Meditation has entered the psychological jargon and techniques as a useful tool for concentration, relaxation, lowering high levels of anxiety and most importantly, as a way to think clearly and listen to your inner voice. It is only when you can focus your attention and clear your mind that you’re able to find an answer—after all, the answers are all there and come from within, you just need to be aware of the signs.
You may think meditation is only for those who practice yoga and follow a certain lifestyle. It’s not. Anyone can do it and you can even teach a child how to do and see the wonders it can do. It’s harder for some people to meditate but not impossible with some practice.
In my private practice, I often teach children and teenagers with anxiety issues how to meditate. It all depends on their ability to do it, we start with simple exercises and move on to harder ones as they progress. The first thing they learn is the “turtle’s breathing” that is no more than diaphragmatic breathing (breathing profoundly into your whole thoracic box) and the basis for any meditation exercises. The benefits are immense, but mostly it’s important for them to gain a sense of some control over their anxiety instead of being controlled by it.
All you need to do is think of meditation in a broader sense—forget about that difficult sitting position and singing the “humms,” it can be as simple as saying a prayer or remaining in silence focusing solely on what’s around you. Of course, some scenarios and certain conditions help such as being in a quiet space, around nature or in your favourite place in your own home.
Can meditation help you deal with the stress in your daily life?
We live a fast paced life. Don’t you often feel as if time is like sand slipping through your fingers? Something you just can’t stop and control? And then you look back and weeks passed you by, or even years? It’s the same as that feeling you get when you haven’t seen a friend’s child for some time and then they show up in front of you grown-ups! And you think to yourself: “How did that happen? Was I asleep as the whole world just went on living?”
That’s because we’re living life fast-forward and not actually enjoying the present. And that’s what meditation is basically all about, being aware of the now—experiencing the present life. In a wider sense, meditation intends to broaden your mind, to deconstruct your line of thought so you can see possibilities. When we’re too stressed or upset, all you can see are problems and you may often even say to yourself: “There’s no way out of this.” Meditation can help you expand your mind so you can picture new scenarios, look for different solutions, see the big picture.
By now, you may have come to the conclusion that meditation is essential in your life, whether you’re a child, a teenager, an adult or an elderly. But how does it actually help you in your daily life?
Our busy lives and many tasks at hand makes us all a bit stressed out. Even if we’ve gotten used to it. But we all know, in the long run, stress takes its toll on our health and well-being. What we need is to decelerate our minds, to clear it of all the daily clutter and focus on what’s important.
Meditation is important on a physical level as well as a psychological one. It can help you sleep better, ease some of your muscular pain through relaxation, leave you in a better mood and most importantly of all, it can help relativize some daily situations.
Don’t you feel like sometimes you give too much importance to office politics and gossips? That you get resented over small things? Daily meditation can help you cope with those little things that make such mess in your life and take up so much energy that you should be spending elsewhere—enjoying time with your family, your loved ones, your friends, with yourself.
How can you learn simple meditation techniques?
Saying you don’t have time to meditate is a lie. It can take only ten minutes of your day and it can be virtually done anywhere, even in a crowded room (if you have enough concentration for that). Of course some basic conditions need to be present:
Try the following: take ten minutes of your day when you know you won’t be interrupted. Sit comfortably in your chair and turn towards the window—it’s best to do it while there’s still some sunshine. You can close your eyes, put your hands on your belly and breath slowly, focusing only on doing it right. That will occupy your mind enough to clear it from all other thoughts. Once you’ve mastered breathing, you’ll need to occupy your mind with something else. Imagery techniques help take you to a nicer place like a sandy beach where you can imagine yourself walking and feeling the sun on your skin. There are also some materials such as CDs with relaxing music and someone else guiding you and giving you instructions—it also helps for those who think they have a poor imagination.
After you’ve incorporated meditation in your life you should experience some changes. You may not only feel more relaxed and tuned into solutions instead of problems, but you may also find yourself more productive, because you’ll feel re-energised. So, if you think meditation is a waste of time, think again.
And I hope you’ll find, such as I did, that clearing your mind through meditation only helps you see possibilities and the wonders in your life—and what’s the road to take to live a full life.
Daniela Anéis has been a clinical psychologist since 2009, with a Masters degree in Systemic at Lisbon University, Portugal. Her first experience as a clinical psychologist was in a private and Catholic mental hospital, the eldest religious congregation in the country devoted to mental health – and a real school. In 2012, she created a community based project at her hometown called Senior’s University which, through volunteer work, teaches classes to people over their 50’s and most of them retired. There are no homework, no tests and no diplomas, only people learning and enjoying life. Besides the classes, the parties, and the field trips, the main objective is to promote active ageing and enhance people’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
As a therapist in private practice, she often works with families and teenagers. She will read anything and everything that has to do with Existential Psychology and Positive Psychology.
Daniela Anéis is an optimistic and her “glass is always half-full.” Her work with active Seniors has taught her to value life even more and most importantly, life-experience. She teaches an Emotional Intelligence and Positive Psychology class but learns far more than she could ever pass on. She always has an inspiring story to tell about her “students”.
She’s hoping to reach 90 and live life to the fullest. Always working to be the better version of herself. And believing her mission in life is to relieve others from suffering.
Read more about Daniela at her blog. (In Portugese)
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