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Can you teach yourself to meditate? The Meditation Myth.

I must confess for the majority of my life I have loved noise and busyness, buzzing from place to place and never really letting a word go unsaid. I would often get caught in debates on meditation and be told how beneficial it would be for someone with my hectic lifestyle, but my response was always the same… “I don’t have time”, “I can’t sit still long enough” or “I just don’t think it’s for someone like me”. Meditation seemed like the impossible challenge which my mind and body were just incapable of performing.

When my world took a massive turn in 2018, I decided with very little to lose I would give Transcendental Meditation a try. Although it was an investment, I knew this would help me commit to the journey and in all honestly I was more than a little sceptical. During my training I certainly experienced moments of blissful silence and stillness but 4 years later my meditation muscle still needs lots of encouragement and I constantly have to remind myself that this is one of the greatest tools in my self-care armory.

I think the greatest myth in the world is that when people meditate they are effortlessly able to transport themselves to a place of perfect stillness and serenity. Sure that nirvana is the aim but often the reality is a little, well actually a lot, rougher around the edges! Sometimes if I am lucky I will sit and everything will come together to create a blissful 15-20 minutes of connection but more often than not I battle to slow down my thoughts, or I endlessly argue with myself to give up and get on with things. The whole process can feel extremely chaotic as I wrap myself up in knots trying to just slow down. You see what I have learned is that this is OK and completely normal. Whilst the dreamy zen stillness is the ideal destination the journey and opportunity to take some time to try to get there is actually what's endlessly beneficial. The truth is… meditation is the easiest thing in the world, because it is impossible to do wrong! Yes it is a huge challenge and some days it feels completely unobtainable but if you keep at it, even those moments of inner battle will serve you. The time we take alone to switch off the external world and connect internally no matter how testing will benefit us in the long run.

Having fun with friends. A group of people in fancy dress posing for a funny group photo.

To help me, I start by just breathing, often deep heavy breaths so my mind can concentrate on that, allowing thoughts to come and go with as little distraction as possible. Sometimes I count if I find my mind racing as this helps bring me back to a place of mindful contemplation. In complete honesty sometimes 5 minutes feels like a lifetime but I try to maintain my breathing state and use a meditation app (Insight Timer) to alert me at 20 minutes so I can release the concept of time.

If like me you have a very active mind start short and work your way up to 20 minutes. Remember there is no rule book on how long we should meditate and as you get into the practice you will start to find your feet. Remember to release any ideas you have about what meditation is and just enjoy some unadulterated me time. Enjoy the process of slowing down and connecting on a deep level, be kind to yourself throughout the process and then watch as the magic starts to unfolding in your meditation moments.


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