For some time now, I have heard many different people talking about the benefits of meditation in their daily lives. But why?
What is meditation? In a nutshell, it’s about slowing down, becoming more centred and being at one with your thoughts. Meditation actually refers to a broad variety of techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.
For the vast part, it involves breaking away from automatic thinking patterns such as worrying and ruminating by bringing your attention to present moment body sensations.
There are literally dozens of different tools, techniques, apps and more to help you learn more and to practice meditation. However, you don’t need much to get started and you certainly don’t need to spend lots of money. In a way, the beauty of meditation lies in its simplicity and accessibility to all.
My Wife signed the two of us up for a Meditation Retreat recently. Now before your mind wanders off to some sun-drenched sandy beach location or a lush green mountainside, I’m going to have to tell you this all took place a mile or two from where we live.
There is a fantastic local business in our area, called Guildford Meditation, run by Neil and Josey Tranter. The retreat took place in a local village hall. It started around 11am and ran through to about 4pm if memory serves me.
You see, the thing is, this was our first proper brush with mindfulness. And we LOVED it. The group was made up of around 20 people. One or two of our fellow attendees were seasoned practitioners. They were in the minority though. Most were either attending the weekly course Neil runs, or were complete newbies like the two of us.
The day comprised of sitting meditation, mindful movement, periods of silence and mindful eating. This is what Neil and his team told us we could gain from working with mindfulness meditation and what they sought to teach us to do:
- Learn to recognise that thoughts are just thoughts, that they are not reality, they are not you,
- Learn to see thoughts as mental events and consciously choose whether to act on them,
- Work with difficult emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, etc. by becoming aware of sensations within the body, holding them in awareness,
- Learn to relax by recognising and letting go of the tendency we have to want things to be different,
- Spend more time living in the present moment, cultivating the resilience and wisdom to enable yourself to lead a flourishing life.
For an induction, it went really well. At the outset, the idea of spending the entire day in a village hall in silence on one of my two precious weekend days was a bit foreign. However, I was hooked by the end of it and would love to go back and do it all over again or take it up a notch.
Here are a couple of my personal highlights from the day:
- Taking on the suggestion to avoid eye-contact throughout the day. At first it felt a bit odd, walking around the venue to grab a drink or use the bathroom without once looking at the other people around me. But it really worked.
- The mindful eating was amazing. I have never before in my life, taken so long to eat a bowl of soup – it was fantastic. But then, so was all the food. I think that’s Josey’s part – very well done!
- The recognition towards the end of the the day that giving yourself some self-love is so darned important but something I so rarely do. This is something I have since returned to in the work I am doing with a practitioner of Applied Kinesiology.
So there you have it. Mindfulness rocks. I recommend you find a similar introductory event or day-long retreat such as those Neil and Josey Tranter run and go check it out. You might be as surprised, uplifted, relaxed and as thrilled to be alive as I was coming out of there at the end of the day.