It’s not easy to switch your brain off and stay focused and I often wonder if everyone else is dealing with as much activity in their heads as I do. Creatives, analysers, deep-thinkers – you know who I’m talking about. We tend to live in our heads as much as we live in the real world.
Our brains shouldn’t be ignored; neither should the many thoughts we deal with on a daily basis. But, like anything, we need to do things in moderation and balance. And that includes thinking.
About two years I ago, I finally gave meditation a go after considering it for a while. I was working in a fairly high-pressure job and felt like my stress levels were all out of whack. I needed something to calm my scattered brain down and allow me to focus, something much deeper and long-term than having a nice, warm bath or a few glasses of wine after a tough day.
There are a couple of misconceptions about meditation I’d like to eliminate for you in case you have a few reservations before giving it a go.
1.‘You have to be religious’ – Meditation has been a practice of many religions for centuries, but it is by no means restricted by its religious connections. You don’t have to be practicing any type of religion in order to practice meditation. Buddhists run the centre I go to for meditation classes but I am not one myself nor do I have any intentions to be. In my experience I’ve found most mediation centres and teachers are there to help you find some peace and clarity and won’t have an issue if your religious or spiritual views don’t match up with theirs. Unless you feel the need to share this before your class starts, it won’t even be brought up.
2. ‘You have to chant’ – As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been meditating regularly for about two years now and I’ve never chanted. Of course you can if you want to and that’s perfectly fine if you choose to do so. I would suggest you meditate in a way that is comfortable for you, it’s your mind after all. If everyone else in your class is chanting and you don’t want to, it’s okay. If you’re doing meditation for the first time and want to give it a try, go for it. You need to find a process that works for you and your mind and nobody else’s.
3. ‘You need to feel something straight away or each time you meditate’ – Anyone who has ever tried meditation will vouch for the fact that it is not easy to do. Focusing on one thing is hard and you’re not going to find ultimate peace each and every time you mediate. Don’t pressure yourself if you feel like it’s not happening for you, that will only make it harder to focus. Like any new skill, you need to practice to improve and this goes for mediation as well.
When I started meditating, I didn’t really tell many people about it. I kind of felt a little embarrassed that my brain had become so scattered that I needed to work on not thinking so much. When I think about this now, I wonder why I was so concerned with what others thought and why would something beneficial to my health ever be something to get embarrassed about. There’s nothing wrong with trying to live this life as healthy and content as possible – that’s a good thing! Our minds need TLC just as much as our bodies, especially if we’re going to be on this earth for a long time.