Meditation is a word that wasn’t used much when I was growing up but over the last few years it has grown in popularity to an extraordinary degree.
For years if anyone mentioned meditation we pictured someone sitting in the lotus position with their hands in a mudra, while chanting “Ommmmm”. This stereotype is I’m sure what many people imagine when someone suggests that they meditate.
Fortunately for me you don’t have to conform to this image, although you can if you wish to of course. My legs are long and my feet are big and my joints are damaged by my acromegaly so twisting myself into the lotus position is impossible, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t meditate every single day. I meditate while I’m waiting to collect my son from school, while I do the housework and as I go to sleep most nights.
So what is meditation?
What does meditation mean?
focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.“I set aside time every day to write and meditate”
think deeply about (something).“he went off to meditate on the new idea”
plan mentally; consider.“they had suffered severely, and they began to meditate retreat”(Oxford Online Dictionary)
Personally I use two types of meditation:
- focusing my mind on an issue or subject and either studying or letting my mind find a solution
- trying to empty my mind as much as possible and just relax
I find both incredibly useful one for finding answers and both for calming my mind. I’m sure others would say that either there is only one form of meditation or there are countless, and both are probably right. Whichever method I am using the result is my brain is calm and my body feels restored.
I don’t tend to chant or make any noise at all while I am meditating. However, I do use singing as meditation, and always have since I was very young. It is one of my favourite ways of calming my body and clearing my mind. Does that count as a different method? For me it is focusing on one thing and letting my mind find a solution. It is very different to sitting in silence with a problem I need resolving though so maybe it is?
I also use work and manual tasks such as gardening, baking, decorating, cleaning the car as meditation. Whether it is creating something like a worksheet, digging up weeds, stirring a batter or kneading a dough, painting a wall or polishing the car it is possible to focus so completely on the task in hand that you lose yourself in the moment… meditation.
I focus on the task in hand and I forget everything else for a few minutes, or even hours. This is meditation.
Often when I am writing I find the solutions to problems I have been having the same way I would when I sit in silent meditation, so writing works for me as meditation too.
Reading a book can be meditative. You focus whole heartedly on the task in hand and escape into another world. It is incredibly calming and relaxing too.
Painting or creating of any form can be meditation. Whether you create using clay or wool or wood you can turn it into a meditative practice.
Walking is a very popular form of meditation. Many people walk labyrinths or just walk mindfully in nature as a form a meditation.
Dance and yoga can be meditative, going for a run can be meditative.
Meditation is so often about how you do something rather than what you are doing.
So the next time someone recommends that you try meditation to help you with your stress, anxiety or depression, don’t dismiss it because you can’t sit still and chant.
Whatever works for you, the important thing is to take time to really concentrate on the task in hand. Switch off from your planning, step away from your worries, turn off technology and just be present doing whatever you are doing.
The reason, I believe, that meditation has become so popular over the last few years is because our lives have become so busy. we see it as a badge of honour if we are juggling more than someone else. The busier we are the more important we must be. We never stop and just pay attention to what is happening here and now. As a result we are exhausting our brains and we never give our minds time to rest and recharge so our mental health struggles.
Taking just 5 minutes a day to meditate in some form is life changing. Obviously the longer you can manage the better.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” – Zen Proverb
Other blogs that may interest you: