Mindfulness and self care are an increasing focus for millennials eager to take a break from the noise and fast pace of life. One practice that has taken off (and more recently in lockdown) is meditation.
When one thinks of the word Meditation it is often accompanied by the image of a sickeningly flexible person in the lotus position making an ‘Om’ sound and finding their inner ‘Zen’. But this is a stereotype that has evolved over the centuries.
Meditation derives from the Latin word meditatum which means ‘to ponder’ and has been practiced from as early as 1500 BCE. Origins are speculated to have come from India with the practice of Dhyana or Jhana in the Hindu religion referenced as the ‘training of the mind’. Sources also suggest early forms of meditation originated in 3 BC by a philosopher in China called Laozi whose writings spoke of ‘guarding tranquility’ and ‘embracing simplicity’.
As a millennial, it’s probably about time I found time to guard my tranquility and embrace simplicity. So I decided to try out some guided mediation for a few days to see if it helped me.
Guided meditation can be found on many media platforms from YouTube to Spotify. I have used the Calm app for the past year but have never ventured into their meditation tab. It includes meditation series on so many topics, from “Saying Yes to Life” to “Easing Depression” and “Mindful Eating”.
Feeling a little bombarded, I decided to go with the Daily Calm sessions on the home page spoken by Tamra Levitt. You can choose whether they are 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 20 minutes long so you can have a session tailored to your day. I went for the 10 minute option.
They all generally start with the same introduction and a guided breathing exercise before a period of silence then a deep dive in to the topic of the session which included:
Day 1: Love & Kindness
Day 2: Mindfulness & The Body
Day 3: Mindfulness & Concentration
Day 4: Phone Meditation
Day 5: Self Trust
These were all thought provoking topics and will probably go a long way in setting the foundation for my own mindfulness journey. However, I couldn’t help but feel that the whole practice was a little conceited.
It didn’t take me long to realise that meditation doesn’t need to be a dedicated practice of silence. You can be meditating when you are listening to a song and are so wrapped up in it that it becomes your sole focus and has all of your concentration. You can be daydreaming out of the window and focus on some leaves or a far off object and be meditating.
Meditation is the act of focus and concentration. When you are able to focus in on one thing – be it your breathing, posture or an external stimulus – you are clearing your mind of the busy or noisy thoughts. In doing so, you become more mindful and are more likely to notice when your mind is getting too noisy or you feel anxious.
I realise I practice forms of mediation when I am doing Yoga, listening to music or going through my morning and evening routine. In those moments, I focus only on my breath, the sounds, or the actions I am taking.
Has guided meditation changed my life? No. But then I don’t think anything has the capability to change your life in 5 days. It has made me more aware of what meditation is and how I can slow down and practice it more in my daily life… and that’s probably a half decent start.