I was with a client earlier this week who was struggling with complete overwhelm and anxiety. I asked them if they’d considered trying meditation. The look of horror on their face was hilarious and I questioned their reaction (knowing that mine had been similar some years ago). They said:
“I don’t have time to meditate. And anyway I couldn’t do it.”
Further questioning revealed that they were very much under the impression that meditation looks like this:
Beautiful right? Also, bollocks! While that can absolutely be a way to meditate, it is by no means THE way and it comes in so many forms that all of us can absolutely find a way that suits our lifestyle. I’d like to share with you my views on what meditation is – and what is definitely isn’t.
What Meditation is.
Meditation has been described as a state of thoughtless awareness, but I strongly feel that this is practically impossible for the vast majority of us. Unless you’d like to train as a Buddhist Monk, which certainly has appeal when my son insists on watching Peppa fucking Pig on repeat.
It’s genuine science. We can see how it works on brain scans and controlled studies. The Alpha state is the state of meditation, but it is not meditation. Meditation is the awareness of being in that state.
Meditation is about not being focused – yet to achieve it, we usually have to focus! A total oxymoron. For our purposes, I generally explain meditation as a way of staying in the here and now. Our brain is not running off into the past, or the future, but is totally grounded in the present.
Andy Puddicome, creator of Headspace (a brilliant meditation concept and app) talked about imagining that you are sitting on a bench at the side of a road. The cars that drive past are your thoughts and you can watch them from a distance, without being involved with them. I love that idea.
Now, let’s be clear. You will absolutely get involved with your thoughts. I mentally wrote my shopping list today while meditating before I realised what I was doing. The process of meditation for our needs is to be able to continually recognise that you are doing this and be able to pull your attention back to focus on the now, usually by concentrating on your breathing.
What Meditation Definitely Isn’t.
It isn’t some weird, hippie, space cake induced trip. It isn’t about having an empty mind. Again, that’s practically impossible.
It’s not a serious, religious practice. There’s no requirement whatsoever to have any belief in a greater being, or indeed to be serious!
It’s not a state of mind. In theory, it’s a state of no-mind, but I feel this is going WAY deeper than the average person (including me) cares to go.
For most of us, I feel that if we are choosing to use meditation we are seeking some respite from stress, anxiety and general busyness. We are looking for some sort of calm so there’s no way I want to get hung up on how the purists claim we should meditate. Let’s stick with what works for our purposes of creating calm, quiet, peace and more control over preventing our thoughts from taking over.
Deepak Chopra sums up meditation brilliantly.
“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.”
What are your thoughts about meditation? What are the reasons you do or don’t use it? If you have any comments head over to our Facebook page and leave your suggestions here, or comment below. We love to hear from you!