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Article: Meditation - Developing a Personal Practise

Article: Meditation - Developing a Personal Practise

To someone that has not practised before, the idea of meditation often seems difficult. The word itself might feel alienating. Lots of people tell me they are interested and would like to practise but taking that first step can be hard. I have struggled with meditation in the past. I have obsessed about creating the perfect space and environment. After a while I always found the practise difficult to maintain. I felt guilty if I missed one of my mediations. I judged myself for thinking too much during the mediation or not being able to stay with my mantra for long enough. I often wondered if I could be doing it better.

Over time and with experience, I relaxed into it. I stopped trying to force it. I let it become a gentler and softer experience. It was no longer about perfecting anything but just doing it and letting it be whatever it was. Even though I still enjoy creating a particular space and atmosphere from time to time, I approach meditation in a different way now. It is more effortless and more about integrating it into my day to day life. It is about letting go.

I believe meditation is accessible to everyone. It is just about finding what works best for you. Here are a few tips to help you on the way.

M - Meditation can be a life-long practise and more benefits are experienced with continuity. Incorporate it into your routine in a way that feels manageable long term. Find the best time of the day for your lifestyle.

E - Experiment with different practices. There are several different types of formal meditation practise including; mantra, breathing, guided visualisations and candlelit. Experiment with music and without. Try sitting (chairs, bolsters, cushions or blocks), lying, eyes open, eyes closed, inside, outside etc. There is no right or wrong as you develop your own practise.

D - Decrease possibilities for disturbance. It is difficult to eliminate all distractions so do the best you can. Being aware of noises but not letting them consume thoughts is also an important aspect of meditation.

I - Involve the body. Before beginning, stretching can help relax the muscles allowing you to sit (or lie) more comfortably. Stretching also encourages the process of going inward which helps brings attention to the body.

T - Take a moment at the beginning. Minor adjustments can often make a big difference to your meditation practise. Set yourself and make yourself comfortable before you start.

A - Awareness of the body. Once you have found the position to meditate in, observe your body. Scan the different parts of the body and how they are connecting to whatever you are sitting or lying on.

T - Tune into your breath. Following the breath in and out of the body is a great way to come into the present moment. Taking deep breaths also slows the heart rate and relaxes the muscles.

I - Invite non-judgement. There is no need to examine how well you are doing. Just doing it is the main thing. Do not worry if your mind is busy. When you realise you are drifting away with thought, effortlessly glide back to observing your breath or the focus of your meditation. 

O - Once you reach the end of the meditation, take a few minutes to ground yourself by connecting with your breath and body as you readjust back to your environment and embark on the rest of the day. This will help you maintain the benefits of the meditative space outside of the practise.

N - Next step. Connect with momentary awareness during the day. Maintaining awareness of your breath and body to cultivate a sense of being present while not in formal practise is a great way to evolve your meditation practise. Meditation can exist in every moment during rest and activity.

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