Keep calm and meditate


These days, many of us feel as if we can’t keep up; there’s always another deadline, longer hours and extra projects, not to mention the hustle and bustle of the school run, sports and extracurricular activities every day. We constantly feel drained, emotionally and physically.

Incorporating meditation into your daily schedule is a simple and fast way to reduce stress, bringing a little peace of mind in an otherwise chaotic world.

There are a number of advantages to this ancient practice of mindfulness. Meditation is simple; it is merely the art of focusing attention and awareness to create a quiet, ordered state of mind. You don’t need any fancy equipment, it’s inexpensive, and you can do it
wherever you are and whenever you feel the need to calm down and organise your thoughts.

Used for centuries as a way of connecting with spirit and heightening our understanding of mystical and sacred energies, meditation leaves you feeling relaxed and peaceful, resulting
in an enhanced state of emotional and physical well-being. Some studies also show that in certain cases, meditation may help with the management of anxiety, depression, chronic pain, high blood pressure, IBS, disrupted sleep patterns, migraines and tension headaches.

Think of your mind as a computer or phone that is constantly gathering and sorting through data and information, filtering what it needs, discarding what it doesn’t.

Eventually, burnout and overload become too much to ignore. Whether you are stuck in traffic, sitting at your desk, going for a walk or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, you can take 10 minutes to focus and bring your mind back into perspective – clearing away the overload of information that builds up on a daily basis, creating stress and anxiety.

There are many different types of meditation, and many of the techniques that are aimed at relaxation of the body and mind are based on forms or elements of meditation, such as visualisation, mindfulness, Qi Gong, mantras, yoga and Tai Chi. You can attend classes for any of these, and there are also a number of downloadable apps (some of them free).

Meditating need not be rigid and formal, and don’t be put off by the thought of sitting stiffly on a yoga mat and chanting “ohm” at regular intervals – unless that is how you want to do it. You can choose to start or end your day with a session or snatch a few minutes during the day when you have a gap – the key is that time spent must be quality time. Practising meditation can be as simple as becoming more aware of your body and concentrating on various sensations, deep, focused breathing, reading sacred texts or poetry, praying, listening to beautiful music, writing in a journal or sketching.

There are no hard and fast rules. This is about serenity and mindfulness, and anything that makes you feel stressed or uncomfortable has no place. Learning how to keep your mind focused takes time and patience. Adapt your time and type of meditation according to how you are feeling and an easy rhythm will soon start to form, and you will find that your emotional, mental and physical health will thank you.

The most important elements to remember
• Breathing – take deep, even breaths, expanding your lungs and slowing your breathing rate down
• Concentration – free your mind of any distracting thoughts and try to focus on your breathing or a mantra
• Surroundings – in the beginning, try to meditate somewhere quiet, preferably where you won’t be disturbed
• Position – you can meditate while walking, lying down or sitting up – the key is to be comfortable.

The emotional benefits of meditation
• 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.