I’ve attended plenty of meditation workshops, I spent two months living with a load of Monks for god’s sake and I spent my Christmas and New Year in total silence high up on the hills of Mandalay at a vipassana retreat.
Yet despite my varying degrees of dedication over the years, meditation still seems to be almost the hardest thing to make time for. And unless I crack one out first thing, it always ends up at the bottom of the to-do pile.
What is it about sitting still and doing absolutely nothing, in fact, not even thinking about anything, that makes it so difficult to do?
Making Time To Meditate
It’s easy to understand why we should learn how to meditate, but it’s not always so easy getting started. It’s an intrinsic part of our human nature to have a chattering mind, so learning how to make it silent can be quite the challenge.
Even though my Instagram stories show me loving life more than life itself on the paradise island of Koh Samui, the truth of the matter is that most days, from six in the morning until nine at night, I’m working. I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked before.
Over the past week or so I’ve unconsciously replaced my morning meditation on the roof terrace with an autopilot stomp down the stairs to get straight on my laptop and type out at the speed of light.
I can feel the itchiness inside, the agitation. It’s like fire is running through my veins with no escape. And I need to find my way back to the land of frozen thoughts.
Whenever I’m trying to make some sort of a life change, going back to basics and immersing in the reasons why I’m doing it is usually a good way to get me started.
Meditation goes way above and beyond anything that material pleasures can do for us. Its purpose is to clear and calm the mind and eventually, bring an inner peace that can keep you happy even in the most adverse situations.
It’s a medicine for anybody, whether they’re a believer or a sceptic, and the benefits can be felt after just one sitting. But I know through experience that to discover the true benefits, meditation needs to become a regular practice.
Over the years, myriad scientific studies have been conducted that demonstrate the mental, physical and emotional benefits of meditation.
Often referred to as the monkey brain, the human mind swings from thought to thought just as monkeys swing from their branches. Through calming our thoughts and focusing the mind on the present moment, we can improve our lives in so many ways.
Regular meditation practice exercises our brain muscles and has been seen to sharpen our focus, boost concentration, enhance problem-solving skills, improve communication and help us achieve a greater overall productivity in what we do.
For our bodies, there’s a whole load of benefits like lowering blood pressure, improving blood circulation, boosting immunity and lowering heart rates.
And finally, it does wonders for our emotional balance.
Our minds are often focused on the past or the future, but rarely on the present. Meditation allows us the mental space to focus on nothing but the present moment, relieving us of any emotional attachments from the past and worries about the future.
This presence gives us a sharpened awareness of self, helps us see clearly through our clouded thoughts and gives us greater control over how we react to them. Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, decrease anxiety and restore emotional equilibrium.
So this morning, although slightly later than usual, I forced myself to get out into the fresh air, close my eyelids and shut myself up.
I gave myself a few moments to wake up and let my matcha latte go down, took a shower and was ready to focus. Peaceful surroundings help you cultivate a peaceful mind and I definitely had that down – my current spot is a mosaic tiled roof terrace overlooking the Thai Gulf as the sun rises up over it.
Then I sat ready, cross-legged with my eyes closed and set my intentions. Knowing why you’re meditating in the first place, what you want to get out of it and and how you want to feel is what helps you find the determination to turn a hobby into a habit.
I followed my own instructions carefully and spent forty-five minutes with the bright lemon fireball of love and light shining down all over me.
Sanity restored, I was ready to punch life in the ovaries.