Meditation’s what you need
In a world of disorder, pressure and stress, it is surprising to know that a simple solution to escape from all of it lies within our hands, and is absolutely free. What would you give for a completely gratis opiate that will elevate your mood, calm those irritating voices in your head, and heal you?
Behold the simple wonders of meditation.
It has been found that meditation takes the brain into a theta wave state, which is the state it needs to be in to repair and rejuvenate. This acts like a system reboot, allowing the brain to function in a ‘super learning’, creative state, and remain fully relaxed, without being completely asleep.
A recent investigation of the impact of meditation on the brain, found increased grey matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self awareness, compassion, empathy and introspection. Furthermore, the reductions in stress reported by the participants were also correlated with decreased grey matter density in the amygdala, a structure known to play an important role in anxiety and stress, none of which were seen in the non meditators.
Whereas most of us would not wish to be like the Tibetan Monks that raise their body temperature by meditating, it would be useful to apply at least some of the principles of meditation to everyday life, without having to rush off to a quiet room for 15 minutes of deep breathing. The most immediate way is to apply the principles of meditation to beat procrastination.
The art of focus
In meditation, the focus is on an object, an image, or your breathing. In the office, however, the focus is on getting things done. At the start of the day, pick one task from your list and decide to start a little part of it. There is no need to think of completing all of it – just the first part. Procrastination kicks in when you contemplate the mountain before you and put it off – beat procrastination by committing to simply starting the first little part of the task
The art of silence
Even if you are using a guided meditation app, or music when meditating, you will need to be in silent surroundings to fully concentrate. The office environment is no different. Despite the fact that you may not be able to do much with chatty colleagues or noisy machinery, you can silence your environment by shutting down all distractions – social networking sites, email, websites – whatever application is open that is not directly related to the task at hand must be shut down. The brain encourages you to look for an escape route – do not entertain it!
The art of repetition
True meditation is not a one-time event; the first few sessions are always going to be a challenge as you encourage your mind to try something new. Your break away from procrastination is no different. Make it a daily practice; use trial and error; compare notes with colleagues – whatever it takes to move a little closer to perfection. Reward yourself when you have completed a task and have patience if being productive is not an instant achievement. Just remember, you can always take a few deep breaths and try again.
Want to learn a few basics of how to meditate? Read on ……
The aim of meditation is to calm the mind and encourage a feeling of inner peace. This can be accomplished by practising a simple breathing meditation.
1. Choose a quiet place to meditate and sit in a comfortable position. You can sit cross legged, or on a chair. It is important to keep the back straight to prevent feeling sleepy.
2. Sit with your eyes partially closed, or completely closed if you wish, and turn your attention to your breathing. Begin by taking a few deep breaths, breathing through your nose. Feel your body beginning to relax, making a conscious effort to relax each of your muscles.
3. Once in a relaxed state, breathe naturally, without attempting to control the breath, and become aware of the sensation of breathing. Breathe in and feel the air entering your nostrils, filling your lungs, and then exhale through your nose, feel the air leave your body, clearing your mind.
4. At first, your thoughts may be quite scattered, and your mind busy – this simple meditation technique will make you aware of how busy your mind really is. You will be tempted to follow your thoughts and allow your mind to wander. Try and resist this by simply acknowledging your thoughts as they arise, and allow them to float on by. Whenever a thought arises, bring your attention back to the inhale and exhale of your breath. Keep repeating this until you are completely focused on the breath.
Keep practicing this for as long as you need to, and remember to be patient with yourself. The first few practices may prove difficult as you focus on your breath, training your mind to slow down. Consistent practice, even as little as ten minutes a day, will encourage your mind to focus on just the breath, leaving you with a feeling of inner peace.
Razwana Wahid, BCS Associate