One of the first times I came across this term “meditation” was years ago, when I was living in Dubai working for a diamond company as an area sales manager, and a colleague of mine who was working on an afternoon shift came in that day looking so Zen and relaxed.
When I asked him “How was your morning?”, he responded “Great, I did my usual morning ritual … morning meditation and I feel ready to start the day.” My first thoughts were … “what a hippie”.
At this point, I was attending yoga classes randomly, but I never felt the calling to learn about meditation and mindfulness. About a year later, there came a point in my life where I was going through a difficult personal situation and a very close friend of mine (yoga teacher) gifted me a book by Caroline Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit. I can honestly say this book started changing my life and the way I looked at things.
As one of my favourite writers/spiritual leaders, Wayne Dyer, used to say “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” Now, pause here and read that again. This quote is so true. It is not what is presented to us that is causing us stress and discomfort, it is the way we look or react to it.
So here I was, reading Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolyne Myss, and I was so hooked on this book because it simply made so much sense and really truly helped me with what I was going through at that moment.
I started being more conscious about my thoughts and the way we can control them. One major learning I took from this book is that 90% of the time it is we who make ourselves sick/hurt/in pain. We can equally heal ourselves but need to gain new perspective on stressful situations we may be going through.
The process isn’t easy, and it’ll never be, but with help of regular meditation, you become more aware, conscious of what you are going through, and you will be able to get through it much quicker and move on.
So, what meditation really helps you with is building the skills to manage stress. It’ll increase your self-awareness; it’ll help you focus on the present moment. Do you notice that most of the time our thoughts are either in the past or in the future, and rarely do we think about the present moment?
It will help you reduce negative emotions and thoughts. Why is this important? Because the more you have negative thoughts, the more your body feels it and the deeper you get into your “pain body” (as Eckhart Tolle calls it). So, the quicker you can snap out of your negative thoughts, the better for your body, your mind and your mood.
Meditation can increase your creativity and imagination too, simply because you get rid of your “cloudy” thoughts and will have much better clarity in life.
And lastly, it will increase your patience and tolerance, which, let’s be fair, we all need in life.
You will become less judgmental, gossipy and will allow people to be who they are without always having your own opinion on them, which, frankly, is irrelevant because we are not here to change people, we are here to learn from one another. I always remind myself that we have two ears and one mouth, which means we need to listen more and talk less.
So, here are a few tips on how to start meditating. Don’t think meditation only means sitting by a tree like a Buddha in stillness and observing your mind. For most of us, this would be utterly uncomfortable and probably very frustrating to start with. If you are a complete beginner and curious about meditation, or want to increase your awareness in life, here is how you can start.
This kind of meditation is probably one of the easiest to start with. All you need is to find yourself in a comfortable space, either home, on the plane with headphones, or anywhere you have silence and are able to remain still for a few minutes.
You don’t necessarily need to be in a seated meditative pose as all you need is to listen to the voice of a teacher who will guide you through a relaxing moment. Guided meditation can be from 5mins up to an hour or even longer, depending on how much time you have and where you are.
It is good to start with 5mins daily for you to create a healthy habit and notice how you feel after every meditation, how your day evolves (if you find time to meditate in the morning).
Try to make it part of your daily habits. Just like brushing your teeth, find time to always include it in your day, so it will become an automatic habit for you rather than a burden or something you will always need to find time for.
To start, you need to download an app which offers a variety of meditations and teachers. One I personally use and recommend is called ‘Insight Timer’ – this app is for free and also connects you to worldwide communities. It might take a while for you to find a teacher that you connect with. Take your time but don’t give up on this. Your life won’t change after one or just a few meditations. You need to keep an open mind, have no expectations and remain consistent. We all have 5mins in a day to dedicate to a habit that will eventually make us happier, more relaxed and stress free.
If you have issues with insomnia or find yourself with super busy “monkey” mind in the evening, finding it hard to rest, look for Yoga Nidra meditations in the app, which will help you relax the mind and the body and you’ll have an amazing night of deep sleep.
Yoga Nidra, also called a “yogic sleep” or “effortless relaxation”, is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. When the state of deep relaxation is achieved through the practice of Yoga Nidra, the benefits of this yogic practice can be seen as superior to ordinary sleep, however, Yoga Nidra is not a substitute to sleep. Research shows that one hour of Yoga Nidra can be equivalent to a few hours of sleep.
Now, off you go, download the app. Explore different kinds of meditations and if you still feel that you need some guidance, feel free to reach out and book in for one of our classes at the Haven Yoga Studio in Vilamoura. We offer group Yoga & Meditation classes, or you could simply book a private class with one of our teachers who would guide you or help find you a daily practice that works with your life schedule and lifestyle.
BENEFITS OF MEDITATING
- Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
- Building skills to manage your stress
- Increasing self-awareness
- Focusing on the present
- Reducing negative emotions
- Increasing imagination and creativity
- Increasing patience and tolerance
Elena Menci is a 700hr International Yoga Teacher who studied in India, Bali, Mallorca and Dubai. She teaches private and group classes in Vilamoura and hosts workshops, weekend and week-long retreats for her “Haven” community in the Algarve, which she is a founder of. Elena’s passion is to pass on what she has learnt from all her gurus and teachers to those around her. Instagram: @thehaven_algarve | www.thehaven.pt