Updated: Aug 16
Ah yes, the famed mindfulness practice of meditation. It is the one everybody knows, the one everyone thinks of first when ‘mindfulness’ is mentioned. But what exactly is meditation, why do we practice it, and why is it the art of stillness? Read on to find out, as we begin the ‘Practices of Mindfulness’ series.
Meditation is when one sits (or lies down) in stillness, and in silence, to allow for peaceful expansion to take place. The only movement stems from the rise and fall of our breathing, and possibly involuntary movements by the body. It is about existing within the present moment, enjoying the present moment and the awareness that arises from such a present moment. It is about sitting back, noticing, observing, letting go to bring in. Cultivating space. This is the aim of meditation. Not ‘clearing the mind’ as I am sure many of you are under the impression of. I personally use journaling to help clear my mind. However, if you are able to clear your mind, fantastic. But this is not what meditation is about, nor is it the aim of meditation. The aim is to cultivate space and generate higher awareness, higher consciousness and to simply exist within the present moment. And, if you think about it, going in with the intent to ‘clear the mind’ is highly counterintuitive as all you are doing is filling it with thoughts of trying to empty it. So, don’t try to clear your mind of thoughts. Instead, simply allow them to pass back and forth, for they will go away of their own accord eventually. What’s more, do not worry about thoughts entering the mind, perhaps they are trying to tell you something. More likely, they are simply just looking for a way out so that you can relax. Remember, our mind, body and souls do actually want us in relaxed, happier states – it serves us far better. When a thought does enter; sit with it, feel into it, see if there is a use for it, then thank it and send it on its way. To put it simply.
Although you may be thinking that meditation is a time to ‘be’, you are only half correct. In actuality, it is both a time to ‘be’ and a time to ‘do’, what we choose is solely up to us. There are times when I sit in meditation to simply be, and there are times when I go into more of a doing state. This is when I use meditation for healing and energy work, either on myself or others (with their permission of course). Although I am sitting in stillness – a more ‘being’ state – I am operating from a ‘doing’ state as I am actively working on or through things. This is actually a perfect example of Yin Yang energy at its finest, but more on that some other time…
In essence, meditation is a state of coexistence. Of being and doing. Simultaneously and singularly. A balancing. This is what I truly love about meditation: it is a beautiful blend of both states of energy. It is why I practice it almost daily. Because it offers the best of both states. I also find that for a fidgety person such as myself, it is a great way to let my whole self just chill the heck out. And believe me, when I first began meditating, it was really tough for me to sit still because I was just so wired: fraught with stress and anxiety, distracted, frustrated and desperate for a sense of calm. So I had to begin low and slow. I built up my thresholds over many months and now I can meditate upwards of an hour with no difficulty (which is no small feat and yet still not nearly as long as I am capable of going for. All in good time). So, why should one meditate? As I am sure you’ve already guessed, like most mindfulness practices, meditation benefits us in many ways. Here are the main reasons why one should meditate:
Coming into stillness allows us to become calmer and reach a state of serenity
Aids in improving our focus and concentration which is excellent for when we need to do our jobs, make meals, clean our house, take care of our kids and/or pets, and so much more.
Enhances our self-awareness and therefore increased our consciousness so we are more mindful of how we behave and think around ourselves and others
Alleviates stress, tension and anxiety so we can function on a higher frequency and live a much healthier life
Provides space to do energy-work and help clear our blocks/obstacles as well as grow our strengths and skills
We start to listen more; be it in conversation with others or simply listening to our own needs more, thus we become better at observing and thinking critically about things
We become less reactive because we know how to pause, gather our thoughts and emotions and express them in a healthier manner
My advice for anyone who is interested in beginning to meditate is this:
Start slow: Keep the frequency of your practice regular but less often to allow yourself to acclimate.
Start low: Begin with short periods of time, somewhere between 5-10 minutes and build in 5-minute increments.
Don’t start with meditation: Start with stillness. Give yourself the chance to fall still, meditation will come afterwards.
Practice as regularly as possible so that you are able to reap the benefits of meditation plus acclimate to your routine more easily.
Remember that we all have good and bad days, and that it is important to listen to what you need. So if you really struggle with meditation one day, it is ok to stop and take a break. Listen to yourself, to what you need.
Don’t panic about involuntary twitches, shakes or shivers – it is totally normal for this to occur (it won’t with everyone though) so just allow the movement to come through and move out.
I’d also like to point out that seeing colours, movements, shapes, lights and so on are all quite normal, however it is just as normal to see absolutely nothing too, it truly depends on the individual. As with everything in mindfulness, the meditation journey is wholly unique to each person who practices. It is yours to discover, entirely on your own terms. For those of you who are new to meditation, I hope this post has granted you some lovely insights into meditation, and given you some interesting tidbits to work with. If this has inspired you to try meditation, I am so excited for your journey to begin and hope you enjoy every second of it! For those who are not entirely sold on meditation just yet, I am thankful to you for reading this post all the way through! Whilst this may not be your cup of tea, I hope you find your cup soon.
As always, I am grateful to be here, imparting my knowledge and ever so glad for my audience. If there is anything you would like to add or share, please share your response in the comments section below! Furthermore, please follow us on our Instagram (@myeireneapp) and Pinterest (MyEirene App) pages Until next time, namaste. Jamila, Founder of MyEirene Ltd.