about you? For those on the fence, is meditation something you plan to take up soon? I have written about meditation earlier. You can read my previous articles here and here. Hopefully, this will allow me to come back and report that my meditation practice is going great guns!