Introduction To Meditation
Meditation is one of the best ways to remove stress. In a stressed state, you can find yourself thinking about what happened in the past or what might be happening in the future. This is a very common trait of the unconditioned mind and one we need to shift away from.
It is impossible to change the past and extremely hard to predict the future. Thus, the only place to be is "in the moment". Being present and in the moment is your natural state.
Being present is when you become fully aligned and connected to what is happening right now in the moment. The benefit of being in the moment is that it assists you to feel free on a mental and emotional level, elevating your state of mind. Enabling you to lead with clarity, free from stress.
Meditation can improve a multitude of different physiological and psychological markers for you. These are my big three growth areas:
#1 Balancing The Nervous System
Modern day life is stressful. You have more to do and in less time than ever before. Furthermore, the demands upon what is expected of you from work, family and relationships are ever expanding.
All of these elements within your life can feel "stressful" and require you to reach into your fight or flight nervous system. An acute amount of daily stress is normal and is even healthy for you. However, it is when this stress becomes chronic that we begin to see a problem either physiologically or psychologically.
Meditation provides a technique that enables you to invoke a parasympathetic nervous system response. Meaning you can learn to turn on the rest and recovery side of your nervous system. This works to offset or balance the stress that accumulates from everyday life.
Meditation has been shown to decrease your blood pressure, reduce heart rate, improve heart rate variability and can invoke feelings of mental freedom and flexibility. I have found it help me through some of my life's most challenging times; guiding me to see what I can learn from the moment, rather than resisting it.
#2 Increasing Your Faculty Of Focus
Research has shown the idea of multitasking is a myth and is no longer considered an optimal way to split your attention. The new way of thinking it to give 100% of yourself to a task and let your increased attention create a more desired outcome.
The technique of meditation asks the student to create an effortless focus, i.e. on your breath or a mantra. These types of meditations are classified as single point focused meditation. The student lightly rests their attention on one point of focus for periods greater than 5 minutes at a time.
A benefit of single-point focused meditation comes from within the focus that you are creating during your meditation. The more you cultivate your focus, the more that transcends into your ability to express higher levels of attention in your daily life.
As previously mentioned, the nature of meditation is to put you in the moment, freeing you from stress. It is the combination of that mentally clear state of mind and the increased focus which aligns meditation with improving performance for elite athletes and corporate employees.
#3 Building Resilience
Resilience is a buzz word currently used in many workplaces around the world. The idea is that if you can create an environment for the employee or team where they express high levels of mental toughness, then they will be able to produce more optimal levels of performance compared to the competition. I speak with many people on this topic and most feel it can be summarised as your ability to endure or prevail against challenging situations.
Furthermore, I feel it is a new age way of getting staff to "harden up" and get on with the task, no matter how stressed you are. Building resilience does not mean you can handle lots of challenging situations. According to HeartMath, a science-based research company that focuses on stress and anxiety reduction, suggest that resilience is like a battery.
Meaning that your whole being is created of energy. Some activities you partake in give you energy, while some reduce your energy. To be resilient means to have an active process of techniques and behaviours that increase your energy. The more energy you possess, the higher your capacity to be resilient. A technique like meditation is a great way to build and maintain your energy levels, improving your performance.
Now Do IT!
Here is a process that you can use to start your practice of meditation:
#1 - Lie down or sit comfortably upright in a chair. Close your eyes.
#2 - Start breathing effortlessly in the nose and out the mouth.
#3 - Begin to notice the breath as it comes in and out of your body.
#4 - Lightly rest your focus on the breath as it comes and goes from your body.
#5 - Increase your focus on the sensation of the breath as it passes in and out.
#6 - Stay with the sensation of the breath. Keep your focus on the effortless sensation of the breath.
You may find that your mind wanders off and lose focus of the breath. Or you might find that your mind is really busy. Do not worry, this is 100% normal. If you notice the mind has wondered off, simply and effortlessly bring your soft attention back to the sensation of your breath.
Your attention might also be pulled away by external sounds like a passing car and or you might feel the need to move. Once you have noticed that the noise has taken you away from your breath or the desire to move has done the same. Softly and effortlessly come back to the sensation of your breath.
The whole idea of this meditation is to softly focus on the sensation of your breath. If the mind wanders, you simply notice that is has done so. Once you have noticed that your focus has wandered, effortlessly bring the mind back to feeling the sensation of the breath as it passes in and out of your body. That is the moment of awareness! You have become aware that you are no longer in the moment! Bring yourself effortlessly back to the moment via focusing on your breath.
The nature of the mind is to wander. However, we want to stay in the moment. In this case, focused on the effortless sensation of the breath as it passes in and out of the body. The more experienced you get, the more you are able to maintain your focus without your mind wandering off.
Aim to start with 3 minutes of practice. Over a few sessions, you can build up to 10 minutes. See if you can add this into your daily routine. I aim for the middle of the day to get my session in. However, you can put your meditation session wherever it suits your schedule.
Give it a go and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me via here!
Yours in performance,