Real Talk 24th February 2015 by Victoria Stokes
This Meditation Masterclass Will Calm You Down, STAT
We asked a yogi how to get zen. Here's her step by step guide to mediation.
“The words mindfulness and meditation seem to be on everyone’s lips at the moment,” confirms yoga teacher Catherine Turner. “No wonder, since the busier life gets, the more we crave calm. Yet most of the time, deep peacefulness seems a million miles away. Sitting crossed legs with our eyes closed feels like a waste of time and also it seems pretty impossible to remain still for more than a few minutes.”
But if you thought meditation wasn’t worth scheduling into your busy calendar, think again, because as Catherine explains, regularly getting zen can reap major benefits. “Not only does it create the focus and head space I need to get things done, but it’s also surprisingly addictive,” she explains, adding “the more I practice, the more the calmness begins to have a positive effect on my life, and crucially, how well I feel.”
Sounds good, right? Here’s how to get a little bit of calm into your life.
“Set aside a place where you won’t be disturbed,” recommends Catherine. “Have little rituals, such as lighting incense or a candle and have favourite cashmere shawls or blankets on hand for comfort to make the experience more sensual. Scent in particular is a powerful tool if used each time you meditate, as your body will automatically associate it with stillness.”
Regularly getting zen can reap major benefits
Lock in a regular time to meditate too. “Start by setting a timer for very short periods, just five minutes to begin with is perfect,” says Catherine. “It’s more important to be disciplined and practice every day rather than expecting to be able to sit for long periods of time. Go slowly and gradually build up until you can do 20 minutes in the morning and eventually in the evening before bed as well.”
So now that you’re ready to go, what’s next?
Catherine’s step by step guide
- Sit cross legged on the floor, propped with cushions so your spine is straight (or on a chair if that’s not comfortable). Close your eyes.
- Become aware of your body – scanning from top to toe, actively letting go of tension.
- Bring your attention to your breath. Don’t try to change the natural rhythm, instead become an observer and watch your body breathe. Focus on the point just below the nostrils and notice the quality of the air as it moves in and out of your nose.
- Whenever the mind wanders (which it will), keep coming back to the breath noticing how it feels – cool on the inhale, warm on the exhale.
- Counting the inhale and exhale can help hold the attention too, but the important thing is to keep coming back to the breath every time the mind wanders. Eventually you will notice a deep sense of peace, sometimes a feeling of ‘coming home’. Just remember your mantra is to keep letting go, keep bringing the attention back to the breath.
“As it becomes habit, the rewards soon outweigh effort,” explains Catherine. “Beyond the calm there is a sense of peacefulness and inner strength to be found which spills over into an ability to cope with the pressure and ups and downs of our 24/7 culture. Eventually this brings a clarity which allows us to see what’s important and enables us to reach our true aspirations.”
Sounds fabulous. We’re off to get zen.
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