Written by Kelle Salle
Image by @lessance
Whether your schedule is manic or manageable, it can be hard to take some time for yourself. Most of our days are spent fulfilling the day-to-day responsibilities that take up so much of our lives that we forget we need to pour into ourselves. Our well being depends on it. In a world where almost everything requires our attention (even the things we don’t need to be paying attention to), indulging in a bit of alone time is a necessity. While I acknowledge that setting aside some alone time may be a breeze for some and difficult for others, I think it’s important to have something in your life that promotes a sense of calm and inner peace. A form of self-care I have come to enjoy in recent years is meditation. Meditation is a practice that involves focusing or clearing your mind using a combination of mental and physical techniques.
What I love about meditation is that anyone can do it. It’s also simple, free and a great way to restore your calm and inner peace. Whether you are a novice when it comes to meditating or you’ve been meditating for a while and are looking for ways to switch up your practice, there will be something in this article for you. Giselle La Pompe-Moore, trauma-sensitive meditation teacher, multidisciplinary artist and author of Take It In has shared 5 things you need to know before you start meditating.
You won’t meditate perfectly every time
Meditation is an opportunity to rest from our constant need for achieving, so let your practice be messy. There’s no such thing as meditating perfectly, so allow yourself to show up, come as you are, sit and see.
There isn’t a one size fits all approach to meditation
If you’ve tried to meditate once or twice before and just couldn’t get into it, it’s not a ‘you’ problem. There are many different styles of meditation to choose from. It’s all about finding what works for you and mixing things up whenever you need to, based on how you’re feeling at any given point. From popping your headphones in and doing a guided walking meditation to be present on your next walk to counting your breaths to repeating an affirmation, visualising, slowly and mindfully eating your favourite bar of chocolate and doing a relaxing body scan – the options are endless.
Your environment matters a lot
When you start meditating, it is nice to have a quiet space as you’ll think that every little noise or interruption is a distraction, so it’s nice to find your own rhythm first. With more time, you can meditate for a few minutes on the train, in the bath, at the park or wherever you are. There shouldn’t be any barriers to meditation, you don’t need to have any props and a candle-lit room in your home to do it. You can make your practice work wherever you feel comfortable.
Be prepared to shift the attention back to your breath
While you shouldn’t set yourself up with the idea that your mind will become distracted during meditation, you are going to have thoughts, and probably a lot of them, during your meditation practice. You’re a literal human being, so when a thought comes in or you start thinking about the voice notes you have to respond to, just shift the attention back to your breath or an affirmation. That’s what anchors are, something that we can focus on when a thought comes in. We simply return to our anchor. We have a thought, so we inhale and exhale, we have a thought, so we inhale and exhale. Over and over again.
Meditating can make you smarter and happier
There are many proven benefits to meditation including improved focus, easing symptoms of anxiety, decreasing stress, greater self-awareness and improving attention to name a few. For most people, meditating gives us the coping mechanisms we need to handle life’s ups and downs.
How would you determine which meditative practice is right for you?
Practice is the way to go. You can work with a certified meditation teacher who can ensure that you’re practising in a safe and individualised container, or try out the many different styles available on trusted apps like Happy Place, until you see which practice works best for you.
What should you do when you’re struggling to meditate?
Don’t judge, blame yourself or force it. Remember that our lives are designed to always be optimised, busy and distracted. Our attention has to be in so many places, so if you struggle to meditate, know that that’s just a symptom of the world we live in. We’re simply remembering how to be ourselves again in meditation.
What would you recommend for readers who want to switch up their meditation routine?
Make your entire life a moving meditation. When you leave the house each day, be present, look around, question everything and be curious about what you see. Step out of your routine, count the stops when you’re next on the train, see what life has to show you.