Bringing Joy to the Heart of Chiropractic Care
Very early on in my journey – I looked at meditation as a possible gateway to JOY and here is a little bit of what I found about Meditation:
Meditation – a way to a quieter mind
“Let the light of your heart engulf you”
Do your thoughts drive you crazy??
Do you ever feel lost in a relentless stream of negativity?
Do you ever just get stuck in your own head? Like, really stuck?
Do you ever dwell on a mistake you made at work, your overwhelming responsibilities at home, something unpleasant that someone said, an old fear or anxiety and you can’t seem to shake anything off??
I know I do all the above and some days my thoughts literally drive me to distraction!!!
Some days my thoughts are so negative that I “joke” that my mind is so bad that it is like a no – go zone that is best avoided alone, and especially, at nighttime.
About a year ago. It all came to a head (excuse the pun) when I bumped into someone who had supposedly done something to hurt me ages before. Within seconds of this happy coincidence it was crystal clear that the so-called perpetrator was oblivious, and I mean oblivious, to my upset and rather happily getting on with their lives as if nothing had happened. Instantly, I was struck “as if by lightening” with the pointlessness of my “feud” and overwhelming saddened by a sense of lost together time. In that very moment, I somehow knew that I had been torturing myself based on my old hurts and biases (not related in any way to that person) and that my old friend hadn’t meant to hurt me.
There and then, I decided it was time to find a new way, and ever since then, I have been looking for ways to break through the pointless incessant chatter in my head.
So far – my search has taken me around the world and all the way to the moon and back. As you may gather, I haven’t found all the answers yet, but I have found a few things that really help me to turn down and lift the drone of the incessant chat and inner critic in my head.
One such practice has been mediation, and although I have found it difficult to really embrace it every day, I can say that when I do manage to do it – I have better, much more focused, centered and positive days. The more I do it – the better the days seem to be.
With the hope of encouraging you to consider meditation to help manage your thoughts – if you don’t already do it – I have prepared a little introduction to the whole concept. Here is my introduction to Meditation. – enjoy!
What is Meditation?
There are many different definitions for meditation and I suspect that it is such an individual thing that there could literally be millions of different definitions.
Generally, and in simple terms, however, most people accept that meditation is a health practice that helps people to transform their minds in awareness and that it helps people to obtain a healthy sense of perspective by learning to observe their thoughts without judgement. In time, and with regular practice, meditation helps people to better understand their thoughts and feelings. Meditation encourages people to develop their concentration, clarity, positivity and calmness.
By engaging with meditation, you become aware of the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With regular work and patience these nourishing, focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly peaceful and energized states of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.
Benefits of Meditation
“The day you decide that you are much more interested being aware of your thoughts than you are in your thoughts – that is the day you will find your way”
There are many benefits to doing regular meditation
• Generally, it encourages a healthy lifestyle
• It helps quieten the inner chatter in our minds
• Helps deal with and reduce stress as it cuts out the external world
• Reduces anxiety as it helps quieten/slow the mind
• It positively influences blood pressure, cardiovascular and immune health, sleep disturbances and even our responses to pain
• It improves concentration and can increase self-awareness/consciousness
• It increases acceptance of what is….
• It helps you to get to know yourself better
• Some say it even slows ageing – I can’t say I have noticed that yet….
Overall – since starting on this journey into the meditative world, I have been much calmer, more accepting of what is, less reactive and much more aware. The biggest shift, however, has been in how I tap into my more intuitive nature, and as such, I have been able to work more with my gut instinct when making more difficult decisions, I think it has been much easier to hear my inner wisdom and to then trust everything will be ok.
In the beginning, I really struggled to settle into meditation and I found myself doing everything and anything else (including the ironing which I hate) to avoid finding a moment for stillness. Last time I found myself ironing voluntarily was during my final year at university and this give you a bit of an idea of high I was resisting.
I persisted and at first, it felt strange and very indulgent to explore this stillness and much of resistance came from a misguided belief that I am way to busy to allow another thing into my life.
Somehow deep down I knew I had to persist because in mediation practice lay a crucial key to a doorway that I must open to continue my journey of self-enquiry. It is that simple.
I had a big break through moment when someone mentioned that it can take time to cultivate a practice and process of meditation. I realized there and then that I was doing my usual thing of putting pressure on it and expecting myself to be instantly good at meditation. Immediately, I knew that it had been totally unrealistic to expect it to take anything less than a little daily dedication and patience.
Another break through happened when I realized that trying to establish a routine and stick to it didn’t really help me. Giving myself the freedom to have a go as and when I had time was better for me. Allowing myself a day or two off seemed to work too – trying to stick to a routine and missing a day meant that I would then beat myself up for failing. Once I looked at it with greater flexibility it grew more organically and consequently more naturally
Remember – there is help out there!
In the beginning, I tried to settle down, but I nearly always found this to be impossible and after many failed attempts I nearly gave up. One of my dearest friends, on hearing about my hurdles, suggested that I try listening to meditation CD that guides you into a meditation and leads you through it. I did this, and I found it to be extremely useful. Since then, I have learnt there are literally dozens and dozens of video tutorials and step by step webinars online that come free of charge if you’re a fan of convenience, we recommend trying out Headspace—a free app that offers a new guided meditation tutorial each day.
Make it Comfy
Especially when first starting out, I would recommend that you find a quiet place where you can fully relax without distractions, many suggest a dimly lit room where you can close the door. I choose to sit in our sitting room in the bay window as this is always clear of clutter and I like the natural light coming in. It is important to find what works best for you, make it as easy as possible and minimize the barriers. You may need to experiment a little. It may change as the seasons change too.
Make sure to start in a comfortable position, seated in a chair with your feet on the ground and posture straight or laying down relaxed. I like to sit as I am more likely to fall asleep when lying down.
I have cushions, a candle and a rug at the ready every time and sometimes I use all three.
Keep it Light – little steps
It can be helpful to build it up. Consider starting with as little as three 10 – 15-minute sessions and stick at it! Doing it regularly is much better than doing a 1hour long cramming session once every couple of weeks.
Tricks of the trade
As I struggled on, and on (or so it seemed), someone suggested that I use a focus on breathing to help settle into it, and so I gave it a go, and it was super helpful. I still use it now.Find your spot (sitting or lying), get into position and close your eyes (at least partially) and turn your attention to your breathing. Choose to breath through your nostrils if possible. Don’t force it – allow the breath to flow naturally and focus on becoming aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. The sensation is the object of our breath.
At first, your mind may persist with busy thoughts, and it might even feel that the meditation is making space in your mind to be busier than ever; but, we are just becoming more aware of how busy our mind is. As always there will be a great temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, but as always, we should resist this and remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath. If we discover that our mind has wandered and is following our thoughts, we should immediately return it to the breath. We should repeat this as many times as necessary until the mind settles on the breath.
It may also help to count your breaths.
When your mind starts to wander – accept this as inevitable and try not to engage and release the thoughts lovingly (or at least with a positive attitude and come back to the breath). I used to see the thoughts in clouds floating by and I pinged them right back out. Once the thoughts had been thrown back out I would return to the breath and start counting again.
Go easy on it and yourself
Chances are – it will take time and effort to get into a meditation routine and as you will learn from doing it regularly it is ok that it takes time. Remember patience is a virtue.
If like me, you find yourself plagued with thoughts it is ok – with time and practice (and a little trial and error) your mind will quieten, and you will learn to witness them without jumping in on the inner dialogue.
What it is not:
You are not trying to turn your thoughts or your feelings off – only to notice them, allow them without judgement and release them without engaging in them and being them.
Persist!! It is so worth it!
If I can – anyone can – trust me….. trust the process and more importantly trust yourself!!
It is hard to find the words worthy to explain the overall impact on my life but I can tell you clearly that I know when I haven’t done it as the days always seem to run less smoothly.
Written by Clare Butterworth
ON behalf of HCC and Little Sun Learning – Summer 2018