17 May Meditation: Mental Training
We all know the value and the importance of exercising our bodies. We make the time to get to the gym, get outdoors and move our body in some way, shape or form. Even if you aren’t currently exercising at your optimal level, there has been a time, I’m sure, when your health and the state of your body has been linked to the thought of exercise. Why is it that we don’t think of training our minds in the same way that we do our bodies?
I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage you to consider Meditation as your Mental Training. We somehow seem to stop exercising or training our minds after our schooling days. Sudoku may be a form of training, but what are we training? More activity, memory and hopefully making some new neural pathways. What might happen when you train your mind to be more still? You just might stay in the moment a bit longer, appreciate all that surrounds you just as it is. Just for a moment you might not think about all of the things that you have on your to-do-list, anticipate the future or regret the actions or words of the past. You might get some more space around all of the chatter and internal dialogue that is constantly running in your mind. You might actually be able to hear yourself, your true authentic self, or even to a power greater than yourself. Just imagine being totally content and blissfully fulfilled for one moment. That, my friends is Meditation.
Meditation is nothing more than being totally present in the moment. We seem to make it somehow more complicated than it needs to be. Be Here Now; A book authored by Ram Dass, if you’re ever in the mood to learn about consciousness, but also a very powerful and useful happiness tip. The instructions are simple, but sometimes not so easy to do; Be Here Now. This is the practice of meditation; the training and conditioning of the mind. Just like you don’t leave your couch and start your days in the gym as competitive body builder with perfect physique and technique, you don’t sit down to quiet the mind and have it happen perfectly with no effort at all. Wouldn’t that equate to winning an Olympic Gold medal in a sport that you never attempted before? We seem to expect perfection from ourselves immediately and sometimes beat ourselves up if we don’t get it right the first time. That is our mind’s conditioning and we can train it to respond differently, just as you train your arms, legs and body to be stronger. I’m urging you to be patient with yourself and as compassionate with yourself as you would be with your grandmother, as you practice meditating. Yep, take all that love for grandma and direct right back at yourself. It’s really that simple. Give yourself a break and try turning OFF the ON button for just a couple of minutes with complete self compassion and patience.
Just like if you were learning to run, you would start slow by walking more at first with a little bit of running in the beginning, then gradually increase the time of running and decrease the time of walking over time.
A basic meditation to get you started training your mind
- Sit quietly in comfortable position
- Gently close your eyes on an exhale
- Relax all of your muscles while keeping your spine erect but comfortable
- Breathe in and out through your nose
- Become aware of your breathing
- As you inhale, silently say to yourself “I” – as you exhale, silently say “am”
- Keep repeating “I am” with your breath’s rhythm for your entire meditation (training)
- Start with 5 minutes and gradually increase to 10 – 20 minutes
- Don’t worry about perfection. Once you get distracted by thoughts (and you will, this is natural) gently return your focus back to your mantra “I am”
- Take your time before moving again & carrying on with your day
A Sample Meditation Track to get you started
That’s it! Be proud of taking time to condition your mental, emotional and physical health. The more you do it, the be more you’ll be able to flex your relaxation muscles throughout your day.