So here’s a thing.
Now don’t disappear thinking I’ve gone all ‘hippy’ on you – stick with it.
The closest I have ever got to being a hippy is having a Buddha in the spare room and that was more style over substance. A bit of a fashion statement (oh the shame!) You know what I mean though – all a bit Camden in the nineties’ with a bit of a resurgence a few years back as a ‘statement piece’. Not the point though is it!
I do stroke his belly as I pass though. You’ve got to keep in with these people after all!
Meditation is all part of the Yoga thing that I spoke about recently in Don’t Hold Your Ujaayi Breath!
I’m a slave to the cause. Just look at me!
I am probably one of the least likely people to buy into meditation and mindfulness. Not only do I do everything at 100 miles per hour but I am also skilled in the art of thinking at least 50 things at the same time.
I can quite easily construct a shopping list on the left side of my brain while writing a blog post with the right – and that’s on a quiet day.
So this is not something that is easily accessible to someone like me. And I’m guessing many of you are thinking the same of yourselves.
‘Meditation’ I hear you cry ‘Who’s got time for that’?
My point entirely.
So how do people like us switch off?
Well let me tell you that Mrs Busy Head has made great in roads into this meditation malarkey. And, if I’m going to give it a go, I need to be able to do it properly. Everyone raves about it and I’d had a little go as part of my yoga classes. But, and there is a but, was I doing it right?
As with the breathing, I need a little instruction and as part of the time I spent with Rachel Skipper of Rachel Skipper Yoga, this was something that I started to explore
Because, how does one just go off? It’s all well and good seeing pictures of others in a meditative state, it looks amazing. What about me? And people like me? The sceptical. The ones that think it’s all a little bit ‘out there’.
How do we do it?
Up until now I’ve really tried – unsuccessfully of course. Mainly, because I didn’t know what I should be doing or feeling or why.
My version of trying to meditate was going boss eyed with my eyes closed. Don’t bother trying it because that has little effect – other than going boss eyed behind your eyelids. I managed to still write lists in this mode. There is always room in the world for a trier though!
Rachel explained that when we think about it, we live our life from the neck upwards. Busy lives and tension stay firmly in the shoulders and above. The rest of the body doesn’t get a look in. We are almost detached from our bodies.
I have to say this is so true and makes so much sense. Although, I can’t think why I haven’t got the rest of the body involved in the thinking project!
By way of further explanation, Rachel used the analogy of being in the back row of the theatre and observing what was going on at the front.
As in our thoughts aren’t just going to disappear because we are meditating, rather we push them away for now. Let them hover but don’t pay them any attention.
The other point Rachel made was that we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts are separate from us.
Yes I know – that one took me a while too. But as far as the pushing the thoughts away goes, I get that and I can do it. It also helps to have an instructor that is able to talk you through the meditation with prompts.
Of course some people find it easier to relax than others. Again, it all comes back to the breathing. For those that struggle to switch off, Mantras* are useful. Something as simple as giving your mind something to do on the breath in and the breath out really helps. You are effectively giving your mind a job to do.
*Mantra Definition – Vehicle for the mind
And therein lies the key to all of this. Allowing ourselves to be mindful. Mindful of our bodies, our surroundings and our self.
Just being aware of your body in this sense is quite something if you are a ‘thinker’. It gets you out of your head for a bit.
Allowing ourselves just 5 minutes to switch off from the bills, the kids, the lists and to just let our minds do nothing, is something that is really alien to many of us.
It took me a while to get anywhere close to switching off and, as with Yoga, it’s all about the practice.
And guess what, our world hasn’t stopped because I meditated for five minutes. The family are alive and well and eating and the world trading systems haven’t come to a grinding halt. And it wasn’t just me that was meditating, others were too. Proof that we can just step away from life without the sky falling down!
It is also possible to nod off during meditation too. I have, and that is really saying something.
I also use some of the mind emptying techniques if I’m struggling to sleep. There is nothing worse than not being able to sleep or not being able to sleep because your mind is too busy.
Sleep patterns do tend to take a pounding in the mid-life stages and I’m prepared to do whatever it takes for my beauty sleep.
I hope others are encouraged by this. It can be very easy to disregard self-care and put the obstacle of being too busy in the way. We can also turn our backs on practices such as meditation as ‘not being for us’ and ‘all a bit out there’ and this is my attempt to draw some parallels from the perspective of a cynic.
As with all things, you can invest as much time as you feel is right for you.
What I do know is that if I miss classes, I really notice it now. And that’s why I make time in my week to attend those that fit with my schedule.
I don’t recommend doing it with the beloved family in the house though. Especially, when you reside with a bunch of comedians. Iron Man takes great delight in shouting ‘Ohm’ whenever I go anywhere near the Yoga mat. He’s the funniest person he knows!!!
Mind the Buddha on the way out!