Guest Speaker

The Importance of Meditation

The Importance of Meditation

I used to think meditation wasn’t for me. I wouldn’t be able to sit still long enough as I had ants in my pants and was so restless. I can now put this down to anxiety, but I didn’t recognise this until 2018.

Before I became a reader, I worked in a corporate company, in a stressful industry with unrealistic targets. I was often sitting at my desk till 8/9 at night. I’d try hit the gym before work at 7. The only good meal I’d have was from the work restaurant. I was living on my nerves and I didn’t really sleep more than 4/5 hours. When the weekend came my switch off was drinking and going to clubs, so then when Monday arrived I was still tired and even more aggy than before, the result of not having restful weekend.

A few things then happened to make things even worse. A relationship break up, combined with my father being in hospital made me realise that the reason I’d worked so hard was to prove to myself and others that I was good enough at my job. I’d carried previous traumas from years ago with me, putting them in a box rather than dealing with them, as I guess at the time I didn’t know how too. I used to get sweaty palms and feel sick and for 2-3 years, to the extent that I thought it was my IBS. I took the weeks my dad was in hospital off from work, and I remember sitting on the tube (the London subway system, for readers outside of the UK) after visiting him and for the first time in a while, I’d be alone with my thoughts. I knew then that I needed to address whatever was going on internally. I couldn’t cope with feeling physically sick all the time, couldn’t cope with having that nervous energy. Meditation has helped me immensely and now, for the first time in a long time, I honestly feel happy and content with life. Now, I believe everything that is thrown my way is a life lesson.

Meditation isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth noting that on your first attempt the state of relaxation and peace may not appear at the click of your fingers. It can take perseverance. It is extremely difficult to calm the mind, for instance when you can’t sleep and all you can think about is the fact that you can’t sleep.

Meditation allows us to reset and take 5. With technology and blue screens at our fingertips we never have time to ourselves. We go to the gym to train our muscles, or sit in the sauna to relax the muscles. Meditation is similar but for the mind. It allows down time and calm.

It’s best to close your eyes and sometimes even cup your hands over your eyes to add to the darkness, so your eyes don’t flicker. Then, just breathe. Try to calm your thoughts and let your body realise it’s time to relax. Just breathe, for 30 seconds or so, to calm the mind, then be aware of the rise and fall of your stomach. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 3 and breathe out for 4 seconds. Repeat this 4 times. Make sure these are deep breaths and imagine the air needs to go all the way down to your tummy.

Once you have done your deep breaths, focus on your body, with your eyes shut. Tense various muscles groups. Start with your calves and feet and tense these for few seconds on the in breath and release on the out breath. Work up through your legs, bum, stomach, shoulders and arms.

Then I imagine I’m in the forest and in front of me is a Gate. Imagine your own personal gate. Is it tall or short? Is it wooden or metal? What colour is it? Is it overgrown and covered in foliage, or bright and new? Once you have your desired gate, imagine you are removing a back pack from your shoulders. In this bag are all the worries, troubles and stresses that you may have, however big or small. Leave them at the gate, then step through.

As you walk into the forest, imagine the warmth of the sun in your skin as it cascades down through the canopies of tall trees above. Imagine with all your senses. In this forest what can you smell, what sounds can you hear, birds or other wildlife, heavenly singing? What do you feel as you take each step through the forest? Is the ground crunching under your feet? Imagine you are walking through the forest and you can see beautiful butterflies in the distance and small bluebells around the foot of the trees. What are the colours of the butterflies? Imagine you come across a stream. The water is crystal clear and you can see your reflection. How wide is the stream? Can you see it tail off into the distance? Can you hear the water trickling? Imagine you sit next to the stream and dip your feet in. Sit there for a while. Enjoy the tranquillity of the peace and quiet. See if your mind guides you to any thoughts or feelings whilst sat there. You can even imagine the water is cleansing you from the feet up, as if your energies are elevated from sitting in the stream.

When you are ready to come back, you need to get up from there and then walk back through the forest until you see your gate. Once you walk through the gate you need to be aware of your surroundings. Wiggle your toes and fingers and then focus back on your breathing, until you feel ready to open your eyes.

This meditation can guide you and take you wherever you need to go.

Remember that everything comes with practice, so try and allow ten minutes once or twice a week to do this.

Best of Luck,

Joely - 600554

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