We often talk about working on specific muscle groups in order to keep the body limber and calm. Today we look at mobility for the mind.
Less chaos, more meditation
Meditation is one of the most commonly misunderstood “therapies” on the planet. When we think of “meditation” there are no doubt a heap of cliché’s which pass through our thoughts and instantly disconnect ourselves from what could be a truly calming experience. But if we can get beyond these stereotypes, meditation can become an essential relaxation tool in our kit-bag that we will never leave home without.
Who uses meditation?
Everyone, including those who say they don’t. Some of the most successful people on the planet participate in regular meditation sessions to clear their mind and relax:
- Richard Branson (from Virgin brands)
- Mark Zuckerberg (from Facebook)
- Oprah (from everywhere)
- Clint Eastwood (from awesome dude movies)
- Russell Brand (comedian, writer, actor, and former everything addict)
How long do I need to meditate to get value?
How long do you have?
But seriously, 10 minutes is enough to get started. No need to take a week off work and commit to a lifestyle renovation. Start with what you can spare and build from there. Meditation is a process of calming the mind which in turn calms the body (which primes us to be able to go out tomorrow and absolutely destroy our 1RM’s. GRUNT!) During meditation, our brain responds in the following manner [source: bufferapp.com/how-meditation-affects-your-brain]:
- Frontal lobe: This is the most highly evolved part of the brain, responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and self-conscious awareness. During meditation, the frontal cortex tends to go offline.
- Parietal lobe: This part of the brain processes sensory information about the surrounding world, orienting you in time and space. During meditation, activity in the parietal lobe slows down.
- Thalamus: The gatekeeper for the senses, this organ focuses your attention by funnelling some sensory data deeper into the brain and stopping other signals in their tracks. Meditation reduces the flow of incoming information to a trickle.
- Reticular formation: As the brain’s sentry, this structure receives incoming stimuli and puts the brain on alert, ready to respond. Meditating dials back the arousal signal.
How do I do it?
Hopefully this is the easy bit. Find some space somewhere (bedroom, backyard, in the bath, or even in the car, though not whilst you are actually driving) where you can lay down or sit comfortably. Visit YouTube on your phone and search for 10 minute guided meditation or similar. Below is one we prepared earlier. These clips will talk you through the process. Close your eyes and listen to the instructions and see how you go.
It is hard to gauge the effectiveness of anything that can’t be measured in some manner. Meditation is no different. Consider writing down how you feel before your first session of meditation, perhaps a summary of the last few weeks. Maybe you have been feeling tired, or distressed, or upbeat, or excitable. Either way, document your state of mind so that in a week or two you can assess if meditation is something that is beneficial to you.
It is completely possible that meditation may be an inefficient use of time for some folks, and that’s okay. It won’t be for everyone just as super-frog groin stretches aren’t for everyone. But for the sake of ten minutes, it has to be worth a trial run. Give it a go and see what you think. It may just bring you the clarity and sense of calmness you had been looking for.