It may only be February, but how many of you are feeling super stressed? How many unnecessary arguments have you already had with your friends? How many school deadlines have you missed?
Today we live in a hectically stressful society. Digital devices keep us constantly connected, academic pressure is higher than ever and peer pressure is quite frankly overwhelming. Sometimes we all need to just distance ourselves a bit from the world around us, and spend some time focusing on ourselves. Meditation is a tool to help with that.
The meditation craze may have seemed to begin only relatively recently, but in fact wise peeps have been practicing it since the beginning of time as a way to relax, experience the current moment and become better acquainted with themselves. Whilst you may not feel the need (or at least not yet) to don some robes worthy of Harry Potter, tie-dye your t-shirt and assume the lotus position, it may be time to build some simple meditation into your life. Below we suggest a few straight-forward meditations, which take less than 10 minutes each and can provide you with some much-needed calm and perspective.
Sit up tall (on a chair or cross-legged on the floor if you are feeling flexible) and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing. For this meditation your breathing should be deep enough that you can hear it, and feel it flow through your nostrils, but not so deep that you sound like you have just run a marathon. Focus your thoughts on how the air moves within your body – do you feel your chest expand as you breathe in, and gently collapse as you breathe out? Then shift your focus from your chest to your shoulders. Do they move up and down as you inhale and exhale? Then move your attention to your face. How does the air move as it flows through your nostrils and onto your top lip? Feel the air flow in and out. All of this may only take a few minutes, but upon opening your eyes at the end of this meditation you should feel calmer, and ready to tackle the rest of the day.
Find a friend
Sit back- to-back with a friend, backs and heads touching. Feel each other breathing in and out and synchronise the rhythm of your breath. Sit as still as you can while you do this. You only need to do it for a few moments, but enjoy the feeling of breathing in and out in unison.
Sit still with your eyes gently closed, and count slowly from 1 to 10. If a thought enters your head while you are counting, go straight back to 1. Watch for even the smallest thought trying to enter your consciousness e.g. “Wow, I’m already at 4”. This exercise helps you to become more aware of your thoughts and thus, when you are overthinking. Thoughts create our feelings, which create our behaviours. The more conscious you can be of your thoughts, the more in control of your feelings and behaviour you will be. Count from 1 to 10 properly, at least 5 times before stopping the meditation.
Can you count?
Sit or lie down with your eyes closed and count slowly in your mind from 100 down to 1. Counting backwards requires more concentration and helps you to stay more focused. If you lose count of where you are, stop and start again from 100. As you reach 1, stay for a few moments in silence before opening your eyes. This is a great exercise for developing concentration, and if you can get to 1 you will have calmed your mind considerably, making it much easier to focus.
Go for a walk
Meditation is not all about sitting still. A walking meditation can be very effective, but just don’t close your eyes while you do it!! As you walk around think about each step you take. Be aware of the ground beneath your feet, the wind blowing past you, the sound of birds singing etc. This meditation helps you to be totally present in the moment and allows you to appreciate the beauty of the world around you. It can have a huge calming effect.