Learning how to manage everyday stress is also learning to listen to yourself. And meditating can be an excellent way to achieve it!
BUT, just between us, you’ve already tried it and the whole experience wasn’t really a success… Sitting with your legs crossed or in lotus? Just the thing to get a cramp or pins and needles! Your nose is bound to itch anyway and you can’t even move! Easy to say that you have to « stay zen » when all you want to do is to MOVE ! … And during your last attempt at meditating?? The instructor had to wake you up!!!
In short, it doesn’t really do anything for you despite all the good you hear …
Keep in mind that it’s no good punishing yourself for it! You’re not the only one finding it difficult! Meditation, as we understand it, is perhaps not for you, or at least not yet. Because without a doubt meditation is a long term commitment and until you reach the state of nirvana, here’s how you can go about practising a “soft” form of meditation that could just be worth a try!
What I mean is that just because you don’t play the piano like a concert pianist doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play at all.
Why not reap the benefits of meditation while adapting it to your level?! That way you set yourself up to suceed (and I like this approach 🙂)
I don’t know if you were asked to do this at school but at some points during the day we were asked to sit down at our desks and to be quiet. Excellent advice! We were asked to put our heads on our arms on the table and simply close our eyes for a few minutes just to clear our minds and to get us to focus on the task at hard before starting. This was really a form of meditation, a very “soft” one admittedly, adapted to children.
So here goes: a method for beginners and/or for people who don’t think that their breathing is of sufficient interest to be focusing on it for a long time. (Meditation experts, beware: reading on will only irritate you, so don’t! 😉)
This little meditation will also teach you to listen to yourself, your desires and your needs.
Let’s try some “soft” meditation together
1) You’ll need:
- An armchair (“Why?” you might ask. “Because it’s comfortable that’s why!” Don’t choose a sofa or a couch; it’ll only make you go to sleep which is not the aim of the exercise 😉 )
- A mobile/cell phone (on fly mode) or another device with an alarm
2) Prepare your meditation
- Set your alarm to ring after 5 minutes and sit down comfortably in your armchair
- RELAX (but don’t slouch)
3) Let’s go!
Start by breathing in and out slowly (yes, I know, I’m sorry) but please do it in a way that feels comfortable to you. You’re not in a meditation centre or in a yoga class, you’re not being judged (except by yourself so there’s really no need to). Anyway, there’s always somebody who can do it better than you AND there’s always somebody who can’t do it as well as you.
If you are like most people, thoughts will come to you without being asked. Don’t panic, it’s all part of the practise. Let them come and … then let them go. Don’t focus your mind on them and don’t judge them or yourself. They can’t help it and neither can you. Don’t start mentally noting things down. Just feel how comfortable it is to be doing nothing (it’s only for 5 minutes so don’t feel guilty) and how comfortable an armchair can be. It’s a real luxury nowadays.
If you start thinking: “I have to make an appointment at the dentist’s as soon as the stupid alarm goes off”, just say: “That’s right,” and let go of it. (CAREFUL: no inner critic, no judgement necessary.)
After 3 minutes, you might be feeling that less thoughts impose themselves on you and that your mind quietens down. If not, wait till the alarm goes off and refrain from judging the experience.
When the alarm does go off, stretch out, breathe in and… call the dentist.
4) Let’s analyse what you’ve just experimented
“Calling the dentist” is the sort of action you could be prompted to take after meditating.
Often after a meditation (even after one of 5 minutes experienced in an armchair without physical suffering) we feel ourselves prompted to action. This could be that we managed to calm our minds sufficiently to be able to listen to our intuition or to our subconscious which is trying to communicate, which is trying to make us become aware of something. We sometimes manage to repress “things” that would merit further scrutiny. Sometimes it, intuition or the subconscious, lets us on to things that are vastly more interesting that an appointment at the dentist’s!
Try it! What have you got to lose other than 5 minutes of your precious time?
After a “soft” meditation if only one thing is clear to you and that is that you need sleep then sleep! You very likely need it.
If no insight or action prompt has made its way to your conscience because you didn’t manage to still your mind long enough, please tell yourself: “doing nothing for 5 minutes” certainly did you some good and start again tomorrow.
Allow for a few minutes of “soft” meditation during your busy day.
Remember “practise makes perfect”! The more you meditate, the easier it gets to listen to your needs and desires in a way that feels natural. In the workplace you schedule meetings so why not schedule a meeting with yourself!! Listening to your needs and desires is important if you want to manage your stress levels more effectively. How can you reduce stress if you can’t hear the alarm bell going off in your mind or the tons of messages that your unconscious mind is sending you?
Please don’t hesitate. You can count on me if you need help stilling your mind and picking up on the signals that your intuition is trying to tell you