Meditation can take many forms. Years ago (in my youth), I thought that there was just one style – like all the photos I’d seen – with people sitting cross-legged, wearing robes, chanting Om. I’d decided that that, wasn’t for me. To be honest, I was also constantly moving, running through my life, so I definitely wasn’t the type of person who could sit still for long periods of time, nor do that thing with my legs. Back then, I was terrified of anything remotely “woo-woo” i.e. weird/religious/or ‘out there’ – all of that stuff frightened me to death. I was sure I’d end up joining a cult, being whisked away and never seeing my family again. Those limiting beliefs stayed with me until…I had a marriage break-up. Oh boy.
That was big.
After that experience, I knew I needed to change. I couldn’t continue living my life the way I had been. I knew I would have to do something completely different. I decided to take myself away on a silent meditation retreat up on the beautiful Banks Peninsula on the outskirts of Christchurch, New Zealand. Terrified I booked myself in, wondering what on earth I would discover. I drove there and parked my car. The silence where the retreat was held, was breath-taking. I joined the group gathered and after our introductions, we were told how the weekend would go. It all seemed fairly ‘normal’ to me. After supper, we were invited to sit and breathe. ‘Yes’, I thought, ‘I can do that’. And I did.
At the end of that experience, the facilitator introduced us to the poet Rumi. No-one spoke as he read a poem. It was magical. The poem, Rumi and that profound moment has stayed with me for over 14 years now- check it out (eyes right!)…
During that weekend we were also introduced to the simplicity of a walking meditation. I learned I didn’t have to sit cross-legged the entire weekend. I could walk and meditate at the same time. WOW. No more sitting still nor battling my mind? Bliss.
So I tried it. I slowed my breathing down as was taught, took slow steps along the path. I attempted to be very mindful of where I placed my feet, the steps I took, the path I walked, the stones beside the path, the grass growing up through the cracks in the path and that profound silence. It was a very powerful experience for me.
Years on from that incredible weekend in New Zealand, I now facilitate guided meditations. A guided meditation is a style that suits me well and I love sharing. It’s where I invite you to sit still (yes, I’ve even learned how to do it too), breathe and follow a process. The experience is easy to follow. Guided meditation is suitable for you if your mind is busy, or if you are new to meditation. It’s easier than battling your thoughts. It can help you begin to feel calm, relaxed or refreshed. It can take place one-to-one, with others, in small or large groups or during my weekend experiences held in Ireland and around the world.
Know that there are countless different styles of meditation and ways to meditate. What’s important is to try different ones and find the style that best suits you. You can meditate while stirring the soup, in the shower or even waiting at the traffic lights. So… to start with, keep it simple. The Master Eckhart Tolle says:
One conscious breath – in and out – is a meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
After my weekend experience, I loved going for mindful walks with my dog and meditating. It was (and still is) a way of reconnecting to myself, taking some time out. It allowed me space to regroup after my day at the office. Try it, stick to it – your mind and body will thank you for it. There are countless articles and research papers that prove the benefits of meditation. Here are some areas you can change through the use of regular meditation:
- Emotions – reduce stress, anxiety, increase confidence.
- Heart – feel more balanced, compassionate, connected, optimistic, joyful.
- Brain – train your brain, transform your mind, improve brain function.
- Body – increase immunity, prevent disease, reduce ageing.
- Sleep – lower heart rate, reduce blood pressure, gain restful sleep.
Earlier this year I gave different talk at the Spa. The talk included a guided meditation. Here’s what one person very kindly messaged me afterwards: