Quiet-time / Mindfulness / Meditation
In today’s rushed world many people struggle to find some quiet-time for themselves. Meditation has been around for ages and no, it is not some sort of religion. The whole concept of meditation, is to quiet the mind so that you can relax more, breathe more deeply and come in touch with Divinity / God. Mindfulness is the “modern” term that is used for the exact same purpose; thus, no matter what you call it, it is a time when you focus on yourself and your well-being.
There are many people that find it easy to be mindful or to meditate and there are those who struggle, regardless what they try. In today’s blog post, I would like to give you some advice and tips, to help you become more mindful and to be able to meditate. Personally, I find mediation to be very relaxing (I have a very busy mind!) and it is also a way for me to switch-off and just be in the present moment.
So, where do you start? How can you become more mindful? Start by becoming more aware and attuned to what you are doing each day. Whether it is putting on your clothes, washing your face, eating something or walking somewhere, focus on what you are doing. If, for example, you are eating, keep your phone away from the dining room table, put it off or on silence and enjoy your meal (and the company, if you are not living alone of course), without any “electronic” interferences. Engage all your senses: your eyes, your taste buds, your nose and enjoy every bite. The French people are a very good example: when they go on their lunch breaks, they take their time to eat, to relax, to talk to other people (not on their mobiles but in person) and they are in no rush to “get up and go.”
Mindfulness / meditation wants to teach the pupil to be more aware, not only of the surroundings, but also yourself. When you are in touch with your inner self, your feelings / emotions, your thoughts and how your body is feeling, then it is easier to get through life without so much drama. Some people like and/or attract drama into their lives. However, the main thing that mindfulness / meditation teaches you is to be attached to what is happening around you. There is nothing more damaging to your psyche than to stress over things that you have no control over. When you are stressed, not only does it break down your immune system, but the “vibes” or energies that you send out, makes you unattractive and people will avoid you. Negative energies attract negative people and situations; the same goes for positive energies. Like attracts like.
We live in a rushed age, where even Yoga- and Pilates-classes are faster! Taking time-out to have quiet time can be tricky, but even just by lighting some candles instead of putting on the light, when you take your bath or shower, can do wonders to your brain and your body. In a previous blog I mentioned what tricks there are that you can use when you have “me-time,” so pop over and have a look at all the easy-to-do things to help you relax and unwind. External tools, like calm music, nature, candles, incense, and so on, are wonderful to use. However, there is an easier tool to use – your breathing! Breathing is something we often take for granted; it is something that comes very naturally. But did you know that most of us don’t use our full lung-capacity when we breathe? And it is not just smokers; it is everyone!
When you breathe slowly and deeply, you not only centre yourself but you automatically start to relax, become calm and centred. Breathing in for 8 – 10 counts and exhaling for 8 – 10 counts, is also a wonderful way to get rid of the stale air that gets stuck at the bottom of your lungs! Bringing your awareness into your breathing, helps you to focus and still the mind; it brings you into the “here and now.” One can also use words whilst breathing, which will help to centre your thoughts and help you to relax. For example: when you inhale, say to yourself “I inhale peace” and when you exhale, you say “I exhale frustration.” Or “I inhale the now and I exhale the past.” There might be readers out there who meditate and use what is called a mantra. A mantra is usually a word or sound that has no meaning; it cannot be attached to other words, for example Om. When you use something like a mantra (a sound syllable), your mind becomes still as you cannot connect the mantra / sound syllable, to other words that will make it difficult and/or prevent you from quieting the mind.
Quiet-time, being mindful, meditating – all of these are a great way to cope with life. You are all there is; taking care of yourself should always be a priority. Life has become so rushed that people forget to tune-out of the madness and tune-in to Divine, to Gaia, to him-/herself. In Pilates and Yoga, we are taught to listen to our bodies; that includes our hearts and not just our minds. So, I leave you with this quote and I do hope that you will become experts in being and living in the now, the present, and not run into the future or hold onto the past.
“With the in-breath, I smile.
With the out-breath, I release.
Breathing in, there is only the present moment.
Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.”
(Thich Nhat Hanh)