In modern society we tend to underestimate the power of stillness and of the mind. Meditation is often misunderstood and not seen as productive use of our time however this could not be further from the truth. The benefits of meditation are physiological (e.g. decreased blood pressure), psychological (e.g. calmer state of mind), and spiritual (e.g. feeling more connected to the universe or your God). One of the big aspects of downshifting is slowing down, and it doesn’t get much slower than sitting still and meditating.
Meditation doesn’t require fancy equipment or extreme flexibility (hello lotus pose!), all you need is 10-15 minutes and your mind. The goal is to focus on one thing, your breathing is a good place to start, and clear you mind of all the other stresses and thoughts that fight for your attention. I find guided meditations very helpful. I often put my headphones on and listen to one of many stored on my iPhone. A favourite audiobook is The Joy of Meditating by Salle Merrill-Redfield. It consists of four guided meditations that teach you how to meditate. The first focuses on breathing techniques and relaxing the body, then each subsequent meditation builds on what you’ve learned and teaches a new skill such as visualisation.
Sometimes when my baby is having a nap during the day I will lie on the bed and do a short guided meditation. I find I’m much more refreshed at the end than if I had taken a short nap. During particularly stressful times in my life I took to doing a guided meditation before going to sleep. This really helped fight off insomnia from anxiety and allowed me to cope much more successfully than I otherwise would. Sometimes when I need a break I just sit and gaze at my waterlily in wonder at its perfection and beauty.
Still not convinced? Have a look at this fact sheet produced by the Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel
Meditation – Better Health Channel It’s very easy to dismiss meditation, to say we don’t have the time, or can’t waste time on something with intangible benefits, but the benefits are real. I encourage you to give it a go, especially if you’re stressed, anxious, or unwell. Or if you are already a regular meditator share your method in the comments, I’d love to hear what you do!