If you're anything like me, you have my deepest sympathies! Seriously, if your brain is anything like mine, then it will feel like it's permanently switched to 'whizz' mode. It never stops. A constant blur of thoughts and images fly through it, so finding something to help calm that down might just be what you need.
It could well be the 'something' you're looking for might be mediation. Meditation is an age-old practice that aims to relieve the stresses and strains of modern life.
All you need is a quiet place to sit and the ability to direct your mind. There's no right or wrong way to mediate, just differently effective ways to do it.
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Meditation is a way of training the mind, in the same way physical exercise is a way to train the body.
It's generally regarded to be a Buddhist practice, but can be practiced by absolutely anyone (and it really should in our opinion). It helps you achieve clarity, concentration and emotional positivity by offering a calming experience to your life. That said, meditation isn't about concentrating on 'nothing' and it shouldn't take any mental effort at all.
Mediation, if anything, can be described as thoughtless awareness. It should be considered a state of mind, rather than a state of doing. It's about getting the mind into a calmed state, while still being aware of what's going on. Otherwise, you're just asleep or daydreaming.
HOW DO YOU DO THIS MEDITATION THING?
As we said, there's no right and wrong way to meditate. It often just comes down to how much you get out of it, which will grow the more you do it. Try and meditate once a day. It may take a little getting use to, especially if you're a meditation 'noob'. There are a number of things you can do to set the scene including:
- Use your favourite chair, cushion or, if you're feeling fancy, get a meditation stool.
- A quiet, tidy place in your home to meditate. More clutter, less relaxation.
- Loose-fitting, comfy clothes. You can do it in your birthday suit if you want to (beware of candles though!).
- Turn off your phone, TV, answering machine, etc.
- Candles and incence help the mood (but aren't essential) so too can environmental mood music but again, it's not strictly necessary.
The aim of mediation is to relax, and that involves both your mind and your body. You may need to experiment with a few positions before you find one that's comfortable enough to stay in for a prolonged time and one that will let you relax.
Before you start, decide how long you're going to mediate for. Start with a fairly short time (e.g. 5 mins) then, as you get used to it, increase that time. Try and stay still if you can. If you find yourself fidgeting, try a different position.
Focus on your breathing, so it becomes slow and deep. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. This will help with your relaxation.
Don't worry too much about what you're expecting to achieve or experience, just let it happen. Some people choose a mantra to repeat at the start of mediation, but it's not essential.
You may not feel particularly relaxed or even better following your first meditation, but stick with it. It can be hard, especially the first few times, to open your mind to new techniques, but it will get better and easier.
Initially, it's only natural for your mind to wander and start thinking about 'stuff' whilst you're meditating, but don't let that put you off. It happens to everyone at first. Instead of getting frustrated that you're not 'doing it right', just bring your mind back to a calm place and start again. Practice really does make perfect.
Fundamentally, meditation is a profoundly personal experience. There are lots of different techniques from various cultures and many ways to do it. You can obviously read about those at your leisure, but how you do it and what you get out of it, will be exclusive to you. Don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you how to meditate, just do what works for you and enjoy it.
HOW DOES MEDITATION HELP?
There are also a number of apps that can help you meditate. We've listed a few as part of our Technology man-kit page. After all, as Roy Castle used to say on Record Breakers, meditation's what you need!
If you have any experience about how any meditation has helped you and you'd like to share it with our community, please take a look at our 'Men Tell' section.