So it's Christmas again...a time of giving, reflecting and celebrating with family and friends or a time of stress, busyness and hectic social calendars! Just when we thought 2020 was the year we'd rather forget, along came 2021. Another year of unrivalled challenges and obstacles for us to navigate and endure. With the New Year fast approaching and an eagerness to turn over a new leaf – now, more than ever, is the perfect time to chill out. While everyone is turning up and turning out, turning in, and focusing on yourself is a fantastic way to calm and centre. If you're starting on your meditation journey, think of this as a guideline.
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
With so many positive effects of wellbeing, it's more a case of what doesn't meditation help with, rather than what it does. Spiritually speaking, when you quieten your mind, your ego fades to the background giving you unobstructed connection with your soul and spirit. This allows you to see what's going on inside and work towards higher consciousness. It also unblocks psychic pathways so you can nurture your energy levels. Research demonstrates the physical positives; stress relief and alleviation of conditions like PTSD, IBS and fibromyalgia. Meditation has also been linked to lowering memory loss, inflammation and blood pressure. Mentally, his practice gives you the tools to detach from the turmoil when it becomes overwhelming. It provides an escape; aiding anxiety, depression and insomnia. Emotionally, meditation develops self-love and lifts you closer to universal love. From here, you're more equipped to let things go. And exhale.
HOW TO MEDITATE
Push past the uncomfortable feeling of sitting in silence; it almost always feels weird at the beginning. Whatever your motivation, think of meditation as awareness training; transforming your perspective and ultimately, your life. When you're starting, commit to regular practice – aim for a few times a week for 10-15 each time. Most people love first thing in the morning but go with whatever works for you. Sit wherever and however is comfy and relaxing, and remember – frequency is better than duration. Meditation is a long journey and demands dedication and tenacity.
To help you in your journey, try searching for 'meditation music' on Spotify. When you discover a playlist that does it for you, keep the volume on low to create a calm; set the sound scene for focusing on your new art. Try applying essential oils to help you relax or before your session – soak in a bath with oils. Create ambience by burning a candle to pacify your chakras or spritz a jasmine and ylang ylang chakra spray for balance. For tea fans, a cuppa Jasmine will clear your mind and help get you in the let-go space.
PEOPLE TO FOLLOW
If you're looking for inspiration and guidance, look no further than Instagram. @unplugmeditation posts peaceful images and motivating mantras. @saraauster is a meditation teacher and sound therapy practitioner who releases a new #soundbath on Mondays. @Globalmeditation brings together a global community of meditators to promote peace. @rebel_buddha is Buddhist scholar and teacher, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, who can help process negative emotions. @transcendentalmeditation is a not-for-profit education source posting striking still-life photos and messages. @sharonsalzberg is an author and teacher who shares wisdom, pics and videos. The list is endless, but these make a great start.
DID YOU KNOW: ORIGINS OF MEDITATION
Getting its name from the Latin word 'meditatum,' which means 'to ponder,' people in the know believe meditation emerged before modern civilisation, thousands and thousands of years ago. Ancient texts, hieroglyphs and archaeological findings all point to hunter-gatherers being down with some form of meditation. The question is – what kind of practice did they do: trance, chants, contemplation or mindfulness?
When looking to find the origins of meditation, it's easier to split the discussion into East and West. Even though this practice shows up on the spiritual path of numerous religions, Buddhism is where it's at. Around 2,600 years ago, The Buddha began moving towards ultimate enlightenment, ethical conduct and the wisdom of seeking truth. In search of peace, people began practising and sharing the Buddha's teachings.
In the Western world, meditation has only been popular since the mid-20th century. Over the years, Eastern masters have shared their expertise and learning with curious Western students. At the same time, western novices of mindfulness began travelling east to train under celebrated masters. They then brought the knowledge home. Over 30 years ago, Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Center for Mindfulness and the program, MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) which has been spreading the strengths of this discipline without religious affiliation ever since. Now, meditation and mindfulness have well and truly landed in the public consciousness.