I have been banging on about how meditation has changed my life over the last year and I have been getting lots of questions on how to get into to, so I decided to put together an easy guide on how to introduce meditation into your everyday life.
I will also start by saying that I am not a professional and I have written this blog post based on the research I have done over the months and mainly from watching YouTube videos. This is how I practise meditation and what meditation means to me.
What is meditation?
To me meditation is a state of mind, where you become calm and peaceful, you are able to process any negative feelings and thoughts you may have, you encourage the production of endorphins and create a space where you can clearly think about the positive changes or things you want in your life.
The first time I tried meditating properly was when I was first introduced to the book ‘ The Secret ‘ and if you would like to know more about it please refer to this blog post https://www.olajohnson.co.uk/blog/law-of-attraction
I think the common misconception of meditating is that you do it whilst you do yoga or other forms of exercise, as though it’s very beneficial to combine it with a physical exercise such as walking or yoga it is not necessary.
How to meditate
If you are meditating for the first time and you are unsure that you are able to sit still for a couple of minutes without getting distracted, I would recommend using a guided meditation.
For this, you can use free apps which are fantastic and will make this process as easy as possible. Both CALM and HEADSPACE have a free programme for beginners, starting with as quick as 3 minutes. Yup, you can meditate for as little as 3 minutes a day to get in the correct mind set. Personally, I like to meditate twice a day, once during the day and once at night. You can actually pick ANYWHERE to do it. Most people associate meditation with sitting down with your legs crossed however, you can do it when you’re laying down, standing up, walking, sitting in front of the TV, basically anywhere. Once you become more advanced I would then recommend trying it whilst exercising, but if you feel like you’re too fidgety to sit still, try doing it alongside some simple yoga positions.
During my day time meditation, I like to sit in an open space like a larger room or outside and I do it whilst sitting down. When using the app, you select the begginer option and pop your headphones on. The voice in the app will take you step by step on how to calm your thoughts and relax. I do use the guided meditation when my head is in a really bad state and I cannot gather my thoughts together as sometimes it is nice to have that reassurance of someone talking you through it.
This is basically a bunch of breathing and thinking exercises. When you learn to listen to your breath and acknowledge your thoughts without thinking about them (I hope that makes sense)
If you would like to get really deep into your thoughts and have more of an ‘ outcome ‘ from your meditation you can follow these steps, which is what I practise.
I first choose the music I like to listen to. It has to be a sound that makes me happy. I wouldn’t recommend anything with lyrics. I usually go with either ocean sounds, whale sounds or ‘ meditation ‘ music. I have a few links here for you to get an idea. But have a bit of a search on YouTube and you ’ll find lots of music that's perfect for meditation. The app CALM also has a big library of sounds to choose from.
OCEAN SOUNDS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f77SKdyn-1Y&t=900s
WHALE SOUNDS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=savCAd6RyPI&t=1896s
MEDITATION MUSIC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xDyPcJrl0c&t=2725s
RELAXING MUSIC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDuadJovyBE&t=4203s
Once the music has been selected, I sit down and put my headphones on. I usually meditate for around 15 minutes, however, this can be longer if I'm really into it. ( I think my max is around 45 minutes ).
I divide the process into 3 sections. This isn't really monitored, I don’t literally check if it's been 5 minutes, your body will know when you’re ready for the next step and yes, sometimes it can be a minute in, sometimes it's 15 minutes in.
I focus on breathing. I literally just listen to music and do some biggggg breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth. There will be thoughts popping into your mind all the time, you don’t ignore those, you simply acknowledge them ( you think, of yes, this is thought ) and you move it aside and come back to thinking about breathing. What really helps at the begging is counting. Count your breaths up to 10, then do it over and over and over again. So every time a thought comes into your head try to acknowledge it, move it aside and go back to counting. If you remember what number you were on go back to that number if you don’t just start again. When you’ve done this for a few minutes you will really start noticing how your body works. You will become a lot more relaxed, suddenly how you are breathing. You will start to spin your spine and feel your toes moving gently.
Get those endorphins taking over your body. For the next few minutes I will be thinking about lots of things, however, all the things that I’m thinking about are based on gratitude and happiness. Start to think about the things you are grateful for, it can be as simple as the fact that you have a roof over your head, that you are never hungry, that you have legs which allow you to walk every day, maybe it's a certain person in your life you’re really grateful for like a family member, maybe you have a pet you love. We all have things that make us fortunate, however, we don’t think about those, we only focus on the negative things in our lives, so this is the time to get grateful. If you’re struggling to think of things or you feel like you’re going around in circles you can actually think about moments in your life that made you really happy. It could be the time you were on holiday and had an amazing time, you passed your driving test, that time you had a long lay in. It is whatever has made you happy in the past and really try to feel the way you felt when that amazing thing happened. You can actually take this further and actually start smiling, Sounds stupid, right? Sitting down by yourself and smiling to yourself? Think how little we smile throughout the day. Smiling has been proven to prolong your life and actually if you are sad and you ‘ force ‘ yourself to smile your brain will start to release endorphins, which will not only make you happier and will help you make the best decision in the bad situation. I smile to myself for at least a couple of minutes a day, whilst thinking about happy things in my life.
This is where your life can change for the better EVERY DAY. You are in an amazing, happy, positive and most importantly a clear state of mind. This is where you have a great advantage in making any decisions. You can start imaging the exact things you want in your life, like getting a job, which will turn into a career and start thinking of ways you could get there. Because your mind is really clear and positive it's going to be thinking of options you may have not EVER thought of before. You are utilising parts of your brain, which you don't use when you’re stressed or you’re sad. This can be applied to anything, like ways to travel the world or meeting your perfect future partner. As long as the thing is positive and happy doing this regularly will help you achieve your goals sooner. I do this to help me with time management, to help me with my vision board to become reality, I used this to create the perfect home and meet the perfect partner.
It sounds complicated, but really all you are doing is listening to some lovely music and thinking about a lot of happy things.
If you don’t want to, don’t feel like or don’t have the time you meditate during the day, you can meditate at night.
Again, the apps mentioned above have options for night time guided meditation where it takes you through breathing exercises that you help you fall asleep quickly and happily. They also have an option of ‘ Nighttime Stories ‘ which I am OBSESSED with. They are basically nighttime stories for adults that stimulate your brain function without you not being able to sleep because you’re overthinking.
So, for example, my favourite story is on CALM and its called ‘ Night time launderette ‘ and yes, it is sounds of a dryer drying clothes but it's really calm, warm and soothing and a person talks you through what happens at this launderette at night. I don’t want to spoil anything but it's cute AF and there is a cat. You can fall asleep at any point of it and it will give you the best night’s sleep.
You can also do the exact same meditation as I do during the day but in bed.
Exactly the same as with exercising, everyone always has an excuse why they can’t do it, but it's really worth a try. When I had an office job I use to go and sit on a bench outside during my lunch break to meditate, now I try to either get down to the beach or just do it on my bed.
I really hope you have found this helpful, let me know if you have any questions and please let me know if you have given it a try and how you found it.