In my opinion meditation is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and a very powerful tool to have in your wellness toolbox. I have been meditating for many years and have a daily practice, which enables me to reconnect with myself each day. Most of us are distracted and live too much in our heads. Very rarely do we check in and come into our bodies and notice how we are feeling. For years I focused on external things like money, career and boyfriends to bring me happiness but I’ve learnt that true happiness and contentment actually comes from creating peace from the inside out.
It’s almost like reversing everything we have been told in our western culture and truly understanding that we actually have everything we need to be happy within us already, we just need to tap into it and work with it. This takes time, patience and practice but with some consistency and work its one of the most worthwhile and rewarding practices to include in your daily life.
It has been said if you want more wellbeing, inner peace, happiness and less stress in your life then learn how to meditate. Researchers at Harvard University even found that during the practice of meditation the body has what they call ‘the relaxation response’ that gives the body deep rest, which is actually deeper than the rest we get from sleep.
[bctt tweet=” Meditation is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself” username=”alicanavan”]
Now I know that beginning a meditation practice can seem intimidating and often confusing because there are so many different types and trends out there today. Trying to quiet your mind can also seem like an impossible task or if you are anything like me when I first began I thought I had to stop my own thoughts! The good news is that not only do you not have to stop your thoughts but you can let them come and go with ease during your practice after all its impossible to stop your thoughts unless your are enlightened or indeed dead.
I have been trained in many different types of meditation and it’s important to find what works for you because we are all so different. There is plenty of support out there today in the form of apps, websites, online courses, books and more. I personally don’t believe that one type is more superior to another and in my own practice I use different supports like mantras, visualization and breathing techniques when I feel I need them. It’s important to note that you learn to meditate by meditating and you will grow with your practice.
[bctt tweet=”Meditation allows us the opportunity to work with our mind and understand that we are not our thoughts” username=”alicanavan”]
Meditation allows us the opportunity to work with our mind and understand that we are not our thoughts and that we can change them and in time even catch them before they catch us. In a study by The University of Wisconsin-Madison they found the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation. This is truly amazing because it shows us that your genes do not automatically determine your future. This is called epigenetics and it is actually mainstream science and not on the fringe as you might think.
Basically how you live can have an effect on your genes almost like a volume control button. Based on your day-to-day experience the dial either gets turned up or down. By including meditation in your daily life it has been shown to have a positive effect on your gene expression and this expression can be passed down through generations if you have children, which means changing your lifestyle habits today can help the next generation become healthier too.
So not only can meditation change our brain activity and structure it can also have an effect on our genes too. But wait there’s more: because we know each aspect of us is interconnected recent research is also looking at the connection between meditation and our gut health too. Because meditation elicits a relaxation response it has been shown to have a significant impact on clinical symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
I didn’t fully appreciate all the research until I started to experience the real benefits for myself. My life has been transformed through meditation and yours can too.
Here are some of my top tips and a over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some meditations so sign up to my newsletter below if you’re interested.
NO EXCUSES: The biggest obstacle to starting is YOU. The most frequent thing I hear is the excuse that we have no time. This is also the excuse I used for many years although I found time to do plenty of other wasteful things for hours on end! If you can scroll through Facebook for 10 minutes you can gift yourself the essential 10 minutes to meditate and practice self-care.
JUST DO IT: Don’t overthink it too much just begin. We all have to start somewhere so choose an app or a class or a guided online meditation or simply follow my easy guide below.
GREAT APPS: Sattva, Buddhify, Calm, Headspace, Take A Break, Mindbody Connect, Omvana, Relax Melodies, Smiling Mind
I also have weekly live meditations for mums on facebook (join here) every week and there are 3 meditations available free to download from my website in the resources section for my book.
START YOUR DAY THE RIGHT WAY: I meditate in the morning as I find it helps start my day in a positive and intentional way. It’s a great way to settle yourself before the madness begins and I find if you give yourself 5-10 minutes in the morning your ability to cope with stress and any obstacles you encounter during the day is much better.
SMALL STEPS EACH DAY: Real change happens when we are consistent with our habits. 5-10 minutes each day is far better and more beneficial than 2 hours once a week. Even though small changes might not feel like a lot, trust me they make a big difference and the kind of difference you are really looking for = REAL CHANGE.
BE EASY WITH YOURSELF: As you begin your journey into meditation be kind and compassionate with yourself. It’s too easy to beat yourself up for wandering thoughts or unwanted emotions arising but this is not the time for that, we do that too much anyway. Instead, this is your time to focus on the present in a non-judgmental way to increase awareness, which in turn helps to calm the body and mind.
Please feel free to comment below with any meditation questions you have…