Treat your brain like your bicep and connect with it - Meditate
Updated: May 22, 2019
If you are like most people you are probably struggling with some form of stress, anxiety or maybe even a pinch of self-doubt. Unfortunately – or fortunately – I am not going to try to convince you that sitting with your legs folded around your ears repeating the phrase “ummmmmm” is the way to solve it, but hopefully I have a tool to help you manage your stressors and take some element of control over them.
What meditation is
Meditation and mindfulness are techniques that have been used for centuries by people around the world in different forms and under different names. I, coming from a sporting and training background, like to think of the brain as any other body part, and as such have a strong belief that we can create adaptations and take control of our mind in the same way that we do with our respiratory system, cardiovascular system and musculature. I also strongly believe that if we can take some control of our minds, we can also take control of our thought processes and emotions, or at the very least, understand the impact our thought processes are having on our emotions.
Types of Mindfulness
Sitting peacefully and quietly is not the only form of meditation people use to connect with their emotions and thoughts, often people will use repetitive movements like running, walking, cycling or swimming as a form of meditation. To maximise the benefits that can come from performing these activities, visualisation and/or focused breathing can be used. These techniques will allow you to take your focus away from the exercise being performed and clear your mind. Put simply any time you are trying to clear or organise your thoughts and become aware of your emotions, you are performing meditation/ mindfulness.
I am hoping that if you are still reading you have been enticed to give it a go. Just like most things in life getting started is the hardest part. Prepare to feel awkward, and a little bit stupid. Don’t get frustrated if you find yourself falling asleep, that simply may be the mediation your body needs. A thing I must mention is that this takes practice, and often, practice that does not show immediately tangible or very obvious results. Feeling and understanding the muscles that are working is immensely important but takes time, just like with any exercise it is important to feel the muscles that are being used. This time will be rewarded with an understanding of your body’s emotions and hopefully an ability to gain control and in turn, reduce the stress and anxiety you are feeling.
Meditation New Comers
Now that you are ready to embark on this new journey to a stronger, clearer mental state this is what my experience would recommend. Choose a time to dedicate to your mental health, practice makes perfect, and even if perfection isn’t the goal, practice will help you in building a good mental/emotional awareness and control.
Find out what form of mindfulness you plan on doing. Is it better for you to do a repetitive movement with some visualisation and focused breathing or will you benefit more from sitting quietly following along with a guided meditation? A great starting point is following along with the headspace app. The app allows you to select how long you would like to practice mindfulness and provides clear instruction.
After you have chosen your time and type you just have to start doing it. Simply starting and dedicating time to organise and clear your mind will be hugely beneficial. If you are inexperienced I recommend trying to figure out cues that help you to relax (i.e. the physical act of breathing or possibly the colours/ images you are picturing). Establishing this will allow you to get into a state of relaxation when needed.
Finally stick with it, like most great things in life, they require a certain amount of work and practice, but this practice will be rewarded with a greater awareness and connection with your thoughts and emotions.
Ready for something extra?
If you have some practice with meditation and are looking for some longer guided mindfulness experiences I would recommend checking out the mindful movement on YouTube. To challenge yourself and further your mindfulness, try to work out quick ways you can grab back control of your emotions. In my experience, I have found the act of counting my breaths to be one of the easiest ways I can return my mind to a clear state free from erratic thoughts.
If you have found this helpful or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact. I’d love to know if you have tried the practice of mindfulness, also what cues work to clear your mind of all the everyday chaos.
Author: Calum Edsor