How-To Tuesdays: Meditation for the non yogi

Last week we briefly mentioned specific benefits of meditation and as promised, today we will give some tips on how best to mindfully relax your mind and body.

Most people think the act of “meditation” is only done by Buddhist monks or Hindu swami’s sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed chanting, new age hippies conversing with nature in the middle of a forest or wealthy celebrities paying thousands of dollars to meditate in centres across North America. But it is for everyone and has a practical place in everyday life.

Please note the topic of meditation is complex spanning centuries and centuries of practice and as such is difficult to summarise or explain and we do not want to offend anyone as the art of meditation takes many forms.  Here, we are discussing a simple, practical approach to meditation.

inhale good exhale bad

 Picture source

1. Listen to music – mindfully

Dedicate 10 – 15 minutes a day to listening to music and we mean really listening to music. Try to distinguish between the different instruments used, the beat and the melody. Note the lyrics, try to understand them. Feel the music inside your body. Concentrate on the music and the music alone.

2. Drink your hot drink – mindfully

When you have your morning coffee, tea or hot water and lemon; dedicate time to do this. Don’t gulp it down whilst getting ready or as you rush out of the door. Close your eyes, plan your day, write lists, feel the warm liquid in your mouth and then as it runs down your throat. Experience it.  

3. Breathe – mindfully

Sit down and breathe deeply. Concentrate only on your breath as your breathe in through your nose for 3 counts and out through your mouth for 4. Feel your chest expand as your breathe in and your stomach contract as your breathe out. Repeat this a few times.

4. Use your time spent in the car in traffic – mindfully

Turn off the radio. We are bombarded by “noise” (news, banter, opinions) everyday. Put on some instrumental or classical music, don’t rage at other drivers, enjoy this time to yourself (it is probably some of the only scarce time you have in your own company).

5. Create – mindfully

Paint, draw, sew, knit, cut out pretty magazine pictures and make a collage, play the piano or any other musical instrument. All of these acts are incredibly meditative and exercise a part of our brains that many of us don’t use often. Focus on and enjoy the “project” you are working on even if you just tear it up and throw it away afterwards. Remember, you are doing this for you and no-one else. It doesn’t have to be “good”.

6. Write – mindfully

Every evening before bed write down everything that comes to mind that has been bothering or worrying you that day. This way you will realise that most of the stuff is silly and mundane. Experience and think about every single word that you write down. In the mornings, write lists of thing you would like to accomplish that day and tick them off as you complete each task. These tasks can be as simple as “return John’s phone call” or “reply to the advertiser’s email”. When we can visually see that we have finished even the most menial of tasks we feel a sense of accomplishment. Read everything you have written down after you have done so and think about why you wrote down those feelings and/or tasks. Do this for both the morning and evening routine.

7. Eat – mindfully

Take time to partake in one of life’s simplest pleasure – that of eating your food. Instead of grabbing a packet of chips or an energy bar at the garage between meetings pack yourself a healthy salad or a leftovers from the night before. This was you will have different textures and flavours to experience. Enjoy them.

8. Give yourself a massage – mindfully

It is really easy to give yourself a massage. Take note of where there are aches and pains in your body as your stretch and rub them to relieve the tension. Are you feeling the same emotion when a certain body part is sore. Do you have tension in your hands when you are working on a deadline and have typed furiously for hours. Take sometime out to stretch and rub them. When you are stressed and tired do you ache in your temples. Take some time to rub them in circular motions. Do your eyes feel tired from always being on the job. Move them around and close them for a few minutes to give them a break. Know your body.

The most important thing to take note of in all the points above is that everything is done mindfullyDon’t just rush through a day and end it feeling exhausted and wondering why? Experience and take note of every single little thing. This way you will know why you feel overwhelmed, stressed, happy, sad, angry or even nothing. Live your life with thought and purpose.